Salsa Red Snapper with White Beans & Gremolata Topping

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Last night I invited Mom to join me for dinner.  I surprised her by making a recipe she’d discovered a few years back.  It’s a showy dish that’s perfect for easy entertaining and chock full of flavor.  Loaded with healthy ingredients, this is only 4 1/2 Weight Watchers points per serving. I sent Mom home with a to-go box and have an ample serving left for myself.  (If you can’t find red snapper, tilapia may be substituted). I tweaked the original recipe ever so slightly, using only one can of beans, a bit more salsa and made more gremolata because it’s that topping that makes this dish over- the-top delicious.  If you have gremolata left it would be great with chicken, salmon or even tossed in with pasta, couscous or rice!

Salsa Red Snapper with White Beans & Gremolata Topping             serves 4

4 1/2 Weight Watchers points per serving

  • 18 oz salsa
  • 1 can great northern beans, drained
  • 1 small green pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 lb red snapper
  • 1/4 c green onions

Gremolata topping:

  • 1/2 c chopped flat leaf parsley
  •  1 1/2 t orange zest
  • 1 1/2 t lime zest
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Combine 12 oz of the salsa with the beans and green pepper and place in a casserole dish.

          

Cut the red snapper into several servings and place over the salsa mixture.


Top the fish with the remaining 6 oz of salsa, followed by the green onions. Cover the casserole dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Mix together the ingredients for the gremolata and set aside.


Remove the casserole from oven and allow to rest uncovered for five minutes before serving.  Top each serving with gremolata and prepare to fall in love with this flavorful, healthy dish.

I served this with roasted garlic crostini, a fresh spinach salad with dijon vinaigrette with a lovely bottle of wine and lemon bars for dessert.

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Attaining a Goal

I realize that I’ve been less consistent with my posting in recent weeks.  It isn’t for lack of wanting to blog but I’ve taken a few road trips, enjoying our beautiful fall weather and taking advantage of mild sunny days to dead-head and ready my garden for the cold winter ahead. I’ve been reading non-stop and binge watching shows recommended by friends and family. And though I’ve not mentioned it for awhile, I’ve been sticking with Weight Watchers.  

Having started the program on December 28, 2015, I’ve seen nothing short of miraculous results (for me) and hit my goal weight on July 28th.  In order to qualify as a lifetime member, I had to complete six consecutive weigh-ins (with a two pound leeway).  Between traveling and other conflicts, it took me until this Monday to get in the sixth weigh-in – and I did it!  I’m a Life Time Member!

I wanted to share this news with my followers who’ve been so kind and supportive.   Having turned sixty in May, attaining this goal feels great and has made a positive impact on my health.  Total loss = 33 lbs!

Oprah, thank you for speaking to me via your “If not now, when?” message on December 28th.  I wasn’t thinking about weight loss, having become complacent about the extra weight I was carrying around but I was moved into action by a force greater than myself.

Life is good, health is precious and I feel empowered by attaining this goal!

 

The Joy of Discovery…at the grocery store

Earlier this year Spence and I traveled back to Aruba. Unlike our prior visit, this time the endless breakfast buffet included the elusive dragonfruit.

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The splendor of Passion and Dragon Fruits enjoyed each morning – bliss!

I’m obsessed with the Food Network and have seen dragon fruit pop up now and again yet had never encountered it in the flesh (a little fruit pun, couldn’t help myself).  After gorging on it during our trip, I feared I might not see it again for a long time. Upon returning in June, I stalked the produce departments of every grocery and specialty food store in a one hour radius; not one to be found.  I gave up and moved on.

Not unlike finding a good man, the minute I stopped looking – there is was!  Fat magenta beauties with just enough “give” when softly pressed to make me certain that they were ripe.  I bought three (though I considered buying all of them).

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I was giddy with my discovery. I called Spence from the parking lot. Not home. I called Mom exclaiming “I’ve found dragon fruit!”  She was happy for me (what can you say when someone is that excited about a piece of fruit, right?)

These were perfectly ripe, creamy and refreshing, a cross between kiwi and pear in flavor.  They are simply beautiful – and a whole dragon fruit is zero points per Weight Watchers!!  What??? As if I needed more reason to love them.

I’ve since learned that dragon fruit is a type of cactus and comes in three colors – 2 shades of pink and the other yellow.  They are a good source of Vitamin C, phosphorus, calcium, fiber and antioxidants.

The grocery tag on those I purchased says USA though they are mostly grown in Southeast Asia, Mexico, Central and South America and Israel.

Here is a mouth-watering dragon fruit collage for your viewing enjoyment with photos culled from Pinterest!

