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Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Wraps – Freezer Meal

Always on the search for easy to prepare, healthy, make ahead, freezer meals, I came across a pin for Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken from Emily Bites. Below is the picture from her website. This recipe is so easy that even my favorite cellmate could make it!

Her picture looks so delicious and her blog says 1/2 cup is worth only 3 Weight Watcher points. I have to wonder if that included the bun?

Emily laid out the directions quick and easy, so easy I thought even I could do  that. I also thought it would make a great freezer meal.

When the chicken was done I thought the sauce was too watery, I wanted something thicker like a BBQ sauce. I also wanted to stay a bit healthy so I decided to ditch the bun and make it as a lettuce wrap. I forgot to by butter lettuce which is great for wraps so I used Romaine instead. Below you will see what I did.

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken 

  • 3 lbs raw boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 12 oz bottle of Buffalo wing sauce (Emily recommended Frank’s Wing Sauce)
  • 1 oz packet of dry Ranch mix ( Hidden Valley)

The original recipe included 2 tablespoons of butter, I decided to skip that to save on fat and calories.

  1. Dump the sauce and Ranch dressing mix in a bag and mix, then add chicken.  Toss in freezer.  If you don’t want to freeze then dump everything in the slow cooker.
  2. Cook on low for 8 hours.
  3. When done Shred chicken.
  4. Eat and enjoy.

Emily recommends that after shredding the chicken you let it cook on low for another hour so it absorbs the juice.  I forgot to read that part.

What I did – I took put the cooked chicken in my Kitchen Aid mixer and used that to shred the chicken.  I also saw this on Pinterest and it is just the coolest thing, shredded chicken in less than 30 seconds!

I found the sauce to be too watery so I put it in a sauce pan with about a tablespoon of corn starch and let it boil till it was thicker.  A hint my mother-in-law taught me is to put corn starch or flour in a small jar with COLD water and shake it up before adding it to any hot liquid, this way you don’t get any lumps.

I then added the sauce to the chicken and served on Romaine lettuce. (Sorry, her picture looks much more appetizing than mine)

Review: First I have to say this was so easy and quick to make, it turned out great. It was so fast and easy to prepare even with the extra steps I added thickening the sauce.  I think I could have easily added another chicken breast or two as the sauce was very plentiful.  I think it would have tasted better on a good bun but as I mentioned I am trying to cut calories. I also think this would have made a great party dip. I am a wimp when it comes to spicy food and I thought this had just the right amount of heat but great flavor.

Here is the nutrition information from Emily Bites

Yields 12 (1/2 cup) servings. WW P+: 3 per serving (P+ calculated using the recipe builder on weightwatchers.com)
Nutrition Information per serving from myfitnesspal.com: 175 calories, 1 g carbs, 5 g fat, 28 g protein, 0 g fiber

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Salad in a Bag – Healthy way to eat salads daily.

One of my healthy lifestyle goals is to increase the amount of vegetables in my diet. Not being a vegetable fan this hasn’t been easy. I am also too lazy to make a fresh salad everyday.  I have seen several posts for making salads in a jar on pinterest and I was inspired. I was worried about the vegetables getting old and rotting if I made several batches so I came up with the idea to use my Food Saver vacuum sealer. I received this as a gift several years ago used it a few times then moved it to the garage to make room in my uber small kitchen and promptly forgot about it.  I am so happy that I remembered I had it and even found a box of vacuum seal bags in the back of my cupboard. Really this just means I need to clean out and organize my kitchen a bit.

To test this method I made just two salads. I wasn’t sure how quickly I would eat them since I get really tired of having salad every day. I made these up on Sunday and had one on Monday and one on Friday. The Friday salad was just as good as the Monday one. The lettuce was fresh and crisp, and the avocados were still nice and green.

Each salad included romaine lettuce, 1/2 an avocado, a handful of : cherry tomatoes, carrots, and broccoli.

