Zero-Point Taco Soup

The weather has turned cooler, and I saw something on Facebook about Zero-Point Taco Soup. I didn’t need persuading – that immediately became what I would make for dinner. I didn’t have taco seasoning on hand, and so I made a quick trip to Kroger to get some.

Within ten minutes of getting home, the soup was simmering on the stove. What could be simpler than opening a bunch of cans, a package of chicken breasts, and some seasoning, and dump it all in the cooking pot! The only other step was to shred the chicken after it had cooked.

I served it with a dollop of nonfat Greek yogurt (instead of sour cream) and a little grated Cabot 75% Reduced Fat Sharp Cheddar Cheese. Both of those are 0-points, too. If I used more (half ounce +) of the Cabot cheese, it would move to a point, but I kept it under 1/2 ounce. It was both tasty and filling. It tasted so good, I had a second bowl – and I counted the cheese as 1 point since I had two helpings of it!

The soup freezes well. So I will put some in the refrigerator to eat over the next couple days, and I will put some in the freezer to enjoy again in a few weeks.

Here is how I made it:

Zero-Point Taco Soup

  • 4 cans beans (black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, great northern beans – whatever kind you like or a combination of beans. I used Kroger’s Tri-Bean Blend)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 large can tomato sauce OR pureed tomatoes
  • 1 qt. chicken broth (you can use less if you want your soup to be thicker)
  • 2 Tablespoons taco seasoning (add more or less, depending on your taste)
  • 1 lb. boneless/skinless chicken breasts
  • diced onion, peppers, garlic – to taste (can use fresh or dehydrated)
  • salt/pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Dump everything into a large saucepan (or crockpot)
  2. Bring to a simmer
  3. Once chicken is cooked through, take it out, shred it, and add it back into the soup.
  4. To serve, you can top with sour cream or Greek yogurt, grated cheese, corn chips – whatever toppings you like

Zero Points on WW Blue Plan. Be sure to add points for any toppings you choose.

1-Point LARGE Cafe Latte!

Unsweetened vanilla almond milk and Golden monkfruit sweetener

When I got home from an appointment earlier today, I wanted a latte or macchiato; I needed an early afternoon energy boost. I started to make a caramel macchiato but then noticed that the jar of sugar-free caramel had “Refrigerate after opening” on it. It has been sitting next to my espresso machine for a couple months. I tossed it in the trash.

With no caramel (except full sugar – which would add 6 points for 2 tablespoons – and I would want more than 2 tablespoons!), I decided to go with a latte instead.

I got a large glass and filled it with ice. Then I poured 4 ounces of espresso over the ice. And since I REALLY like my coffee drinks sweet, and since I had just bought a bag of golden monkfruit sweetener, I added 1 1/2 Tablespoons of it to my latte.  I finished filling up the glass with unsweetened vanilla almond milk, and stirred it.

The golden monkfruit sweetener is a brown sugar replacement. So it gave the latte a caramel-y flavor – which I loved.

Weight Watchers points? The only ingredient with points is the almond milk – and it’s 1 point for 1 cup. I used less than a cup, but will count a full point anyway. It is delicious! Just imagine: a large coffee drink for 1 point! I will be making these more often!

Fast Food – Low Points

I had fast food after an appointment today. Fast food for lunch – and it was only 3 points.  I ate AFTER I made the video, and I ended up eating only half the salad.  So , in the video I say it’s 4 points. However, my actual points were:

sauces for dipping chicken (1/2 barbecue packet & 1/2 zesty buffalo packet) = 1 point

1/2 of side salad = 2 pts

Everything else was 0 points (grilled chicken, and lettuce, tomatoes in salad, and less than 1/2 of the light Italian dressing packet)

It was a filling lunch. I’ve really enjoyed Chick Fil A’s grilled chicken nuggets lately!

 

 

7-Point Pizza (WW Blue)

I made personal pizzas tonight – one for my husband and one for me.  Pizza is one of my all time favorite dishes!  The last time we had pizza was during the summer when I ordered one from Domino’s Pizza, and it was less than delicious. It was so bad, in fact, that it turned me off from wanting pizza for a couple months.  However, lately after eating so much chicken and tuna and lean beef, I have yearned for something a little more indulgent.

