100 (ish) Calorie Snacks

I’ve always loved snacks. There have been days when I have eaten no real meals and just snacked all day. It’s possible that may have contributed a bit to how I got to the point that I’m now on Nutrisystem, but who knows?

On this plan, you get two snacks during the day. The first is a protein snack, like yogurt, in the morning.

The second snack of the day contains a power fuel (protein) and a smart carb. This is my favorite snack because, hello, a girl needs her carbs! 

Anyway, here are some of my favorite low calorie, carb friendly  snacks:

Half a pear, from a can in water or juice (not syrup): 22 calories; 1/2 cup non-fat cottage cheese: 81 calories. Total: 103 calories

You can swap out the fruit here too. This is really good with any fruit but my favorites are pears, peaches, and pineapple.

2 ounces deli ham: 74 calories; 1 cup cubed cantaloupe: 54 calories. Total: 128

One of my favorite food combos is prosciutto and melon. The prosciutto isn’t really Nutrisystem-approved (not to mention it’s on the pricey side), but a good deli ham is a perfectly acceptable substitute. This was a really yummy snack.

Strawberries: 22 calories for 10 berries; 1/2 cup non-fat Greek yogurt: 33 calories. Total: 55 calories.

Plain Greek yogurt isn’t very good by itself and the flavored stuff is high in sugar, so this is the best compromise. It helps if you have a cute snack-buddy to eat with you 😊


1 medium nectarine: 62 calories; 1/2 cup non-fat Greek yogurt: 33 calories. Total: 95 calories.

You may have gathered, this is the same method as the cottage cheese. You can pair this with any fruit you like, keeping in mind different fruits have different calorie counts.


Finally, hummus and veggies. The veggies are free and a 1/4 cup serving of hummus is 109 calories. You can buy it (check the nutritional content) or make it. I have a really yummy recipe riighhhht here. <— Keep in mind this post was back at the beginning of this blog, when I had a bit of a different goal. I like to think my posts are better now! :0)

Slim Down: Week 3

It’s weird that I’m 3 weeks into this thing already. I don’t think I’ve ever stuck with a weight loss plan even close to this long before! I’m definitely seeing results, so there’s no way I’m quitting now!

So, my husband showed me how to do squats with weights and deadlifts. Ugh… They seem to be working, somewhat, but they are not my favorite. At all. I did figure out how to set workouts on the elliptical to maximize my use of that machine, and I love it! It adjusts the resistance and incline throughout the time on the elliptical that you preset and it burns so many calories. It is hard to believe that less than a month ago, I could barely do a mile with no resistance and now I’m getting in 3+ at various resistance levels. I guess it’s true when they say to keep it up and it’ll get easier! I will admit, though, if it weren’t for Netflix on my tablet, there is no way I could be doing this!
From here on out, my food reviews will probably be more minimal because I’ve tried most of the things that Nutrisystem offers and weeded out what I did and didn’t like. 

Progress Report: 1.4 lbs lost this week, for a total of 7.8 lbs lost since May 1.

Breakfast:

  • Pancakes: I don’t know why I waited until week three to try these… I love pancakes! These were really good and the perfect size. Again, you can add some sugar-free maple syrup (which doesn’t sound good to me), but you don’t need it. There is a slight maple flavor already in the pancake. I just gave each one a couple sprays of my zero calorie butter spray and was good to go.

  • Egg and Turkey Sausage Sandwich: Another one like the McMuffin, but this was actually decent. If you remember, the Canadian Bacon one was not good. It was bland and had no flavor. This one was much better. The sausage made a world of difference.

  • Bagels: This was a surprise option because bagels are supposedly so bad for you. It was definitely smaller than a regular bagel, but it did not lack anything else. It was really good! 


Lunch:

  • Tuna Salad: So good! Perfect lunch. I’ve always been a big fan of tuna sandwiches and this did not disappoint. I’ve never put water chestnuts in mine and Nutrisystem apparently does, so the crunch was something I had to get used to, but it was good. I toasted some whole grain bread from Trader Joe’s and put the tuna on top of that. Then I sprinkled a couple tablespoons of lite shredded cheese and put it in the microwave for about 20 seconds to melt the cheese. It was just like an open-face tuna melt that you would get from a diner, but it was only 240 calories!