I think this is a great method for make ahead lunches, saves, time and saves money. I can’t tell you how much produce I have thrown away over the years because it rotted in my vegetable crisper.

I do have a few hints and tips.

1. Wash and dry all vegetables, especially lettuce,  thoroughly before you vacuum seal.  If you have a salad spinner use it, if not put the lettuce in a clean cloth bag like a pillow case and swing it around. This works great as a poor mans salad spinner and doesn’t take up much room in your pantry.

2. Do not include any salad dressing or oil in the bag as it will cause the lettuce to wilt.

3. Be careful not to put too much in one bag. I actually was a bit over zealous and was full after about 3/4 of each salad.

4. The bags allow you to use less dressing. When you are about to eat the salad add about 1/2 the dressing you normally would fold the bag closed and shake. You will find everything to be evenly coated and are likely to use less dressing.

5. Fold the top of the bag down to create a bowl, fewer dishes to wash!  This is my healthy lunch on Friday.

6. Bags can be washed and re-used. Just make sure to wash well by hand and prop open by placing over the blender, a tall glass, or a wooden spoon in a glass so the bag can completely air dry. If you are worried about germs, fill the bag with water and a teaspoon of bleach. swish around and rinse well. Let air dry and re use.

I like using the bags instead of mason jars because they take up a lot less room in my cupboard and I don’t have to worry about glass breaking.

A Tale of Two Salad Dressings

Yesterday I wrote about a delicious Spinach Berry Salad I made and wanted to take a moment to talk about the salad dressing I chose and the importance of reading food labels.

 

Since I started my healthy lifestyle change I have been taking the time to make more conscious decisions on haw and what I eat so I started reading and comparing labels and have been so shocked by what I have learned.

I wanted a light, low fat dressing that was healthy. After reading several bottles I narrowed it down to two choices.

 Annies Naturals Fat Free Raspberry Balsamic  and Kens Fat Free Raspberry Pecan 

Now normally I try to stay away from fat free, low calorie food because I know they make up the difference by adding chemicals, strange things, more fat for less sugar or more sugar for less fat. Salt, and God knows what. I feel in the long run a little healthy fat is better for you than strange chemicals.

Here are pictures of each dressing, sorry for the poor photography, I was using my cell phone and getting strange looks from other customers.

When reading labels the first thing you want to look at is the serving size. Make sure they are the same so that you are comparing the same information. Some manufactures reduce the serving size to make it appear they have fewer calories but if you compare equal amounts it is not always the case.

Here is what I found. Both products have a serving size of 2 tablespoons, neither have any notable nutritional value, neither had any fat.

Kens had 50 calories per serving and Annies had 30 calories. That was a significant difference. Kens had 280 mg of sodium (12% of the recomended daily intake) Annies had 10mg) Major difference!!!

Then I looked at the ingredients.

Kens: water, high fructose corn syrup, cider vinegar, sugar, cucumber juice, maltodextin, salt, Less than 2% of red raspberry juice, pecans, potassium sorbate, calcium disodium, EDTA, xanthan gum, carrageenan, onion, spice, lemon juice concentrate, garlic, natural and artificial flavor, Red #40, Blue #1

So basically it is sweet, salty, chemical water???

Annies: water, balsamic vinegar, can sugar, raspberry concentrate, distilled white vinegar, xanthan gum, raspberry flavor, sea salt.

Now except for the xanthan gum, I recognize and can pronounce all of these ingredients.

Sorry Ken, Annie is the clear winner in this round.

Ken did win one round in this battle though and that was in price. Ken was on sale for $3.59 for 16 oz while Annie was $4.29 for 8 ounces but you can purchase it online for $2.99. Still when I compare the list of ingredients, Annie is still the clear winner.

As for taste, I cannot comment on Ken’s but Annie had a nice light flavor just the right amount of sweetness and tart that makes a good vinaigrette. The dressing was a great compliment to my Spinach Berry Salad.

