Fancy Schmancy…

Ranchero BeefIt has been a week that I have been following the I Love This Diet! plan. I happened to have a few entrees on hand when I found the website and decided to join on the spur of the moment. I also joined my school’s weight loss for summer challenge, which goes on for about 6 weeks – til the end of classes.

The diet specifies that I eat a frozen entree for lunch and one for dinner. There are a lot of suggestions for breakfast, which is not specifically supposed to be a frozen breakfast entree. I however, have been eating frozen breakfast entrees for a while now, and haven’t changed that. My favorites are the Smart Ones Ham and Cheese Scramble and Smart Ones Breakfast Quesadillas, which come two servings to a box.

I am supposed to add 3 servings of fruit, at least 4 servings of vegetables, and 2 servings of dairy. I usually do this by adding a glass of skim milk to breakfast, as well as a serving of fruit. I add at least two vegetables to lunch and to dinner, and the last fruit is either a snack or eaten with yogurt for dessert. It is taking some planning now, but I think it will get easier.

I love Lean Cuisine’s Ranchero Braised Beef with Chipotle Mashed Sweet Potatoes. It is one of my favorites and almost makes up for their discontinuing the Chicken Poblano (in a bag). I sauteed some mini bell peppers and some onions and added that to the meal. Of course, I also decided to take a picture of it. It was delicious and filling.

mini rigatoni in vodka cream sauceAnother meal I like is the Smart Ones Mini Rigatoni in Vodka Cream Sauce. Of course, it is just pasta – no meat, no veggies. So this is a great candidate for an added vegetable.I had already purchased some zucchini and yellow squash, and sauteed it in a tiny bit of olive oil. It browned nicely – there may have even been a bit of onion or garlic in there. Then, I sprinkled the two with some grated Parmesan cheese. Good stuff.

Now, I know that needed to prepare vegetables to go with a frozen entree seems counter intuitive, especially if you are eating a frozen entree because you need to make something quick. But you have to take into consideration the other reasons for trying this diet. Portion control is key, and it is so helpful for a single person like myself not to be tempted to make a big pot of something. In my case, that usually leads to overeating or wasting leftovers if I decide that I don’t want that for another meal soon.

Also, this is really supposed to be an inexpensive take on the Jenny Craig or Nutrisystem diet programs, which are mainly based on pre-packaged meals. There is often a special on Lean Cuisine. Smart Ones, or Healthy Choice at the grocery store, and Lean Cuisine meals are available by the six-pack at Costco, and Healthy Choice Steamers come by the four-pack. I will write more about that in another post, because there are pros and cons to buying the Costco way.

But, all in all, this diet is going well. I am not hungry most of the time, which helps to curb my impulse to go and eat a bowl of queso and a basket of tortilla chips (and, yes, a margarita or two…) after school. That is my highest stress time, after dealing with kids and traffic. I hope I keep it up!!!


I Love This Diet!


Six years ago, I came across an article from Good Housekeeping called The Frozen Entree Diet. I was so taken with the idea that I thought I would take that idea and run with it. You see, I am aware that there are all sorts of programs where you can buy pre-made meals. I am talking about Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem, of course, but I am sure there are others. I have watched the commercials, and seen the special offers at Costco, but I figured I could do that on my own. After all, there are so many choices out there: Smart Ones, Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice are the big players. There are also choices from Amy’s, Kashi, and Cedar Lane.

Unfortunately, I am one of those people who loves to plan things. I am a planner, but not always a do-er. I got very involved in compiling a binder full of listings from every low-calorie entree I could find. I also explored single serving ice cream options. Then, I hit the wall. The truth is that I love to cook, and had my husband to consider. Still, I counted on frozen entrees for breakfast and lunch options at school. I am a teacher, with a small fridge/freezer and microwave in my classroom, and it was so simple to pop one of those things in and have food ready.

