Guilt-Free Ricotta Cheesecake (fat/sugar/gluten FREE)
Mar12

Guilt-Free Ricotta Cheesecake (fat/sugar/gluten FREE)

Fat free, sugar free, gluten free, and zero points?! Now I bet you’re curious! Whip up this tasty treat when you’re craving something sweet, or need a baking fix. (You can even make them in your toaster oven.)   You get a more luscious, smoother texture with low fat ricotta cheese, but if you’re following Weight Watchers Simple Start or Simply Filling, it’s still super-delish with Trader Giotto’s Fat Free Ricotta—and would you believe, it’s a Weight Watchers Power Food?! (Therefore = zero points) I wouldn’t serve this if I was having the Queen of England over for tea, but this is my go-to when kettle corn just won’t cut it, and I feel  like baking something delicious that won’t make me feel one bit guilty… (Unless, of course, I eat the whole batch! What…?! I’ve never done that!) Actually, even if you ate all three, you’d only be eating a cup of ricotta cheese, 2 tablespoons of yogurt, and an egg. Not the end of the world. 🙂 WARNING: One of the criteria for determining if something is a Weight Watchers Power Food is by its abuse potential. So, while all of these ingredients are Weight Watchers Power Foods, if you do find yourself eating more than one serving—or it triggers the eater in you—I would recommend saving it for when you have other Weight Watchers over to share it with, or holding off until you can handle it better! Counting Points? It’s only 2 PointsPlus per serving. (Or 7 Points for all three!) It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3 Whisk all the ingredients together until nice and smooth     Place in 4-inch ramekins and bake in toaster oven for 20 minutes   Cool. Chill. Enjoy. (Pin! Share! Comment! 🙂 )   Fat Free Ricotta Cheesecake (gluten free) 2014-03-11 18:18:22 Serves 3 2 Weight Watchers Points Plus for one ramekin or 7 PointsPlus for the whole batch! Write a review Save Recipe Print Prep Time 10 min Cook Time 20 min Total Time 30 min Prep Time 10 min Cook Time 20 min Total Time 30 min 184 calories 6 g 104 g 12 g 12 g 7 g 112 g 147 g 3 g 0 g 5 g Nutrition Facts Serving Size 112g Servings 3 Amount Per Serving Calories 184 Calories from Fat 108 % Daily Value * Total Fat 12g 19% Saturated Fat 7g 37% Trans Fat 0g Polyunsaturated Fat 1g Monounsaturated Fat 4g Cholesterol 104mg 35% Sodium 147mg 6% Total Carbohydrates 6g 2% Dietary Fiber 0g 0% Sugars 3g Protein 12g Vitamin A9%Vitamin C0% Calcium20%Iron3% * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie...

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Top 10 Weight Watchers Power Foods
Mar03

Top 10 Weight Watchers Power Foods

Weight Watchers Power Foods are good for you, keep you feeling satisfied, and they’re delicious! Weight Watchers is encouraging members to eat more Power Foods with their new Simple Start Program (brilliant if you ask me).     WW Fact: Power Foods are selected not only because of their fat, fiber, protein, and carb content (which = points value) but also by their abuse potential (i.e. they’re less likely to trigger food cravings and derail you!) Here are some of my favorites…   Fiber One Original Bran Cereal My go-to breakfast—and TOP WW Power Food. Only $3.69 at Target ( Click here for my Target Shopping List) Mix it with fat free Greek Yogurt and milk for a long-lasting, super-satisfying breakfast. Add frozen blueberries for extra antioxidants. You can even crush it up to make breading! (My hubby would NEVER eat that, so it’s not something we do in my house, but many WW peeps do.) BTW: Fiber One 80 Chocolate Squares are the best non-power-food nighttime snack—only 2 PointsPlus for 3/4 cup.   Greek Yogurt (not just a food fad) Greek Yogurt has double the protein of regular yogurt, and even the fat free versions are thick and creamy, and very versatile.     Mix your favorite flavor with fat free milk to make Zoku Mini Pops—100% guilt-free fun! (Or puree strawberries, bananas, and plain Greek Yogurt) Adding it to my morning cereal gives me at least an extra hour before my stomach starts to growl (see above) Best mid-morning snack: Dannon Light & Fit Greek Yogurt Blends (my fav is Toasted Coconut Vanilla) Sour Cream Substitute: Top Butternut Squash & Apple Soup or Quick Mexican Chicken & Hominy Soup for added protein and creamy tang.   Oats Don’t think of Oatmeal as just another breakfast food; it’s great for those times when you just need a warm bowl of comfort! Four of my Top Costco Picks involve oats. Microwave Quaker Oats with chopped apples, Splenda and cinnamon if you’re craving sweets at night. Minsley Organic Cooked Steelcut Oatmeal: BEST WW Breakfast-To-Go, or emergency office desk food. Coach’s Oats: Nutty, hearty, Steelcut Oats without the loooong cooking time. Corazonas Mini Oatmeal Squares: 2 WW PointsPlus for one heart-healthy delicious square. I’m obsessed with the Peanut Butter ones—don’t go anywhere without carrying one in my purse!  If you’re nowhere near a Costco, have no fear—you can purchase all of these oaty gems on Amazon! Got Prime? 🙂  -or- Try Oat Bran for a change! (It’s like Cream of Wheat meets Oatmeal) You can find delicious Toasted Oat Bran at Trader Joe’s >>   Polenta Love, love, love, polenta. It satisfies that carb craving without breaking the points bank....

