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Tomatillo Braised Chicken

Tomatillo Braised Chicken

Tomatillos rank among one of my favorite ingredients. The slightly tangy, slighty herbal, slighty sweet friend of the tomato brings something special to any dish in my opinion. It is traditionally used in salsas and stews like in this recipe where it is made into salsa and used to quickly braise chicken on the stove-top until it is tender and delicious. Use chicken breasts or chicken thighs depending on your preferences and adjust the heat to your liking. You can also making it creamy by adding a touch of sour cream, crema, or even cream cheese when you are finishing the dish.

Tomatillo Braised Chicken
Servings: 4
Serving Size: 6 oz. chicken
Nutritional Info: 231 calories, 7.2g of fat, 7.6g carbohydrates, 1.9g dietary fiber, 36.9g of protein, 0g of sugar
Weight Watchers® PointsPlus®: 5 * (more…)

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

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Friday Five: Energy Bars

Friday Five:  Energy Bars

Although I don’t eat a lot of meal replacement (energy) bars, sometimes they come in handy when you just can’t find the time for a meal. They can also be a great way to refuel during a tough day or after a hard workout. Usually when reaching for an energy bar, I try and pay attention to three things – total calories, whole and natural ingredients, and protein/fiber count. Here are my favorite bars. What are yours?

  1. Kind Blueberry Pecan + Fiber, 5 PointsPlus, 190 calories
  2. This bar is pretty delicious and is packed with a good amount of protein and fiber for staying power since the primary ingredient is almonds. I also love that it only has 10 ingredients – almonds, blueberries (blueberry pieces, whole dried blueberries), raisins, pecans, honey, cashews, non GMO glucose, crisp rice, chicory fiber, soy lecithin – instead of lots of laboratory made protein sources.

  3. Quest Coconut Cashew, 4 PointsPlus, 170 calories
  4. This is a brand new discovery for me and I have to say I am a huge fan of these Quest bars. Packed with 17 grams of fiber, 20 grams of protein, and only 170 calories they definitely do the trick when it comes to providing energy and staying power. They come in lots of flavors, but I like this as an alternative to traditional chocolate and fruit flavored bars.

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

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Weight Loss Wednesday: Sarah Lost 28 Pounds!

Weight Loss Wednesday:  Sarah Lost 28 Pounds!

Height: 5’8”
Starting Weight: 190.4
Current Weight: 162.0
Pounds Lost: 28.4 (and counting!) Goal weight is 145.

How long did it take you to lose the weight? I’ve been consistently losing since January 2013, so about 19 months.

Lightbulb Moment: My grandmother passed away on New Year’s Eve 2012. She was the only grandparent I’d had growing up and losing her was difficult. I had been a yo-yo dieter in the past- as high as 202 pounds, as low as 149. But when she passed away, I knew I needed to get serious about my health and my weight. I wanted to be healthy for my future children and grandchildren – and I wanted to make my grandmother proud. I knew I needed to make significant changes in my lifestyle.

How did you do it? I chose to go back to Weight Watchers. I first joined when I was a freshman in college and had gained what I lovingly refer to as the “freshman 40.” That was 12 years ago. I knew that WW worked- I’d lost close to 40 pounds that first time. However, I knew that I would have to change a lot of my thinking if I wanted it to work for good.

One of the biggest changes I made was to re-learn how I think about food and how I reward myself. When I was younger I would think, “Well, I’ll count points for now and then once I’ve lost all my weight, I can go back to eating whatever I want.” You can guess how that worked out. I also used to think, “I’ve worked hard to lose these X amount of pounds, I deserve to go to a restaurant and order what I want. It’s not fair to deprive myself.” Again, you can guess how that turned out. I gained all that I lost back – and then some more.

This time was different- I finally learned that I will ALWAYS have to watch what I’m eating. For the rest of my life, I will have to count points/calories/portions if I want to stay within a healthy weight. It’s just who I am. I am addicted to food and the feelings that come with it – I have to first acknowledge that and then take steps to keep my eating in check. Once I realized that this is just how it will always be, it’s been easier to adapt my lifestyle to fit that understanding.

I also finally understood that when I go out to eat, it’s not the food that is the reward or the indulgence- it’s being able to spend time with friends/family, not having to cook and not having to clean up – that’s the fun part of going out to eat. I had to take the focus off of food. Growing up, I placed a lot of importance on food- I have to constantly remind myself that food is nourishment and fuel- it’s not happiness or confidence or a shoulder to cry on. I’m not a dog; I don’t get rewarded with food. Now, I reward myself with a new book, a trip to my favorite make-up store, or a new pair of earrings.

What was the biggest challenge you faced? How did you overcome it? My biggest challenge was re-learning how to interact with food in a healthy way. Honestly, WW meetings (and some personal counseling) helped me the most in understanding this. They were a group of people struggling with the same things I was struggling with – in WW meetings we can support each other and give feedback and advice that actually helps. Many of my mantras come from things others have said in a WW meeting room.

