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:

Jenny Volumizing: Indian-Spiced Chicken Fettuccine

Whenever I’m asked what my favorite type of cuisine is, I usually say Indian.  While I don’t eat it all that often, it is my go-to choice for my birthday dinner.  That must mean it’s my favorite, right??

The rich flavors of curry, turmeric, cumin, and cardamom… I always find that indian food has great depth and the spicy kick is what keeps me coming back for more.

Jenny Volumizing: Indian-Spiced Chicken Fettuccine | No Thanks to Cake

For a while now, I’ve been thinking about creating a Jenny meal that had Indian flavors, and this week, I finally made it happen!  So delicious and so much more filling with all the added flavors!

Indian-Spiced Chicken Fettuccine

Serves 1

INGREDIENTS

Jenny Volumizing: Indian-Spiced Chicken Fettuccine | No Thanks to Cake

1 pkg. Jenny Craig Chicken Fettuccine

2 cups spinach

2 Tbsp. red onion, finely diced

1 tsp. ginger, grated

1 tsp. garlic, minced

1/8 tsp. cumin

1/8 tsp. ground coriander

2 pinches turmeric

1 pinch ground cardamom

5 cherry tomatoes, sliced

Optional:  Cayenne powder, hot curry powder

INSTRUCTIONS

1.  Cook your Jenny cuisine in the microwave for 3 1/2 minutes.  Note:  This is less than the package’s cooking time, but you will “finish” cooking the dish in a sauté pan.  So, a minute or so less is perfect microwave time!

2. Meanwhile, start to cook your aromatics in a pan sprayed with cooking spray.  Add onion, ginger, and garlic.  Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Jenny Volumizing: Indian-Spiced Chicken Fettuccine | No Thanks to Cake

3.  Add your spices:  turmeric, cardamom, coriander, and cumin.  Stir to combine.

Jenny Volumizing: Indian-Spiced Chicken Fettuccine | No Thanks to Cake

Jenny Volumizing: Indian-Spiced Chicken Fettuccine | No Thanks to Cake

4.  Slice tomatoes and add them to the mixture.  Note:  Use whatever tomatoes you have on hand.  I just happened to have cherry tomatoes that I needed to use up.  Other varieties would work well too!

Jenny Volumizing: Indian-Spiced Chicken Fettuccine | No Thanks to Cake

Jenny Volumizing: Indian-Spiced Chicken Fettuccine | No Thanks to Cake

5.  Add your spinach to the mixture.  Stir frequently as the spinach cooks, and wait for the greens to wilt down.

Jenny Volumizing: Indian-Spiced Chicken Fettuccine | No Thanks to Cake

Jenny Volumizing: Indian-Spiced Chicken Fettuccine | No Thanks to Cake

Jenny Volumizing: Indian-Spiced Chicken Fettuccine | No Thanks to Cake

6.  Optional:  Add a few shakes of cayenne and 1/8 tsp. hot curry powder.  Note:  For some reason, I wanted a little extra spice so I threw it in!

Jenny Volumizing: Indian-Spiced Chicken Fettuccine | No Thanks to Cake

7.  Add the Jenny meal to the pan and stir to combine the flavors.

Jenny Volumizing: Indian-Spiced Chicken Fettuccine | No Thanks to Cake

Jenny Volumizing: Indian-Spiced Chicken Fettuccine | No Thanks to Cake

8.  Move to a pretty pretty plate and enjoy!

Jenny Volumizing: Indian-Spiced Chicken Fettuccine | No Thanks to Cake

Jenny Volumizing: Indian-Spiced Chicken Fettuccine | No Thanks to Cake

Enjoy!

Divider

If you love Indian flavors, here are a few other recipes you might enjoy!

Healthy Chicken Saag | No Thanks to Cake

Roasted Turmeric Cauliflower and Tomatoes | No Thanks to Cake

Better Butter Chicken | No Thanks to Cake

Related posts:

Jenny Volumizing: Chicken Fajita Fettuccine

Since I’ve been back on Jenny, I’m back on my kick of creating inventive “volumized” creations using Jenny cuisine.

To see my full listing of Jenny Volumizing Recipes, click here.  To see my latest creation, see below!

Chicken Fajita Fettuccine | No Thanks to Cake 

This recipe really transformed the fettuccine from its original state.  You almost can’t even tell that it was the creamy chicken fettuccine from Jenny Craig.  Instead, it tasted like an insanely flavorful Mexican pasta dish, about 2 times the original size!  Yum, yum!

Chicken Fajita Fettuccine

Serves 1

INGREDIENTS

1 package Jenny Craig Chicken Fettuccine

2 Tbsp. salsa

1/2 tsp. taco seasoning

cooking spray

1/4 green pepper, sliced

1/2 small red onion, sliced

1/4 cup spinach, shredded

1/4 cup diced tomatoes

INSTRUCTIONS

1.  Saute your peppers and onions in a small skillet, prepared with cooking spray until tender.

Jenny Craig Volumizing: Chicken Fajita Fettuccine | No Thanks to Cake

2.  Cook your Jenny dinner per package instructions

Jenny Craig Volumizing: Chicken Fajita Fettuccine | No Thanks to Cake

3.  While the Jenny dish cooks, prepare your veggies for the meal.  Note:  I used sliced grape tomatoes, as I had them on hand.  Any type of tomato will work.

Jenny Craig Volumizing: Chicken Fajita Fettuccine | No Thanks to Cake

4.  Move fettuccine to a medium mixing bowl.  Add 2 Tbsp. of your favorite salsa to the bowl.

Jenny Craig Volumizing: Chicken Fajita Fettuccine | No Thanks to Cake

5.  Add taco seasoning and stir to combine.

Jenny Craig Volumizing: Chicken Fajita Fettuccine | No Thanks to Cake

Jenny Craig Volumizing: Chicken Fajita Fettuccine | No Thanks to Cake

6.  Mix in your peppers, onions, spinach, and tomatoes.

Jenny Craig Volumizing: Chicken Fajita Fettuccine | No Thanks to Cake

7.  Move to a serving dish, and enjoy!!   Add a dollop of homemade guacamole to the mix, if desired.  

Jenny Craig Volumizing: Chicken Fajita Fettuccine | No Thanks to Cake

Jenny Craig Volumizing: Chicken Fajita Fettuccine | No Thanks to Cake

Related posts: