Minus 100 Pounds!

 

-100

Here it is!  My Weight Watchers weigh-in record from last night… see where it says Total: -100?  That means I’ve lost one hundred pounds…

I’ll say it again- 100 lbs!  (In case you’re wondering, I don’t always decorate my record, but when I do, it’s because it’s a really special occasion.)

So, how did I do this?  Well, there are lots and lots of things that helped me, many specifics of which I’m going to share in my next post, but I just couldn’t wait to share a few of the ones that have been super important.

There are three crucial things that allowed me to achieve what I never could have dreamed possible.

First of all, I’ve had an amazing support system!

 

Bob

 

My husband has been willing to put up with my cooking “experiments,” some of which were absolutely horrendous, but fortunately, many more were pretty good.  Completely re-learning how to cook took some practice!  He never complained, and ate whatever I made- what a blessing!

 

 

 

Bob & Allie
My favorite two goofy Santa’s helpers, at the retirement home Allie works at on Christmas morning. It was so much fun!

 

Allie and I have been going to Weight Watchers meetings, shopping, eating, cooking, and losing weight together, from the very first night when we began this journey together.  And Ashelyn has been my constant cheerleader, along with my entire extended family- parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, so many of my friends, and my Weight Watchers leaders and fellow members.

 

 

 

 

DSC07195
My gorgeous girls- some of my best cheerleaders!

Seriously- there is absolutely no way I could have done this, apart from support! It hasn’t been nearly as hard as I thought it’d be, but it wasn’t easy either, so without encouragement, support, patience, and acceptance, it would’ve been almost impossible not to give up.  I still have a way to go, but I’m looking forward to reaching my goal.

 

Secondly, as far as food goes…

 

chocolate bar

 

I certainly haven’t ever felt horribly deprived!  I found things that satisfy the sweet tooth, but aren’t so high in calories.  Who would’ve thought you could have truffles and lose so much?  (Try the Skinny Cow mint chocolate ice cream sandwiches too- they’re amazing!)

 

 

 

 

SCBrownies
Allowing yourself to feel completely deprived of things you love is a recipe for disaster!

 

So many really good alternatives- you might ask, “Seriously, salted caramel brownies?”  YES!  Can I have the whole box? Nope.  But I can have a couple with a big glass of ice cold milk- if I’m careful with my points the rest of the day.  And I am.  Every day- I have something sweet every single day.

 

 

 

dressing

 

I was determined not to settle for anything that I hated eating- “diet” salad dressings were always my pet peeve.  Most are honestly just nasty, but I’ve found a few that I truly love, like this one!  I’ve found this brand at Wal-Mart and Target super stores.

 

 

 

 

deviled eggs

 

I still eat most of the things I’ve always loved!  Not losing weight was not an option, but neither was giving up all of my favorite things- so I just learned to make them in different ways.

 

 

 

In the case of my deviled eggs, I use a combination of Low Fat and Fat Free mayo- honestly, I can’t tell the difference between these and the ones I’ve made with regular mayo.

FFMayo
A little of this…
LFMayo
and a little of that… and you’ve got something you can’t really tell isn’t regular mayo!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve found lots and lots of products that don’t taste like what I’ve encountered in the past, i.e. “diet” foods.  The new products I’m finding now may not taste or act exactly like full fat / calorie versions, but they’re really good, and I’ve learned how to use them in ways that mean I honestly don’t miss the full fat products.

 

Here’s a perfect example:

mozzarella
This mozzarella is just 45 cals. per ounce, compared to around 80 for most reduced fat versions. But…

 

pizza
… does this look like reduced fat cheese to you! It melts and acts almost exactly like the “real” stuff, and browns too. Oh, and it tastes fantastic!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And, third, there’s exercise…

 

H2O fitness

I’m not going to lie- activity is probably my least favorite part of the program, but having pretty workout clothes helps!  Water aerobics, or H2O Fitness class, does make this part more fun than almost any other kind of exercise I’ve tried- you almost can’t hurt yourself while exercising in the pool, and there is absolutely no sweat involved. That’s as good as it gets for this girl!

