Posts Tagged ‘ pasta ’

Blast from the Past: SpaghettiO’s

Oh the foods of our youth. Growing up, one of those was Spaghetti-O’s, a staple of the daycare I went to as a young-un. Well, recently, Campbell’s latest marketing campaign has been about not telling kids that the pasta rings in tomato goop is actually good for them. I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t check this out right?

Well, cue a trip to my grocery store with my trusty Weight Watcher’s slide rule, and me hunching down in the aisle as mom’s shovel the cans into carriages for a look-see.

Looking into it, each can has 2 servings, but I combined the nutrition as I polish off a can myself. For sheer points, I looked at a can of the “Plus Calcium” because why not? More calcium? Sure! Nutritionally we’re talking 340 calories, 2g of fat, and 6 g of fiber per can giving us a point value of 6. Not too bad at all for a 66 cent price point.

What’s more amazing is what else these can’s have to offer. With my workout, I’m always looking to add more protein to my diet. These cans are packing a whopping 12 g per pop, not to mention 60% of my daily calcium, and 50% of vitamin D as well as other basic vitamins and minerals. This stuff is good…for you.

Well, I’ll be the first to admit it folks, as an adult, Spaghetti-O’s have become my staple go-to quick meal when I don’t have much time to cook dinner. I serve them up with a chopped up 98% Fat Free turkey dog, and some green beans and I am good to go. Freakishly nutritious, and childishly delicious. Hey, whatever works right?

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Review: Smart Ones Pasta with Ricotta and Spinach

So, those of us in the diet world are all to aware of what waits for us in the frozen food section of the grocery store. Moving past the temptation that is the ice cream, and dessert section, we fall upon the frozen foods. Here we can focus on our three pillars: Lean Cuisine, Smart Ones, and Healthy Choice (I’m sure there are other options, but these are what stare me in the face).

Over my years of dieting, I have learned one main rule of diet frozen food: sometimes it is good, and sometimes it is very very bad, and it has nothing to do with what the “intended” meal was. It’s just the way it goes, as some things lend themselves more easily to diet-ising. Some of my favorites are the Simple mac and cheese, or pasta with meat sauce. Salisbury steak is to be avoided at all costs. And still, that’s just my preference.

Anyways, Sunday night saw me trying to end the weekend on a positive note, so I was looking for cheap, easy, and healthy. Hello Smart Ones. Well, I say the “new” flavor, and said why not. It’s hard to go wrong with pasta and cheese.  Talk about luck, we have a winner folks.

This new frozen meal is awesome. The pasta in it was made up of hardy ribbons that oozed the surprisingly tasty and filling white cheese sauce. I mean, the stuff had substance. The pasta was weighty, and didn’t turn to mush in my mouth. The ricotta cheese sauce was actually thick, and flavorful without being a paste. If I hadn’t microwaved this, it might have been homemade for all I knew. I’m just saying this folks, for 5 points, you can’t go wrong here.

I will be buying this again, and keeping it as a staple in my freezer. You should do the same. It’s not a compromise, this stuff is a treat.

What’s for Dinner: Grilled Zucchini and Pasta Medley

So this week has been a little different in the dinner department. I’m not sure why, but my dojo is closed all this week, so no class. What does this mean? It means I get to cook five meals this week instead of three.

So, what does one do when faced with options? See what’s on sale! And this week, fresh zucchini and summer squash were on sale. There isn’t much that’s better in the way of fresh summer ingredients than that. So, to mix it up, I decided to try grilling my veggie’s, an serving them with dill pasta and chicken medley.

To make the recipe a bit more interested, I found Maple Grove Farms Sugar Free Balsamic Vinaigrette, a great 0 calorie cooking aid. It packs a ton of flavor to the point where I like to cook with it a bit more than slapping it on a salad.

Skimming over the pasta, as it was the standard (cook chicken and pasta, add pasta to chicken, add dill, cook in pan),  we’ll get into how I prepared the zucchini and summer squash. I began by slicing them at an angle, creating what is more of an oblong disk than the standard spear, or cucumber style cut. This was to expose more flesh, and angle the seeded centers so that they wouldn’t soften too much, and fall apart while cooking. Next, I threw my veggie’s into a bowl, and added some salt, pepper, garlic, and my balsamic, hand tossing it all together lightly.