Now that I am recently divorced, I still like to cook. But I have a long commute to and from work, and am often too tired or stressed to plan and cook meals. Stress, in particular, prompted me to stop at a restaurant on the way home and eat a “snack” before going home. So, basically, I am doing very little cooking at the moment. My weight is increasing at an alarming rate, and I am spending too much money in restaurants. I began looking at Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem again, since I had still not gotten my Frozen Entree Diet Plan together.

I was surfing the net to see if I could find the Good Housekeeping article when I came across the link to I Love This Diet. SOMEONE took the idea and ran with it! It comes as a set of PDF files in a .zip folder. After reading about the program, I paid the $47.00 and downloaded the whole thing. As they state on the website, you can start that very day! I did. It was not perfect, but I was able to use what I had on hand to follow the diet that day. I also joined our school’s weight loss challenge. I am feeling very positive about this. I plan to write down what I eat in the Food Plan Diary that is provided, but I also may post some of my menus and weigh ins here.


There are actually more additions since this picture was taken. They have added Kashi and Amy’s Organic brands in two new .pdfs. Pretty cool. I will let you all know how it goes.

Single Serving Ice Creams, Part Two

I have bought some of the Edy’s (Dreyer’s in other places) Slow Churned Snack Sized Cups, and they were one of the first brands to start offering mini cups – now, they’re all over the place.  The Slow Churned ice creams are supposed to have 1/2 the fat and 1/3 the calories of regular ice cream and are available at most supermarkets and some convenience stores:

Chocolate – 170 cal./6 g. fat/1 g. fiber – 4 WW pts.
Chocolate Chip – 210 cal./8 g. fat/1 g. fiber – 5 WW pts.
Coffee – 160 cal./5 g. fat/1 g. fiber – 3 WW pts.
Mint Chocolate Chip – 210 cal./8 g. fat/1 g. fiber – 5 WW pts.
Vanilla Bean – 150 cal./5 g. fat/0 g. fiber – 3 WW pts.

These cups are pretty large compared to the ones I blogged about yesterday.  Each snack sized cup is 6 oz. – many are just 3.5 – 4 oz.  So, you could conceivably eat half the cup on a Vita Top muffin or brownie and halve the points.

Be warned: Edy’s/Dreyer’s has expanded its Snack Sized Flavors to include Fun Flavors, which are not as low in fat, and Yogurt Blends, in addition to the Slow Churned ice cream cups.  Here are the Fun Flavors:

Apple Pie – 120 cal./4 g. fat/0 g. fiber – 3 WW pts. (not bad!)
Cookie Dough – 220 cal./9 g. fat/1 g. fiber – 5 WW pts.
Double Fudge Brownie – 220 cal./4 g. fat/1 g. fiber – 5 WW pts.
Mocha Almond Fudge – 210 cal./9 g. fat/1 g. fiber – 5 WW pts.
Peanut Butter Cup – 260 cal./14 g. fat/1 g. fiber – 6 WW pts.

Yogurt Blends:

Berry Granola Crunch
– 190 cal./4 g. fat/0 g. fiber – 4 WW pts.
Cappuccino Chip – 190 cal./4 g. fat/0 g. fiber – 4 WW pts.
Caramel Praline Crunch – 200 cal./6 g. fat/0 g. fiber – 5 WW pts.
Chocolate Fudge Brownie – 190 cal./5 g. fat/1 g. fiber – 4 WW pts.
Peach – 160 cal./4 g. fat/0 g. fiber – 4 WW pts.

I really love the Skinny Cow Low Fat Ice Cream Cups.  They are 5.8 oz. – just a smidge smaller than the Edy’s Slow Churned, but the WW Points values are substantially smaller:

Chocolate Fudge Brownie
– 150 cal./2 g. fat/4 g. fiber – 2 WW pts.
Dulce de Leche – 150 cal./1 g. fat/4 g. fiber – 2 WW pts.
Strawberry Cheesecake – 150 cal./1 g. fat/4 g. fiber – 2 WW pts.
Caramel Cone – 170 cal./3 g. fat/4 g. fiber – 3 WW pts.
Cookies ‘n Cream – 150 cal./2 g. fat/4 g. fiber – 2 WW pts.

