Friday, November 30, 2012

Souplantation Express

LOVE that one of the few Souplantation Express that exist is right by my office! When I don't have time to pack my lunch, it's perfect for staying healthy on a busy day at work because I can place my order online in advance. When it's ready, I just head over there, walk to the front of the line, pay, then bring my lunch back to the office to eat there if it's busy and I need to work through my lunch. It's only $6 which is a pretty good price for buying lunch considering the size of the salad (it's huge) and all the ingredients seem pretty fresh (don't taste like they've been sitting out for a while).

Today I had a salad made up of spinach, spring baby lettuce mix, celery, mushrooms, cucumber, cabbage, bell pepper, black olives, hard boiled eggs (for some protein and fat), edamame (for some protein), pepperoncinis, tofu (for protein), sunflower seeds (for healthy fat), avocado (for healthy fat), red onions, broccoli, red chili flakes, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. When I'm super hungry or if I know I won't have time to eat a real dinner later that evening (my situation today), I try to make sure I add a good amount of ingredients rich in protein and healthy fats to keep me full longer.

Today was also the first day that I saw they had their Asian ginger broth as one of the options for a soup - I've only seen this in the actual Souplantation restaurants before. It's only 50 calories for a cup of broth and tastes sooooo yummy, so I also grabbed a cup of that to go with my salad. I added tofu, green onions, and red chili flakes to the broth and it was sooo yummy. And I'm not even done with my food, but I'm super full right now! :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

~180 Calorie Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake

This time of year always brings out my cravings for desserts, baked goodies, and, of course, PUMPKIN. And ESPECIALLY Cheesecake Factory's Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake. OHHH MAN.... That stuff is GOOD. But! Have you seen the nutrition information for it??!!? 1080 CALORIES PER SLICE!!


I really wanted to satisfy my craving, so I created my own version that was much healthier! I based my recipe off of these two recipes: using part of the "Eat Yourself Skinny" recipe to use as my crust and the filling for the "Bon Apetit" recipe to use as my filling (and made my own modifications).
I like using ricotta because it is much lighter and fluffier than cream cheese, sour cream, or mascarpone. Just be sure to blend it well, so the final result is smooth and not grainy (which seems to happen with ricotta). You don't get as much of the sour taste like in a traditional cheesecake, but I like that it makes the flavor and texture much lighter. Also, instead of a traditional crust, I just used the filling recipe for the pecan pies and pressed it into the bottom of a pan - this pecan layer will act as our crust!

**Note: for anyone that wants to make this with regular sugar, stevia, or any other sugar-substitute instead of Splenda, just make sure you conversions are correct so your final result has the right amount of sweetness! The granulated Splenda I used has an measures the same as normal sugar. But the Splenda brown sugar blend is twice as sweet as normal brown sugar, so if you are using normal brown sugar make sure to double what is in my recipe. If you are using stevia or any other sugar-substitute, convert appropriately based on what brand you are using.

Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake

Crust Ingredients:
- 1/4 cup egg beaters
- 1/4 tsp maple extract
- 2 tbsp Splenda brown sugar blend
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

 Filling Ingredients:
- 2 1/2 cups reduced fat ricotta
- 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp reduced fat cream cheese
- 1/3 cup Splenda, granulated
- 4 egg yolks
- 2 whole eggs
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
- 2 tbsp Splenda brown sugar blend
- 1 tbsp unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line an 8 inch spring-form pan with parchment paper and wipe with some canola oil to prevent sticking.
2. Mix all crust ingredients in a bowl then press evenly in to the bottom of the spring-form pan.
3. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until this layer has set. Set aside the crust and start working on the filling!
4. Change oven temperature to 300 degrees F.
5. Blend ricotta, cream cheese, Splenda, egg yolks, 1 whole egg, and 1/2 tsp salt. Be sure to blend well until it is very smooth or your filling may come out grainy.
6. Set aside 1/2 cup of this filling and pour the rest of the filling over the cooled pecan "crust."
7. Blend the remaining 1/2 cup of filling with the other whole egg, pumpkin puree, Splenda brown sugar blend, almond milk, pumpkin pie spice, and remaining 1/4 tsp salt.
8. Pour pumpkin filling in a layer over the ricotta filling and use a spoon to make decorative swirls.
9. Wrap entire cake pan tightly with foil (use one piece to cover the bottom to prevent water from seeping in and a separate piece to cover the top to trap in then later release steam).
10. Place cake pan in a roasting pan and fill roasting pan with hot water halfway up the sides of the cake pan.
11. Bake for 1 hour.
12. Open the foil over the top of the cheesecake to release steam every 15 minutes then reseal foil. The cake will need an additional 45minutes - 1 hour in the oven until the cheesecake is set.
13. Remove foil and allow to cool completely to set. It is best if it also has time to cool in the refrigerator to set completely.

I sliced pretty small slices (a good size for me) - getting about 16 small slices out of the entire recipe. This comes out to 178 calories per slice!!!! MUCH better than Cheesecake Factory's 1080 calories per slice!!

I liked having mine with a drizzle of some sugar-free caramel syrup and some Trader Joe's Pumpkin Spice Rooibos tea!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving! Stay healthy! :)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Instagram: @margomangooo

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"Picked up a late, healthy dinner to-go for me and Rommel from True Foods - love that place! Curry shirataki noodles, autumn seasonal salad, and a cinnamon grapefruit soda. don't normally drink soda and I should avoid the extra sugar but I couldn't resist CINNAMON GRAPEFRUIT!"

