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Garlic Cilantro Brown Rice

Garlic Cilantro Brown Rice

Brown rice is a staple in my home and I find myself making it at least once a week for side dishes and quick grain salads. But after awhile, plain brown rice can get boring and that’s where this recipe comes into play. It’s amazing how much a little garlic, fresh cilantro, and citrus juice can transform a sometimes boring side dish into something special.

Play around with the herbs, oil, and citrus juice to make all kinds of yummy combinations. Lemon and fresh thyme is delicious, substitute in sesame oil for the olive oil and add orange juice, or try a classic combination of lemon juice, parsley, and lots of fresh ground pepper.

Garlic Cilantro Brown Rice
Servings: 6
Serving Size: 2/3 cup
Nutritional Info: 133 calories, 2.4g of fat, 25.4g of carbohydrates, 1.3g of fiber, 2.6g of protein
Weight Watchers® PointsPlus®: 3 *

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* PointsPlus® calculated by Slender Kitchen; Not endorsed by Weight Watchers International, Inc.

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Healthy Meal Planning Made Easy & Week 31 Meal Plan

Healthy Meal Planning Made Easy & Week 31 Meal Plan

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”

Once a week, I am going to start sharing a tip, trick, or some interesting information about meal planning. I believe meal planning is critical to any long term and effective healthy living or weight loss goals. For me it was the single thing that finally made permanent weight loss achievable. The quote stood true, when I failed to plan, I failed, and I don’t want that to happen to others.

Additionally, I believe that meal planning is a skill that takes time to master and we can all use some help! When I first started meal planning it took up countless hours pouring over recipes, calculating nutritional info and/or points, and creating elaborate calendars. It was painful. Anything I can do to ease that pain for someone else is a win-win in my book.

Finally, I hope by sharing meal planning strategies, it will help you find a system that works for you. Whether it’s using our meal plans, scratching one into your weekly planner, or creating your own meal planning system – I hope this feature inspires you to start planning at least a few meals every week. It will save you time, money, and it truly will help you reach your weight loss and healthy living goals. So with that, on to this week’s tip!

Meal Planning Made Easy: Zero PointsPlus®, Low Calorie Veggies

One of the questions I get most often about meal plans and side dishes is about veggies! Everyone wants to include a veggie side dish in their meals but many people find it difficult to add that side without adding lots of calories and fat. Consider these cooking methods and tricks to create delicious veggie side dishes without adding unneeded calories and fat.

  • Saute in Vegetable Broth and Herbs: Instead of reaching for oil when cooking veggies, use vegetable broth instead. You can use 1/4 cup of vegetable broth in a medium hot skillet and then add your veggies. Cook until tender crisp and then stir in your favorite fresh or dried herbs. Lemon pepper, Italian seasoning, Greek seasoning, and Cajun seasoning are some of my favorites to pack in the flavor.
  • Roasted Vegetable with Cooking Spray: Instead of dousing your veggies in oil to roast them, just use cooking spray instead. Season everything with salt, pepper, and your favorite spice blend and then place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast until tender. You can also toss the finished roasted vegetables with some lemon juice or balsamic vinegar to add some extra calorie free flavor.
  • Start with Onion and Garlic: Onion and garlic add great flavor to veggies but cooking them in oil can add extra fat that you may be trying to avoid. You can use 2-3 tablespoons of water or broth instead to cook the garlic and onions.
  • What are your favorite low calorie ways to prepare low calorie vegetables?

Love the idea of meal planning but don’t want to do all the work? Since I know that many people simply don’t have the time to create their own healthy meal plans, we provide delicious and healthy meal plans at Slender Kitchen.

Here are some highlights from this week’s healthy meal plans:

  • Slow Cooker Chicken in Chili Verde
  • Summer Whole Wheat Caprese Pasta with Tomatoes and Fresh Mozzarella
  • Grilled Sirloin Steak and Potatoes
  • Asian Quinoa Stir-fry with Vegetables
  • Summer Caprese Salad with Chicken Sausage (low carb plan)
  • Lemon Paprika Thighs
  • Dill Salmon Burgers
  • BBQ Black Bean Burgers (vegetarian plan)
  • Banana Quinoa Muffins
  • Low Carb Raspberry Coconut Muffins (low carb plan)
  • Sweet and Spicy Pork Chops
  • & more

Each healthy weekly meal plan comes full of delicious recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The meal plans come in regular, vegetarian, and low carb options. All feature complete nutritional information, Weight Watchers PointsPlus®, and categorized shopping lists! There are also two bonus fallback recipes weekly and the option for either a complete meal plan or a Dinner Only plan. All that for less the cost of one cup of coffee per month with the yearly plan.