Finally, for this entry, I want to mention the Weight Watchers Ice Cream Cups.  I have not tried them yet, but they come two to a pack.  Fat states that the cups are 102 grams (3.59794 oz.), so they are smaller than Skinny Cow or Edy’s Slow Churned.  The information below is from the Weight Watcher website:

Cookies and Cream – Each cup is only 140 calories, 2 grams of fat and 6 grams of fiber. – 2 WW pts.
Mint Chocolate Chip – Each cup contains 140 calories, 3.5 grams of fat and 6 grams of fiber. – 2 WW pts.
Chocolate Fudge Brownie – Each cup contains 140 calories, 1.5 grams of fat and 7 grams of fiber. – 2 WW pts.
Chocolate Chip cookie Dough – Each cup contains 140 calories, 2.5 grams of fat and 6 grams of fiber. – 2 WW pts.
Peanut Butter Delight – Each cup contains 180 calories, 5 grams of fat and 6 grams of fiber. – 3 WW pts.
Turtle Sundae – Each cup contains 170 calories, 5 grams of fat and 6 grams of fiber. – 3 WW pts.

I just found two more options that are on the WW paid site – here is the link, I don’t know if you need to sign in to access it. They come in a four pack and are 132 grams (4.65616 oz.).  Here are the two flavors:

Giant Chocolate Fudge Sundae Cup: 160 calories, 1 gram of fat and 5 grams of fiber – 2 WW pts.

Giant Vanilla Fudge Sundae Cup: 160 calories, 1 gram of fat and 4 grams of fiber – 2 WW pts.

That’s all for now.  I am debating whether to put Blue Bunny up, because their Personals brand cups are actually 2 servings per cup.

Single Serving Ice Creams

I started this entry last year, I think and went pretty far with it.  Then, I got distracted…  But, it’s a good thing!  Last year, single serving cups were relatively new, and there were not a whole lot of choices.  So, for the last two days (yes, two days – not two WHOLE days, but…) I have been doing more research.

I am going to go ahead and sort the ice creams by maker.  I thought that I might sort them by Weight Watchers Points, but it would take me even more time.  I also started out with Haagen Daz… Last year, they and Ben and Jerry’s were the only mini cups I saw around.  I fantasized about being able to treat myself in a controlled fashion.

My first foray into the Haagen Dazs looked exciting: nine flavors and a mini

Only in the U.K... Darn it!

assortment pack available.  Look!  (values are for a 1/2 cup serving (4 oz.):

Bailey’s – 260 cal./10 g. fat/0 g. fiber – 6 WW pts.
Belgian Chocolate – 330 cal./21 g. fat/3 g. fiber – 8 WW pts.
Cookies and Cream – 270 cal./17 g. fat/0 g. fiber – 7 WW pts.
Dulce de Leche – 290 cal./ 17 g. fat/ 0 g. fiber – 7 WW pts.
Pralines and Cream – 280 cal./ 17 g. fat/ 0 g. fiber – 6 WW pts.
Strawberries and Cream – 250 cal./ 16 g. fat/ <1 g. fiber – 6 WW pts.
Strawberry Cheesecake –  270 cal./15 g. fat/0 g. fiber – 7 WW pts.
Vanilla –  270 cal./15 g. fat/0 g. fiber – 7 WW pts.
Little Favourites – four flavors: Strawberry Cheesecake, Dulce de Leche, Belgian Chocolate and Cookies & Cream

After doing all of that research, I realized I was on a United Kingdom site – DRAT!  I also couldn’t get the pop up nutritional stats to show themselves, so I got the information above from the regular flavors.  So, let’s see what they have in the US. (Values are for an entire mini cup – 4.23 oz. ?)

