January 30, 2015

#DeliciousBowl Healthy Caramelized Onion Dip

Caramelized onion dip made with Chobani
Looking for something to snack on during the Super Bowl but don't want to go overboard on the fried, unhealthy eats? This caramelized onion dip made with Greek yogurt is a healthy alternative to the prepackaged soup mixes that you just dump into a container of sour cream and gorge on. The onions caramelize for hours, giving it a rich, deep flavor that you just can't get from a packet of spices. This dip gave me the perfect excuse to repurpose the container of Chobani Non-Fat Plain Greek Yogurt that I had in my fridge. Greek yogurt is a really great substitute for oil, mayo, sour cream, you name it. Plus it's packed with healthy probiotics - HELLO you're dipping your way to health with this recipe!

Chobani is making a bold statement on Super Bowl Sunday by saying "we're eating, not tweeting." They're encouraging people to spend the day with their friends and family, instead of on their phones. Being a social media manager, this is always difficult for me but if I've got my hands full of tasty caramelized onion dip, I know it'll be a little easier! Chobani challenged a bunch of bloggers (like me) to come up with a healthy "bowl" recipe using Chobani as the key ingredient. You can see what they came up with on their tumblr: http://madewithchobani.tumblr.com (ps. did you know I'm on tumblr, too? aimstar.tumblr.com)
#DeliciousBowl Caramelized Onion Dip
#DeliciousBowl Healthy Caramelized Onion Dip
  • 2 Vidalia onions
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 32-oz. container Chobani Non-Fat Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • Fresh veggies for dipping
    • Okay, I also used potato chips because come on
Chop all the onions and set aside
Caramelized onion dip
Caramelized onion dip
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook the onions low and slow for the next hour and a half, stirring every 10 minutes. When the onions begin to stick to the bottom of the pot, deglaze with 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar. Continue cooking for another half an hour.
Caramelized onion dip
The onions will break down and should turn a deep, deep brown color. When the onions have reduced to about one cup, remove from heat and set aside to cool down to room temperature. 
Caramelized onions
Empty the container of Chobani Non-Fat Plain Yogurt into a large bowl. Stir in the caramelized onions, season with salt and pepper again, and add the garlic powder. Stir well to combine and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight before serving. I reused the Chobani container to store the dip in the fridge!
Caramelized onion dip
Chobani caramelized onion dip
Serve with fresh veggies, potato chips, whatever you like to dip and enjoy! Don't forget to look up from your phones every once in a while :) Happy #DeliciousBowl!
Chobani caramelized onion dip
Chobani caramelized onion dip
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January 29, 2015