 

 

 

DSC06321

Well, OK, a nice bike ride with the hubby on a cool summer evening, providing there are no bugs, low humidity, and no rain…  that’s been a great way to get some activity in also.  A pretty bike never hurts either.  Are you noticing a trend?  Pretty things to wear and ride help!  I don’t think I’m going to get a horse out of this, but can you blame me for trying?

 

 

These are just a few of the things I’ve learned over the past 20 months or so. There are so many more I want to share, and I can’t wait to write posts about all of them!  I just really want everyone on the journey with me to know that losing and/or maintaining a healthy weight doesn’t have to be boring or miserable- you really can have delicious food, that makes you feel full and satisfied; you just have to learn a new way of going about it.  So, if you’re in, come along with me as I continue to learn, and grow, (in knowledge, not size! : ) and love cooking, eating, and losing more weight- I’ll show you how you can do it too!

Blessings!!

Abby

 

Fiesta On The Bayou

 

fiesta plate

This dish combines two of my very favorite cuisines- the ingredients are as traditionally Mexican as they come, while the technique is quintessentially Cajun Jambalaya.  The combination is truly worthy of throwing a great big old party, complete with piñata and Mardi Gras beads! And, just so you don’t have to feel guilty when you party, each serving only has about 315 calories*, so relax and enjoy.

*To see my policy on nutritional information, go here and scroll down.

 

tomatillo2
Tomatillos are little green tomato-y looking things. They’re covered in the green or brownish paper you can see here, so you need to peel this skin away to reveal the gorgeous little fruit.

To start with, remove the papery covering and wash the tomatillos, discarding the papery skin.  Then quarter them and place, skin side up, on a cookie sheet lined with non-stick foil, sprayed with non-stick cooking spray- I know, a lot of non-stick precautions, but these things get really sticky! Keep them really close together, otherwise the juice that’s released will burn.  Place in a 400F oven and roast for 20 to 40 minutes while you prep everything else.

 

 

 

 

tom roast
Here they are, roasted. I know, they don’t look like much but these little things are amazing!!

Keep a careful watch on these things- you want them to caramelize, but not burn. Once they get fairly dried out, with some brown to almost black spots, they’re done, so take them out and set them aside. I have to say, tomatillos have not always impressed me- I’ve used them before, but recently learned about roasting them and now I’m in love! They add a sweet and tangy flavor that isn’t like anything else.

 

 

Put the chicken breast cubes in a large non-stick skillet, sprayed with non-stick spray, and sauté, allowing them to brown then caramelize.

 

poblano
These are poblano peppers- aren’t they beautiful? I love the dark green skin!

While the chicken cooks, wash and dice the onions and peppers. Just treat the poblanos like regular bell peppers- wash and then clean out the membranes and seeds. They smell like they’d add heat, but they really don’t add much, if any- maybe some warmth, but definitely a distinctively Mexican flavor.

 

 

chicken casserole

When it’s done, remove the chicken to a large casserole, sprayed with non-stick spray, scattered evenly over the bottom, and then spread the rice evenly over the chicken.

 

 

Add the onions, peppers, and olive oil to the skillet and sauté until tender and lightly caramelized.

 

frontera
This is the Fontera sauce- I found it at a SuperTarget grocery store, in the international / Mexican section. For a long time I never saw Frontera products anywhere else, but recently it’s been showing up at my Wal-Mart.

While the veggies are sautéing, combine the seasonings, tomatoes, broth, and Frontera* sauce in a bowl, and stir to combine.

 

 

 

 

TJs corn
This stuff is great, AND nothing that has the Trader Joe’s name is GMO!

 

Once the veggies are done, scatter them, along with the corn, and zest over the rice. Here’s the corn I use- have I mentioned that I LOVE Trader Joe’s* stores?!

 

 

 

Now, just gently and carefully pour the stock mixture over top of the whole thing.  Cover the casserole with foil and place in a 400F oven for 45 minutes to an hour, just until the rice is done.

 

zima

In the meantime, cut the cherry or grape tomatoes in half.  These are the tomatoes I get when I can find them.  They aren’t like anything I’ve ever had- the tang and sweet tastes come at different times!  I love these things, and eat them like candy when I can get the huge container at Sam’s Club or Costco.  Or, I get the smaller one at the grocery store and hide them!