Vanilla – 250 cal./ 17 g. fat/ 0 g. fiber – 6 WW pts.
Chocolate – 260 cal./ 17 g. fat/ 1 g. fiber – 6 WW pts.
Strawberry – 250 cal./ 16 g. fat/ 1 g. fiber – 6 WW pts.
Dulce de Leche – 270 cal. /16 g. fat/ 0 g. fiber – 7 WW pts.
Coffee – 260 cal./ 17 g. fat/ 0 g. fiber – 7 WW pts.

My first reaction was: “We’ve been gypped!” – Where are my Pralines and Cream in a mini cup?  But when I went back and looked lately, there have been a couple of new flavors added since I last researched:

Chocolate Ch
ocolate Chip – 260 cal./10 g. fat/2 g. fiber – 6 WW pts.
Chocolate Peanut Butter – 310 cal./21 g. fat/2 g. fiber – 7 WW pts.
Mango Sorbet – 140 cal./0 g. fat/0 g. fiber – 3 WW pts. (yay!)
Raspberry Sorbet – 110 cal./0 g. fat/1 g. fiber – 2 WW pts. (big YAY!!!)
Vanilla Yogurt – 160 cal./2 g./0 g. fat – 3 WW pts. (also yay!)

Now, here are the Ben and Jerry’s mini cups.  Not much changed except their website – I had to re-do the links.  There are also 2 new flavors: Peanut Brittle Ice Cream and Chocolate Fudge Brownie Frozen Yogurt.  (the B&J website says the single serving cups are 95.18 grams which equals 3.35737 oz.)

Mint Chocolate Cookie – 200 cal./11 g. fat/ 0 g. fiber – 5 WW pts.
Strawberry Cheesecake – 240 cal./13 g. fat/ 0 g. fiber – 6 WW pts.
Vanilla – 190 cal./11 g. fat/ 0 g. fiber – 5 WW pts.
Cherry Garcia – 210 cal./12 g. fat/<1 g. fiber – 6 WW pts.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough – 230 cal./12 g. fat/ 0 g. fiber – 6 WW pts.
Chocolate Fudge Brownie – 220 cal./11 g. fat/1 g. fiber – 5 WW pts.
Peanut Brittle – 240 cal./14 g. fat/0 g. fiber – 6 WW pts.
Chocolate Fudge Brownie Frozen Yogurt – 170 cal./2.5 g. fat/1 g. fiber – 3 WW pts.

While I was in New York City, I came across Ciao Bella Gelato mini cups.  The brand can be found at Whole Foods or Fresh Market, among other places in Georgia, but they may not have the minis just yet.  I hope that we do – I had the Turkish Pistachio Gelato in NYC and it was very good.  Also, the sorbets are low points options.

Two things have changed since I visited their site last year. First, they have changed their serving size – the site used to have stats for 1/2 cup (4 oz.) now their gelatos and sorbets come in 3.5 oz. cups.  Also, they have shortened their previously pretentious names (My favorite was Chocolate Alba Hazelnut Gelato, which is now Chocolate Hazelnut Gelato – who’s Alba, anyway?).

Lemon Zest Sorbet – 120 cal./0 g. fat/0 g. fiber – 2 WW pts.
Mango Sorbet – 100 cal./0 g. fat/1 g. fiber – 2 WW pts.
Blood Orange Sorbet – 80 cal./0 g. fat/0 g. fiber – 2 WW pts.
Chocolate Hazelnut Gelato – 240 cal./16 g. fat/1 g. fiber – 6 WW pts.
Pistachio Gelato – 218 cal./13 g. fat/<1 g. fiber – 5 WW pts.
Tahitian Vanilla Gelato – 190 cal./11 g. fat/0 g. fiber – 5 WW pts.

