Weight Watchers Friendly Pumpkin Pie

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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.

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Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal

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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

 

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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

 

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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

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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

 

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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.

 

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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 🙂

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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!

3 Points Plus Sausage Pizza

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A kitchen creation from a die hard pizza fan.  I was really craving pizza the other day, so I looked around my house and found 4 ingredients that make a killer sausage pizza for only 3 Points Plus, and I’m going to share the awesomeness with all of you.

 

Here is what you’ll need:

  • 1 Mission Carb Balance soft tortillas (small)
  • Canned tomato sauce
  • 1 oz Fat free shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 a serving (1/4 cup) Jimmy Dean turkey sausage crumbles
  • Spices of your choosing (I used oregano and basil)

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The Points breakdown is 1 Point for the tortilla, 1 Point for the cheese, and 1 Point for the 1/2 serving of sausage.   The tomato sauce and the spices are 0 points 🙂

-Preheat your oven to 400 degrees or so and build your pizza.

-Spray your cookie sheet (or pizza pan) with a little nonstick olive oil spray ( I find it helps crisp the tortilla a bit)

-Once your oven is hot, pop this baby in the oven for 5-7minutes, until the cheese is melted and the tortilla starts to crisp

Then remove and enjoy!

This is a great way for me to curb my pizza craving in an extremely guilt free way.  If you’re craving more, two of these end up totaling 7 points plus.  The two tortillas end up equalling 3 Points Plus.

Delicious!

Diet Friendly Betty Crocker Pumpkin Spice Cookies

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Thanks to a pumpkin spice themed gift from my aunt our pantry ended up being the proud owner of a Betty Crocker Pumpkin Spice Cookie Mix. As per usual, I took a look at the ingredients to see what I could substitute my lower calorie (and thus, lower Points Plus value) options for and decided this was another Betty Crocker mix worth experimenting with.

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As usual, the substitutions were 100% pure canned pumpkin instead of butter (removing 24 Points Plus from the batter), and an egg white instead of an egg (removing 2 more Points).

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So the recipe is as follows:

1 Package of Betty Crocker Pumpkin Spice Cookie Mix

1/2 Cup of canned pure pumpkin

1 egg white (this ends up being about 1/4 of a cup of the All Whites. I weigh mine and one egg is 46g

2 Tbsp Water

Preheat your oven to 375. Mix all ingredients.  Yield should be 18 regular cookies or 16 large ones.  I somehow got 19 large cookies..

Since I managed to yield the serving size on the package, I was able to calculate the Points Plus value of the cookies: 3 PPV for one (rather large) cookie.

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I will say this: They did come out much more cakey than chewy cookie style.  That’s the only problem with eliminating all of the fat in the recipe.  However, they did end up more like “muffin top” type treats, which Erik and I are finding satisfaction with anyway.  If I could do it again I would change one or two elements.  It’d be an experiment worth trying to see if either of these help:

  • Use a real egg, yolk and all, rather than the egg white
  • Go for a combination of butter and pumpkin, maybe using 1/4 cup of each to help balance things out a bit better.

These do satisfy my pumpkin flavored sweet tooth, so for that I am grateful.  They’re also the right consistency to warm up un the microwave before eating (and then maybe putting some Pumpkin Spice ice cream with them.. Yum!!).

What are your favorite fall treats to diet down?  Have you tried anything similar to this, or something even better? Let me know in a comment below!

Happy munching!

Slimmed Down Betty Crocker: Part 2

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As you may remember awhile back I posted about how I slimmed down the Betty Crocker Supreme Brownie/Cookie Bars by replacing the butter and eggs in the recipe with unsweetened applesauce (for butter) and Egg Beaters (for eggs).  The result was good, but it was a bit dense and not as fabulous as I would have liked.  I know that with cutting out a bunch of the oil and fat in things will result in some sacrifices in the gooey-ness department, but I was convinced there still had to be a better way.   As you all know by now, I’m slightly obsessed with canned pure pumpkin.  One of my favorite uses is to put it in cake mix and voila, a moist and delicious cake.  That’s when the lightbulb went on:

If I already use pumpkin with cake mix and the result is amazing, why don’t I try using the pumpkin as my butter replacement instead of the unsweetened applesauce?!

Off to the grocery store I went, anxious for take 2 of the Supreme Bar adventure.  I did the exact same thing as before: Follow the directions on the box, but use my substitutions.  THis time I used pumpkin instead of butter and an egg white rather than egg or egg substitute.  The result was fantastic!

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First, you can see how much less runny the cookie dough ended up.  With the applesauce, it practically could be poured on top of the brownies.  With the pumpkin the dough actually came out the consistency of cookie dough. Right off the bat I knew I had to be on to something with this.  It baked well and came out looking like it had more moisture than the old one

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Can you see the amazing difference?  These were taken in same spot on the stove.  The one on the right is my old way with the applesauce, and the left is with the pumpkin.  Clearly the one on the left looks more decadent (and it was).  As you can see, Erik couldn’t wait to give this a try, and all of the sudden I hear “Baby, this is much better than the first time.”