 

 

Once the rice is done, take the foil off, and carefully distribute the roasted tomatillos over the top- I had to use a spatula and peel / scrape each one off the cookie sheet, then place it on top of the casserole.  Also, scatter the tomatoes over the top.  Put the casserole back onto the oven, uncovered, and continue to bake for 15 to 20 minutes more, until the edges and top have toasted up a bit.  With each serving, be sure to include some of the soft inside and some of the toasted sides and top.  You can garnish with extra cilantro, sour cream, grated cheese, and/or lime juice, freshly squeezed over the top.

 

fiesta

 

So, there ya go, my take on fusion, the very best of two delicious worlds, so…

Let the

Fiesta on the Bayou

begin!!

 

 

 

 

 

Fiesta On The Bayou
Print Recipe
This recipe makes enough to feed a small army, but you can cut it in half if you're only feeding a few. No matter how many diners, this dish turns dinner into a festive event! Or, make a huge batch and freeze individual servings for a night when you you're not too pooped to party, but don't have the energy or time to cook.
Servings
8
Servings
8
Fiesta On The Bayou
Print Recipe
This recipe makes enough to feed a small army, but you can cut it in half if you're only feeding a few. No matter how many diners, this dish turns dinner into a festive event! Or, make a huge batch and freeze individual servings for a night when you you're not too pooped to party, but don't have the energy or time to cook.
Servings
8
Servings
8
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Peel the papery skin from the tomatillos, then wash and quarter them. Place on a cookie sheet lined with non-stick foil, sprayed wit non-stick spray, keeping them close together. Roast in oven until fairly dried and browned, about 20 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  2. Spray a very large rectangular casserole with non stick cooking spray. While the tomatillos roast, Cook and brown the chicken in a large non-stick skillet sprayed with non-stick spray. When cooked through and caramelized, scatter evenly in the bottom of the casserole.
  3. Distribute the rice in the casserole, evenly, over the chicken.
  4. Clean and dice the onions and peppers and place them in the skillet. Allow liquid to release and cook off. Add olive oil and cook until very tender and caramelized, stirring occasionally.
  5. While veggies are cooking, combine crushed tomatoes, Frontera sauce, stock, and seasonings in a bowl and set aside.
  6. When the veggies are done, scatter them evenly in the casserole.
  7. Gently pour the stock mixture over the veggies in the casserole, being careful not to disturb ingredients.
  8. Cover casserole with foil and place in the oven for 45 to 60 minutes, or until rice is done.
  9. While casserole cooks, wash and halve the cherry or grape tomatoes.
  10. When rice is cooked, remove the foil, arrange the tomatillos over the top, along with the halved tomatoes, and continue to bake for 15 to 20 minutes, in order to allow the top and edges to toast and become a little crunchy, about 15 to 20 minutes. When the top and sides a crunchy, remove the casserole and serve immediately with garnishes.
  11. Serve piping hot, with garnishes if desired.
Recipe Notes

*As always, I don't accept compensation in exchange for favorably reviewing or recommending any product or company- you can see my policy on this here.

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Apple Rice & Pork Roast Dinner

 

dinner
You can serve the pork sliced, on the side, or do what I did here, and make it into a casserole.

 

A few nights ago, I sent Bob to the store to get a rotisserie chicken- it was Weight Watchers night, and I knew I’d be starving for dinner but wouldn’t want to cook. Bless his heart, when we got home, he’d gotten a chicken, cut it all up, set the table, AND he brought me a rotisseried (I know, that’s not a real word, but it should be) pork roast for the next night!  There are many reasons I married the man, and this kind of thing is just one of them.  : ]

So the next night, I pulled out that pork roast and realized I had absolutely nothing to go with it.  Golly gee whiz, I thought to myself, guess I’ll just have to make something up, and call it an experiment.  Novel idea.  I can hear my kids’ eyes rolling round and round, ha ha!

So, I threw lots of things I know Bob loves together, and based on his reaction, it was magical!  He went back for fourths– now, you can’t beat that for a ringing endorsement!

onions
See- very thin slices! This speeds up the caramelization process. And, you need lots of onion as it shrinks down dramatically as it caramelizes. Think of it as a reduction- as the onions lose their water, and the sugar becomes concentrated, the volume decreases, but the flavor explodes.