 

 

 

59 Candles, 59 Things – part thirty three

Forty first thing: The next thing that makes me happy is one that I wouldn’t imagine being on the list when I started this series on my 59th birthday last May.

Weight Watchers makes me happy. 

On December 28th, when Oprah spoke to me (and millions of others) I heard her message “if not now when?” and it resonated.  Loving to cook and eat with the additional freedom to travel since retiring 2 years ago, I’ve seen the number on my scale inch upwards.  I was having so much fun that I’d become complacent. With 2016 on the horizon, I got online and signed up that evening.

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True that….
My expectations were that the first 5-10 lbs would come off with mindful eating and more movement – and that happened.  What surprised me is that I’ve lost 19 lbs in just two months while enjoying food. In fact if I’d been a bit more disciplined with choices when dining out and traveling, I’d have lost more by now.  Part of my success has to do with not depriving myself by having foods I love but in moderation and the other part is being more active.

Purchasing my FitBit has been integral to my acceptance that I’ve been living like a sloth.

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No offense intended, I once held a baby sloth in Costa Rica and it was adorable.
Accepting that I can’t change my past, I’m now tracking every step via the FitBit which syncs to my WW and FitBit apps on my iphone and MACBook.  It also means that if I’m running behind on my daily goal by bedtime, I fire up my ipod to a couple of my favorite tunes and “dance it out” in the kitchen.

Thank you Oprah for getting my attention, to Weight Watchers for an awesome program and great tools and to Spence, your encouragement and support are endlessly appreciated.

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For more of this series, “59 Candles, 59 Things” – click on “59 Things” under Categories.  And I’d love to hear what things make you happy.  

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A bit more animal/diet humor because seriously, haven’t we all been there? 
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Prosciutto, Brie & Arugula Gourmet Flatbread

Prosciutto, Brie & Arugula Gourmet Flatbread with Medjool Dates & Balsamic Reduction

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11 Weight Watchers Smart Points

There’s a little gem of an Italian Restaurant in nearby Clarkston Michigan.  My lifelong BFF introduced it to me and it’s quickly become my favorite.  Their menu changes with the season and their offerings are inspired and delicious. I’m crazy about their flatbreads.

I’ve created my version of a favorite while using recipe builder on the Weight Watchers app. I’ve lost 15 pounds (since joining Weight Watchers on December 28) and I’m finding that I can have gourmet meals with a bit of creativity. This was so yummy I had to share it with the blogsphere.

Prosciutto, Brie & Arugula Gourmet Flatbread with Medjool Dates & Balsamic Reduction

Serves 1                           Weight Watchers Smart Points 11

  • 1 slice of Trader Joe’s Garlic Naan
  • 1 handful baby arugula
  • 1/2 oz prosciutto – roll and slice into thin “ribbons”
  • 3/4 oz brie – remove rind, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large Medjool Date – pit, then cut into 6-8 pieces
  • 1 t Balsamic Vinegar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a baking stone, place the Naan. Top with baby argula, followed by prosciutto, brie and dates.  Drizzle the balsamic over the other ingredients.  Bake for 5-8 minutes and the brie is melted. If desired, a little cracked black pepper completes this dish.

Mexican Stuffed Mini-Peppers

This recipe was created as a result of brown rice and taco meat from earlier this week as well as my purchase of those beautiful tri-color mini-peppers.  It was easy and absolutely delicious.

Mini-Stuffed Peppers – serves 4  Weight Watcher Smart Points 6

  • 1 c taco meat (see my recipe below)
  • 1 c brown rice
  • 1 T chopped parsley
  • 1 can Rotel Tomatoes with green chilies – drained, reserve liquid
  • 1/2 c finely shredded cheese
  • 16-20 mini-peppers, stemmed, seeded, cut in half

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix the meat, rice, parsley and tomatoes together.

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Load each half pepper with about a tablespoon of filling and place into a large casserole dish. It’s fine if the filling spills over the sides a bit. If there is extra filling after you’ve wedged all the peppers in the casserole simply spoon it over the top. Pour the reserved liquid over the peppers.  Top with cheese.

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Bake for 30-40 minutes. Remove from oven and serve.

Taco Meat

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • minced jalapeno
  • minced garlic
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • cumin
  • chili powder
  • red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper

Brown the ground beef with the items above – to your taste. Drain and blot any excess grease with a paper towel.  This meat is what I prefer for the recipe above as well as tacos, quesadillas, burritos, enchiladas or taco salad.

