Thursday, March 31, 2011

Low Fat Banana Oat Bread sleeping.  Out of laundry detergent.  Over-ripe bananas on the counter.  You see where I'm going with this.

Oh yeah baby.  It's banana bread, with a healthier twist, of course.  Low Fat Banana Oat Bread.  I came across this Weight Watchers recipe on one of my favorite food blogs, Joy The Baker.  She made a tiny adjustment to the original recipe, and I've made my own changes by substituting some of the all-purpose flour for whole wheat to give it some extra nutrition.  I think next time I may throw in some fresh blueberries.

This bread tastes even better and more moist the next day.  At just 4 points per serving, you can slice this and freeze it in individual portions and have yourself a nice little breakfast or as an afternoon snack. 

Recipe Adapted from:
Joy The Baker 

Makes 1 loaf, 10 slices per loaf, 4 WW points per slice (Old Points system)

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp  salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tsp canola oil
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 medium egg whites, beaten
  • 3 large ripe bananas
  • 1 cup uncooked old fashioned oats 
(Nutritional Information:  160 Cal, 2.5g Fat, 31.3g Carbs, 12.3g Sugar, 4g Protein)


Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease and flour a loaf pan and set aside. 

In a large bowl, stir together dry ingredients and set aside.

In a smaller bowl, mash bananas. Add oil and whole egg and mix thoroughly. 

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well.  Don't freak out at this point.  Your batter will be pretty thick. 

In a medium sized bowl, with an electric hand mixer, beat the egg whites until medium stiff peaks form.  I love my kitchen aid, but the hand mixer is really best for this.  Fold the egg whites into the batter in three additions.  

Pour batter into the pan and bake until the top of the loaf is firm to touch, approximately 45 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow it to cool for 5 minutes. Flip out onto a wire rack and continue to cool for at least another 10 minutes.  

Serve with a little light margarine or even a touch of honey.  Honey would be amazing with this.  You've got breakfast on the go!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mami Emma's Macaroni (Lightened up)

Two Cuban Grandmothers.  Decades of competition.  Who wins the cooking contest?  Mama Fina's food or Mami Emma's food?  I'll never tell!

So here is a little dish that we just call "Macaroni" in my family.  This is my Abuela Emma's recipe.  Well, almost.  I've lightened it up a little by adding more tomato sauce and much less butter.  Seriously, this is one your family will LOVE.

(Serves 6)

1 ham steak, diced (the single 1/2 inch slice pre-packaged kind works just fine)
1 link of chorizo sausage, diced (you can also substitute with pepperoni)
1/2 onion, chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
15 oz. can of tomato sauce
16 oz. box of penne pasta
8 oz. low moisture, skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 tbsp. of butter
1 bay leaf

(Nutrition facts: 457 cal., 17.4 g fat, 49g carbs, 26g protein, 1.6g fiber)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium sized pot, boil water and cook penne according to the package directions.  You will want your pasta al dente as it will continue to cook a little in the oven later.  When it is done, drain your pasta and set it aside.

While the pasta is cooking, over medium heat, cook the chorizo in a small skillet (about 3-4 minutes).  Line a few paper towels over a plate and pour the chorizo over it.  You want to remove as much of the fat as possible. Abuela doesn't do this, but again I've lightened this up a little, so I added this step.

In a large saute pan add butter, onions and garlic over medium heat and cook until the onions are a little soft and translucent in color.  Then add 3/4 of the can of tomato sauce and the bay leaf.  Let these flavors combine for a few minutes.

Add diced ham and drained chorizo sausage and cook for about 7 minutes on medium low heat.

While you're waiting for the ham to cook and for all those flavors to combine, this is a good time to shred your mozzarella.  Plus, I just wanted to show off this cool picture of inside my cheese grater.

Once your sauce has simmered, go ahead and mix in your pasta.

Add to a greased 9x13 in. greased casserole dish (I use PAM).  If you find that your pasta is sticking together from sitting out, run a little warm water over it.  It will magically un-stick!  Sprinkle the cheese over the top and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. doesn't this look yummy?  Like I wanna go into the fridge and eat some of it right now.  Without even heating it up.  Sigh.  Good thing Stephen took the left-overs for lunch today. Dang! 