Here’s how to do it:  To begin with, clean and peel a very large onion, then slice it very thinly.  Plate it, along with the olive oil, baking soda, and salt in a large non-stick skillet.  Over medium high heat, allow the onions to sweat, or release their moisture, then lower to heat to medium and allow them to continue to cook and brown, stirring occasionally.

 

 

If you want more detailed instruction on caramelizing onions, here is a link for a Food Network tutorial.

 

apple peeler
I’ve had several different brands- these things range in cost from about $11 to $50. The pic here is one I found at Wal-Mart, on clearance, for $11!  None of mine have lasted more than a year or two, so I just count on having to get a new one every so often. This one is my back up- I’ll never be without that again, as getting in the middle of doing 10 to 20 pounds of apples from the farmers’ market, and having one break, is not fun.

While the onions cook, peel, core, and slice the apples.  I use a fancy shamancy peeler, slicer, corer gadget to do this, like this one. Some have suction cups to hold them in place while you crank the handle; others have to be clamped onto the counter top. I like the suction cup myself, but whatever kind, this thing will change your life when it comes to cooking with apples!

 

With one of these handy dandy gizmos, I can prep enough apples for a humongous pie or cobbler in a matter of minutes– needless to say, since apple-anything is Bob’s favorite, he thinks they’re worth the investment.

Once you’ve gotten all of the apples prepped, spray a casserole with non-stick cooking spray, then add them, along with everything else, give it a stir, and cover it.  Microwave on high for 15 to 20 minutes, or until all of the moisture has been absorbed.

casserole

You can serve pork slices on the side, or do what I did and make a casserole out of the whole thing.  It’s not quite as sophisticated looking, but what can I say- I like a little bite of everything in every bite!

 

 

Apple Rice & Pork Roast
Print Recipe
Servings
6
Servings
6
Apple Rice & Pork Roast
Print Recipe
Servings
6
Servings
6
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Clean and peel the onion, slice very thinly, and caramelize in a large non-stick skillet, along with the oil, salt, and baking soda.
  2. Peel, core, and slice the apples.
  3. Spray a casserole with non-stick cooking spray, then add all ingredients and stir to combine well.
  4. Microwave for 15 to 20 minutes, or until liquid is all absorbed.
  5. Serve with slices of lean pork roast, or dice the meat and stir in to make a casserole.
Recipe Notes

As far as calories* go, the entire rice mixture- not including the meat- contains right around 850 calories.  So, each of four portions will have roughly 215, or each of six portions will have about 140.  Lean meats generally have between 30 and 45 calories per ounce.  So you can figure out how much of the rice and how many ounces of meat your calorie budget allows for.  1/6 of the rice + 4 ounces of a pork tenderloin roast will run you about 270 calories; 1/4 of the rice + 4 ounces of that pork will run you around 340 calories.  To figure this kind of information on your own, go here, where nutritional information is offered for just about any food you can think of.

*To see my policy on nutritional information, go here and scroll down.

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The French (Toast) Connection

French Toast

This is what Allie and I had for breakfast today!  I mean, who doesn’t like French anything?!  It never occurred to me that I could make such a thing and stay within my Weight Watchers program, but here it is, and it’s delicious!

I used non-stick cooking spray, challah bread, egg substitute, and milk- the only thing that’s missing from a traditional recipe is butter and the egg yolk, but both of those things are already in the bread, so this recipe pretty much has it all, after all. This is great as a complete meal- there’s protein in the egg substitute, milk, and bread, and the calories* for my plate came out to be just a smidge under 300, not including my sugar free syrup- not bad for a decadent dish like French Toast, huh?

*To see my policy on nutritional information, go here and scroll down.

 

Egg Knot Rolls
Serving size and calorie info is easier if you buy egg knot rolls like these. Just cut each one into tiny little slices- about 4 per roll, which makes for a really cute presentation. This would be perfect for a ladies’ brunchy kind of an event.

To get started, figure out the serving size you want, based on the info in the nutritional label.  I bought a day-old loaf for just $2, so I had to play with pairing up different slices and pieces to get the serving size where I wanted- about 64 grams or 2 ounces.