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Sunday Slow Cooker: Chicken in Chili Verde

Sunday Slow Cooker:  Chicken in Chili Verde

Back before I really starting cooking, my roommate and I went through at least one package a week of Trader Joe’s Chicken Chili Verde. Not only was it easy and relatively healthy, we could heat it up at work in the microwave in about 4 minutes. For first year teachers, this was the pressure test for a passable lunch. Fast forward to the present and recently I found myself craving this but instead of running to Trader Joe’s, I wanted to make my own version. In my mind, chicken in chili verde should be chunkier than a traditional chicken in salsa verde. The vegetables should be soft and tender but should maintain some of their integrity and it should be spicy. In fact, in my own version, I like to use 2 unseeded chopped jalapenos or serranos to really pack in the heat.

Slow Cooker Chicken Chili Verde
Servings: 6
Serving Size: about 3/4 cup
Nutritional Info: 208 calories, 4g of fat, 6g of carbohydrates, 2g of fiber, 32g of protein
Weight Watchers® PointsPlus®: 5 *

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* PointsPlus® calculated by Slender Kitchen; Not endorsed by Weight Watchers International, Inc.

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Spinach Artichoke Dip Made with Nasoya Tofu

Spinach Artichoke Dip Made with Nasoya Tofu

Today’s post is brought to you by Nasoya but all opinions are 100% mine.

One of my absolute favorite things to do in the summer is an all day barbecue full of friends, family, and food. Lots and lots of food. However while the main focus is normally on barbecue and meats, my favorite part of the a summer gathering is the dips! Give me salsa, guacamole, hummus, or my all time favorite – spinach artichoke dip – and I am a happy camper.

However along with my love of dips also comes a love of creating healthier options for my favorite calorie packed recipes. One of those offenders – my beloved spinach artichoke dip that can pack a whopping 300 calories per serving. Luckily there are some tricks that not only can reduce the calories but also add protein to this amazing dip. My secret – Nasoya Firm Tofu! With just 70 calories and 8 grams of protein per serving, it’s a great way to add creaminess to any dip without the calories and fat. Consider reducing half (or all!) of the mayonnaise or sour cream with tofu to lighten up almost any dip recipe.

So now let’s talk about this dip! It’s start with the traditional base of spinach and artichokes. From there we add some red pepper for color and crunch, Parmesan cheese, garlic, and lemon. And then comes the secret ingredient – the Nasoya Firm Tofu. Finally to give it some extra creaminess, we add a touch of Greek yogurt and low fat sour cream. Delicious, nutritious, and with 75% less calories than the traditional version.

Tofu Spinach Artichoke Dip
Servings: 12
Serving Size: 1/4 cup
Nutritional Info: 71 calories, 3.3g of fat, 4.2g of carbohydrates, 2.2g of fiber, 6.2g of protein
Weight Watchers® PointsPlus®: 2 *

For the full recipe, head over to Nasoya!

Healhy Tofu Spinach Artichoke Dip

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Lemon and Smoked Paprika Chicken Thighs

Lemon and Smoked Paprika Chicken Thighs

This is an incredibly easy and affordable weeknight dinner solution. Boneless skinless chicken thighs marinated in a delicious combination of smoky paprika, lemon, thyme, and garlic that’s cooked on the grill or under the broiler in about 10 minutes. It couldn’t get much simpler and goes well with virtually any side dish you have in mind. It also makes great leftovers served over greens or in a tangy chicken salad with some yogurt or mayo and crunchy veggies. It’s also low carb, Paleo, gluten free, and clean eating friendly which makes it’s a winning dish for lots of different diets.

Lemon and Smoked Paprika Chicken Thighs
Servings: 4
Serving Size: 4 oz.
Nutritional Info: 224 calories, 9.1g of fat, 1.2g of carbohydrates, .5g of fiber, 33.9g of protein
Weight Watchers® PointsPlus®: 5 *

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* PointsPlus® calculated by Slender Kitchen; Not endorsed by Weight Watchers International, Inc.

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Friday Five: Meals for Under Five Points Plus

Friday Five:  Meals for Under Five Points Plus

Sometimes by the end of the day I have hardly any points left. Usually this is a result of either Happy Hour or a lunch away from my desk with friends or co-workers who aren’t watching what they eat. Sometimes I am good and just order something light, but sometimes I want to indulge like everyone else and luckily on Weight Watchers or any healthy eating plan, it’s just about balance and moderation so I don’t have to ever feel like I am missing out. Here are five meals that will leave you feeling satisfied but keep you within your daily points budget.

1. Chorizo Stuffed Poblano Peppers, 4 PointsPlus®
I almost always have a stockpile of these peppers in my freezer and also love them because you can throw them together in minutes. Take a poblano pepper, stuff it with soy chorizo and cauliflower, and bake them up with melted cheese. They satisfy any sort of spicy craving and taste like they have way more calories than they do. Have one with a simple salad and your meal is complete.

2. Chicken Tostadas, 5 PointsPlus®
This is one of those meals that you can make from leftovers in your fridge. Start with a baked tortilla and pile on whatever you have around – roasted chicken, beans, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, salsa, and avocado get you off to a great start. Not only that – you can eat two for under five points plus. It will feel like you are still indulging even though you are having a light meal.

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