Buffalo-Cheesy Popcorn

Popcorn has become my snack friend.  Especially being on a low-cal diet.

Crazy popcorn flavors are usually not my thing (unless it appeals to my sweet tooth--that's almost always the exception).  BUT, I've had a savory popcorn revelation or maybe it's more of a realization.  I'm not sure.  I'm too tired to tell.  What I DO know is that my mom made this over the weekend.  One taste, and I was hooked. 

This is all you need.  Seriously.  3 ingredients to snackity-snack heaven:



Pop your favorite low calorie popcorn as directed on the package instructions.  Open the bag and add a few shakes of the Red Hot sauce.  It all depends on how spicy you like it, so do this to your taste.  Did I mention there's no calories in this stuff?  If you like it hot, shake away! 

Then add about 2 Tbsp. of Reduced-Fat Parmesan cheese (mine has about 20 calories per 2 Tbsp).  Fold the top of the bag over to seal and shake.

The result?  The perfect snack to sit down in front of the TV with and catch up on the latest episode of GLEE or American Idol.  Now go make this.  It's that good.  I promise.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Loaded Low-Fat Blueberry Oat Muffins

I posted this recipe on facebook a couple of weeks ago, and finally have had the chance to add it to the blog with pictures.

My muffin kick continues these days, and I just finished another batch of these yesterday afternoon.  For some reason, if I have something a little sweet in the morning, I tend to not crave sweets the rest of the day (okay, okay except maybe around 8 or 9 pm--but that's a whole other post).  I found this recipe online and made a couple of modifications to make it my own. 

(Serves 12)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cup of oats
  • 1/2 cup of sugar (I used Splenda for Baking)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup of low-fat milk
  • 1/3 cup of vegetable oil (you can also substitute with applesauce or a mashed banana in order to eliminate the oil)
  • 3/4 cup of fresh or frozen blueberries (I used frozen)
Nutrition facts for 1 muffin: 184 calories; 7.5g fat; 24g carbs; 1.5g fiber; 3.2g protein. 


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In one bowl, combine the flour, oats, salt, baking powder, baking soda and sugar.

In another bowl, beat egg whites, milk and oil. Whisk for 5-7 mins. You want to get plenty of air into the egg mixture.

Stir into the flour mixture and mix together. Do not overmix, just until everything is combined (the batter will be lumpy).

Fold in the blueberries gently.  If you're using frozen, coat these in a little bit of flour to help prevent them from bleeding.

Grease the muffin tins with cooking spray. Fill each cup up to the 3/4 level. 

By the way, I'm absolutely in love with my vintage muffin tins.  They were Stephen's grandmother's, and I use them all the time.  Now, I just need to get some of her recipes!

Okay, so bake these at 400 degrees F for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Once done allow to cool completely, then gently remove from the cups and enjoy!

Don't these look yummy?  They are best served warm with a little bit of light margarine or spray butter and perfect with the morning coffee.  I freeze mine after they've cooled so that I can enjoy them whenever.  Just pop them in the microwave for 20-30 seconds and they are good to go.  Hope you like them!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A little diddy about me and Lose It!

Okay, so I have ZERO intention of publicly sharing my current weight.  That ranks right up there with having a route canal for me.  But, I have made some huge changes in my post-baby diet, so it's hard not to share a part that I get excited about.

First, let me just tell you that I ate anything and everything I wanted when I was pregnant.  I mean, I super-sized AND added a chocolate shake WITH whipped cream!  I'd like to blame it on the fact that I worked 60 hour weeks well into my third trimester and all we did was eat take-out.  I give serious kuddos to all the women who come home and cook every night after working a 10-12 hour day because I happily gave into whatever was convenient.  Anyway, I WILL reveal that I gained a whopping 45 lbs.  Oh ya baby.  And outside of what I saw when I stepped on the scale at each doctor's appointment, I had fun putting it on!

