Lightened Up Spinach Queso Mac and Cheese

I found this recipe on Pinterest and it made me drool.  INSTANTLY.

Spinach Queso Pinterest | No Thanks to Cake(Source)

It has spinach and tomatoes… and has a base similar to that addictive white queso cheese from Mexican restaurants.  I did the right thing… I pinned the recipe to a “Dangerously Delicious” board on Pinterest and stepped away from the idea of ever making this mac and cheese.  Do you do that too?  Pin delicious foods that you’re never (ever) going to make?  I totally do…

However, this mac and cheese concoction stuck in my brain.  And, I wondered if there was a way to make this dish a little bit healthier.  And, I figured out a way!

Lightened Up Spinach Queso Mac and Cheese | No Thanks to Cake

 I’m not going to tell you that this recipe is the same as the original.  That it has that creamy gooeyness that comes with that cheese sauce.  BUT… what I can tell you is, that for someone who has never tasted the original… I think this is the best darn spinach queso mac and cheese EVER!

Lightened Up Spinach Queso Mac and Cheese

Inspired by Pinterest

Serves 1

INGREDIENTS

Lightened Up Spinach Queso Mac and Cheese | No Thanks to Cake

2 oz. whole wheat macaroni, cooked

2 Tbsp. diced onion

1 tsp. minced garlic, about 1 clove

1/2 can of Rotel Tomatoes – Original recipe, drained

1 wedge Laughing Cow Cheese – Queso Fresco and Chipotle flavor

 1 container Green Giant Just for One Broccoli and Cheese

Dash of Cumin

2 cups spinach

INSTRUCTIONS

1.  Saute your aromatics in a large skillet sprayed with cooking spray for 1-2 minutes.

Lightened Up Spinach Queso Mac and Cheese | No Thanks to Cake

2.  Meanwhile, cook the tray of broccoli and cheese per the package instructions.

Lightened Up Spinach Queso Mac and Cheese | No Thanks to Cake

3.  Add the wedge of Laughing Cow and mix in.

Lightened Up Spinach Queso Mac and Cheese | No Thanks to Cake

4.  Add spinach to the pan, and cook until wilted (about 3 minutes) stirring frequently.

Lightened Up Spinach Queso Mac and Cheese | No Thanks to Cake

5.  Add your tomatoes to the pan.  Be sure to drain the Rotel before adding it to the pan.  Cook 1-2 minutes and mix well.

Lightened Up Spinach Queso Mac and Cheese | No Thanks to Cake

6.  Add cooked pasta to the pan and the cheesy broccoli mixture.

Lightened Up Spinach Queso Mac and Cheese | No Thanks to Cake

7.  Add a dash of cumin, optional.  Stir pasta well, cooking until cheese have combined and melted.  Stir often.

Lightened Up Spinach Queso Mac and Cheese | No Thanks to Cake

8.  Move pasta to a bowl, and prepare yourself for a treat!

Lightened Up Spinach Queso Mac and Cheese | No Thanks to Cake

Lightened Up Spinach Queso Mac and Cheese | No Thanks to Cake

Lightened Up Spinach Queso Mac and Cheese | No Thanks to Cake

Per Entire Recipe:

CAL 320; CARB 57g; FAT 5g; PROT 14g; FIB 11g; WW Points Plus: 8

Related posts:

Aromatic Noodles with Lime Peanut Sauce

On Saturday afternoon, I got invited to an impromptu cookout.  It was about 3pm when we confirmed plans, so I had to make a quick decision on what I wanted to bring…

Deb indicated she had the main course figured out and that we just needed to bring sides.  I’ve been thinking about trying to remake this dish in a healthier way, and it seemed like the right time!

Aromatic Noodles with Lime Peanut Sauce | No Thanks to Cake

It has been years since I made this recipe.  In the past, I’ve made it with peanut butter, but this time, I exchanged the regular peanut butter for powdered peanut butter.  I didn’t miss the regular stuff at all, and cut the calories significantly by choosing powdered peanut butter!

