Thinking about the Simple Start Plan from Weight Watchers? #SimpleStart

So, if you are here, you’re probably thinking about the Simple Start plan from Weight Watchers.  I was given a free one month subscription to Weight Watchers to try their Simple Start plan and write about my experience. Though I was compensated for my time and commitment, all views, positive and negative, are my own. I have just finished 2 weeks on the Simple Start program and what do I think?

simple start

It’s simple.

It’s easy.

It’s convenient,

It’s REAL food.  You can indulge.  You like salty? Have some salty.  You like sweet?  Indulge (a little).

It’s worth trying.  And here’s why.

It’s not different food than you normally buy.  Or maybe it is- maybe it’s some healthier options.  But it’s “regular” grocery items.  It’s not different, more expensive or specialty.  So it’s accessible to anyone.  There’s even a whole 2 weeks of menu plan ideas and choices so you can really do almost nothing at all for planning.  Choose your meals, buy the ingredients, and voila.  Plan.  There’s even indulgences built in.

I’m happy with it.  I’d do it again.  But instead, I think I’ll continue with Weight Watchers for a while. I haven’t yet tried any of the Weight Watchers Smoothies but I intend to pop in to a center and grab some because I think I’ll like them. I’m feeling super motivated because I did so well for the Simple Start 2 weeks….and I’m feeling a bit more energetic and positive about the direction I’m heading in.

That’s a win in my book.

The ease of this program and what comes with it really gives you tools to jump start the program- 2 easy weeks- 14 days- it was worth a shot, just like I said. Now I’m looking forward to the next 2 weeks (seriously, I’m not even dreading them)!

I’ve even done some fun Weight Watchers recipes for my family that have been pretty popular with you all, including my Weight Watchers Chicken Pot Pie

WW Chicken Pot Pie

and Weight Watchers Tortellini Soup.

weight watchers tortellini soup recipe

 

Apple Cream Cheese Muffins Recipe

Apple recipes are known to be popular during the crisp fall months. But there is one apple recipe that we love to make all year round, Apple Cream Cheese Muffins. They are soft, moist and melt in your mouth with a crunchy streusel topping.

 

 apple cream cheese muffins
We like to make muffins and store them in the fridge for quick, easy and homemade breakfast treats. These Apple Cream Cheese Muffins are made with real fruit and make you feel a little better about eating them. Apples are better for you than chocolate chips, right?   These are just 3 points per muffin.
In our recipe, we used shredded apple pieces and did this pretty quickly with a food processor. If you like a little apple crunch, the apples could be diced up instead. There are lots of variations that you could try with this Apple Cream Cheese Muffin recipe. I invite you to give this recipe a try and let us know how you like them in the comments below!
Ingredients for the Apple Cream Cheese Muffins
3/4
+ 1 Tbsp cup packed brown sugar
1 3/4
cups all-purpose flour
1
teaspoon baking powder
1/2
teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2
teaspoon salt
2
eggs
2/3
cup vegetable oil
1/4
cup applesauce
1
teaspoon vanilla
1
large apple, peeled, shredded or diced
1/2
cup cream cheese

 

Streusel Topping

4
tablespoons packed brown sugar
3
tablespoons all-purpose flour

2tablespoon butter or margarine, softened

apple cream cheese muffins basketDirections
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Filling – Mix together in a small bowl and set aside – cream cheese, 2 tbsp of brown sugar and 2 tbsp of the beaten egg.
Directions
Mix together the remaining brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt and baking powder until well blended. Add in the vegetable oil, applesauce, vanilla and remaining egg. Mix all together.
Mix in the shredded or diced apple with a spoon.
Fill muffin cups about half full (makes about 15 cups), top each muffin with the cream cheese mixture and then spoon the remaining batter to fill each muffin cup about 2/3 full.
Mix together the streusel ingredients and sprinkle over the batter.
Bake for about 25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool and then remove from pan. Makes 24 muffins

 

These muffins are 3 Weight Watchers Points each.