While I was preparing this, I had started to preheat my pan. I wanted it up to a good high heat so that I could produce some nice dark grill marks, and at the same time keep some firmness to the veg while it cooked. Once my pan was hot, and the veggie’s had marinated a little, on they went. I had thrown down a little cooking spray to keep them from sticking too bad. After a couple minutes, I flipped them over, and there were those gorgeous grill marks that make a food stand out. Same on the other side, and I was off eating dinner.

This was incredibly easy, and tasted amazing. If you’re looking for a fresh food, and a fun and easy way to cook it, try grilled zucchini and summer squash. Oh, and yes, for once I actually provided my own picture. I’ll try to be better about that when I talk about my cooking. Helps when you can see what I’m talking about. Oh, and before I forget! Zucchini and summer squash: zero points baby!!!

A Better Bacon Tortellini Salad

Oh father’s day. Another weekend in the summer months prime for cookouts, and family get-togethers. This past weekend saw me at a cookout/pool party thrown by my mother, and her boyfriend. As such, I was requested to bring a salad. With those instructions, I was off searching the internet for a good candidate.

After some digging, and crawling around on allrecipes.com, I settled on a Tortellini and Broccoli Salad.

Not one to settle for the standard, I took their recipe, and made it my own. Here’s the ingredients I used, and then followed their directions for putting the salad together.

Ingredients

  • 2 16oz. bags frozen tortellini
  • 2 crowns fresh broccoli
  • 1 bunch green onion
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1 lb. maple bacon
  • 1 large bottle of Hidden Valley Bacon Ranch
  • salt and pepper to taste

Their recipe is almost identical accept for some ingredient amounts, and the use of coleslaw dressing instead of Ranch. I figured that you can never have enough bacon, and I really wanted my salad to pack a wallop. Well, the salad was a hit, and I was told that I’d have to make it again. Good enough for me I suppose. Try out the recipe at allrecipes.com, or give my variation a shack for a tasty summer barbecue salad.

Photo courtesy of allrecipes.com.

Healthy Cooking: Zucchini and Summer Squash Pasta Medley

Ok, so vegitables aren’t for everyone. Exhibit A is my roommate. He has nothing against them in particular, but won’t go seeking them  out any time soon either. Me, I’m a different story. I LOVE fresh produce in my cooking, but due to expense, time, yadda yadda yadda, I usually limit it to some salad, green peppers, and onion.

Well due to an uncertain dinner schedule this past weekend, I came into my Monday night meal cooking with a little extra weekly produce: green and yellow zucchini, and of course an onion.

Now I know the whole zucchini and summer squash like group of veg isn’t for everyone. To some it’s taste, others texture, and still some simply un-adventurous people. Well dieters, and specifically Weight Watcher’s in particular should take note of these because they’re free (that’s 0 points folks) and can be cooked in any number of ways.

Well, at first I was thinking about grilling these things. It looks great, and tastes better, but laziness, and a lack of balsamic dressing scratched that plan. Instead I decided to create a pasta medley with my ingredients. Here’s how it went:

  • 1 green zucchini sliced (like cucumber), and then quartered to get reasonable chunks
  • 1 yellow zucchini chopped up the same way
  • 1 onion (your pick) sliced into half rings
  • 1 perfect portions chicken breast cut into large chunks
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pasta
  • calorie free butter spray (my cooking crutch)
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Seasoning (Italian blend, garlic, pepper, salt, and dill…and more dill)

So clearly my ingredient list wasn’t that awe inspiring, but still it was what I had. So after all the chopping, and prep work, I got my vegis cooking in one pan, chicken in another, and pasta boiling on a back burner. All of these things are pretty easy to cook, and fairly forgiving with their finishing times.

Once the chicken was cooked, I just dumped it in with the zucchini and onions to start those flavors working together. Then the pasta was done so I drained it, and chucked it in with everything else. A couple minutes, and some work with a spatula, and wallah: something edible looking.

Really, not that hard to do, and delicious would be an apt description. Oh did I mention that it made a TON!? It could probably feed two people, but it’s so low in points (2 for chicken, 4 for pasta, and just say 2 for the vegis due to volume), and I needed to get a bit closer to my total for the day, so I ate the lot. I walked away happy, and that’s all there is to it.