I also think this is a great dish to add a little protein to.  Adding some grilled, broiled, or shredded chicken can take this from a side dish to main dish in no time!

Aromatic Noodles with Lime Peanut Sauce

Adapted from Food Network

Serves 10

INGREDIENTS

Aromatic Noodles with Lime Peanut Sauce | No Thanks to Cake

3/4 pound pasta – I used cavatappi
2 cups (about 9 ounces) broccoli florets
2 cups (about 6 ounces) snow peas, trimmed
2 cups (about 6 ounces) sugar snap peas, trimmed
1 cup powdered peanut butter
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 scallion, cut into pieces + extra for garnish
3/4 inch fresh ginger, finely grated
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts

INSTRUCTIONS

1.  Cook the pasta in a large pot of water according to the directions on the package. Drain and rinse with cold water.

2.  Steam vegetables for 3 minutes in the microwave. Note:  I simply used a gallon-sized ziploc bag with about 1/2 cup of water added.

Aromatic Noodles with Lime Peanut Sauce | No Thanks to Cake

3.  Make the sauce by pureeing the peanut butter, soy sauce, water, vinegar, lime juice, scallion, ginger, sugar and red pepper flakes in a food processor or blender until smooth.  Note:  You can also use regular peanut butter if you prefer.  Use 1/2 cup peanut butter, and reduce the amount of water to 1/4 cup.

Aromatic Noodles with Lime Peanut Sauce | No Thanks to Cake

Aromatic Noodles with Lime Peanut Sauce | No Thanks to Cake

4.  Combine pasta and vegetables in a large bowl.

Aromatic Noodles with Lime Peanut Sauce | No Thanks to Cake

5.  Right before serving, toss the salad with 1 cup of the peanut sauce.

Aromatic Noodles with Lime Peanut Sauce | No Thanks to Cake

Aromatic Noodles with Lime Peanut Sauce | No Thanks to Cake

6.  Top with coarsely chopped peanuts, and serve cold.

Aromatic Noodles with Lime Peanut Sauce | No Thanks to Cake

Aromatic Noodles with Lime Peanut Sauce | No Thanks to Cake

Per 1/2 cup serving:

CAL 196; CARB 36g; FAT 2g; PROT 10g; FIB 4; WW Points Plus:  5

Related posts:

Steamed Broccoli with Romesco Sauce

I subscribed to Food Network Magazine for YEARS.  When I began my healthy lifestyle, I realized quickly that there weren’t too many recipes featured monthly that I could make without a whole lot of modifications.  And, flipping through its beautiful pages of decadent foods were just reminding me of all that I wouldn’t be eating.  Like many other non-helpful habits, this one had to go…

Every January, I am reunited with this old friend by way of it’s “Light” issue that is published at the first of every year.

Food Network Magazine Light Issue 2014 | No Thanks to Cake

I picked up a copy at Sprouts last week and spotted a few items I definitely want to make (including that soup on the cover… how great does that look!?)

The first recipe I made was a lovely dipping sauce that I found deep within the magazine.  Now, most people don’t get too excited about steamed broccoli, but when you pair it with a spicy romesco sauce… it turns into a party.

Steamed Broccoli with Romesco Sauce | No Thanks to Cake

 

While I’d eaten romesco sauce in restaurants, I had never made my own… and this version (slightly modified by yours truly) is an insanely delicious pairing to steamed broccoli, and something I’ve been enjoying with dinner for the past few days.  It’s nutty, it’s smoky, and it’s guilt-free.  If you’re starting to get bored with your broccoli, here’s your answer!