After reading about 2-ingredient dough, and then researching and finding an even better (supposedly) dough recipe, I decided to give home-made pizza another try.

First the dough. I got the recipe from My Bizzy Kitchen. Here’s that recipe:

Dough:

2 cups self-rising flour

1 teaspoon yeast

1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 cup Fage Fat Free Greek Yogurt

1/2 – 3/4 cup warm water

  • Heat oven to 450 (see notes).
  • In a bowl, mix the flour, salt and yeast together. Stir in the yogurt and mix until it starts to combine. Start with 1/2 a cup of water and see how the dough comes together. If there is still a bit of loose flour in the bowl, add a couple tablespoons of water at a time, until it forms a ball.
  • This dough can be used within an hour of making, but truth be told, I normally don’t use it until day 2 or 3. On the first day I let it rise in my microwave all day, then store it in a ziplock bag.
  • On the day of baking, add a tablespoon of flour on your counter. Wet your hands and grab desired amount of dough for your pizza. Most of my individual pizzas are 5 ounces. Top with desired toppings and bake for 10 minutes, or until desired doneness.

I didn’t  put my dough in the microwave to rise. As a matter of fact, I didn’t let it rise at all because we were making pizza right away.

I divided the dough into four equal parts. We used two of those for our two individual pizzas tonight. I put the other two parts in a Ziplock bag in the refrigerator for pizza later this week. (Note added: We used the extra dough three days later for another two pizzas, and it was perfect! So it keeps well in the fridge for at least three days). The flour is the only ingredient with points. So each of the four parts contain 1/2 cup self-rising flour – which is 5 points on WW Blue Plan.

The photo above shows our two pizzas ready to go in the oven. That’s mine on the bottom – and Ron’s at the top. He added additional sauce on top of his other ingredients. It looks like a barbecue pizza, but it isn’t – just lots of pizza sauce! That’s because he doesn’t usually each much pizza crust because of his blood sugar. Thus, he wanted to be sure he had plenty of the toppings.

In the photo above, the pizzas are on a pizza stone that I bought from Pampered Chef years ago. I had put the pizza stone in the oven while I made the dough. So it was piping hot when we put the dough on it.

I sprayed my hands with butter flavored Pam to smooth out the dough on the pizza stone. Then once we had it spread out, my husband and I added our favorite toppings.

Toppings

These are the toppings I put on my pizza:

Onion, finely chopped (0 points)

fresh spinach, torn into small pieces (0 points)

fresh chopped tomatoes (0 points)

Ragu Homemade style Pizza Sauce (1 point for 1/4 cup)

Sargento Light mozzarella string cheese (1 point per stick), cut crossways into thin circles. In the photo above, you can see the small circles of mozzarella.

3/8 oz Cabot Cheese, Sharp Cheddar, 75% Reduced Fat (0 points for 3/8 oz.)

At the top of this post is a photo of my baked and ready-to-eat pizza. I forgot to take a photo until I had cut it and put the pieces on a plate.  It was delicious! The crust has a little bit of a tangy taste from the yogurt. I really liked it. One great thing about this recipe is that the dough took only a few minutes to put together. And, of course, the toppings were delicious.

And the best thing of all is that the whole pizza is only 7 points. My first pizza in over two months. And I still have 5 points left for today!

Honesty in Tracking

Tracking is the act of writing down what you eat, and it is a key component of successful weight loss for me. Unless I track, I tend to minimize how much I eat. I did not do Weight Watchers for a long time because I couldn’t bear the idea of tracking for the rest of my life. I had to reach the place where I am okay with tracking – to the place where I even like the idea of tracking – before I was ready to commit to it again. I have accepted that I will track what I eat for the remainder of my life. It’s a good thing. 

Tracking in WW doesn’t actually involve writing it down; instead, I log it in the WW app on my phone – or on the computer – and the app keeps track of my point totals. I can click back to see my points for any other day that I’ve tracked – even years ago.

