You’ve probably heard by now that a great tool to weight loss success is planning. Truly, the more I plan, the more successful I am it seems. Of course, life is life and you can’t plan everything, but I find that at least taking the time to outline my meals for the week as far as I can predict certainly helps. For example, if I know I have a work event on Wednesday and I’ll be dining out for Valentine’s Day, I try to eat quite a bit more conservatively on the weekend than I usually would.
My husband and I don’t have many nights at home together, but we try to have home cooked meals together Sunday and Monday. Monday is always a crock pot meal if we’re dining together, as I go to the gym after work and by the time I get home, I know I’ll never opt to cook anything. As a lot of the recipes I’ve tried lately have been great, I’ll start posting what I made each week (as long as it was good). If I get a clunker recipe, I won’t bother.
This week I made Campbell’s cheesy chicken and rice bake with fat free ingredients when possible. I steamed fresh carrots (for 30 minutes) on the side instead of adding frozen veggies, but it still came out great. If you don’t like your carrots soft, boil them for less time. I also separately boiled some extra instant rice (boil water, add rice, turn off and leave covered 5 minutes). My modified recipe comes out to 7 PointsPlus® for the chicken bake plus an extra 3 points for an extra half cup rice, which I just mixed in with my serving separately. Mark mixed in an extra serving and a half of rice with his. Next time I plan to make him two additional servings of rice ‘cause he’s a big guy and doesn’t usually eat enough during all the hours he spends at work. Okay, and now that you know way too much about Mark, here’s the modified recipe:
Reduced Fat Campbell’s Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole
7 PointsPlus® | Serves 4 | 15 min. prep time | 1 hour 15 min. total time
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) 98% Fat Free Campbell’s® Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup
1 1/3 cups water
3/4 cup uncooked instant white rice
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (or make some fresh veggies on the side)
1 1/4 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/2 cup fat free shredded Cheddar cheese (about 2 ounces)
1. Heat the oven to 375°F. Stir the soup, water, rice, onion powder, black pepper and vegetables in an 11 x 8 x 2-inch baking dish.
2. Top the rice mixture with the chicken. Cover the baking dish.
3. Bake for 50 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the rice is tender. Top with the cheese. Let the casserole stand for 10 minutes. Stir the rice before serving.
Full nutrition facts are available here. While the chicken baked, I prepped my Woman’s Day® crock pot recipe for Monday night, which turned out a lot like beef stew, perhaps because I omitted some ingredients (the ones with *s below):
Slow Cooker Braised Flank Steak with Peppers and Onions
5 PointsPlus® | Serves 4 | 10 min. prep time | 8 hour 10 min. total time
1 onion, cut into 8 wedges
1 red bell pepper, sliced crosswise 1/2 in. thick
1 can(s) (28-oz) diced tomatoes, drained
1 1/2teaspoon(s) chili powder
1/4 teaspoon(s) ground cinnamon*
Kosher salt* and pepper
1 pound(s) flank steak, cut crosswise into thirds
1/2 mango, cut into pieces*
1/4 cup(s) fresh cilantro*
1. In a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker, combine the onion, bell pepper, tomatoes, chili powder, cinnamon, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.
2. Nestle the beef among the vegetables and cook, covered, until the meat is tender and easily pulls apart, on high for 4 to 5 hours or on low for 7 to 8 hours.
3. Using two forks, shred the beef, then stir it into the cooking liquid. Top with the mango and cilantro.
I served mine with ½ cup wide egg noodles for 3 extra PointsPlus®. If I had had any carrots or other veggies left in the house, I would have steamed them and tossed them in my bowl too. Next time I plan to double the recipe so we have more leftovers. Full nutrition facts are available here.
And I should mention: dairy (a key ingredient in Campbell’s cheesy chicken and rice casserole) is a great tool in your weight loss tool belt. The calcium helps flush fat out of your system, so your body holds on to less of it. Learn the particulars via this PBS special, 10 Things You Need to Know About Losing Weight.
And now I’m off to enjoy my delicious flank steak leftovers!