Mushroom and Herb Cheesy Pasta

In my house you get to choose what you want for your breakfast, lunch and dinner on your birthday, it is an only tradition that my parents started and we are continuing that tradition in my family. One of the things on the wish list for my husband’s birthday was mac and cheese for a side dish. I have made reduced fat mac and cheese before, but since it was my husband’s birthday I wanted to make it extra special. Chris loves mushrooms, so I thought what would be better then a cheesy mushroom sauce for this special birthday treat.

Mushroom and Herb Cheesy Pasta

250g (1/2 lb) pasta shapes
500g (1 lb) cremini (baby bella mushrooms), roughly chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
Salt and pepper, to taste
235mL (1 c.) reduced sodium vegetable broth
1 tsp. fresh basil, minced
1 tsp. fresh oregano, minced
1 tsp. fresh thyme, minced
2 Tbps cornflour
118mL (1/2 c.) skim milk
75g (1 c.) Gouda
100g (3.5 oz) low-fat soft cheese
2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
30g (1/2 c.) panko breadcrumbs

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Strawberry Filled Cupcakes with Strawberry icing

I mentioned before that I have just started WeightWatchers. Well this past Sunday was my biggest temptation so far, my husband’s birthday. I was preparing the food so I had control over what I was serving, but he had some requests that were pretty high on the points so I needed to find ways to trim down the points. One dish that I will talk about on Thursday was my take on a Mushroom Cheesy Pasta dish that was a wonderful treat for my mushroom loving husband but also helped turn what is normally a rather high point dish to a much more tolerable number. But what I was really concerned about was the desserts. I told my husband I was cooking some special cupcakes for his birthday and I set about to find a recipe that still tasted like a yummy birthday treat but that didn’t set me over in points on a day that was already hard enough. Now keep in mind that I am talking about the cupcake itself being better on the points aspect, not including the icing sugar. Since it was a birthday celebration with friends I felt I wanted to make it a presentable treat that looked like a birthday cupcake, not one for a diet. I didn’t tell anyone, other then my husband, that it was even a WeightWatchers friendly cupcake and people raved that it was delicious. Another thing I loved about it was how moist it was, especially with the jam in the middle. It held its own as a great recipe to do again even if I wasn’t on a diet. Without the icing the cupcake alone is 4 points but with the added icing goes up to 7 so be warned. The icing recipe will happily thinly cover all of the 12 cupcakes. However I chose to go a bit thicker on some both to add the sweet for my husband as well as to give me one without any icing. Although I won’t lie and say say I didn’t want the icing I was pleased to find the cupcake was delicious without it so it made it less difficult to go without.

Strawberry Filled Cupcakes with Strawberry icing

187g (1 1/2 c.) plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp table salt
56g (1/4 c.) butter, melted
75g (1/3 c.) sugar, granulated
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
245g (1 cup) fat-free plain yogurt
1 Tbps skim milk
1/4 tsp vanilla
250g (1 c.) icing sugar
2 Tbsp Strawberry Jam *optional 1 tsp extra

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Sliced Beef over Grilled Asian Cabbage

Last Sunday was Mother’s Day in the UK, my first as a mum. I had the privilege of blessing my amazing mother-in-law with a special dinner. Seeing as how I had just started Weight Watchers a few days before I decided to try something different from the usual Roast Dinner, something a bit healthier. I happened to have a large cabbage on hand so I did some research on what unique idea I could do with it. This meal would be amazing done on the BBQ, which we would have done had we not forgotten to buy charcoal. I was able to get it to turn out in the oven but I would highly recommend if you give this a try use to the BBQ. This dish comfortably fed 4 people and came to 9 weight watchers points.


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Sausage and Kale over couscous

I made a decision last week to join Weight Watchers. It has helped out so many people that I know so I decided to give it a try to help me lose this baby weight gain. But it isn’t just weight loss I am looking, it is the accountability and help with getting into better habits now that I am a mum. I find that I am struggling finding the time to have sensible meals during the day and am instead snacking here and there or just not eating during the day at all. I won’t lie I have never been very good at keeping food journals, counting calories or any of that so I wasn’t sure Weight Watchers would be right for me. I have only been doing it for a week now so we won’t declare victory yet, however I have been pleased with my progress so far of keeping up with the food journal and keeping within the point system. I know for me it has helped having the accountability of the meetings and the help from other mums in the group that have succeeded with it.

But it has been a challenge to make sure that I stick to it and find alternatives to many of my usual meals. But in the process I have already discovered some new things to make that before I might have turned my nose up to. The first being a dish using Kale. I am sorry to say that up until now I thought I didn’t like Kale. I had someone serve it to me in the US years ago and it was boiled with ham hock and was just way too salty for my taste. So up until now I thought that I didn’t like it. Although interestingly enough I did find out that while we were living with my in-laws I was served it without knowing what it was. After I made this dish I was delighted to discover that I do like Kale and with it being such a healthy green leafy vegetable I am looking forward to keeping it on the menu to help my whole family eat healthy. This particular recipe is a very easy and filling meal for two that is only 5 weight watchers points. But even if you don’t care about points, it’s a fantastic meal for two that is easy to put together and healthy.

Sausage and Kale over couscous

2 sausages*
50g (2oz) mushrooms, chopped
1 tsp olive oil
150g (5oz) Kale, roughly chopped
350mL (1 1/2 c.) reduced sodium stock
90g (1/2 c.) whole wheat couscous

*For this I used some fresh sausages we got from our farmers market. But you could use any sausage you choose just be mindful of how fatty if you are counting points.

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Creamy Butternut Squash Sauce

I have an amazing treat for you. And it comes in the form of a delicious meal that only has 5 ingredients, plus added salt and pepper if desired. I had half of a roasted large butternut squash leftover from another meal and was trying to think of a nice way that Morgan could enjoy it. She does love to eat butternut squash as is but I noticed she seems to get bored when I give her the same meal too many times in a row. I also needed a quick idea for Chris and I seeing as how we had a busy late night in store for us. I love easy meals that use so few ingredients, it is easy and cheap, which is a wonderful combination for busy parents on a tight budget. Personally I didn’t find that it needed any other seasonings but add salt and pepper to fit your own taste, but if you are giving some to your little one make sure to take their portion out before you salt it.

I was able to use leftover butternut squash when I made it but I have written down the instructions as if you were starting from scratch. This was such a creamy, sweet delicious dish that I have put it down for next weeks meal plan.

*revised
I just needed to follow up with some more info related to this recipe. After I created it I joined weight watchers. I had originally made this recipe with whole milk so that it was suitable for my daughter who is only 8 months old and should not be on a low-fat diet. But I was able to freeze several portions of this recipe for her by adding portions of the sauce into a silicon cupcake tray and freezing it. The reason why you need to use a silicon one is so that you can easily get it out. You will then have perfectly frozen portions that you can then put in a freezer bag and pull out one at time for meals for the baby.

I remade this recipe using skimmed milk and I am happy to say that the sauce serves about 6 portions and alone is only 2 points a portion. Add that to some steamed veggies and a small amount of wholemeal pasta and you easily have a very filling meal for under 5 points!

Creamy Butternut Squash Sauce

1 small butternut squash (about 250g, or 1/2 lb)
237 mL (1 c.) whole milk*
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp flour
1 clove of garlic
Salt and Pepper to taste *optional

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