After having Hudson, I was on a "gotta lose the baby weight IMMEDIATELY" kick.  I'm pretty sure I uttered the words "empty carbs" within hours of giving birth.  I was soooo depressed at the state of my body.  I'm not exactly sure what I was thinking, but somehow I just sort of thought that it would fall off between breastfeeding and taking care of a newborn (sad news was that my journey with breastfeeding ended abruptly after 6 weeks...there went that automatic 500 calorie-a-day burn).  I lost 20lbs during those first 6 weeks.  Then I was then left to deal with the saddle-bagged rest of it. 

After about a month of "watching what I ate" (more like watch me drink this 300 calorie latte), I finally decided that my plan would be to go on a low-calorie diet.  I am LOVING it!!  I keep myself to around 1200 calories a day, and I'm only 10lbs from my pre-baby weight! (Mind you, I was trying to lose 15 BEFORE I found out I was pregnant, so I'm still far from my goal, but I feel like there's light at the end of the tunnel)

I've been using this fabulous little website called Lose It.  It's user-friendly and there is even an iphone app that you can use (I'm actually a Blackberry user, but my friends love their iphone app for this).  Best of all, it's FREE.  Here's the link if you'd like to check it out.  It allows me to keep track of my progress while also logging in my food choices every day.  Food logs used to make me want to pull my hair out, but this site makes it kinda fun.  And the results just keep me coming back for more.

I know the recipes I post on here are not exactly low-cal (I still have yet to figure out how our grandmothers made such amazing food and weighed all of 95lbs).  BUT, I have managed to still lose weight while eating Mama Fina's Cuban food (who knew it was even possible).  I'll try to post nutritional information on all my recipes to help all you fellow calorie counters and weight-watchers followers too. 

Happy Counting!

Rice Pudding

Okay, so I'll be honest in saying that Rice Pudding is not typically my favorite dessert.  BUT, it's my mom's favorite, so I learned how to make it so that she could enjoy it---even if Mama Fina isn't in town.

Rice pudding has very few ingredients, which makes it pretty easy and incredibly economical, once you get the hang of it.  One batch can easily provide dessert for 6-8 people in those cute little ramekins.  The trick is all about the liquid to rice ratio.

Things You'll Need:

4 oz. white rice (short grain is best - like what you would use to make risotto)
1 1/2 cp. water (to start)
2 cups of whole milk (you can probably get away with 2% to lighten this up a tad, but don't go below that.  Just keep your portions small and you'll be fine!)
3/4 cp. sugar
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
the peel of half of a lime

Nutrional Information (based on 6 servings): 215 cal., 2.8g fat, 43.8g carbs, 4g. protein.

Combine rice and 1 1/2 cups of water in medium sized pot.  Make sure you rinse your rice thoroughly before you begin.  If this sounds crazy to you, you're missing an important step.  Swirl the rice around in the pot with just your fingers.  If the water gets murky, rinse again!  It should be pretty clear before you continue.  Okay, I'm done lecturing now.  On with the rest of the recipe. =)

Bring rice, cinnamon stick, salt and lime peel to a boil on medium-high heat.  Once you reach a solid boil, turn your heat down to maintain a simmer.  At this point, you don't need to stir constantly.  Just occasionally. 

Keep the simmer going, maintaining a close eye on your rice to water ratio.  Your rice should always be covered with water to the point where it was when you started for the majority of this process.  Otherwise, the rice will stick to the bottom and that would not make for a good rice pudding.  Simmer on low until your rice plumps up and is al dente.  This should take about 15-20 mins.

This is what the rice will look like after 15-20 mins.

After your rice reaches the proper consistency, you can start adding your milk a little at a time.  Add about a half cup at a time.  The rice will absorb the milk pretty quickly.  It will take another 5-10 minutes to add all the milk so that the rice absorbs all that good flavor.  (Note: don't drown the rice.  Just add enough to keep the rice covered with the liquid).

Lastly, add the sugar and vanilla.  This is where your personal taste will come in.  I like mine sweet, so I added a little more than the recipe calls for.  Simmer this last step for another 5-10 minutes until your rice takes on all of those good flavors and reaches a creamy consistency.  Take off the heat and let it cool for about 5 minutes.  You can then spoon into your favorite ramekins.  We like to sprinkle ours with a little cinnamon on top.  Enjoy it warm or cold, but I personally like it hot.