  • Pepperoni Melt: This was a pizza version of the broccoli cheese melt I had last week. Basically a Nutrisystem Hot Pocket. My review of this one is pretty much the same: the outside crust was fine, but dry. The filling was good. This one tasted just like pizza.
  • Red Beans and Rice: The problem with this meal was there just wasn’t enough! It was so yummy, I wanted more! The flavor was spot on, the sausage was good, and the rice was perfectly cooked. My next month’s order already shipped or I would have added more of this one. I will say, though, it leads me to wonder how this rice can be so delicious, but the rice that comes with the enchiladas is so wrong.

Dinner:

  • Ravioli Formaggio: During the first week, I had a ravioli meal that was not frozen. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. The pasta was so-so and the sauce was somewhat lacking. This ravioli dish was frozen and much better tasting. The pasta was a good al dente and the cheesy filling was nice and creamy. The sauce was still somewhat lacking, but it was much better than the shelf-stable ravioli because it didn’t have the beef in it. Shelf-stable beef is a bit weird to me. Overall, I liked this one.

  • Meatloaf Sandwich: I’m not going to lie, I don’t remember selecting this when I placed my order! My husband says he remembers me adding it, so I must have, but still. It wasn’t bad. It was very similar to the hamburger, but a little bigger and the seasoning was a little different. I used one of my “extras” and added some ketchup. Not bad at all. (PS Those tomatoes you see are from my local farmer’s market and they were delicious! Just a sprinkle of salt and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Yum, yum!)


Dessert:

  • Orange Cream Pop: OOOOOOHHHHHHH this was a real treat!! It tasted like a creamscicle! I immediately went into my account and made some adjustments to get more of these. So good! Even my kids liked it!
  • Vanilla shortbread cookies: Eh. Same as the small chocolate chip cookies from last week. The flavor is fine, but the texture is off. It felt very stale. Like I said before: I don’t think they are stale, I just think it has something to do with the preparation.
  • Fudge ice cream bar: This was good, just like a fudgecicle. Pretty much what you’d expect. Actually, if you’ve ever had a Healthy Choice Fudge Bar, you’ve basically had this.

Buffalo Cauliflower

I don’t think I’ve ever been more committed to a diet. Ever. 

I also don’t think I’ve ever eaten more vegetables in my life. Ever. Which means, I’m now on a daily quest to up my veggie game. 

As I mentioned before, I am currently obsessed with roasted veggies (zucchini, bell peppers, carrots). Just some no-calorie cooking spray (or olive oil) and garlic salt and I’m all set. I also LOVE roasted broccoli, prepped the same way but with a sprinkle of Parmesan. I can’t get enough!

In an effort to change things up a bit, I “borrowed” this recipe from my dear friend Stacie, who I’ve recently learned is on the exact weight loss journey I am on. It’s nice to have a support system for this sort of thing! 

I will warn you, though, not only is this super easy, it is also very addictive (if you like buffalo sauce).

All you need is some cauliflower florets (not frozen) and some Frank’s Buffalo Sauce. *Note: it has to be Frank’s because that is the only one that is zero calories. If you aren’t on a specific plan and aren’t so worried about calories, you can use whatever you want.

Put your cauliflower on a parchment lined baking sheet.


Pour however much sauce you want over the top and brush it on to cover the florets with the saucepan. 


Put in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes.


They really did turn out so delicious! You almost don’t miss the fried chicken this sauce is usually on.

Almost… :0)

Roasted Veggie Pita

One of the things that really attracted me to Nutrisystem was the fact that it would still allow me to get in the kitchen and create. I love food and the kitchen is one of my happy places. Being a full-time working mom with lots of extracurricular activities for the kids and my own stuff going on, it can get kind of hectic. I find cooking and creating food dishes in the kitchen to be a peaceful experience. 
 