Shrimp Stir-Fry

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Shrimp Stir-Fry   serves 2  Weight Watchers Smart Points 5 

  • 24 cooked shrimp
  • Veggies for stir fry: carrots, celery, sweet white onion, shitake mushrooms, cauliflower, broccoli
  • 2 t peanut oil

Additional flavor elements: Grated fresh ginger, 2-3 garlic cloves minced, green onion – minced, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, juice from one half lemon, chopped flat leaf parsley, baby arugula and red pepper flakes to taste.

Stir-fry the veggies, adding the shrimp, arugula and parsley at the very end. Top with 1 oz chopped cashews when serving.

Oprah spoke to me…

I remember the day clearly.  It was December 28, 2015. I was in my living room, on the sofa and Spence was getting his morning HLN News fix. My focus was elsewhere.

Then I heard her voice. “Oprah?”.

She was talking about Weight Watchers and I recall this clearly, she said “If not now, when?”  I snatched the remote from Spence and backed it up. I heard the full message this time and I knew, when Oprah speaks to me, I listen.

Within a few hours, I’d signed up for Weight Watchers Online and identified the closest meeting site. I downloaded the app. I used my holiday-earned Kohls Cash and ordered a FitBit. I ordered a food scale on Amazon. I recommitted to my kitchen yoga practice (the only space where I don’t crash into furniture) and decided that the time had come for me to get serious about losing weight.

Today, one month later, I’ve attended three meetings. I’ve lost nearly 11 lbs. and am feeling great.  I’m still eating yummy food and drinking wine but in moderation and with mindfulness.  My house is full of fruits and vegetables as well as healthier snacks. I plan meals differently but I don’t feel deprived nor hungry. I’m lucky that I love all foods and enjoy cooking.  I’m moving much more now that my FitBit tracks every step – and compete with myself week over week.

Being very tall, I’ve had the luxury of being able to wear nearly all of my clothes with a 20-30 lb weight range. This is always a bit shocking when I talk to my shorter friends who tell me they can feel a 5 lb weight gain in their clothes.

As I approach my 60th birthday in May, I acknowledge a need to fine-tune my relationship with food. I’ve had several heart procedures, including a pacemaker, thyroid cancer, rotator cuff and gall bladder surgeries, a mild heart attack and a bout of shingles since turning 50.  As they say, “getting older ain’t for sissies”.  When Oprah spoke to me that day, “if not now, when?” resonated. Time for action….

Thank you Oprah, for sharing your experience and challenging us to join you on this journey. May we all enjoy success and lead healthier lives!

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On the left, my usual wine glass. On the right, the one I use now. If I want a second glass of wine, I have to get up and walk to the kitchen to refill it.  Two bowls of fruit in the background…

 

 

Grilled Zucchini & Summer Squash with Goat Cheese

With the bounty of fresh produce from farmer’s markets and gardens, veggies are plentiful this summer. Recently, using a summer squash, zucchini and some imagination, I came up with this recipe and may I say – it was fabulous. The combination of fresh herbs, grilled squash, sweet sautéed onion, creamy goat cheese and a burst of fresh lemon make this a new favorite for Spence and I.

Grilled Zucchini & Summer Squash with Goat Cheese

Weight Watchers Smart Points 3*

  • Zucchini
  • Summer Squash
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Seasoning (I love Melting Pot’s Garlic & Wine Seasoning)
  • Coconut Oil

Step One: Slice the squash into 1/2-inch “planks” (on the diagonal). Lay the planks on a paper towel, season with salt, pepper and garlic seasoning on one side. Brush a grill pan generously with coconut oil and bring to a searing heat. Place the planks on the grill pan, flipping only one time after 2-3 minutes (you’ll see grill marks). Allow another 2-3 minutes of grill time, remove and place the planks into a baking dish in a single layer.

  • Diced Sweet Onion
  • Butter

Step Two: Saute the onion in butter on a medium heat for 4-5 minutes. Top the squash with the onions.

  • Fresh Herbs: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, Thyme & Chives – chopped together
  • Goat Cheese
  • Lemon Wedge
  • Red Pepper Flakes

Just before baking.....
Just before baking…..

Step 3: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Top the squash with chopped herbs, followed by crumbled goat cheese. Squeeze fresh lemon over the top. Bake for 10 minutes – just to soften the goat cheese. Top with red pepper flakes and serve.

Note from Spence’s Girl: I purposely left the recipe without quantities as you can adjust based on how many servings you’d like. If you don’t have access to these exact herbs, use what you have – basil, oregano, tarragon – have fun with it. While not vegan, this would be a lovely vegetarian entree.  

* To calculate the Weight Watchers Smart Points, I used 1 oz of goat cheese and 1/2 tablespoon of butter, based on 2 servings.