 

 

 

Strawberry Spinach Salad

Last week my friend took me out to lunch at Applebee’s where I had their delicious SEASONAL BERRY & SPINACH SALAD Spinach leaves tossed in our strawberry vinaigrette. Layered with juicy blueberries, sliced strawberries, grilled chicken breast, bleu cheese crumbles and honey-glazed pecans. (Picture below is from Applebee’s)

The salad was delicious and I have been craving one every since but being cheap and lazy I decided to make one of my own. I was also hoping to cut down some of the calories by eliminating/changing the honey-glazed pecans, blue cheese, and vinaigrette dressing.

Here is the nutritional breakdown from Applebees for 1/2 salad.

Salad with dressing- Calories 320, fat 17gm, carbs 21 gm, fiber 4 gm, protein 27gm

The Pin Addicts Berry Spinach Salad

Nutritional information from fatsecret.com including dressing.

Calories 164, Fat 11.13 gm, Carbs 13.54, Fiber 4.4 gm Protein 6.14 gm

Now granted my salad did not have any chicken on it but for fun I added it to the ingredients list to see how it would compare

My salad with 1/2 cup chopped chicken breast: Calories 296, Fat 16.34, Carbs 13.54, Fiber 4.4, Protein 26 gm

Wow! I was surprised I thought that my salad would have been a lot less in comparison. Either way my salad was still delicious, healthy , and in the long run a lot less expensive.

Diet tip – When eating salads and vegetables it is actually good to have a little fat with the salad. Fat helps you absorb fat soluble vitamins such as Vitamin A, D, E, and K.  The secret is to not overload your salad with fats. Use a low fat dressing, avocados, or a low fat cheese. The fat will also help you feel more satisfied and full.

Salad dressing tip: To reduce the amount of calories and fat measure your dressing before putting on your salad, also try watering down your dressing. Start with 1 tsp of water to 1 tablespoon of dressing. work your way up to 1 tablespoon of water 1/4 tsp of dressing.

P.S. the Annies Naturals salad dressing listed above is only $2.99 if you order it on their website. I paid 4.29 at my local store. They also have several other great products listed on their website.  I did not receive any compensation for this listing, I just love this dressing and wouldn’t mind if they sent me samples of their other products (hint, hint).

Easy Low Calorie Parmesan Chicken Bake

Another recipe that is so easy my husband could make it!  

There are only 4 ingredients! 

Takes only minutes to prepare!

Recently I was watching a mayonnaise commercial with a recipe similar to this and could only think Yew, ick, all that fat and grease. No don’t get me wrong, I love mayonnaise and could almost eat it straight out of the jar but since I started eating healthier I noticed that fatty greasy foods just don’t look as appealing as they used too.

Soon after watching the commercial I came across an alternative on Pinterest that uses Greek Yogurt.  I was skeptical but since I just happened to have the ingredients on hand I thought I would give it a try. The original recipe is Melt in Your Mouth Chicken. After reading through the comments I decided to change it up a bit.

Lo-Calorie Parmesan Chicken Bake

  • 3 lbs skinless chicken breasts (about 6 medium breasts)
  • 1 cup Greek Yogurt 0% fat (I used Chobani)
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
  • 2 tble Dijon mustard

1. Mix yogurt, cheese, and mustard in a bowl.

2. Dredge the chicken in the mixture to completely coat

3. Place chicken in greased baking dish, top with any remaining cheese mixture.        I used two dishes so it would fit in my crowded fridge better.

4. Bake at 375 for about 45 minutes until done.

 

 

 

 

Make Ahead– Prepared everything the night before and let sit overnight in the fridge so that when I came home from work all I had to do was heat up the oven, cook up a side, we had quinoa and carrots, and make a small side salad.

This recipe was so easy, the chicken came out tender and juicy and was full of flavor.