If I had to do a diet plan that didn’t allow me to have that outlet, I would never stick with it. Nutrisystem lets me have that still. In fact, it’s encouraged. One lunch and one dinner a week should be a flex meal. They provide a blanket instruction on what should be incorporated, therefore teaching you how you should be eating.

Since doing this plan, I’ve sort of become obsessed with roasted veggies. When you roast them, they bring out so much great flavor you never knew was there. Just a little olive oil or zero calorie cooking spray, a sprinkle of garlic salt, and– if you are feeling indulgent– some parmesan cheese, and 20 minutes later, you’ve got yourself a pan of deliciousness.

I made this pita pocket for one of my flex lunches and it was so good. My hubby even loved it and he’s a major meat and potatoes guy. It was really easy too.

On a sheet pan, roast your veggies. I did red bell peppers, zucchini, and carrots. Spray with cooking spray or use a little bit of olive oil (only about 1-2 tablespoons). Sprinkle lightly with garlic salt.


Roast in a 400 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes. Set aside and let cool slightly. You still want them warm, but you don’t want to burn yourself.

 

Cut a whole wheat pita in half. Fill the inside with some lettuce and warm veggies. Top with some Tzatziki sauce and serve.

On the nutrisystem plan, this counts as one Power Fuel (the tzatziki sauce) and one Smart Carb (the whole wheat pita). The veggies are free.


I would totally eat this even if I weren’t on a diet plan!! It was really so good!

Slim Down: Week 2

I knew it!! Week 2 was soooo much better than week 1. I actually get to eat real food along with my Nutrisystem stuff, so I’m not hungry all day long. And the frozen foods are WAAAAAYYYYY better than the shelf-stable stuff. If anyone decides to do this plan, pay the extra few dollars and get the plan that allows the freezer foods because you will be much happier. I mean, some of the shelf-stable stuff is still good, but so far what I’ve had is just a bit ‘eh’ for me. Maybe that will change since the only shelf-stable stuff I’ve had is from the Turbo Takedown box and it wasn’t necessarily things I had chosen. 

Before I move on to the food for this week, I feel like I need to give a special shout out to the desserts here. Who would have thought a diet plan—any diet plan—would have desserts on the menu? And these ones are actually good. No seriously. Really good. This is my favorite part of the whole thing because my sweet tooth is larger than I am and I am powerless to stop it. I don’t know how they make these so good but still diet-friendly and maybe I don’t want to know, but keep ‘em coming.

Progress: 2.4 lbs lost this week for a total of 6.4 lbs lost since May 1.

Breakfast:

  • Turkey, Ham, and Cheese Omelette: Frozen eggs reheated? I was a bit leery, but then I remembered that I make frozen breakfast burritos with eggs and they are good, so relax, Abby, and eat your food! It was good! I added some hot sauce to mine because I was afraid it may be a bit bland, but it wasn’t at all. I didn’t really need it.

  • French toast: Mmmmm… French toast! I cooked it in the microwave and then popped it into the toaster to make sure the outside had a bit of a crisp to it. The inside was nice and soft. I couldn’t add syrup to it (well, I technically could. I am allowed 1 tablespoon of sugar-free maple syrup. Um, thanks but no thanks.) I did, however, use a few sprays of some 0 calorie butter spray. It wasn’t real butter, but it was close enough.

  • Buttermilk Waffles: Do you like Eggos? Me too! That’s pretty much what these are: Nutrisystem’s answer to Eggos. I’m supposed to get a “Power Fuel” with my breakfast, which I rarely do, but for this one I added a little bit of all-natural peanut butter.
  • Canadian-style Turkey Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Muffin: Sort of like an egg McMuffin at McDonalds, but with much less flavor. The packaging says that it is egg white, but they are yellow, so I’m guessing there’s some food coloring deception going on here. This wasn’t the greatest. It was very bland. Maybe it could benefit from some salsa or ketchup. I’ll try that next time and see what happens.