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Quick Mexican Chicken Soup with Hominy
Feb20

Quick Mexican Chicken Soup with Hominy

This delicious Posole (traditional Mexican soup or stew) takes 30 minutes to make, and the fun toppings add interesting textures and surprising flavor-bursts. Yummmy! Even Mr. Picky loved it. (faint)   My first request when I go back to South Africa is for my beloved Samp Mielies—a staple in the diet of the Xhosa South African people. (Mielie means corn in Afrikaans.) I have fond memories of my nanny making it for me. I even had my dad schlep a bag in his suitcase when I first moved to Los Angeles in 1996, and almost burned the house down when I tried cooking it in the microwave! (It usually takes about 3 hours to cook on the stove.) Oy! This was clearly before I learned how to cook. In our recent trip to South Africa, sweetheart Mary made it specially for me. You’ll never believe what her secret ingredient was… Cremora. (South African coffee creamer) Hmmm… interesting. That’s her making me a to-go cup (pad-kos) for the drive to the airport. 🙂   I was ecstatic to discover that hominy (the canned, Mexican version of it), was quite similar—and no cooking required! Hominy is basically like giant, puffed up pieces of corn, but with that pasta-like density and chew-factor. LOVE it! And it’s good for you. (It’s one of my top ten Weight Watchers Power Foods—coming soon) But still, I was never quite sure what to do with it—besides heat and eat.   Then last week I saw an intriguing dish at Gelsons Market in California—and on closer inspection discovered that what I thought was potato was actually hominy.   Actually, in their version, called “Chicken Ranchero”, there was hominy and potato. I fell head-over-heels in love with this dish (actually, more like obsessed) and was determined to re-create it. I remembered seeing Daphne Oz making something similar on The Chew (Daphne Oz’s Chicken Pozole Verde)—where she pureed tomatillos and jalapeños. I thought that using Salsa Verde—a green salsa made from tomatillos, green chiles and cilantro—would make it even more cinchy, and no need to conquer your fear of chiles! (Ok, you’re right…  my fear, not yours!)   If you can’t find Salsa Verde, sauté half a chopped jalapeño pepper with the garlic. Greek Yogurt in Mexican Soup, you say? If you can up the protein while adding creaminess and tang, I say why not! Some people don’t like (actually, more like hate) cilantro, so leave it as an optional topping. Crumble Trader Joe’s Reduced Guilt White Corn Tortilla Chips for extra crunch! (They don’t taste guilt free at all)   And would you believe that these are all Weight...

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Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta with Nutella Sauce
Feb16

Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta with Nutella Sauce

Panna Cotta—which means “cooked cream” in Italian—is the most luscious, dreamy dessert, and you won’t believe how easy it is to make!   We had the pleasure of dining at charmingly quaint Via Veneto in Santa Monica last weekend (favorite new LA restaurant!), with our dear friend, Neil, who was visiting from New York. Left to Right: Neil Gillis, Orna Purkin, Sam Purkin   I can resist most restaurant desserts… but they had me at Nutella! Their Panna Cotta with Nutella Sauce was one of the most exquisite things ever to pass my lips. Delightfully smooooth and silky. (How could a milky pudding topped with chocolate hazelnut sauce be bad?) Sorry, didn’t even pause to take a pic before indulging! I politely stopped after what seemed like my third of the dessert, but when I realized that no one else was going in, I quietly scooped up the rest. I guess I wasn’t as discreet as I thought, because quick-witted friend Neil said, are you going to scarf that one too? (Referring to the Berry Panna Cotta, which the extremely authentic Italian waiter—whom we thought at first was was putting on an accent—had mistakenly brought out, and graciously allowed us to keep.) Funny! (Rude) And so began my mission to make Perfect Panna Cotta for Valentine’s Day I found the cute heart shaped ramekins at Cost Plus World Market.   There are many variations of Vanilla Panna Cotta out there, and I can’t believe I got suckered in by the 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt in Iron Chef Michael Symon’s recipe. (Either that or the boyish good looks and charm!) I know a mere 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt won’t add protein or nutritional value to an entire recipe. (And it’s kind of ironic, since I gobbled up every last drop of remaining full-cream deliciousness—putting my usual fat free yogurts to shame!)   Anyway, I thought a little tang in the Panna Cotta would balance the sweetness of the sauce… right? Right! Oh.  My.  Goodness. Your guests will be blown away by this beautiful and decadent dessert—surprisingly light, and not too rich or sweet. If you want to keep it super-simple, just pour into serving glasses or cups and refrigerate—no need to un-mold before serving. (That part can get a little tricky.) PLEASE try it! And let me know how you like it.   Foolproof Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta   Vanilla Beans are pricy, but really take this kind of a dessert to a whole other level. And they’re fun to use.   Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the sticky seeds with the tip of a...

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AjaBakes (and Outtakes)
Feb04

AjaBakes (and Outtakes)

My four-year-old, Aja, was “helping me” make bulkas (traditional South African Cinnamon Buns) the other day, and said, “mommy record me.” So I whipped out my iPhone, and she proceeded to describe how to make bulkas—totally impromptu and with no coaching whatsoever by me. (If it was planned I would’ve cleaned up the messy kitchen!) Introducing AjaBakes (50 second clip)     I wish it would flow out of me so easily!   Please don’t report me for bad parenting when you see the outtakes! I was trying to distract her and make light of it—never dreaming it would happen again. For the third and final take (above), she was on her sturdy, pink, princess step. (The collapsible Bed Bath & Beyond step stool has been banished from the kitchen forever!)   The Outtakes   Take One (12 seconds) The step stool collapsed, and she went flying!     Take Two (36 seconds) Almost made it to the end and then bam… poor kid went down, again!      If you’d like to make these delicious buttery buns with your little ones, click here for my How-To YouTube Clip. (Not nearly as smooth or polished as Aja’s!) Of course hubby has already registered AjaBakes.com 🙂   Click here for the recipe, with pics and step-by-step instructions >>   Hope you had a good chuckle.   xoxo...

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