 

 

 

This always involves weighing for me- that only way I can know for sure that I have precisely the serving size I’ve figured calories, or PPV for Weight Watchers in my case, for.

Day-old bread is best as it soaks up the liquid, which is what makes French Toast so luscious, much better than fresh bread does.

So, once you get your slices all figured out, set them aside on a plate, and make a custard* in a wide, flat bottomed bowl or casserole, that’s big enough to accommodate all of your slices at the same time.  Combine the egg substitute, milk, and a splash of vanilla extract, then whisk to combine.  Place all of your slices of bread in the custard, flip them quickly, then let them sit and soak while you get a large non-stick skillet heated, over medium heat.

*  I know, I know, technically custard is a cooked mixture of milk or cream and egg yolk, so the mixture I’ve used is not a true custard.  But it’s going to act a lot like one, so be sure to see my notes on cooking technique further down.  (Thank you, wikipedia, for great info on this subject!)

 

infrared therm gun
This is my infrared thermometer. It just makes me feel so smart, just to say I have an infrared anything. Not that I actually know exactly what infrared means, but no one really needs to know that, right?!

So, at this point I feel totally justified in making an absolutely shameless confession and recommendation. I. LOVE. kitchen. toys.!!!!!   And if you do too, you should definitely get one of these things- it’s one of the coolest gadgets ever!  Oh, and, thank you Alton Brown- your Good Eats show is the rocket fuel for this obsession! BTW- if I could figure out any more ways to highlight “love” in the above sentence, I would- but alas, so far this is the best I know how to do with my blogging software.  I’m still learning, so please excuse the lack of expressed enthusiasm.

 

 

I was so proud when I showed this thing to my husband- he’s an engineer and he has all kinds of super-dee-duper high tech-y whatchamacallit widgety-esque thingamabobs, and even he was impressed with my new toy!  He immediately started playing with it, and I could see exactly where things were heading… so I promptly informed him thusly:  This one would NOT, ever, under any circumstances, whatsoever, be used for anything other than food prep.  At which point, he had me get right on the web and order another one for him, just like mine. This ensured I would never have to contemplate what I’d have to do to him when, not if, my tool ended up in his computer bag.  Crisis averted.

 

red dot
The laser dot shows exactly where the reading is being taken. Apparently, the piece of fabric I tested was not running a fever.

Anyway, in order to make sure your skillet is at the perfect temp, 350F in this case, you just point this thing at the surface of the skillet, squeeze and hold the trigger, and it shows exactly how hot things are getting. Now, how cool is that?  Ha ha, hot…  cool….  very punny. Make sure you move it around a bit- the skillet will actually be different temps in different places.

 

 

laser reading

See- here is where you can tell exactly what temp the surface is.  You can even change it to Celsius if you like, and there are some other buttons, but I haven’t tried them.  I don’t know exactly what they do, and for all I know, the whole thing might self-destruct, which would make me really sad.  No, I do not still have the instructions.  I generally throw them out with the box, as they tend to squelch my creativity. Insert my husband shaking his head. There’s a reason I didn’t major in engineering, and he did.  God surely has a sense of humor!  : ]

 

frenchtoast
Here is my breakfast, one side all toasty and crispy, and the other side is about to be.  So good!

Once you get through playing, or, if you don’t have one of these nifty gadgets, when a few drops of water sizzle and dance when sprinkled on the surface, you’re ready to start cooking! Spray the skillet with non-stick spray. By this time, your bread will be fairly soaked and fragile, so carefully lift each slice out of the bowl and place it gently in the skillet.

 

I use a fork, or a slotted spatula, sliding it under the bread, and lifting, to prevent the bread from breaking apart.  Once it’s nicely browned on the first side, flip it over, and spray the second side with cooking spray.

 

exampleofwhatnottodo
See the difference?  The slice on the left didn’t get cooked all the way through, so it collapsed. Epic fail.  OK, not epic- the world will not end.  But it’s really disappointing! The slice on the right cooked through, the egg and milk firmed up, and “IT’S SO FLUFFY!”  I know, shameless Despicable Me reference… but it works here I think.