Lunch:

  • Broccoli & Cheese Melt: They have a few different kinds of these “melts” that are more-or-less Hot Pockets. The outside crust is a bit on the dry side, but not terrible. The broccoli cheese filling was surprisingly really good, though. I was expecting it to be just “fine.” I was expecting sort of limp broccoli and a fake cheese sauce, but it was actually pretty fresh tasting. The cheese seemed like real cheese and the broccoli was still tender-crisp.

  • Grilled Chicken Sandwich: This was about the size of my palm and comes plain. I thought it was going to be too small, but it was actually enough for me. I was able to add a slice of tomato and some green leaf lettuce (unlimited veggies) so it really tasted like a regular grilled chicken sandwich. I could have used an extra, like mayo, ketchup, or bbq sauce, if I wanted, but it didn’t really need it. Maybe another time just to shake things up a bit.

  • Pulled Pork with Sweet BBQ Sauce: I was a bit nervous about this because it is one of the shelf-stable meals, and really, how good could shelf-stable pulled pork be? Pretty good, actually. (Not quite as good as this, but I wouldn’t expect it to be!) The sauce was really yummy and the pork was nice and tender. It is supposed to be served on a whole grain roll, but I couldn’t find one with low enough calories, so I just bought some Trader Joe’s whole grain bread, toasted up a slice and serve the pulled pork over top, open-face. This was a surprisingly good lunch option and I even ordered extra for next month.
  • Hamburger: I will admit I am a big sucker for a really good cheeseburger. I LOVE Cheeseburgers, so my standards are pretty high. This wasn’t bad for what it was. I mean, it’s a diet-plan frozen burger…what do you want? It could have been really bad but it wasn’t. The patty was actually nice and thick and it wasn’t dried out. I added lettuce and tomato (I forgot the ketchup at home). It was more filling than I’d expected since it was so small, so overall, I was happy with this one.

  • White Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese: Oh you know the way to my heart, Nutrisystem. This was really good. I was worried at first because after it came out of the microwave, the noodles looked like they were WAY undercooked. But after leaving the container covered for about 5 minutes (like the directions say), it was perfect.
  • Cheesy Broccoli Rice: I liked this one, but it was a bit salty tasting and I wish there’d been more broccoli in it. It was a dry cup that you add water too, so I guess I could see why there wasn’t more broccoli. Maybe next time I’ll just bring some on the side and add it in myself. It’ll stretch the dish, too, because there wasn’t very much in there at all.


Dinner:

  • Chicken Enchiladas: Some might call this one an enchilada… some might call it a taquito masquerading as an enchilada because it was about the size of one. It was small, but tasty. The sauce was good, the chicken filling was very flavorful. There was a Spanish rice on the side that was just OK. The rice wasn’t soft like I like. It was actually sort of crunchy (i.e. undercooked) which is not how I like my rice (unless you are talking about mixing it with butter and marshmallows and calling a treat!). I would have almost rather had two of the tiny enchiladas and skipped the rice, but whatever.

  • Chicken and Bacon Ranch Pizza: OK, this was good. I mean, really good. I made mine in the oven (since I had it on anyway for the kids’ dinner), so the crust was perfectly crispy. For a microwave option, there was a little tray in the box that has some sort of silver lining on it which is meant to give your pizza a crispy crust in the microwave. I can’t yet attest to whether it works or not since I didn’t use it, but maybe I’ll try it on another pizza.

  • Stuffed Shells: I had high hopes for these, but they were just alright. That Parmesan roasted broccoli you see there was pretty dynamite, though, if I do say so myself.

  • BBQ Shredded Chicken: After how much I liked the pulled pork, I was optimistic about its poultry counterpart and I was not disappointed. The pork was a sweet BBQ while the chicken was more of a tangy/slightly spicy BBQ. It was good. I ordered extra of this for the next shipment.
  • Chicken Parmesan: This was really good. Some of these meals remind me a lot of Lean Cuisine meals (well, the way Lean Cuisine used to be. They changed something recently and not for the better) and this is one of them. I will definitely be adding more of these for future orders.