 

5.0 from 1 reviews
Apple Cream Cheese Muffins
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Weight watchers friendly apple cream cheese muffins
Author:
Recipe type: Muffin
Cuisine: American
Serves: 24
Ingredients
  • Ingredients for the Apple Cream Cheese Muffins
  • ¾ + 1 Tbsp cup packed brown sugar
  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ⅔ cup applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 large apple, peeled, shredded or diced
  • ½ cup light cream cheese
  • Streusel Topping
  • 4 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoon light butter or margarine, softened
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Filling - Mix together in a small bowl and set aside - cream cheese, 2 tbsp of brown sugar and 2 tbsp of the beaten egg.
  3. Directions
  4. Mix together the remaining brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt and baking powder until well blended. Add in the vegetable oil, applesauce, vanilla and remaining egg. Mix all together.
  5. Mix in the shredded or diced apple with a spoon.
  6. Fill muffin cups about half full (makes about 15 cups), top each muffin with the cream cheese mixture and then spoon the remaining batter to fill each muffin cup about ⅔ full.
  7. Mix together the streusel ingredients and sprinkle over the batter.
  8. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool and then remove from pan.
Notes
3 Weight Watchers Points per muffin

5 Myths about Gluten Free Eating and Celiac Disease

5 Myths about Gluten Free Eating and Celiac Disease   

myths about gluten free eating and celiac

There has been a lot said in the last few years about gluten-free eating. While a lot of people are making the choice to eliminate gluten as a lifestyle choice, much like becoming a vegetarian or vegan, for others the need to eat gluten-free is due to having been diagnosed with celiac disease. Here are five common myths about gluten-free eating and celiac disease.

Having a “Gluten Allergy”

How often have you heard or said, “I can’t eat that, I have a gluten allergy”? This is a misnomer as there is no such thing as a gluten allergy. Someone can have a wheat allergy, and gluten is present in wheat, however it is not possible to be allergic to gluten itself.  People who have celiac disease have an inability to break down the gluten protein when it’s present in the small intestine, this can then prevent nutrients from being absorbed. It also can lead to gastrointestinal issues, bone pain, and even skin rashes.

If You Are Gluten Free You Can’t Eat Whole Grains

Yes many of the whole grains we know best like wheat, barley, and rye contain gluten but there are still many others that do not.  Some of the other whole grains that are gluten-free include;

  • Millet
  • Quinoa
  • Corn
  • Buckwheat
  • Oats (make sure to check that it’s not been cut using flour)
  • Sorghum
  • Amaranth

Buying the highest quality and purest forms of these grains will give you the best health benefits.

Gluten is a Grain

Gluten is a protein found in seeds. It helps nourish plants as they’re growing. Once plants that contain gluten are harvested gluten is the component of flours that make dough elastic and chewy.

Meat Has No Gluten

If you’re purchasing meat that has been processed in anyway, such as sausages, hot dogs, chicken nuggets etc, then there is a good chance gluten is present. Many manufacturers use gluten as a binder in foods such as these. Even lunchmeats sometimes have gluten present.  There is mixed opinion about normal meats such as hamburger or chicken. Some people with celiac disease report feeling ill after eating grain fed meat. If you’re concerned, it’s best to stick with grass fed, organic meats.

I Can Diagnose Myself with Celiac Disease

Many people who suspect they may have celiac disease try a gluten free diet for several weeks to determine if they feel better. If they feel better then they believe they have celiac disease and go forward. The truth is the only way to know you have celiac disease is to be tested. A doctor can complete a simple blood draw to view your levels. If elevated they most likely will then order a biopsy of your small intestine to verify. It’s important to do this as there is no other way to really know. If you have celiac disease your healthcare professional may want to monitor you more closely for other health problems such as malabsorption, vitamin deficiencies, and malnutrition all of which can occur in people with celiac disease.

Many people experience very positive benefits from eating gluten-free. However, it’s important to distinguish between the choice of a gluten-free diet and the seriousness of having celiac disease for long-term health.

Time Management Tips

I am blogging about time management tips on behalf of Ingo Money and received compensation for my time from Ingo Money for sharing my views in this post, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Ingo’s. Learn more about the Ingo Money mobile app at http://www.IngoMoney.com, or connect with the Ingo community at https://www.facebook.com/ingomoney.

Here’s the thing.  There’s 24 hours in a day and in this society, that’s apparently not enough.

But really, it is.

And here’s me, living in the rural suburbs of the suburbs, who forgets her wallet at home when she’s gone 20 minutes to get to the store… or the bank.  That’s ALWAYS fun.  Waste of time and gas, which costs…money.  The irony does not escape me, my friends. (Totally serious, our closest bank branches are 19 and 20 minutes away from our house, respectively.  It’s like it’s own event, going to the bank).

But, when I’m not managing my time well, I do stupid stuff like leave to go grocery shop WITHOUT MY PURSE OR WALLET. Also, it’s not a good idea to rely on a 4, 6 or 8 year old to always remember that you should have your wallet.  The day they forget, you will too.  Or so I’ve heard.

So here are some time management tips from ME.

time management tips

1. Get off of Facebook.

2. Get off of Pinterest

3. Stop laughing, and since none of us is going to get off either of those, not soon anyway, make a pointed decision to LIMIT your time on those sites and stick to it.  2 minutes turns into 2 hours FAST, my friends. I’m living proof.