Now, here is the one and only tricky thing about making French Toast- you must avoid letting the skillet get too hot! You really have to allow all of the custard (that’s hanging out, all throughout your bread) to cook all the way through, so it becomes firm.

 

If the skillet is too hot, the outside will brown quickly, but the middle won’t be cooked.  When this happens, the custard doesn’t firm up- you know, like cooked custard will when it gets hot enough!  Instead, the uncooked custard will just be runny, exactly like it was in the bowl, and your toast will be soggy, so it’ll collapse.  Which is not so yummy. Or pretty.  As you can see in my pic above, where I’ve sacrificed one poor little slice- on purpose, of course- to show you what happens when you get in a hurry.

Once both sides are nicely done, and the middle is cooked all the way through, remove to a plate, and garnish with whatever you like- I used sugar free syrup today, but I often use (in very small amounts) all-fruit spreads such as Polaner, some honey, or fresh fruit such as sliced peaches or strawberries.  And maybe a dollop of fat free whipped cream or Cool Whip.  Sprinkles if it’s a special occasion.  Whatever you like.

So, there ya go!  Who knew you could lose weight and eat French cooking?  Now we all do- ENJOY!

As always, I don’t accept compensation in exchange for favorably reviewing or recommending any product or company- you can see my policy on this here.

 

 

The French (Toast) Connection
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
1 5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Servings Prep Time
1 5 min
Cook Time
10 min
The French (Toast) Connection
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
1 5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Servings Prep Time
1 5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Instructions
  1. Slice bread and set aside on a plate.
  2. Combine the egg substitute, milk, and extract in a wide flat-bottomed bowl, large enough to accommodate all of the bread slices at one time. Whisk to combine well.
  3. Place the bread in the custard mixture, then flip them quickly. Allow them to sit and soak up the custard.
  4. Heat a large non-stick skillet to about 350F or until water drops sprinkled on the surface sizzle and dance.
  5. Spray skillet with non-stick cooking spray.
  6. Carefully lift the bread out of the bowl and gently place in the skillet to brown on the first side. Making sure the skillet doesn't get too hot.
  7. Spray exposed side of slices with cooking spray.
  8. Turn the slices and brown well on the second side. Be sure the middle of each slice gets cooked all the way through, to avoid the center of slices collapsing. (See notes and pic above.)
  9. When toast is browned and cooked through, remove to a plate and garnish as desired.
Recipe Notes

* If you don't have commercially prepared egg substitute, which is pasteurized, you can use egg whites, beaten until they're runny.  Unless these come from pasteurized eggs, they must be cooked thoroughly because raw eggs may contain Salmonella enteritidis bacteria, a dangerous food-borne illness. Again, thank you, wikipedia, for the info!

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Potato, Ham, & Cheese Lunch

lunch
Oh, so good! How can you go wrong with mashed potatoes, ham, and cheese? An ultimate comfort food combo!

 

 

 

DSC08795
I love snow! This one started around 11 pm, and I stayed up until around 2 or 3 am watching- I simply couldn’t look away. It was that really dry and fluffy kind, and it looked as if God was merrily releasing a zillion buckets of glitter, just to make everything sparkle and shine for a few hours.

Today was the first day I’ve been able to get to the gym in two weeks.  Now, I’m not going to lie- the first week, I wasn’t totally devastated when snow and ice storms pretty much shut down my sweet little town…  it was kinda nice to be hunkered down, all cozy-ed up with  family, and forced (Uh-huh! Was too!) to watch Downton Abbey and drink insane amounts of hot coffee, all snuggled up under my electric throw.  I know, right?! It’s a rough life!

 

 

H2O fitness
This is my workout outfit- a girl’s gotta have something pretty for extra motivation!

By today, though, I was dying to get out and go to H2O class!  Sadly, taking that kind of a hiatus from exercising has consequences- class was brutal.  So I went shopping.  And by the time I got home, I was HUNGRY!!  I was going to need lunch to be fast, not so high in calories as to undo all the hard work, and satisfying.

BTW- I love exercising in the pool- if you’re looking for a different kind of workout, this offers a lot- it’s virtually impossible to injure yourself, there is absolutely no sweat involved, it combines cardio and strength, you can burn upwards of 600 calories in an hour, (here’s a link for a page on the Mayo Clinic’s website that lists calories burned during various kinds of exercise) and it’s really fun!