Miso-Chicken Ramen

Miso-Chicken Ramen
Unless you've been living under a rock the past couple of days, you know that the Northeast was hit with a MASSIVE blizzard and Massachusetts got the worst of it. We were pummeled with a ton of snow, which meant travel bans, school and office closures, and excuses to hunker down and stay indoors. The snowpocalypse gave me the opportunity to make this amazingly delicious, semi-involved and time consuming soup. The beauty of this ramen is the miso mushroom broth, which is packed with tons of umami tastiness. While ramen can definitely be intimidating and this recipe has alot of steps, it's not hard to follow and is worth the effort!
Miso-Chicken Ramen
Miso-Chicken Ramen
Recipe adapted from Cooking Light
Serves: 6, Serving Size: 1 bowl (1 1/2 cups broth, 2-oz. noodles, 1 chicken thigh, 1/4 cup mushroom mixture, 1/2 egg, 1 tsp sambal) PointsPlus: 12 (give or take...)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2-oz. dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 tsp canola oil, divided
  • 6 skin-on, boneless chicken thighs (skinless is fine as well)
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black epper
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp yellow miso
  • 2 tbsp lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp prepared ginger
  • 1 cup chicken stock (I use Better Than Bouillon)
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 8-oz. fresh Chinese egg noodles (or whatever noodle you prefer)
  • 1 tbsp dark sesame oil
  • 16-oz. mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
  • 2 tbsp sambal oelek, divided
Miso-Chicken Ramen
  • Preheat oven to 350f. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil and add dried porcini mushrooms. Remove from heat and let the mushrooms steep for 15 minutes. Drain through a sieve over a bowl, reserving both the porcini mushrooms and the steeping liquid. Chop the porcini mushrooms then set aside both the mushrooms and liquid for later.
  • While mushrooms are steeping, season chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in an oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Add chicken thighs, skin side down, and sear until browned. Repeat on other side then put the skillet in the oven to finish cooking the thighs for 20 minutes, or until done. 
  • Heat remaining teaspoon canola oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and carrot and sauté 2 minutes. Combine miso, soy sauce, and ginger. Add the miso mixture, steeping liquid, chicken stock, 1 cup water, and garlic to the Dutch oven. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain broth mixture through a sieve over a bowl, discarding the solids. Return the broth mixture to the Dutch oven and bring to a boil. Once the broth mixture has come to a boil, cook the noodles according to package directions. Remove from heat when done.
  • While the broth mixture is coming to a boil, heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil in a pan. Add the fresh mushrooms and sauté 8 minutes. Add the reserved porcini mushrooms to the pan to heat them through then remove from heat. 
  • Place the eggs in a small saucepan, adding water to cover. Bring to a boil, cook for 1 minute, then remove from heat and let stand for 2 minutes. Drain and rinse the eggs under cold water. Peel the eggs and cut them each in half.
  • Divide the broth-noodle mixture evenly among 6 bowls. Top each bowl with 1/4 cup mushroom mixture, 1 chicken thigh, 1/2 egg, 1 tsp sambal, and the sliced scallions. 
Miso-Chicken Ramen

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January 22, 2015

Prosciutto, Pear, & Blue Cheese Sandwiches

I eat a sandwich almost every single day. I never get bored because I can always change them up with different condiments, proteins, crunchy things, sweet things - sandwiches are one of the most personal foods you can make. It can be customized to your exact likeness and altered continuously on the road to flavor perfection. 

This sandwich doesn't need any alterations because it's perfect, just the way it is. With elements of crunch, acid, sweetness, fattiness, and saltiness, it's a powerhouse of flavor and texture. Best part? It's takes maybe 10 minute tops, it's piled with foods you most likely have at home, and the version I made was only 8 PointsPlus. So you get sandwich perfection while still being healthy? SOLD. 

The bread I used was Eureka! GRAINIAC and it's amazing. It's chock full of healthy grains, tastes SO good and is so good FOR you! It's my go-to bread for every sandwich I make (and I make alot of sandwiches). I haven't tried all of their breads yet, but I'm sure they're just as delicious as the others.

Prosciutto, Pear, & Blue Cheese Sandwiches
Recipe modified from Cooking Light
Serves: 2, Serving Size: 1 sandwich, PointsPlus: 8
  • 4 slices multigrain bread (preferably Eureka! GRAINIAC or SEEDS THE DAY)
  • 1/2 tbsp butter, softened
  • 2 cups arugula, loosely packed
  • 1 small shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1-oz. thinly sliced prosciutto
  • 1 small, ripe pear, cored and thinly sliced (I used Bosc)
  • 1-oz. crumbled blue cheese (you can also use sliced)
  • Preheat the broiler
  • Put the 4 slices of bread in a single layer on a baking sheet and broil 3 minutes or until toasted. Turn bread over and spread butter evenly over the slices. Broil another 2 minutes or until toasted
    • You can obviously also just do this in a toaster...
  • Combine the arugula and shallot in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar then season with pepper; toss well to coat. Divide the arugula mixture evenly among 2 bread slices (buttered side up) then top with 1/2-oz. prosciutto. Divide the pear slices and cheese evenly among the arugula and prosciutto topped bread slices then close each sandwich with the remaining bread slices
    • OPTIONAL: Return the sandwiches to the broiler until the blue cheese melts a little
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January 13, 2015

Tortellini & Sausage Skillet Bake

All my Weight Watchin' ladies know about Emily Bites because her blog rules. Regardless of if you're trying to lose weight or not, if you like to EAT then go to her blog. Now. Go. Seriously. She creates lightened up versions of comfort food (aka the best kind of food) and has an entire tag just for BUFFALO flavored dishes. I mean, how can you not like that?! Girlfriend KNOWS what she's doing and I've liked literally every single recipe I've made of hers. 