That’s it for the luxury brands.  The next entry will be about more pedestrian fare.

Costco Items

I am trying to get back on the wagon (again!), but before I go to the store and fill my freezer with frozen, convenient goodies, I am trying to use the foods that I have. I also need to take the brownies and cupcakes I made for Easter to school to be eaten by others!

While I was on Spring Break, I made a pass through Costco. If you are looking for inexpensive frozen meals, they usually have at least two bulk items of four. Mostly, it’s Lean Cuisine, but I have also seen Kashi meals there – a really good deal!

Here is what was there last week:

Package 1 –
Lean Cuisine Spa Classics Ginger Garlic Stir Fry with Chicken – 5 pts.
Lean Cuisine Spa Classics Sesame Stir Fry with Chicken – 6 pts.
Lean Cuisine Spa Classics Grilled Chicken Primavera – 5 pts.
Lean Cuisine Spa Classics Butternut Squash Ravioli – 7 pts.

Package 2 –
Lean Cuisine Comfort Classics Roasted Turkey Breast – 5 pts.
Lean Cuisine Cafe Classics Sesame Chicken – 7 pts.
Lean Cuisine Comfort Classics Sweet & Sour Chicken – 8 pts.
Lean Cuisine Cafe Classics Glazed Chicken – 5 pts.

Package 3 –
2 Healthy Choice Cafe Steamers Chicken Margherita – 5 pts.
2 Healthy Choice Cafe Steamers Grilled Chicken Marinara – 5 pts.

This time, they didn’t have the panini, but often they do. All three of the above were around $8 or $9, making them between $2 and $2.25 apiece. The plus side is that most of them are 5 Weight Watcher points each. The downside is that there is not too much variety – most of it is chicken-based. Also, I have actually scored cheaper Lean Cuisines and Smart Ones meals at Walmart and Publix.

In the canned goods aisle, they also carry the Progresso and Healthy Choice low calorie soups, but I am not a big fan of canned soup. I usually have to doctor up canned soups, so I might as well make my own.

Other convenience foods I was looking at were frozen fruits and vegetables. There were two interesting fruit blends:

Spectrum Blend – 6 colorful fruits: yellow peach slices, pineapple chunks, red whole strawberries, white peach slices, green honeydew chunks 10 svgs (1 cup each)- I don’t recall the price – probably $7-$9.

Kirkland’s Trader Farms Triple Berry – Raspberry, Blueberry, Marionberry (Blackberry)

There are also many vegetable blends, including Asian Stir Fry and Normandy Blend (carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli). Right now, I am really into the steam in the bag blends, but I might need to check those out, too.

Chobani Nonfat flavored Greek yogurt – 12 – 4 each of blueberry, peach, and strawberry. Now, I bought these, and they are fine. Greek yogurt is all the rage right now, but it is not as sweet as regular yogurt. And, although it is 0% fat, it must contain sugar, because it is 3 WW pts. per serving.

Other things I saw were fruit cups (pkg. of 12 tropical blend), Weight Watchers Oreo Cookie popsicles, individual portions of hummus, individual portions of apples, and probably the Healthy Choice Fudgesicles. Those are great, if you don’t mind eating the same thing over and over.

I haven’t even mentioned the produce – salad greens and all. Maybe I will plan a one week Costco menu next.

Alternative Frozen Entree Diet Sites

As I have mentioned in a previous post, I am currently paying for Weight Watchers.  I am paying the $39.99 per month fee that includes unlimited meetings and access to eTools, which is WW diet recording software.  Lately I have been very frustrated with the online tools – there are so many glitches in the FlashPlayer Diet Planner/Activity Planner that it often takes several tries to get my entries to post.

I am, for the most part, sticking to frozen entrees – especially for breakfast and lunch.  Sometimes, for dinner, I will make something in a large quantity – like a soup or stew in the crockpot.  Then I freeze the remainder so that my husband has meals when I am not cooking.