4. Use a calendar.  Use COLOR on your calendar.  Colors for people who live in your house, or colors by what kind of thing you are entering. Write things down.  Don’t schedule 14 things on one day. It’s not healthy.

5. Delegate (if you live with 7 cats and no other humans, you can skip this one. I understand). I’m still working on getting better with this. But really, delegate, ask for help… whatever. I’ve started asking friends if they want to each drive one way to  parties, activities, sports practices instead of all of us following one another in our cars.  It’s kind of silly).

6. Make lists. USE the lists. I even make lists of lists. I love lists. Make lists of what you have to do for the day or week, and figure out how much time it will take to complete the tasks.  If you have to go to a laundromat to do laundry, clip your coupons and sort, file etc while there.  Pay your bills while there.

7. Plan ahead- for meals, shopping errands.  Seriously. See the above comment where I, the moron, get all the way to the bank without my wallet?  Unfortunately for me, I DO plan ahead for errands, because I hate to drive 20 minutes for one thing. So, I do them at once. Which of course is pointless when I forget my wallet. But on the other days when I’m not a moron, it works out well. Instead of zigzagging all over town or making three trips, I knock 4-5 errands off of my list (see #6!) and get them all done when I’m already in that area. Less time spent, and time spent efficiently.

Time is money.  If you waste all of your time, you don’t have much left at the end of the day, or week, or month. So why not spend a little time planning ahead so you aren’t wasting time?

And, remember, Facebook will still be there a few hours after you log off.  I promise.  Or maybe shut down. I’m not sure the last time I logged out was….

Oh, and don’t forget to include some “you” time in your planning.  A little downtime, playing games, reading a book, exercise- something you enjoy, to recharge YOU.

 

ingo money

I’m looking more into Ingo Money, the mobile app that lets you load funds from approved checks directly onto your participating Visa Prepaid card. In with a check, on with your life. I could totally skip the bank sometimes!! One less errand = more time for ME. Ingo Money is available on the App Store and Google Play Store app.

ingo money instant win

Be sure to check out the Ingo Money Minutes Instant Win Game. You could win one of 4 $20 eGift Cards daily and/or be entered to win a $500 grand prize.  Share with friends on Facebook and Twitter for extra entries. Takes a few seconds to enter (I’m not a winner today so I upped your odds, you are welcome!)

 

What are your best time management tips?

 

 

$600 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

We’re spreading the love with another totally awesome giveaway just in time for Valentine’s Day! This month we have two awesome prizes up for grabs — one winner will receive a $500 Amazon gift card and a second winner will receive a $100 Amazon gift card.

 

For your chance to win, just use the Rafflecopter form below. There are a lot of entries to choose from so take your pick… or do them all! And don’t forget that we also have daily entries, so bookmark this page and come back everyday. Good luck!

 

GIVEAWAY

 

Prizes: $500 Amazon Gift Card & $100 Amazon Gift Card or cash (via Paypal)

totally awesome valentines

Organized by: Oh My Gosh Beck!

 

Co-hosts: [oomph.] ♥ This Mama Loves ♥ This Mommy Saves Money ♥ Honey & Birch ♥ Misadventures with Andi ♥ StushiGal Style ♥ Smart School House ♥ Finger Click Saver ♥ Mommy Knows What’s Best ♥ Peanut Butter and Whine ♥ Momma T and Family ♥ Blog by Donna ♥ Stacy’s Savings ♥ Sisters Shopping on a Shoestring ♥ SmartySaver ♥ Wrap with Jolene ♥ My Little House of Treasures ♥ Lush to Blush ♥ Skirt The Rules ♥ Saving You Dinero ♥ In The Moment with Sarah Halstead

 

Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter daily. Besides the mandatory blog comment entry, all other entries are optional. Giveaway ends 2/14 and is open worldwide.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Are you a blogger who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your blog? Click here to find out how you can join an awesome group of bloggers!

Pei Wei offers new flavors and entree sizes

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Pei Wei Asian Diner for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Pei Wei Asian Diner has resolved to reFRESH nationwide with a new year full of new options! Pei Wei offers a selection menu of fresh, high-quality Asian cuisine featuring 35 fresh, hand-cut ingredients. Who doesn’t love fresh ingredients?  So much better for your body and tastier too!  All menu items are made fresh to order.  Pei Wei has a variety of Gluten Free and Vegetarian dishes on the menu so that anyone can enjoy a meal at their restaurant.

 photo 1029d01a-8b80-45c8-8e25-2fe1b5556032_zps6fc4b326.jpg

Pei Wei has added a small size entree option- so now there are original and small sized wok’d entrees to choose from starting at just $6.39.  You can choose your protein for your meals- chicken, steak, shrimp or tofu. I am assuming you know this already but most portions in restaurants are way too much for one meal.  I love that Pei Wei is offering a smaller size- at a smaller price!

Pei Wei has added a new salad and two Perfect Additions to the menu:

Wok Roasted Vegetable Salad: A flavorful combination of wok-roasted cauliflower, zucchini, carrots, green beans, scallions, assorted lettuce, Napa cabbage, cucumbers and tomatoes topped with toasted sesame seeds, curry salt and tossed in a miso vinaigrette.

Ginger Orange Edamame (steamed soybeans, orange peel, ginger, garlic and sea salt) and Szechuan Green Beans (wok seared green beans with Hunan sauce, chile paste and garlic)

Thai Lime & Chile. This new dish features refreshing citrus flavors combined with spicy Fresno chilies for unique flavor adventure. Guest’s choice of protein is wok-tossed in a Thai lime pineapple chile sauce, along with garlic, red onion, snap peas, Fresno chile peppers, topped with cashews, bean sprouts, carrots, cucumbers and cilantro. (Available as a regular or small wok’d entrée served with white or brown rice, or as an entrée salad, incorporating the guest’s choice of protein –chicken, steak, shrimp or tofu.)

Like Pei Wei on Facebook

Follow Pei Wei on Twitter

Follow Pei Wei on Pinterest

 

Visit and Explore the Pei Wei Asian Diner menu - which are you most excited to try?

Visit Sponsor's Site

When’s the last time you jumped in front of the camera? #CameraCourage

I love taking photos.  I love capturing moments with my kids, my husband and the kids, and of friends and family. Photos of me?  Notsomuch. I’ve spent so much time avoiding the camera that I’ve managed to have just a handful of photos of me with my kids, and I did get a selfie of hubby and me at a Red Sox game this fall but that’s the first one in yearS.  When the folks at Lunchbox asked me if I’d write a post talking about the lack of photos of myself for a Dove campaign, I readily agreed.

It’s not just me lacking camera courage. It’s genetic, at least in my family.  I’ve never actually seen a photo of me with my Grama Hitchcock, although she had dozens and dozens of photos of me all around her house. A picture of me with my mom?  I have one.  I was 5.  We both got so used to her avoiding the camera we both forgot to get a photo of just the 2 of us at my wedding.  That’s really just sad. In my family, and I know in many others, women hide from the camera…unless we’re “just so” or our hair is good, have makeup on, etc.

But you know what? It’s time to change that. My kids aren’t going to want to see pictures when they are older of just mommy when she had her hair and makeup done.  (Seriously, they’d be all “that’s not what you looked like mom, you didn’t even have yoga pants on in that picture!) It’s time for me to find my #cameracourage.

They are going to want what I am missing.  Photos capturing moments of our everyday life.  Photos of our memories.  Photos of them with their mama.

#cameracourage

Show us your Camera Courage

When did we become camera shy? Dove® wants all women to feel beautiful in front of the camera. Find your #cameracourage, and fall in love with the camera again.

Come to the Camera Courage events at Walmart

Join Dove® in their efforts to help women all over the country feel courageous around the camera at their in-store events in January.

During Saturdays (January 18th and January 25th), visit a Walmart near you to participate in the Camera Courage Photo Booths! Find a store near you here.

Strike a Pose

Join the #cameracourage movement. Instagram a photo of yourself and tag the photo with #cameracourage. Share with your friends to spread the #cameracourage message.

Shop All Dove® at Walmart for Everyday, Low Prices

Shop all Dove® products today at see.walmart.com/dove to get the best value!

dove camera courage

To give you guys a little kick in the pants to stop being camera shy like me, I’m giving TWO of you each a $50 Walmart Gift Card.  To enter? Share a photo of yourself on any social network and include the #cameracourage hashtag.  Leave a comment with the link to your share.  

Want extra entries?  Share a recipe or craft with your friends on Facebook or Pin something from my site on Pinterest…. show some love!  Then leave a comment with the link to it.  That’s it.  Easy peasy.  Each time you share the love it’s going to count as one entry. 

The giveaway will end on February 2nd at midnight, EST.  Winners will be picked randomly. Good luck!  Open to US only.