I made this amazing tortellini and sausage skillet bake the night before I ran my first 5K in an effort to "carboload," even though I'm new to running and the weird things you need to do to run better, like eating weird gooey packets of gel mid-run and eating pasta the night before an event. It was a HIT! 1 cup per serving is just enough because it's so hearty and filling. You can completely customize the veggies based on what you like or don't like. 

Tortellini & Sausage Skillet Bake
Recipe modified slightly from Emily Bites
Serves: 10, Serving Size: 1 cup, PointsPlus: 8
  • 1 lb mild (or hot) chicken sausage, casings removed (you can use turkey sausage, too)
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 8-oz. baby bella mushrooms
  • 8-oz. chopped zucchini
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 15-oz. can tomato sauce
  • 15-oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 1/2-oz. Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 1 lb refrigerated cheese tortellini
  • 1 cup shredded reduced-fat mozzarella cheese
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the sausage while breaking it apart, until it starts to brown. Add the onion, mushroom, zucchini, and garlic. Sauté for 10 minutes until the meat is cooked through and the vegetables have softened. Season with salt and pepper
  • Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, paste, basil, Parmesan cheese, and tortellini, stirring until well combined. Cover the skillet with a lid and cook until the sauce bubbles. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the tortellini is cooked, about 8 minutes
  • Remove the skillet from heat and sprinkle the mozzarella over the the top. Place the lid back on the skillet for about 2 minutes until the cheese is melted. Remove the lid and serve it up! I added hot sauce for extra flavoring. YUM!
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January 12, 2015

Meatless Monday: Mushroom Miso Ramen

RAMEN: it's trendy, it's hip, it's filling, it's delicious and easy to make AND Weight Watchers friendly with this recipe. Spicy, warming soups are the best for wintertime dinners and on cold nights after a long work day (followed by a frigid training run), they're absolute perfection. It doesn't hurt that this takes maybe half an hour to make, tops. The original recipe called for chicken but I like to follow Meatless Mondays (almost a year doing this now!) and omitting the meat did NOT omit the flavor. If you don't like mushrooms (what are you nuts?!), then this one isn't for you.

Mushroom Miso Ramen
Recipe modified from Eating Well
Serves: 4, Serving Size: about 2 cups, PointsPlus: 7
  • 1 package of ramen noodles, seasoning packet discarded
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil, divided
  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced, whites and greens separated
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger (I used the ginger from a tube and it worked well)
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 tbsp white miso
    • This has been hard for me to find anywhere other than Trader Joe's in the refrigerated section. It keeps for a really long time so don't worry about buying it and never using it again. I'm sure you'll find another miso recipe within a year!
  • 1 1/2 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce (I never use full sodium)
  • 8 cups chopped bok choy
  • 4-oz. shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
  • *You can absolutely add other veggies into this like snow peas, snap peas, kale, radishes, whatever you like!
  • Sriracha, optional
  • Cook the ramen noodles according to the package directions. Drain and set aside
  • Heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add scallion whites, garlic, and ginger and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add water, miso, soy sauce, and remaining 1 tablespoon sesame oil and bring to a boil
  • Stir in the bok choy and mushrooms (and any other veggies you may have added) and return to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook until the veggies are tender, about 5 minutes
  • Divide ramen noodles among four bowls and top with 2 cups each of the soup. Spice it up with Sriracha or your favorite hot sauce!
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January 8, 2015

Kale & Apple Salad with Salmon

Kale and Apple Salad with Salmon
Oh, oh, oh this meal is so good and SO easy to make. While the salmon is the protein of this dish, the kale and apple salad is definitely the star. Who knew raw kale could taste so good?! (Well, I did actually). It's mixed with crunchy apples, nutty cheese, and dates, bringing sweetness, tanginess, and deliciousness to the plate. The recipe from Food Network includes slivered almonds, which I can't eat due to an allergy, but feel free to add them if you want! It will change the PointsPlus value, don't forget (if you're checking). Everything takes under 10 minutes to make so it's the perfect midweek meal when you're worn out and the last thing you want to do is cook. 