I was looking up the nutritional information for a Healthy Choice entree when I noticed that they have expanded their site to include a diet and exercise planner called Start Making Choices.  I have not signed up yet, but I may.

Other sites that have diet plans are Amy’s Kitchen and Lean Cuisine.  Of course, Smart Ones has a site:  It’s called WeightWatchers, but they also have a community message board on their frozen entree site.  Kashi also has a community message board as well as coupons for free entrees.

The Amy’s Kitchen website has a pretty extensive section on what they call the Amy’s Diet Plan.  There are 14 days worth of menus and shopping lists as well.  I might try that sometime, but it has usually been difficult for me to plan ahead when I am eating or dieting.  I guess I got that from my parents.  I am a very impulsive eater.

Lean Cuisine’s website offers Wellness Tools, and you must also sign up for that.  It is supposed to include a meal planner and a fitness planner, with pre-planned menus.  I will check it out later.

Shopping Receipt from WalMart

I am trying to get back on the wagon again and am going to eat mainly portion-controlled meals for a while.  I am trying to balance the expensive Amy’s Organic and Kashi Entrees with Michelina’s and Smart Ones on sale.  It’s more complicated than that, though.  The Amy’s are organic – not necessarily low fat and calorie.  So, if I get am entree that is high in WW Points, I have to have one that day with lower points!

I stopped by Aldi first, because I hadn’t been there in a while.  I bought one each of their Fiber One Bars knock offs.  I had tried the Peanut Butter ones in Asheville last week and thought they were pretty good.  I got one box of the Millville Fiber NOW chewy bars in Oats and Chocolate and one in Oats and Caramel.  I had one in the car before I went to WalMart so that I would not “hunger shop” and it was fantastic!  Really chocolate-y and rich and only 2 WW Pts per bar.  I am going to keep them at school in case I have a craving for a candy bar.

At WalMart, I bought a couple of Amy’s Organic Dinners.  WalMart has them for only $3.14 to $3.28 each.  I bought two packages each of the Cheese Enchiladas and the Cheese Tamale Verde, because they are gluten-free and will make an easy dinner for my hubby as well.  I also bought one package of the Indian Mattar Paneer and the Tortilla Casserole and Black Beans Bowl.  That last one was a stretch, at 9 WW Pts. per dinner.  I will have to eat really light on my other meals that day.

After that, I headed for the Michelina’s Lean Gourmet section.  Those are really cheap.  I bought one entree with the old packaging – you cook it in the box.  It was Chicken Alfredo Florentine, and cost $1.18.  The new packaging looks like it has a baking dish enclosed and costs $1.68 per entree.  I cannot find information yet on the new ones, but I think I got Curry Chicken, Mandarin Chicken and Pad Thai Chicken.   There are coupons on the back to get the 50 cents you paid extra off on another purchase.  We’ll see.

I bought only three Kashi entrees this time:  Sweet and Sour Chicken (my favorite – I had it for lunch when I got home), Lemon Coconut Chicken, and the Tuscan Veggie Bake.   I then went to the Lean Cuisine and Smart Ones aisle, because the WW Points are prominently displayed on the box.  I got Smart Ones Fettuccine Alfredo Smart Ones Lemon Chicken, and Lean Cuisine Pasta Romano with Bacon (It’s also new -I ate it yesterday and loved it!).   I also bought Lean Cuisine Santa Fe Rice and Beans, and two Healthy Choice French Bread Pizzas:  one cheese and one pepperoni.  The total came to about $45, but if you subtract the two entrees I bought for my husband, it was only $37 for 17 meals.

I didn’t buy any breakfasts:  I already had some.  I have two servings of Trader Joe’s Steel Cut Oatmeal and a package of Kashi Heart to Heart Waffles – I think that’s 3 servings of 2 waffles each.  I’ll lay out my daily menus in my Weight Watchers food diary.  It’s a start.

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