Alternative versions:

  • You can substitute the Greek yogurt with plain yogurt, sour cream, or mayonnaise but remember you will be adding extra fat and calories. 
  • Instead of using Dijon mustard add your own mixture of herbs and spices. Black pepper, salt, garlic powder, and a little oregano or basil.  Use crushed garlic or just some season salt. Try using your favorite poultry seasoning. 
  • Sprinkle the top with bread crumbs for a crunchy layer.
  • Wrap each breast in foil and bake on the grill.
  • Use Cheddar cheese and crumbled bacon.

My husband ended up eating two servings because it was so good, we packed the rest of for lunches, I hid two in the back of the fridge so he wouldn’t eat them before I did. 🙂 There were just as good the next day.

Enjoy! 

Grilled Pineapple-Chicken Packets-Microwave Version

I was searching for an easy recipe that my husband could make for dinner.  He is wonderful at making dinner as long as I do the shopping, find a recipe for him, then clean up the kitchen.  I usually pick something simple with few ingredients, little prep (less mess for me to clean), and ideally involves cooking on the grill.

Grilled Pineapple-Chicken Kabob Packets

In my search I came across this recipe (See above picture) for Grilled Pineapple Chicken Packets . It looked good and sounded simple enough. I bought all the ingredients, printed the recipe and left him instructions. of course something came up and he wasn’t able to make it.  Since I am not allowed near the grill since that is the man kitchen, also it is so old and with my luck if I tried to turn it on it would probably rebel, blow up and catch the patio on fire. So I decided to adjust the recipe and cook it in my Covered Baker from Pampered Chef. I am not a Pampered Chef sales rep but I love their products. They are expensive but so worth the investment.  What I love about the covered baker is that you can bake in it or use it in the microwave and food comes out great. Because it is made from stoneware it also keeps your food warm longer while sitting on the table.

Pineapple Chicken 

  • 1/3 cup pineapple preserves- I used Orange marmalade because I had it in the fridge. 
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch cubes (1 lb)
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks (Drain the juice)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

1. I placed the first 4 ingredients in my dish and mixed them together. In the future I would recommend doing this is a separate bowl and pouring on top of the chicken and vegetables but I was feeling lazy and didn’t want to dirty another bowl.

 

 

 

 

 

2. Cut up the chicken and vegetables, mix everything together and add to dish. Pour the sauce mixture over the chicken and vegetables.  I added broccoli since I am trying to eat more green vegetables. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Cook in the microwave covered for 14 minutes or until done. Every 4-5 minutes stir the chicken and vegetables to insure even cooking.  If you don’t have a covered baker bake in the over at 350 for 30-45 minutes. No liquid was added, the liquid all came from the chicken and vegetables.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Serve over rice and enjoy.

The recipe was quick and easy.  I think it would have been better on the grill but love that it is so versatile. A lot of liquid was produced by the chicken so you might want to add 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch in the beginning to thicken it while it cooks.  The chicken was still tender and juicy.

 

 

 

Pure Evil in a Jar

Have you heard of Biscof? If you haven’t you are so missing out. I first read about it on a blog by Susie Freaking Homemaker. After reading the blog about Biscoff Banana Bread, I was intrigued and made a mental note to look for the product. Then fate sent me a 15% off coupon for Cost Plus World Market, while perusing the aisles for something exotic to try I found this magical evil little jar.

Basically this is ground up cookies that are mixed to the consistency of peanut butter, or I should say cookie butter. What could be more delicious?  This creamy nectar is so delicious I almost ate the entire jar with a spoon. No joke, I couldn’t stop eating it. This is where the evil comes in. I find this is great on bagels, I melted it over some warm apple bread pudding, on toast, and my favorite, straight out of the jar. If you visit the official Biscoff website  you can find some amazing recipes and the history behind for this bit of heaven. This wonder spread out does Nutella with its deliciousness. Oh man imagine if Nutella was swirled with Biscoff? You got your Nutella in my Biscoff!  I think my taste buds just exploded at the idea.

So While I was licking any remnants out of the jar I thought perhaps I should read the label. I am so sad to say this product has no redeeming nutritional value what so ever. Evil, I tell you, pure evil. Nom, Nom, Nom.