What was the single thing that helped you most along the way, especially when things got tough? For me, weight loss is all mental. I know how to eat healthy, count points, exercise, etc. The real challenge – when things got super tough- was to rely on my own willpower (which isn’t a lot!!) to walk away from an unhealthy situation. I use mantras when things get tough. When I’m at a party and there are all kinds of unhealthy yet comforting foods there, and everyone is eating and encouraging me to eat to excess, I repeat this over and over: “What you’re holding onto is holding you back.” It reminds me that eating that unhealthy food just takes me further from my goals, even if it feels good in that moment.

How has your life changed since losing the weight? My confidence has soared. Because I am confident that I can lose weight and have a healthy relationship with food, I feel like I can do anything!

Exercise routine: I run 3-4 times a week (10- 20 miles total), and try to incorporate some type of cross-training 2-3 times a week when I’m not running. Usually it’s yoga or pilates and a Jillian Michaels DVD. Sometimes it’s swimming or biking – it all depends on the time of year and my schedule. But minimally, I’m working out 3 times a week.

Favorite breakfast: Greek yogurt, string cheese, and a piece of fruit.

Favorite grab and go snack: WW 3 point bars, an apple, string cheese.

Favorite quick dinner: Chicken and salsa in a crock pot – cook all day, serve over rice/ couscous/quinoa in the evening.

Favorite healthy restaurant or fast food find: I love everything about everything at Panera – especially Fuji Apple Chicken Salad and Black Bean Soup.

Advice for someone just starting: Don’t be afraid to examine your relationship with food. Counseling is a good thing and honestly, it might be what makes the difference in your weight-loss efforts.

Anything else that you would like to share: Don’t get discouraged by slow weight loss. I’d much rather be losing weight slowly than gaining or staying the same.

Learn more about Sarah’s story over at her amazing website Sparkly Runner!

Want to share your weight loss story? Let’s celebrate your success and inspire others! Send an email to [email protected] to learn more.

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Simple Grilled Squash

Simple Grilled Squash

Grilled veggies are one of my favorite summer sides and fridge staples. Usually I like to make up a big batch on Sundays to have throughout the week. They make the perfect addition to salads, sandwiches, or quesadillas and are delicious for dipping. However one person can only eat so much grilled zucchini, so lately I have been experimenting with throwing new veggies on the grill and this simple grilled squash dish is quickly rising to the top as a new favorite. The heartiness of the squash makes it perfect for the grill and it’s earthy flavor means it pairs well with almost any meal. Normally I try to pick something that complements my main dish or just reach for my favorite blend of brown sugar, spicy ancho chile powder, and a touch of cinnamon.

Grilled Squash
Servings: 4
Serving Size: 1 cup
Nutritional Info: 86 calories, 3.6g of fat, 14.6g carbohydrates, 2.1g dietary fiber, 1.1g of protein, 0g of sugar
Weight Watchers® PointsPlus®: 2 * (more…)

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

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Black Bean Eggplant Burgers with Creamy Red Pepper Goat Cheese Spread

Black Bean Eggplant Burgers with Creamy Red Pepper Goat Cheese Spread

It feels like everyone is really stepping up there burger game these days. In the past week alone I have seen drool-worthy recipes for teriyaki pineapple burgers, blue cheese buffalo turkey burgers, spicy Thai shrimp burgers, and more. With summer in full swing, it’s just so easy to get excited about burgers. But often, at least in my house (sorry veggie friends!), I usually don’t focus on making a delicious vegetarian option. I make a delicious meat based burger and then (gasp!) grab my favorite frozen veggie burgers and cross my fingers the toppings will make it magical. But this time, I decided to step up my game with the veggie burgers. These simple black bean burgers are packed with flavor and made even more delicious with the addition of this roasted red pepper goat cheese spread. Yum.

Black Bean Burgers
Servings: 4
Serving Size: 1 patty
Nutritional Info: 168 calories, 4.8g of fat, 27.1g carbohydrates, 6.7g dietary fiber, 9g of protein
Weight Watchers® PointsPlus®: 4 * (more…)

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

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Friday Five: Cookbooks for Quick Meals

Friday Five:  Cookbooks for Quick Meals

After posting about my favorite Weight Watchers cookbooks a little over a month ago, my inbox with flooded (I love that!) with both suggestions for other great cookbooks to share, as well as requests for specific cookbook recommendations. One overwhelming request was for cookbooks that either provide quick weeknight meals and cookbooks that focus on crockpot meals, which to me is also a quick weeknight meal since all the hard work happens in the crockpot during the day. So here goes, these are my favorite cookbooks for quick meals. Please share yours in the comments as well!

1. Cook This, Not That – Easy & Awesome 350-Calorie Meals
Originally I bought this book for a male friend who was trying to change his eating and spending habits, however after browsing through it before wrapping it up, I ended up ordering another copy for myself. It is written by the Editor in Chief at Men’s Health and is full of surprisingly great recipes. Some of my favorites include the Red Pepper Alfredo, Homemade A-1 Swiss Burger, and Breakfast Hash with Sweet Potatoes and Chicken Sausage. The recipes are easy to make, include easy to find ingredients, and find lower calorie ways to make a lot of favorite restaurant and comfort foods.

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