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So the bottom line here is that in baking, canned pure pumpkin is an amazing 0 Point substitute for butter.  Added bonus, you know you’re getting a vegetable in while having your guilt free treat!  4 Points per serving.  Enjoy my friends.

Crunching on Kale

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I am not a girl who loves her veggies.  In fact, I basically force myself to eat them because I know they are healthy and the are 0 PointsPlus, so they’re great for bulking up meals at no extra cost to my PointsPlus tracker.  Fruit I will eat all day; veggies, not so much.   That being said, I am a fan of figuring out ways to get those veggies into my belly and actually enjoy them.  I’ve been hearing of kale chips for quite some time, and I decided it was finally time for me to join in the craze and try them myself.

What’s nice about them is you can enjoy them guilt free.  All you’re doing is crisping this really healthy leafy green and adding a bit of salt.  I was skeptical at first, but these babies do crisp up, and so much so that the chip practically dissolved once it hits your mouth.  There is definitely still a green veggie taste to the chips, but they crispy texture and the salt helps me trick my brain into believing I am eating something much more sinful than a bunch of leafy greens (rather than greasy fried potato chips).

All in all the kale chips are a healthy, easy to prepare snack that could help you curb your salt cravings.  I imagine you could use some garlic powder instead of salt to offer a different flavor, but below is the basic recipe.

Ingredients: Kale, olive oil cooking spray, salt.

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Preheat the oven to 325 degrees

Take a cookie sheet (I lined mine with foil) and give it a quick spritz with the cooking spray

Wash your kale and just rip it off of the stem into pieces.  The kale does shrink while it’s in the oven, so don’t make them to small.  Put the pieces on your cookie sheet and spritz the kale itself with one quick spray of the olive oil cooking spray (other recipes I’ve seen use amounts of oil that would add PointsPlus to the recipe.  Keep it really light here) and then sprinkle with salt to taste.

Put your pretty greens in the oven for about 15 minutes, adjusting cook time based on desired crispness.

Let cool and enjoy your healthy snack.  Crunch away and be guilt free 🙂

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Slimming Down A Betty Crocker Boxed Favorite

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Yesterday I went to the grocery store to get some fruit to last us until our usual grocery shopping trip that Erik and I do together, and I was given the mission to find something sweet for dessert for the evening.  I went to the store with the intention of experimenting with PB2 anyway (post on that to come later), so I was on the “let’s see what we can substitute” kick.  After looking at my options in the baking aisle I decided that the Betty Crocker Supreme Bars were going to be the other experiment of the night.

Now, for those of you who have not picked up this wonder in a box, you’re missing out.  Miss Crocker basically took two of the world’s greatest things (brownies and chocolate chip cookies) and put them in the same box.  As with most boxed sweets, butter/oil, eggs and water are the only add-ins before the batter hits the pan.  There are two separate bags; first you whip up the brownie mix and put that in an 8 x 8 pan, then you make the cookie dough and distribute little balls of it on top of the brownie batter, bake and enjoy.

Now enter the substitutes.

1. A round cake pan because I somehow failed to realize that we had no square baking pans in our apartment.  With a wedding in 5 months, I figure at this point it isn’t worth it to buy one since it’s on our registries.

2. Rather than whole eggs, I used egg substitute (the Harris Teeter brand of Egg Beaters).  This knocks out some of the cholesterol and fat from the regular egg

3. Instead of using butter/oil I used unsweetened applesauce.  Rather than the 92 grams of fat (!!) and 24 PointsPlus that the recipe calls for, the unsweetened applesauce costs 0 PointsPlus.  HUGE difference.

I just followed the directions as written using my little substitutes rather than the ingredients listed.  The result was not as scary as I expected.

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The cookie dough batter did come out a little runnier than what I presume is normal, so rather than balling it up to place around the pan I was able to practically coat the brownies in the cookie dough.  Once out of the oven, we sliced it pizza style and gave this experiment a try.

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The most notable difference is the fact it turned out to have a cakey consistency rather than an ooey gooey brownie, which is not a surprising thing considering I eliminated 95% of the fat in the recipe.  When slimming down a decadent dessert you know you’ll have to make some sacrifices in the gooey department, so when taking the whole diet-substitute thing into consideration this turned out really well.  We tested it on our guests last night, and it seemed to go well.

After pondering the cakey result of this mix and my peanut butter cookie cup experiment (I got slightly dense cake rather than gooey peanut butter cookie) I think I’ll be giving this one more go and I will replace the applesauce with canned pure pumpkin.  I’ve made several things with pumpkin and the amount of moisture it keeps in cakes is incredible.

Tell me about your recipe slim down secrets.  I’m always anxious to try new ones.

Have a decadent (yet guilt free) day!