 

Anyway, back to lunch- I doubt anyone will be shocked to learn that in a situation like this, I fell back on some of my favorite comfort foods, and I have to say, this little concoction fit all of my criteria perfectly!! It’s so simple- I’ve made it several times lately, and it’ll probably be added to my arsenal of super-duper weapons in my battle to keep losing weight.

 

TJ's mashed potatoes
These already have some butter and seasonings in them! Just microwave, bake, or make them into little potato pancakes!
tjs potatoes facts
Today I used 12 pieces, but if I wanted a lighter dish I’d use 8.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, here’s the trick- I always keep some Trader Joe’s* frozen mashed potatoes on hand, (see the pic above- they come in perfectly formed little pieces so you know exactly how many calories you’re putting into any dish) I usually have a few slices of low fat ham-  from a past dinner or deli slices, in my fridge or freezer, and I’ve always got some Cabot* 75% reduced fat grated cheddar cheese on hand- see the pic below- love this cheese!  You can also buy very low fat cubes of ham in the packaged deli section of the grocery store- great for this kind of thing, as well as Hawaiian pizza!

*I don’t receive compensation to favorably review or recommend any product or company- you can see my policy on this here.

 

Easy Peasy Pimento Cheesy cheddar
The Cabot reduced fat cheeses are absolutely fabulous!! They don’t taste or melt like other “diet” cheeses I’ve had. They come in 50% and 75% reduced fat versions.

Easy Peasy Pimento Cheesy Cabot cheese

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DSC08842
This is my mini, 1 serving casserole- I got from our local Goodwill store for less than a dollar, including the top- can’t beat that deal!

So, to put this all together in just a few minutes, put however many mashed potato pieces in the bottom of a casserole, sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

Add your ham, cubed up, if you like- that’s how I like mine.

 

 

Now, just cover your casserole, and microwave for a 2 or 3 minutes, just enough to melt the potatoes, and heat everything up.  Take the top off, sprinkle the cheese over the top, and cover again, then give it a minute or two in the microwave again, just until the cheese is melted.

 

cheese ham potatoes

You can eat it just like this if you like, or put it in the oven for a few minutes and let the cheese brown up just a bit.  You can eat it just like this if you like, or put it in the oven for a few minutes and let the cheese brown up just a bit.

 

OR…….. you could use a great big blow torch kind of a thing to brown up the potatoes and ham!!  How much fun would that be!?  Seriously- Alton Brown shows you what to buy, and how to use one here.  I’ve shown my husband several of these things in home improvement stores, but oddly, he hasn’t gotten me one yet… maybe he’s just waiting to get me one for Christmas this year!

So, there ya go- a hot and comforting lunch, ready in just around 10 or 15 minutes, tops, for roughly 320 calories.*   (Or just a few more if you sneak a dollop of low fat or fat free sour cream on top…  all of these things just go together!)

 

* This is a very rough estimate of calories- the calories in your dish will depend on the amounts and brand of ingredients you use.  Consult package information for exact calorie information.  *To see my policy on nutritional information, go here and scroll down.

 

Potato, Ham, & Cheese Lunch Concoction
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
1 5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Servings Prep Time
1 5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Potato, Ham, & Cheese Lunch Concoction
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
1 5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Servings Prep Time
1 5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Spray a mini casserole with non stick spray.
  2. Place potato pieces in casserole and cover.
  3. Microwave 2 to 3 minutes, just until thawed.
  4. Add cubed ham and sprinkle cheese over top, cover casserole, and microwave 1 or 2 more minutes, just until everything is hot.
  5. Optional: Place casserole, uncovered, under broiler or toaster oven, and allow to brown for 3 to 5 minutes.
  6. Optional: Garnish with fat free or reduced fat sour cream.
Recipe Notes

If you don't have access to a Trader Joe's store, you could always just do a double batch of mashed potatoes, the next time you make them; then use a small ice cream type of scoop to portion them out onto a cookie sheet, and freeze them. Once they're solid, just put them in a seal-able type bag, squeeze as much air as possible out, and keep them in your freezer for quick prep dishes like this one.

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