Homemade Shamrock Shake

My husband and son were recently driving together when my boy realized that it’s that special time of year when all of the talk in the treat world seems to find its way back to the shamrock shake.  My husband, who has more faith in my kitchen skills than I deserve, suggested that Mom could make one that would be much healthier and just as delicious as the fast food giant’s shake.

Taking it as a challenge, I set out to make a shamrock shake that the kids would love and that I could feel good about serving.  After several test runs, we came up with a tasty concoction.

Homemade Shamrock Shake (Makes 4, 1/2 Cup servings)

  • 2 C vanilla low-fat frozen yogurt
  • 3 C fresh spinach, loosely packed
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 1/2 frozen banana (Freeze ripe bananas whole.  To partially thaw, microwave at 20% power for 1 minute.)
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 tsp mint extract

Combine ingredients in a blender.  Enjoy!

In the spirit of “just a dot,” my recipe is for 1/2 cup servings.  Using Weight Watcher’s recipe builder, a 1/2 cup serving is 4 PointsPlus and a 1 cup serving is 7 PointsPlus.  (Topping with whipped cream and cherries could add to the PointPlus total.)

Can you believe that the beautiful green color is all natural?  No green food dye!

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Homemade Potato-Stamped Valentine Cards

My girl and I spent the night making homemade potato-stamped Valentine cards for her classmates. It was great fun, so I thought I’d share a tutorial.

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Supplies:

  • Avery postcards (available from WalMart, Amazon.com, etc.)
  • Large Russet potato
  • Acrylic paint
  • Markers for decorating
  • Ball-point pen
  • Serrated knife
  • Paint brush
  • Plate
  • Paper towels

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Directions:

  1. Slice the potato in half
  2. Draw heart into potato face with pen
  3. Carefully cut down into the potato on the heart tracing, then from the side cut horizontally about a 1/4″ down to remove the excess flesh
  4. Press stamp into a paper towel until the potato face is dry
  5. Brush on paint until the stamp is saturated
  6. Press the stamp firmly onto the post card and give gentle left / right and top / bottom pressure
  7. Lift stamp straight up
  8. After the card is dry, decorate as desired

We love that each heart and card is different!

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When you want to eat a lot, eat THIS popcorn

If you’re feeling the need to eat a lot of something, popcorn just might be the answer.  A huge bowl (which is about 7 cups) of THIS popcorn, is only 5 PointsPlus for Weight Watchers followers.  And making good, healthy popcorn that is free of the chemicals and additives often found in microwave popcorn is easier than you think.

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What you’ll need:
A pot with a capacity of at least 2 quarts and its lid
1 tsp. oil (preferably coconut oil or canola oil)
1/4 cup popcorn kernels (gourmet kernels are a real treat, if your grocery carries them)
1 tsp. melted butter
Popcorn salt

How to:
Heat oil in the pot over medium-high heat.  After hot, add the kernels and cover with the lid. Periodically give the pot a few firm shakes, so the kernels don’t burn.  As the kernels pop, continue to give the pot a few firm shakes periodically and vent the lid briefly to allow steam to escape.  As the popping slows, remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl.  Top with the melted butter and popcorn salt.  (Note: Popcorn salt is a finely ground salt that allows it to settle in the crevices.  Table and kosher salt are larger and heavier, and the granules tend to fall to the bottom of the bowl.)

A quarter cup of kernels yields all of this:

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So when you’re feeling the need to have a snack with a lot of volume, try popping some stovetop popcorn.  It’s healthy, delicious and satisfying.

(If want your popcorn to be really lean, you can forego the oil and butter and simply place the popcorn kernels in a brown paper bag, roll down the top a few times and place the bag in the microwave on high until the popping slows to one pop every 2 to 3 seconds.  This “naked” popcorn would count only 3 PointsPlus for Weight Watchers followers.)

A Tiny Tin

I have a friend who makes a dangerously delicious Christmas treat.  Its addictive qualities those of Doritos or Oreos.  Last year, she was kind enough to bring my family a large tin.  (I’m pretty sure I ate more than my fair share.)

The topic of her signature treat came up in conversation a few weeks back and I jokingly asked her to keep it far, far away from me this year.  Taking to heart my blog title, she brought me “just a dot, not a lot.”  What a thoughtful friend!

In the end, it was the perfect amount.  Not too much, not too little and most importantly no deprivation.  Hats off to moderation!

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Finally! An Easy Way to Seed Pomegranates

I’ve tried several different ways to seed pomegranates, each touted as “the” easy way.  So when a video showed up in my Facebook timeline this morning, claiming to be yet another easy way to seed this fruit, I’m sure my eyes did a little roll.

As luck would have it, I had a pomegranate in my kitchen.  While preparing my lunch, I decided to give it a whack (literally).  It turns out, that it worked!  My apologies to Martha Stewart for the eye roll.

The Easiest Way to Seed a Pomegranate Video

In case you’re not familiar with pomegranate seeds, they’re delicious.  My kids and I both love them.  The seeds are encapsulated within a membrane that’s filled with pomegranate juice.  When you eat one, you get a splash of the sweet and tart juice, then you are left with a small seed to chew.

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Pomegranates are great on salads, as well as by the spoonful.  And now that they’re not so much work, I foresee them making a regular appearance in our winter fruit rotation.

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(As you would expect, pomegranate seeds are 0P+ for Weight Watchers followers.)

Time to Get Out of this Rut

I’ve been in a rut.  Life has been busy and I’ve been relying heavily on go-to foods and recipes, which is a great strategy as long as the phase doesn’t drone on to the point that everything becomes routine and boring.  It has.

To break out of this, I’m committing to trying new recipes and foods.  Starting now.

Every Sunday, we cook Sunday brunch.  Today, I’m scrapping brunch in favor of homemade chocolate chip scones.  SkinnyTaste.com, one of my favorite healthy eating and Weight Watchers-friendy websites, has a recipe for Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Scones.  As luck would have it, all of the ingredients are on hand.  And here goes nothing!

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The scones were a HUGE hit.  They were easy to make, delicious and 5P+ each.  Paired with some fresh fruit, they were perfect for a late breakfast.  (The addition of some protein would have been nice, but it just didn’t happen.  Oh well!)

The hunt for more new, exciting, healthy recipes is on.  Please share your favorites!