  • Broccoli Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breast: This was really good. I mean it. So good. Great flavor and the chicken wasn’t dried out at all, which is what I had expected. Like everything else, it isn’t a big portion—and it isn’t supposed to be—so I served it up with some roasted veggies, which I’ve become sort of obsessed with on this diet.


Dessert:

  • Fudge brownie: It didn’t look like much when I took it out of the package, but it was oh-so-good! It was moist and fudgy and tasted exactly like a fudge brownie should taste.
  • Chocolate Brownie Sundae cup: Any diet that lets me eat something called Chocolate Brownie Sundae is alright in my book. It was really yummy too. Mmmmmm…. Ice cream…. :0)

  • Chocolate cake: Very similar to the Fudge brownie, except more cake-like and a bit bigger. Delicious!
  • White Chocolate chip cookies: These were good, except the consistency can only be described as a bit stale. I don’t think they were stale, I just think that however they are made to be “healthier” made for a more chewy/dense cookie.
  • Chocolate chip cookies: Same as the White Chocolate chip cookies.

Tzatziki Sauce

Tzatziki sauce is a Greek sauce used with meat or as a dip. It is traditionally made with Greek yogurt (they don’t call it “Greek yogurt” in Greece. It is just strained yogurt), cucumbers, garlic, salt, olive oil, dill, and red wine vinegar. American versions sometimes include lemon (mine does), and mint or parsley.
You’ll see it served with grilled meats and veggies, on pita and gyros. It’s actually a very healthy sauce and pretty versatile.

I found this recipe on Food Network and since I’d never made Tzatziki (I’ve eaten it, but not made it) I wasn’t really sure what all to put in. Since I had dill left over from the ranch dip, I figured this would be a good way to use it up.

1 cups Greek yogurt

1 English cucumber, seeded, grated and drained. (I actually used 2 small Persian cucumbers, which are seedless already)

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

Salt and pepper to taste

In a bowl, mix everything together. Let it chill for a couple hours or overnight.


 

Serve with grilled chicken or make a yummy veggie pita!

Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip

So, the diet I am on helpfully divides foods up into certain categories: Power Fuels (high quality proteins and healthy fats), Smart Carbs (nutrient-rich carbohydrates with a low to medium Glycemic Index), Vegetables (non-starchy veggies, high in nutrients), Extras (low-calories options to help spice up a meal or satisfy a craving, i.e. salad dressing, olive oil, coffee creamer, some condiments), and Freebies (condiments, beverages, and spices with less than 10 calories per serving, i.e. herbs and spices, mustard, salsa, tea). 

The plan lays out when you should have these different foods. One of my snacks (I get three a day), allows for a Power Fuel. One of these is non-fat yogurt. I figured it probably needed to be plain yogurt because all the flavored ones are really loaded up with sugar. Then I was in a bit of a dilemma because who wants to eat plain yogurt by itself? Not me, that’s who! So I came up with this plan: Make it into a ranch dip and use it for my unlimited veggies!


Boom! Snack done and hunger gone.

This is actually a very easy recipe and really healthy, so it could be used anytime by anyone, on a diet or not. I’m sure if you weren’t counting calories and fat, you could probably add a little buttermilk to the recipe and it would make a good dressing substitute. As-is it’s probably a bit too thick for a dressing.

2 cups plain Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon dried parsley

2 teaspoons fresh dill, finely chopped*

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion powder

2 tablespoons fresh chives, finely chopped*

Small splash of apple cider vinegar 

Salt and pepper to taste

 

*I used fresh for these two because Trader Joe’s didn’t have the dried version and I didn’t feel like making another trip to the a different store. Fresh is pretty cheap and adds such a good flavor. If you chose to do all dried, you could probably make up a big batch of this and have ranch seasoning mix on hand for other uses. It would store in an air-tight container for up to three months.

In a bowl, mix together all the ingredients. Taste it to see if you want to make any of the flavors stronger. Want more chive? Add more. Want more dill? Add more.


Let it sit in the fridge for a couple hours to overnight so the flavors all come together.


Enjoy as a dip or a spread!