Your Love Gives Me Butterflies Candy Valentine Treats

These super cute and simple butterfly give away treats are perfect for a class Valentine exchange!  Smarties products are free of milk, egg, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soy. Smarties® products are safe to eat for kids with peanut allergies. They are also Vegan and Gluten free!  I’ve been searching around because I *think* Wrigley’s Big Red gum (that we used) is Gluten Free and Peanut free, but please check ingredients. I’m going to reach out to the company to find out for certain. You can always swap for something you are 100% certain is safe for you or your little ones to consume. If you want to send in SAFE and allergy safe candy Valentine treats, you will want to check these out!

valentines day butterfly treat

Supplies:

  • Paper in your choice of colors
  • Smarties candy
  • Sticks of chewing gum
  • heart or flower stickers (optional)

your love gives me valentines candy craft

Step 1

Cut 2 equal size, matching hearts for each butterfly you plan to make.  Overlap the hearts at the point and slightly angle the hearts so one end of your “wings” will be closer together than the other and glue together (or use 2 sided tape).  This is also when I added the heart stickers to the corners of the “wings” but this is optional.  You can decorate the wings however you like or not at all.

butterfly valentines craft progress

Step 2

Attach a stick of chewing gum down the center of the hearts to create the “body” of the butterfly.  Again, you can do so with glue or two sided tape.

butterfly valentine craft in process

Step 3

Attach the Smarties to the chewing gum using a bit heavier glue.

valentines day candy craft butterfly

The kids can write a personal message on the back of the butterfly for passing out to classmates or you could attach a string and tag to each.

Check out our adorable Valentine Plane treats too!

What kind of Valentine’s Day treats do you like to make or send in for your child’s class?

$55 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway- Fan Appreciation

fan appreciation amazon giveaway

 

We have teamed up with an amazing group of bloggers to bring you this fantastic giveaway! Without our fans and followers it would be pretty difficult to have a successful website/blog. Thank you for being part of it all !

One winner will receive an Amazon GC in the amount of $55

Winner will be chosen at random using Giveaway Tools and will be emailed within 2 days of full verification of entries.

The winner will have 48hrs to respond before another winner is chosen.

All entries are verified.

Giveaway is open January 19th – February 2nd.

Enter for your chance by using the Giveaway Tool below, GOOD LUCK!

>This blog is not responsible for furnishing the prize. Prize will be provided by Melissa @  HowToThisAndThat

 

Slow Cooker Pork Chops and Applesauce Recipe

Nothing is more classic than a weeknight meal of this easy Slow Cooker Pork Chops And Applesauce.  Easy, simply and amazingly delicious this is a crowd pleaser for even the picky eaters in your home.   Traditionally made with premade applesauce this version includes fresh apples without all of the typical preservatives found in the canned variety.  A few simple seasonings on virtually any cut of pork (bone in or out) and this becomes a meal that serves beautifully for not only a simple weeknight meal but also a great special dinner for guests.

Slow Cooker Pork Chops & Applesauce

SLOW COOKER PORK CHOPS AND APPLESAUCE

1 Pound Pork Chops or Pork Loin

1 Teaspoon Onion Powder

1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder

½ Teaspoon Paprika

½ Teaspoon Black Pepper

1 Teaspoon Salt

3 Granny Smith Apples (Peeled and Chopped)

½ Cup Water

 Slow Cooker Pork Chops And Applesauce

  • Spray bottom of slow cooker with non-stick spray.
  • Mix seasonings together in small bowl.
  • Generously season both sides of pork and place in even layers on bottom of slow cooker.
  • Pour peeled and chopped Granny Smith Apples over the top of pork chops in even layer.
  • Pour water over top.
  • Cover with lid and cook on medium heat setting for 3 hours for thinner chops or 4 hours for thicker loin.

Serve this hearty dish with a side of rice and your favorite vegetable for the perfect easy weeknight meal that is classic and reminiscent of childhood as well as healthy and simple to create.

5.0 from 3 reviews
Slow Cooker Pork Chops and Applesauce Recipe
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Slow cooker version of pork chops with applesauce
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 Pound Pork Chops or Pork Loin
  • 1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • ½ Teaspoon Paprika
  • ½ Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 3 Granny Smith Apples (Peeled and Chopped)
  • ½ Cup Water
Instructions
  1. • Spray bottom of slow cooker with non-stick spray.
  2. • Mix seasonings together in small bowl.
  3. • Generously season both sides of pork and place in even layers on bottom of slow cooker.
  4. • Pour peeled and chopped Granny Smith Apples over the top of pork chops in even layer.
  5. • Pour water over top.
  6. • Cover with lid and cook on medium heat setting for 3 hours for thinner chops or 4 hours for thicker loin.
  7. Serve this hearty dish with a side of rice and your favorite vegetable for the perfect easy weeknight meal that is classic and reminiscent of childhood as well as healthy and simple to create.