Steamed Broccoli with Romesco Sauce

Adapted from Food Network Magazine

Makes 1/2 cup sauce

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

Steamed Broccoli with Romesco Sauce | No Thanks to Cake

1 clove garlic

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1.5 oz. roasted red peppers, drained

1/4 cup walnuts

1 Tbsp. water

1 Tbsp. chicken broth

1/2 Tbsp. tomato paste

1/2 Tbsp. sherry vinegar

1 tsp. smoked paprika

dash of cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

INSTRUCTIONS

1.  Add all your ingredients to a food processor, and pulse until smooth.

Steamed Broccoli with Romesco Sauce | No Thanks to Cake

Steamed Broccoli with Romesco Sauce | No Thanks to Cake

Steamed Broccoli with Romesco Sauce | No Thanks to Cake

Steamed Broccoli with Romesco Sauce | No Thanks to Cake

2.  Steam your broccoli, using your favorite steaming technique.  Note:  I used a Ziploc bag with a splash of water in the microwave for a minute.

3.  Serve broccoli with 2 Tbsp. of sauce on the side, and begin dipping!

Steamed Broccoli with Romesco Sauce | No Thanks to Cake

Steamed Broccoli with Romesco Sauce | No Thanks to Cake

4.  Store remaining sauce in a cute little container, like this one from Anthropologie.  It says “smidgen” for goodness sake… so cute!

Steamed Broccoli with Romesco Sauce | No Thanks to Cake

Per 2 Tbsp. serving:

CAL 78; CARB 2g; FAT 8g; PROT 1g; FIB 1g; WW Points Plus: 2

Related posts:

Creamed Spinach Veggie Grands Pizza

I’ve been talking about making this dish for WEEKS.  It’s one of those old time favorites that I remember making with my friend Jen.  I think the original idea for the crust came from Pillsbury themselves, maybe from a magazine or the Sunday coupon flier.

Wherever it originated, I am so glad we found it!

Creamed Spinach and Veggie Grands Pizza | No Thanks to Cake

When I lived with Jen way back when, this used to be one of our staples.  Because… what makes a better pizza than a can of Grands and a package of creamed spinach.  I can’t think of anything… and it was always fun to load the little pizza up with whatever we had in the fridge.

It was always delish, regardless of the toppings, but making it with creamed spinach (or creamed spin, as we called it) made for the BEST Grands pizzas ever… TRY THEM!

Creamed Spinach and Veggie Grands Pizza

Serves 1

INGREDIENTS

Creamed Spinach and Veggie Grands Pizza | No Thanks to Cake

1 Golden Wheat Reduced Fat Grands Biscuit

1/3 cup creamed spinach

2 cloves garlic

3 black olives

1/2 roma tomato, diced

2 broccoli florets diced

2 Tbsp. shredded mozzarella

INSTRUCTIONS

1.  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

2.  Roll out your Grands biscuit with a rolling pin, and move it to a baking sheet.

Creamed Spinach and Veggie Grands Pizza | No Thanks to Cake

Creamed Spinach and Veggie Grands Pizza | No Thanks to Cake

3.  Prepare your creamed spinach in the microwave per the package instructions.

Creamed Spinach and Veggie Grands Pizza | No Thanks to Cake

4.  Measure out 1/3 cup of creamed spinach and spread it on the Grand.

Creamed Spinach and Veggie Grands Pizza | No Thanks to Cake

Creamed Spinach and Veggie Grands Pizza | No Thanks to Cake

5.  Top with veggies.

Creamed Spinach and Veggie Grands Pizza | No Thanks to Cake

Creamed Spinach and Veggie Grands Pizza | No Thanks to Cake

6.  Add the cheese, and top with olives.  Sprinkle with crushed red pepper, if you like it spicy!

Creamed Spinach and Veggie Grands Pizza | No Thanks to Cake

7.  Bake pizza for 10-13 minutes, or until pizza is browned.

Creamed Spinach and Veggie Grands Pizza | No Thanks to Cake

8.  Slice your pizza and get ready to be amazed…

Creamed Spinach and Veggie Grands Pizza | No Thanks to Cake

Creamed Spinach and Veggie Grands Pizza | No Thanks to Cake

Creamed Spinach and Veggie Grands Pizza | No Thanks to Cake

Per entire recipe:

CAL 275; CARB 37g; FAT 12g; PROT 9g; FIB 3g; WW Points: 8

Related posts: