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:

Grilled Avocado Caprese

I’m just about three weeks from attending my favorite conference of the year:  Fitbloggin!

Not only do I get to visit beautiful Savannah, Georgia for the first time, but I also get to see some of my FAVORITE people along the way.  So excited!!!

I was particularly excited to hear that one of our sponsors is… the California Avocado Commission!

California Avocado Commission | No Thanks to Cake

Not only will I get to hear all sorts of new information about the health benefits of avocados, but I have a feeling that (fingers crossed!) we’ll be eating some amazing avocado while we are there too!  YESSSSS!!!

And, if that weren’t enough, they’re also hosting an amazing “California Avocado Cutting-Edge Culinary Recipe Contest” for all of the attendees.  To participate, we had to create a unique recipe using this green goodness.  If you’ve read my blog, you know that this wasn’t a stretch for me… I’m a little bit of an avocado fanatic!

To come up with just the right recipe to enter, I got to experiment quite a bit with one of my favorite ingredients.  In the end this is the recipe I loved the most of those I tried… I hope you guys like it as much as I do!!!

Grilled Avocado Caprese | No Thanks to Cake

This is the very first time I’ve ever grilled an avocado, and it certainly won’t be the last.  Being that summer is just around the corner and we’re all firing up our grills more frequently here in Colorado, why not add an avocado to your fire??

Not only does grilling add a beautiful color to the dish and those gorgeous grill marks, but it also contributes a smoky rich flavor to the avocado that is INCREDIBLE.  Paired with traditional italian flavors like tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozzarella, this dish was the clear winner in my house.

Grilled Avocado Caprese

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

Grilled Avocado Caprese | No Thanks to Cake

1 California Avocado, halved

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced

1/2 cup boccochini (fresh mozzarella balls)

2 Tbsp. basil, sliced chiffonade-style

salt, to taste

balsamic reduction, drizzled

INSTRUCTIONS

1.  Preheat your grill pan to medium high heat.  While the pan warms, cut your avocado in half.  Pour a small amount of olive oil into a small bowl.  Lightly brush the exposed avocado with EVOO.  Note:  For extra flavor, you can also use a basil infused olive oil.  Also, I used my indoor grill so I could control the temperature, but you can also use your outdoor grill!

Grilled Avocado Caprese | No Thanks to Cake

Grilled Avocado Caprese | No Thanks to Cake

2.  Place the avocados face down on the grill pan for 1-2 minutes until beautiful grill marks appear.  Remove to a plate to cool. Note:  Depending upon the heat of your pan, the cooking time may vary.  

Grilled Avocado Caprese | No Thanks to Cake

3.  To slice your basil, take a small stack of fresh leaves and roll lengthwise, creating a long tube.  Then, slice into ribbons.

Basil Chiffonade | No Thanks to Cake

4.  Place tomatoes, cheese, basil ribbons, and about 3/4 Tbsp. olive oil in a small bowl.  Mix to combine and add salt to taste.

Grilled Avocado Caprese | No Thanks to Cake

Grilled Avocado Caprese | No Thanks to Cake

5.  Pour tomato mixture over avocado halves.

Grilled Avocado Caprese | No Thanks to Cake

6.  Drizzle with balsamic reduction.  Note:  You can find this at your local grocery store in the vinegar section.  While you can make your own, the pre-made version is incredibly handy and easy to use – - it tends to be my go-to!

IMG_3591

7.  Serve and enjoy!

Grilled Avocado Caprese | No Thanks to Cake

Grilled Avocado Caprese | No Thanks to Cake

Per 1/2 recipe serving:

CAL 360; CARB 12g; FAT 32g; PROT 12g; FIB 6g; WW Points Plus:  10

Have you ever tried a grilled avocado??

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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!

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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 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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