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:

Edamole

My favorite restaurant in Nashville closed its doors a few years ago now.  I remember that I’d always show up at Rumba, thirsty for their mojitos and hoping that their edamole had made a reappearance on the menu.  Sadly, on my last visit to the place, the edamole did not appear.

Ever since then, I’ve been trying to come up with just the right combinations to make this dish.  I’ve made it with too much avocado, edamame that was too crunchy, and then last week… I made it just right.

Just in time for the California Avocado recipe contest I was participating in.  It was a tough decision between the Grilled Avocado Caprese and this dish, but in the end, both recipes win.  I mean, take a look at this stuff…

Edamole | No Thanks to Cake

It has the perfect pairing of edamame and avocado.  Mixed with just the right aromatic ingredients, it is perfect on a pita chip.  Try this one…

Edamole

Inspired by Rumba Nashville

INGREDIENTS

Edamole | No Thanks to Cake

1 California Avocado, ripe

1 cup frozen edamame, shelled

½ cup diced red onion

¼ cup chopped cilantro

1 roma tomato, seeded and diced

2 tsp. garlic

1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice

INSTRUCTIONS

1.  Prepare your edamame per the package instructions until tender, not crunchy.  Note:  I cooked mine in the microwave with water.  Also important, the edamame must be soft.  Crunchy will not work.

Edamole | No Thanks to Cake

2.  Once the cooking process is completed, run cool water over the beans in a colander to cool them off and stop the cooking process.

Edamole | No Thanks to Cake

3.  Add edamame to a food processor.  Add avocado.  Pulse until combined.

Edamole | No Thanks to Cake

Edamole | No Thanks to Cake

4.  Add cilantro, onion, garlic, and lime.  Pulse to combine.

Edamole | No Thanks to Cake

Edamole | No Thanks to Cake

5.  Move the mixture to a bowl.  Add the tomatoes by hand.  Stir to combine.

Edamole | No Thanks to Cake

Edamole | No Thanks to Cake

6.  Serve with pita chips and enjoy!!

Edamole | No Thanks to Cake

Edamole | No Thanks to Cake

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Jenny Volumizing: Chicken Fajita Tostada Cups

After Friday night’s food fest, I absolutely knew that I wanted to jump RIGHT BACK on track on Saturday.

I’ve been doing so well eating healthy and living “in the zone.” After a healthy breakfast and lunch, I wanted to get a little creative with dinner, while still staying on plan and on track.  Here’s what I came up with…

Chicken Fajita Tostada Cups | No Thanks to Cake

Don’t they look amazing???  My dad sent me a set of the Perfect Tortilla pans a few months back, but I’d never used them until Saturday night!  While these little pans seem gimmicky, they’re really awesome.  I can only imagine that kids would love these little boats, and the kid in me was VERY happy with them.  Click here for more details on the product.

Chicken Fajita Tostada Cups | No Thanks to Cake The Jenny Craig Chicken Fajita kit is one of my favorite ways to create sassy, volumized meals.  I LOVE Mexican flavors, so this one was super fun to play with.  I also used some of my new faves from Trader Joe’s in this dish to add a little flavor.  End result:  Fantastic, satisfying meal.  And, now I wish I had more fajitas in my freezer…

 

Chicken Fajita Tostada Cups

Serves 1

INGREDIENTS

Chicken Fajita Tostada Cups | No Thanks to Cake

1 pkg. Jenny Craig Chicken Fajita dinner

1/4 red onion, sliced

1/4 red pepper, sliced

cooking spray

1 wedge Laughing Cow Cheese – Queso Fresco and Chipotle flavor

2 Tbsp. Trader Joe’s Corn and Chile Salsa

2 tsp. Trader Joe’s Guacamame – Spicy Edamame Dip

Two sliced cherry tomatoes

Shredded butter lettuce

INSTRUCTIONS

1.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

2.  Prepare your tortillas for baking.  Spray your pans with cooking spray and press the thawed tortillas into the pans.  Top with a spritz of cooking spray.  Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.  Keep your eye on them so that they don’t burn.  Note:  If you don’t have these pans, this post has some great alternatives you can use!

Chicken Fajita Tostada Cups | No Thanks to Cake

3.  While your tortillas bake, sauté your fresh onion and pepper in a pan prepared with cooking spray.  Cook for 3-5 minutes or until they begin to get a little char on them.  Note:  I always add a little extra veggies to my Jenny food.  It just “volumizes” the dish, making more to enjoy!

Chicken Fajita Tostada Cups | No Thanks to Cake

Chicken Fajita Tostada Cups | No Thanks to Cake

4.  Add your frozen fajita mix and cook until warmed through, and then cook a few minutes longer.  Add fajita seasoning packet to add flavor.  Note:  I like to cook my fajitas a little longer than the package suggests.  Again, to add a little char to the vegetables and to give it that “restaurant flavor.”

Chicken Fajita Tostada Cups | No Thanks to Cake

Chicken Fajita Tostada Cups | No Thanks to Cake

5.  Move your fajita mixture to a small bowl, and stir in a wedge of Laughing Cow Cheese.

Chicken Fajita Tostada Cups | No Thanks to Cake

Chicken Fajita Tostada Cups | No Thanks to Cake

6.  Fill your baked tortilla cups with the fajita mixture.

Chicken Fajita Tostada Cups | No Thanks to Cake

7.  Top with corn salsa, shredded lettuce, and tomatoes.  Add a dollop of Guacamame (just 35 calories for 2 Tbsp! – - For this recipe, I just used 2 tsp.)

Chicken Fajita Tostada Cups | No Thanks to Cake

Chicken Fajita Tostada Cups | No Thanks to Cake

8.  Serve and enjoy!!  I wasn’t really sure how to eat it, so I picked it up like a taco, and then ended up finishing it up with a fork. 

Chicken Fajita Tostada Cups | No Thanks to Cake

Chicken Fajita Tostada Cups | No Thanks to Cake

Chicken Fajita Tostada Cups | No Thanks to Cake

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Thai Chicken Enchiladas

On Saturday morning, I went to get my hair cut and colored.  Visiting with the fabulous Meggan is one of my favorite parts of the process… that and walking out feeling like a million bucks!

New Hair Color | No Thanks to Cake

Yep, that new blondish streaks in my hair are totally Meggan’s doing… isn’t she fabulous?

Well, during my time in the chair, she and I also talked about cooking.  I was craving a Buffalo Chicken Chili (which I still want to make.). Meggan suggested something to make me change my mind about chili and to move over to a new Thai dish that blew my mind.

Thai Chicken Enchiladas | No Thanks to Cake

Meggan described the dish as one that she could eat every single day, if she could.  It’s not a cheesy enchilada, instead an enchilada filled with veggies and a spicy coconut milk sauce.  O-M-G… It was the most surprising dish I’ve made in a while.  Spicy, filling, and just so darn good!!!!  I agree with Meggan… I would eat this every meal if I could (and if they  weren’t all gone already.  Sniff!)

Thai Chicken Enchiladas

Adapted from How Sweet Eats

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS

Thai Chicken Enchiladas | No Thanks to Cake

6 light flour tortillas

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (about 1/2 lb)

1/2 sweet onion, chopped

1/3 cup chopped/shredded carrots

2/3 cup chopped/shredded cabbage

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

4 green onions, sliced

1/4 cup chopped + crushed peanuts + more for garnish

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro + more for garnish

3/4 cup + 1/2 cup light coconut milk

1/3 cup + 1/4 cup sweet chili sauce

 INSTRUCTIONS

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add canola oil. Add onions, cabbage, carrots, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt, stirring to mix. Let cook until vegetables are soft, about 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Thai Chicken Enchiladas | No Thanks to Cake

3.  Add in chicken, green onions, peanuts, cilantro, remaining salt and pepper, tossing to coat, and let cook for 1-2 minutes.  Note:  I cooked the chicken in a crockpot, sprayed with cooking spray until it fell apart.

Thai Chicken Enchiladas | No Thanks to Cake

Thai Chicken Enchiladas | No Thanks to Cake

Thai Chicken Enchiladas | No Thanks to Cake

Thai Chicken Enchiladas | No Thanks to Cake

4.  Add in 3/4 cup coconut milk and 1/3 cup sweet chili sauce, mixing thoroughly to combine. Turn off heat.

Thai Chicken Enchiladas | No Thanks to Cake

5.  Spray a 9×9 baking dish with nonstick spray. Whisk together remaining coconut milk and sweet chili sauce. Pour about 1/4 cup or so on the bottom of the dish.

Thai Chicken Enchiladas | No Thanks to Cake

Thai Chicken Enchiladas | No Thanks to Cake

6.  Slightly warm tortillas if desired to make them more pliable, then place about 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture in each, rolling up tightly and placing in the dish. Cover with remaining coconut milk and chili sauce mix. Note:  Take a spoon and cover every inch of the tortilla with the sauce, just to make sure it’s coated well.

Thai Chicken Enchiladas | No Thanks to Cake

Thai Chicken Enchiladas | No Thanks to Cake

Thai Chicken Enchiladas | No Thanks to Cake

Thai Chicken Enchiladas | No Thanks to Cake

7.  Bake for 20 minutes, then remove and top with additional peanuts and cilantro. Since sauce is not as thick as traditional enchilada sauce, when you remove them from the oven, spoon sauce from the bottom of the dish all over the tortillas.

Thai Chicken Enchiladas | No Thanks to Cake

Thai Chicken Enchiladas | No Thanks to Cake

7.  Serve, and enjoy with a side of steamed veggies.

Thai Chicken Enchiladas | No Thanks to Cake

 Thai Chicken Enchiladas | No Thanks to Cake

Per 1 enchilada serving:

CAL 227; CARB 30g; FAT 6g; PROT 17g; FIB 7g; WW Points Plus: 6

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