The Japan Starbucks Sakura Season

 Starbucks

As you might know, I am a little bit of a HUGE coffee addict.  Lucky for me, we have a Starbucks right in the center of the area we are staying in Japan.  The other day it was so nice outside that I went for a walk and decided to give myself a special treat of an iced coffee, which I only get when I deem the weather warm enough.

When I walked into Starbucks that day (Feb 23, 2015) I was surprised to see signs indicating that a special time of year was upon us in Japan.  There was a special drink menu and everything, all of Sakura season, which is the blossoming of the cherry blossoms.

Read more

An Energizing, Nutritional Treat from Mamma Chia

Diva and the Divine's

Have you heard of Mamma Chia?  Maybe you’ve seen it on shelves (it’s the glass bottle that looks like it’s filled with little pink jelly seed type things) and walked on by.  Well, now they have something new on the shelves that is definitely worth taking a look at.

Mamma Chia reached out to me and offered to let me try some of their new product that hit shelves in late 2014. How awesome of them!  I was super stoked when my box arrived and couldn’t wait to see what was inside. Read more

Weight Watchers Friendly Pumpkin Pie

WWPumpkinPie

Back when I actually had Weight Watchers meetings to lead here in Chapel Hill, I had a tiny, but loyal group of attendees to my meeting.  Among them was an older woman who has been a lifetime member of Weight Watchers for a really long time. I admired this woman because she came, without fail, every week, always participated in discussions and had amazing tips and tricks.

One fall day, when I was telling them about my Betty Crocker done better cheat, I decided I’d bring it in as a little treat for them, and this woman decided she’d bring in her crustless pumpkin pie.  Not only did she make the pie, but she made sure I got the recipe.

Read more

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal

PumpkinOatmeal

It’s time for another installation of Brianna’s Pumpkin Spice Recipe Adventures.  I am thoroughly convinced that pumpkin spice is acceptable at any time of the day, but one of my favorite times to enjoy this fall flavor is in the morning. With pumpkin spice coffee, creamers, english muffins, bagels and cream cheese, it is obvious that we love pumpkin spice mornings.  There is also pumpkin spice oatmeal that can be found by Quaker and Trader Joes, but I decided that they both lack something that I want to have in my pumpkin spice products when possible: REAL pumpkin. Therefore, I took to the kitchen and created my own pumpkin spice oatmeal.  Super easy, Weight Watchers friendly, and you can modify it to suit your needs as you see fit.

The recipe is really more of a guideline to help you create the pumpkin spice oatmeal of your dreams.  Many of the ingredients can be modified to fit the flavor you are looking for.  I am a big fan of bulking up my food and making it as flavorful as I can, so I use quite a bit of the non-oatmeal ingredients, but you can do with this what you will

 

PSO1

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet of Quaker Lower sugar Maple Brown Sugar Instant Oatmeal
  • 4 Tbsp Canned Pure Pumpkin
  • 2 Tsp (modify as you see fit) Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • an extra dash of cinnamon
  • 1/2 packet of Stevia sweetener

 

PSO2

Preparation is super easy:

  1. Make oatmeal as directed.  I used the smallest water setting on my Keurig.  You can use the hot water or microwave preparation.
  2. Stir oatmeal until blended
  3. Add pumpkin.  Stir until well mixed.  Your whole bowl will be a beautiful autumn looking orange color.
  4. Pumpkin Spice OatmealAdd pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and Stevia (all to taste) and stir again.
  5. *optional* Microwave your creation for 30 seconds or so to reheat it and thicken it a bit.
  6. Enjoy your delicious and healthy breakfast!

 

That’s it!  See, it’s really easy, just like my Pumpkin Spice Muffins.   Now a few things to note:

  • Pumpkin is an amazing way to bulk up your food for no extra Points.  I’m eating a vegetable as part of my breakfast! If you plug it into Recipe Builder, technically it adds 1 ppv when you add 4 Tbsp, but to be honest, I don’t count it because on it’s own in the tracker, a cup and a half still equals 0.  I choose to do it that way.  To each their own.
  • The oatmeal is really what determines the PPV of this meal.  If you want to use full sugar, or cooked oats, or whatever, be my guest.  I like to use the Quaker lower sugar or the Weight Watchers oatmeal (found in WW stores) because they’re only 3 Points plus and taste good.  Again, this comes down to personal preference
  • Don’t forget that you can add/subtract the pumpkin or any of the spices until the combination is to your liking.  It’s all about your flavor preferences.  This recipe happens to reflect mine.

There you have it my friends.  Now you have something else to look forward to when you wakeup in addition to your morning cup of coffee. 🙂  Enjoy!

 

Weight Watchers Friendly Pumpkin Spice Muffins

PumpkinSpiceMuffinTitle

 

 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  No..not the Christmasy most wonderful time..the pumpkin-y most wonderful time.  Since I’m pretty much obsessed with pumpkin and all things pumpkin/pumpkin spice flavored and scented, I decided that I needed to get a few recipes involving this glorious ingredient out there.

 

Why pumpkin?

Pumpkin is an amazing ingredient in baking.  I have managed to chop the amount of calories in many desserts simply by using pumpkin as a replacement for most of the fatty ingredients, and the results have been amazing

 

First up for your enjoyment: Weight Watchers Friendly Pumpkin Spice Muffins

 

MuffinIngredients

Ingredients

  • One box of spice cake mix
  • One can of 100% Pure Pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • Pumpkin Pie Spice (to taste, but I used 1 Tbsp)

Seriously, that’s all it takes to make these awesome muffins.

 

Mixingbowl

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven as directed on box (425? I can’t remember exactly, but the box will tell you)
  2. Spray you muffin tins with nonstick spray
  3. Put all 3 ingredients in a mixing bowl.
  4. Blend ingredients.  I used the Kitchen Aid mixer, but you can mix by hand too.  Batter will be thick.
  5. Divide batter evenly making 18 muffins (one whole 12 slot sheet and the middle two rows of another if you don’t have a little 6 muffin pan)
  6. Pans1Use back of spoon to even out the batter in the muffin slots.  You will notice it kind of just sits how it plops because it’s so thick.  It will need a little encouragement to lay down flat.  You don’t necessarily have to do this step, but know that how the batter looks going in the oven is pretty much how it looks coming out, except raised a bit.
  7. Cook for the amount of time recommended on box (I think I did 13 minutes)
  8. Remove from oven and allow to cool
  9. Enjoy these deliciously simple muffins 🙂

Cookedmuffins

That’s it.  They’re that simple.  Now for the Points Plus Value of these delicious muffins.

When you make 18 muffins= 3 PPV for 1 muffin; 5 PPV for 2 muffins!

I also did the math for making 24 muffins (2 PPV for 1; 4 PPV for 2) and for 12 muffins (4 PPV for 1; 8 PPV for 2) using the same amount of batter. I went with 18 muffins because it was a little more PPV friendly when I ate two, saving me a whole point.  That makes a world of difference in my book.

These muffins are amazing when you pop them in the microwave for a few seconds.  Have them for breakfast with a bowl of fruit or have them as dessert or a snack.  I love them with a cup of pumpkin spice coffee or tea.  There’s really not much to feel guilty about when you replace the oil and eggs with a vegetable.  🙂  This keeps my tummy happy, my sweet tooth happy and my waistline happy, all at the same time.

Enjoy!

Food Find: Aldi Hummus

IMG_4031

 

I am a huge hummus fan.  It’s seriously a problem.  While hummus is frequently seen on the lists of healthiest foods for you to eat (and it is. I’m definitely not disagreeing here) with its fresh, wholesome ingredients like olive oil and chickpeas, the truth is that the Points Plus values (or calories, whichever one you count) can add up rather quickly if you’re not careful.

I have found many different types of hummus with varying degrees in the PPV area.  Some hummus types are 2 PPV per serving, some are 1 PPV for one serving, but it you double it you’re at 3 PPV, not 2, etc

And then there are hummuses like the one pictured above.  It is 1 PPV per serving. Period.  Which means I enjoy 2 servings (which is 2 oz of the stuff.  That’s quite a bit) for only 2 Points Plus!  This definitely makes me a happy person.

 

IMG_4033

 

That’s only one reason I am so jazzed about this awesome food find.  The other is that I found it at Aldi.  Aldi is a place with off brands that is incredible budget friendly if you’re looking to save money while you shop.  Some of their products are just okay, but when I find things that taste great, are a bargain price, AND Weight Watchers friendly… well, it’s just an all around trifecta of food awesomeness.   That makes me one happy lady!

The price tag on this heavenly hummus is only $1.99, and hummus fans know that’s a major bargain.  I’ve only tried the roasted garlic flavor, but I’ve seen it there in traditional plain as well.

So, hunt down your local Aldi my friends and stock up your fridge with a guilt free, great tasting, good for you treat!

 

 

FoodFindsTitleLG

Yoplait 100 Greek Yogurt NEW Flavors!

IMG_4027

Target goers, listen up.  These Weight Watchers endorsed Greek yogurts are now coming out in new favors.  The two that I’ve found are Strawberry Cheesecake and Apple Pie.  Of course, as soon as I saw them I snatched them up and couldn’t wait to get home and try them.

Here’s the verdict:  Straberry cheesecake is pretty good.  Tastes pretty much like you would expect it to.  I tossed some real berries in there and it’s a nice treat.

Now the apple pie…oh the apple pie!  When I put my first spoonful in my mouth, my instant thought was there’s no flavor…it’s just yogurt.  Then, a few seconds later… BOOM!  Apple pie mania in my mouth!  It was absolutely delicious.  To DIE for apple pie flavor in a high protein, 2 Points Plus (100 calorie for non-Weight Watchers readers) and great as breakfast, a snack, or even dessert!  Erik and I were both very pleased with the Apple Pie yogurt.

IMG_4025

Target also sells these for $0.99, which is a great price on top of everything else, especially if you have a coupon!  I have not seen these particular flavors available anywhere else, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t out there.  Let me know if you’ve seen them somewhere besides Target.

Creative Kitchen Idea

Chop up an apple, put it in a bowl and sprinkle it with some cinnamon.  Pop it in the microwave for 3 minutes or until the apples bake to as soft as you desire.  Then take the yogurt and put that on top of your baked apples for an “apple pie a la mode” of sorts.  I plan on topping it with an apple cinnamon granola that I have as well. 2 Points Plus with just the yogurt, 7 Points Plus with the granola.

Mmm Mmm apple pie goodness with much less guilt 🙂

 

 

FoodFindsTitleLG