The tracking app is a convenient service. However, you can inadvertently lie to yourself in tracking, too. I have two lies that I have been telling myself since I started back on WW, and they both have to do with logging my breakfast each morning.

Almost every morning, my husband cooks bacon in the oven for his breakfast. He always includes 2-3 slices for me. My breakfast is usually those bacon slices and my coffee.  That’s it.  I looked up points for bacon, chose the one with the least points, and that’s what I’ve been counting each morning: 2 points. I knew that the bacon we usually buy is thick-sliced and that it would probably be more points, but I didn’t think much about it. I was logging it and figured that was the important thing.

This morning, I decided to scan the bar code on the specific package of bacon we had in the refrigerator and see how closely the actual points matched the points I’d been counting for it.  It was 6 points for today since Ron made me 3 slices. I had been counting 2 points – whether he made 1, 2, or 3 slices for me.

I had been counting my coffee as 3 points each morning.  I’ve tried lots of different creamers and sweeteners, and I finally decided that I like my coffee the way I like it.  Whatever the points are, I will just log the points. So, at some point, I figured I used 3 points per cup of coffee.  I named it “Carol’s Coffee” on the app, and each morning I’ve clicked on it to add to my log. However, this morning when I scanned the actual creamer and sugar I use, it came to 4 points instead of 3.  

Instead of 5 points for my daily coffee and bacon, it could possibly be 10 points instead. With 5 extra un-counted points each day, I can understand why my weight loss would be slow. That would add up to 35 extra points a week – and that is my entire “weekly points” total. So, as the graphic above shows, honesty is key.

A few days ago I woke up around 2:00 a.m. to go to the bathroom. My dog, Cabbie, woke up and I ended up having to let her go outside for awhile. I was feeling annoyed because I was wide awake by then. So, while I waited for Cabbie to handle her business and bark at everything she saw outside, I raided the pantry and ate some chips. Then I ate a couple of Rice Krispie Treats – 12 points altogether between 2:00 and 3:00.  I just decided I wasn’t going to log those points because I hardly ever eat in the middle of the night.  The next night, it was late and I ended up enjoying two See’s butterscotch lollypops – 4 points each for another 8 points. I decided not to log those points either. So I had 20 points that I knew I had eaten – and yet I hadn’t logged them.

I’ve always dealt with a certain amount of OCD behavior.  Those 20 uncounted points bothered me. So last night, I logged them – which took away most of my weekly points. However, they are now logged.

Under-valuing my morning coffee/bacon points provides an example similar to compound interest. One time – no big deal. However, under-valuing every single day has a long term effect on reaching my goals.  The lack of honesty would eventually lead to failure because those extra points each day would keep me from reaching my goals. 

So, here’s to honesty being the best policy – and honesty being MY policy for tracking!

Edited to add: I finished this post and headed to get my morning vitamins and realized that I take apple cider vinegar gummies and elderberry gummies every single day. The ACV helps with digestion, and I feel the elderberry helps keep my immune system up to par – which is important with Covid-19 nowadays.  I haven’t counted the gummy points because they’re part of my vitamin regimen. However, gummies have calories and food value. So I scanned and found that the two ACV gummies plus the two elderberry gummies equal 2 extra points each day.  That makes an additional two points I haven’t been counting.  Hmmmm. No wonder I’m losing slowly. I’m fine with losing slowly (“It’s a lifestyle – not a diet!”) Still, to be honest with myself, I will start logging them. 

I will re-think the daily bacon for breakfast. There are other options for fewer points than the 6 points for 3 slices of bacon. I will start working to lower points on my coffee. Many people have said that by slowly decreasing amounts of creamer and sugar, you can get to the point of preferring your coffee black or with very little of both add-ins.

Recipe Fail: Chocolate Muffins

My experiment today was to make chocolate muffins without a sugar free cake mix as the base.  I wanted to develop my own recipe. It sounded so simple. However, I found that I greatly over-estimated my creative baking skills.  It was such a disaster that I won’t even list the recipe, but here are the ingredients I used:

They looked so nice in the pan and cooked up beautifully.  I couldn’t wait to taste them.

I took one bite of the warm muffin – and promptly spit it out into a napkin!  There was no sweetness at all – it actually kinda set my teeth on edge. All 12 muffins (minus that one bite) went right into the “chicken bowl” that we keep in the kitchen for scraps to feed the chickens. 

I decided to give it another try immediately. I decided to add some monkfruit sweetener, vanilla extract, and a little Fage nonfat Greek yogurt. Surely those additions would make the muffins wonderful – or at least palatable.

So I made a second batch with those modifications. Again, I was eager to try them out. They looked and smelled wonderful. This time I got 2-3 bites down before tossing all the rest into the chicken bowl.  The second batch didn’t set my teeth on edge, but they simply didn’t taste good.  Sigh.

I have to say – those sugar-free cake mixes are looking a lot more appealing at this point! I’ve run out of muffin-making steam for today, but maybe tomorrow I will be go back to the original sugar-free cake mix chocolate muffin recipe!

Chick Fil A to the Rescue

Chick Fil A has become my go-to for fast food. I can get a 12-piece grilled nuggets (0 points), barbecue sauce packet (2 points), a small fruit cup (0 points), and I usually have my own Yeti tumbler of ice water with me. If not, I can get a Diet Coke or diet lemonade. It provides a tasty 2-point lunch (or dinner).

I got out of the house today, and after running my errands, I did my Chick Fil A run, and I’m good to go till dinner time. I will likely enjoy some frozen grapes when I get home, and I want to make some low-point muffins, too.

Ron will likely stop by Whole Foods on his way home and get fish for us to grill for dinner. Ron eats fish on a daily basis. I can eat it several days week. Halibut, especially, is my favorite.

 

2-Ingredient Dough – Bagels and Rolls

In all the WW groups I’ve joined on Facebook, I have heard a LOT about 2-Ingredient dough. So I decided to try it out.

It is simply equal parts self-rising flour and nonfat Greek yogurt. However, people kept mentioning that the dough is very sticky and that it works better to have a little less yogurt.  Here is what I did:

2-Ingredient Dough

3 cups self-rising flour (37 points) I made sure to be accurate with this measurement so I could figure the WW points. Set aside about 1/4 cup to use later.

2 1/2 cups Fage nonfat Greek Yogurt (0 points)

Mix the 2 3/4 cups flour with the yogurt in a bowl.. Turn out on a pastry board/sheet or on a piece of parchment paper. Knead briefly – using the 1/4 cup flour you set aside to add, as needed, to get it to a smooth ball.  Cut into 16 equal pieces.  I used a pastry cutter to cut the dough ball in half – then cut each half in half, etc.

Shape each piece into a ball.

I took some of the balls and rolled them out long and thin, sprayed with butter-flavored Pam, and then generously sprinkled cinnamon on them. Then I rolled them up (like a cinnamon roll), pressed them down, poked a hole in the middle. Voila! Cinnamon bagels.

Some I left plain, and others I sprayed with butter-flavored Pam and sprinkled “Everything but the Bagel” seasoning on them.

They turned out pretty good. They’re a little tangy, thanks to the yogurt. The only points come from the flour.  So 37 total points divided by 16 is equal to about 2.3 points each.  So one rounds off to 2 points, but two of them round off to 5 points.

I tried both the cinnamon and the “everything but the bagel” – and the cinnamon won, hands down.  Spread a little “Simply Fruit” spread on it – and yummy!

Another Zero-Point Cheesecake

Today at my mother’s I decided to try the Zero-Point Cheesecake again. This time I made a fresh cherry compote to serve on top.

The recipe for the cheesecake is at this link.

This time it turned out even better than last time.

My mother said this was about the best tasting thing she’d ever eaten!!! And she doesn’t say things like that often.
For the compote, I chopped up fresh cherries, added about a teaspoon of butter and a couple tablespoons of monk fruit sweetener and a teaspoon of vanilla extract. I brought it to a boil in a large pan. I used a potato masher to mash it. I let it simmer a few minutes and then put it in a jar which I placed in the refrigerator.
When I saw these cherries at the grocery store, I knew what kind of topping I wanted for the cheesecake.
Enough for us to each have a slice to day – and more for tomorrow when there will be more people here!