Sorry this isn't a better picture of the finished product...Baby Hudson was screaming by this point!

Okay, this is making me crave something sweet!! This recipe can seem a little daunting because it really isn't one of those recipes that calls for exact measurements.  You really have to go a lot by feel and taste.  But try it!  It's creamy and yummy and a great comfort food dessert!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Ropa Vieja, Cuban Shredded Beef

I'm Cuban.  I was born here in the states, but my entire family is from Cuba.  Cubans are known for being loud and kinda crazy, but passionate too.  Passionate about many things, but especially our food!

Ropa Vieja literally translated means "old clothes."  My husband can't really say Ropa Vieja very well, so he just calls it "old clothes."  I realize this sounds a bit unappetizing, but you're gonna have to trust me on this!

Originally, the skirt steak in this was used as the base of another meal.  Cubans are resourceful (me maybe not so much, but the old schoolers like my grandmother certainly are)!  So, instead of wasting the beef, Ropa Vieja was invented.  It's now a family favorite and one of those dishes that Cubans are known for.  It's easy, inexpensive to make, and oh-so delicioso!

Here's what you'll need:
(Serves 6)

1.5 lbs. of skirt steak 
1 medium onion, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped (If you don't have green, you can use red too.  Use what you have!)
1/4 cp. extra virgin olive oil
5 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 8oz can tomato sauce
1/2 cup Vino Seco (this is a Spanish cooking wine, but you can use a dry white wine to substitute)
Salt and pepper to season and taste

(Nutritional Info: 435 Calories, 29.8g Fat, 9.5g Carb, 32.1g Protein)

In a large pot, add the skirt steak and cover with water.  Salt the water like you would salt pasta water.  Simmer this for a couple of hours, until the steak is tender and easy to shred.  You can also do this in the crock pot the night before.  Set it on low before you go to bed and then turn it off when you get up in the morning.  Reserve your beef stock, and after the beef has completely cooled, shred it. Mama Fina says you can have the kiddos help with this part. 

This is Mama Fina by the way
In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat with the garlic.  This is just to give the oil the flavor of garlic, so be careful not to brown or burn it.  Add the onions and peppers and cook until soft.

Now, add the shredded beef and season everything with salt to taste.  Add the chopped tomatoes and cook on medium-low for about 10-15 minutes.  If you find that the mixture is a bit on the dry side, you can add a few tablespoons of the beef stock you reserved.

Tomatoes when they are added
Tomatoes after they cook down
Next, add the tomato sauce and the Vino Seco.

Simmer on low for 5-7 minutes for all the flavors to combine.  There should be a little bit of sauce when you spoon this.  That's a good thing!  If the mixture seems a little dry, add a little of the beef stock.

Spoon this over rice and add a vegetable or salad on the side, and you've got a great meal! Yummm...this is making me hungry!!!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Meet Hudson

Just 2 weeks old and posing for the camera already!
Yes, I'm totally one of those moms that makes their babies wear funny hoods and hats.
We took this picture just yesterday.  He's getting so big!!
We welcomed our little Hudson James on December 20, 2011.  No doubt that this child has turned our lives completely upside down.  In a good way, of course (except maybe when he's screaming at 3am).  He's beautiful and precious, and I can't stop kissing him.  Seriously, the kid will inevitably have some kind of complex, to which I will reply, "Send me the therapy bill.  Oh wait, no, get a job!"

My close friends all told me while I was pregnant that the first few months would be a HUGE challenge BUT the "light at the end of the tunnel" would come.  Boy, were they right.  The "light" (also known as sleep) has been peeking through this past week.  Hudson has been sleeping at night in 5-6 hour stretches.  Whoo-hoo!!  I almost forgot what that felt like!

Before Hudson came, I had thought quite a bit about starting a blog to chronicle my life as a new mommy and housewife.  That obviously didn't happen as soon as I had planned (little Hudson was anxious to meet us, so he decided to make his debut 3 weeks early).  So, here I am....11 weeks in, just getting my feet wet in the blog world.