Though I just put the salmon right on top the kale salad, I think next time I would flake it into the salad before plating it and just have it all mixed together. I'm absolutely making this one again soon!

Kale & Apple Salad with Salmon
Recipe adapted from Food Network
Serves: 2, Serving Size: 5oz. salmon, 2 cups kale salad, PointsPlus: 10
  • Two 5-oz. salmon fillets (I bought frozen because it's cheap and I'm broke)
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 1 bunch kale (I used purple cause it's pretty AND yummy), ribs removed and ripped into little pieces
  • 1/4 cup dates, thinly sliced
  • 1 apple, thinly sliced into matchsticks
  • 3 tbsp grated pecorino
  • Preheat the broiler. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil and lightly spray with cooking spray. Put the salmon on top and season with salt and pepper. Set aside
  • Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, and cayenne pepper in a large bowl. Add the kale, tossing to coat and season with salt and pepper. Let stand for 10 minutes then add in the dates, apples, and pecorino, tossing to coat
  • Place the salmon under the broiler for 8-10 minutes, or until desired doneness
  • Divide the kale salad into two boils (there will be leftovers) and top each with one piece of salmon
  • Dig in! I also added a little more hot sauce for extra deliciousness

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January 5, 2015

January Goals & Meatless Monday: Spaghetti Squash Primavera

Happy 2015! I think making resolutions and goals for the entire year is a bit intimidating, so I'm going to start setting monthly goals in an attempt to better myself both personally and professionally and make 2015 a great year. Looking back on 2014, it had alot of ups and downs and crying and eating new foods (eggplant) and not eating foods (celery). At the end of it, I'm 44 pounds lighter, healthier, energetic, and a runner. Did I ever think any of those things would happen in the course of a year? Nope but I'm so glad they did because now I have not only new eating habits, but a new lifestyle. I'm hoping that 2015 can follow in last year's footsteps so here are some goals to get me started! And don't worry - there's a recipe down there eventually!
1. Start training for my first half marathon ever on a strong, positive note. 
2. Try to spend less money and be more conscious of budgeting and expenses.
3. Either love it or leave it with this blog. I want to take the month to decide whether it's worth it for me to continue posting here, regardless of any actual readers or not. Does it make me happy? Do I post about things that I enjoy? Is it boring just seeing a recipe every day?
4. Read more.
5. Be more positive, stop putting negativity out into the world. 
Do you have any goals for this month (or year)? I'm sure more will come up and I hope the ones above stick around past January!

Now for the eats...
As I've said in the past, when I first started Weight Watchers, I was nervous I wasn't going to be able to eat all the delicious food in the world and I'm a big eater. I'm so grateful to have found the healthy eating blog, Skinnytaste, because the recipes are not only healthy but they're incredibly delicious. I would make this spaghetti squash primavera again in a heartbeat. It even got me to eat zucchini!
Spaghetti Squash Primavera
Recipe modified slightly from Skinnytaste 
(ps. I got her cookbook for my birthday and I cannot wait to get cooking!)
Serves: 2, Serving Size: 1 3/4 cups, PointsPlus: 8
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 small spaghetti squash
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 cup zucchini, diced
  • 2 cups marinara sauce (I used jarred because I was in a rush)
  • 1/2 tbsp grated Parmesan
  • 3oz. fresh mozzarella
  • Preheat the oven to 400f. Cut spaghetti squash in half long ways and scoop out the seeds and membrane. Season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Place on a baking sheet, cut side down and bake for 1 hour. Once cooked, scrape out the strands into a bowl
  • In a medium pan, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the shallot, garlic, red onion, and  carrots and saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the zucchini and season with salt and pepper
  • Add the marinara sauce and increase the heat to medium, simmering the vegetables until they are tender-crisp, about 4 minutes. Add the spaghetti squash, Parmesan, and cook 1 minute
  • Divide the vegetable and sauce mixture into two small, oven safe dishes. Place 1.5oz mozzarella cheese over each dish and stick under the broiler until the cheese melts
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