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cajun Seafood Boil!

I had a SERIOUS craving to make this a couple weekends ago. We took advantage of the last of the heat waves in San Diego and sat outside in the yard eating seafood. YES, it has still been super hot here the last few weeks (on and off for a few days at a time). San Diego's REAL summer is always about August through early-November.

I know this isn't a healthy post, but it was so delicious I had to share. Posting here will also help me remember what I did, when I want to make it again in the future :P

I purchased all my seafood from 99 Ranch Market just because Asian grocery stores are always the cheapest places to buy seafood. There was a sale on whole, unpeeled, raw shrimp with their heads so it was perfect! 4lbs for only $10!!! They were frozen though, but whatever it was a good price. 99 Ranch was also the only place in San Diego that I was able to find crawfish. I was disappointed that they were already cooked, but at least that's better than no crawfish. I really LOVE crawfish! Then, of course, crab legs!!! These crab legs were partially cooked and frozen - unless you buy whole, live crab, this is how you will usually find crab legs. Before starting my cooking, I made sure all of these were thawed completely so they cook evenly. Also, I used kitchen shears to snip tiny little cracks in the crab legs, so the boiling liquid can seep in and flavor the crab meat.

Anyways, here's what I did to make my cajun seafood boil / my own version of Boiling Crab:

Cajun Seafood Boil

- Cajun Crab Boil Seasoning (recipe below)
- Emeril's Essence Creole Seasoning (recipe below)
- Whole Garlic Bulb, sliced horizontally
- Whole Lemon (or two), sliced into quarters
- Whole Onion, peeled and sliced into quarters
- Bay Leaves, handful
- One Bottle of Beer
- Corn On The Cob, sliced into chunks 2 or 3 inches
- Small Red Potatoes (I didn't use any, but would taste AMAZING)
- Andouille Sausage, sliced into chunks 2 or 3 inches
- Whole, Unpeeled, Raw Shrimp with Heads (using unpeeled shrimp means juicier more flavorfull shrimp!)
- Crawfish
- Crab Legs
- Butter
- Garlic, minced
- Fresh Lemon Juice
- Lemon Zest
- Cajun-style Hot Sauce
- Sa;t


Part 1: Cajun Crab Boil Seasoning
Mix 4 tbsp yellow mustard seeds, 3 tbsp coriander seeds, 2 tbsp whole allspice, 2 tbsp dill seeds, 1 tsp whole cloves, and 1 tbsp crushed red pepper. I added extra crushed red pepper because I LOVE spice. Make a pouch out of cheese-cloth, pour your boil seasoning into the pouch, and tie closed - this allows the spices to infuse the water without having the spices floating all in your water and getting random little chunks in your food... kind of like a giant tea bag! (

Part 2: Emeril's Essence Creole Seasoning
 If you're going to make ANY cajun/creole food, you might as well get some help from the master, right? Emeril Lagasse!
Emeril's recipe: mix 2 1/2 tbsp paprika, 2 tbsp salt, 2 tbsp garlic powder, 1 tbsp black pepper, 1 tbsp onion powder, 1 tbsp cayenne pepper, 1 tbsp dried oregano, 1 tbsp dried thyme. For my recipe, I actually halved the salt so I can control it more myself. I think next time I make this I will actually leave out the salt completely, so I can add a lot more yummy flavor whenever I want without adding too much salt. (

Part 3: Let's get boiling!
1. Fill a large stockpot with water. Throw in your pouch of cajun crab boil seasoning, the whole garlic bulb, the whole lemon, the whole onion, a handful of bay leaves, and a bottle of beer. I took this opportunity to clean out my fridge a little - threw in some partially used lemons and onions that were sitting in the fridge already sliced open and a bottle of Newcastle IPA that has been sitting in the fridge for forever because no one wanted to drink it.... Us San Diegans are super spoiled by all of our AWESOME craft breweries.... I'm not drinking Newcastle IPA... If you can even call it IPA... You can barely taste the hops! ANYWAYS, let me stop my rambling and get on to the next step...
2. Let the water get to a strong boil and let it continue boiling for about 20 minutes so the water can infuse with all those delicious flavors
3. Season your water with salt to taste.
4. While the flavors in the water are building up, let's make our sauce! This is all to taste. Mix a lot of butter and minced garlic in a pan (I used about 2 sticks of butter and a whole bulbs worth of minced garlic, but I had a lot of seafood to cook). Melt the butter and turn down the heat to very low to let the garlic infuse its flavor in to the butter (10-15 minutes). Once the flavor has been infused, zest a couple lemons (I used three) and add the zest to the butter and garlic. Continue to infuse at low heat for another 5 minutes. Juice those lemons and add to the butter mixture then turn off the heat. Add a couple tablespoons of Emeril's Essence Creole Seasoning to season. Set aside.
4. Let's get back to the boiling! If your pot has one of those built in strainers that's like a separate pot with holes in it that you fit inside the other pot (sorry if that's hard to explain), I would use that to easily strain out your seafood, corn, potatoes, and sausage. You can leave all of the boiling water seasonings UNDER the strainer, so it doesn't get mixed in with the food you will actually eat.
5. Throw the corn, potatoes, and sausage in to the boiling water. These take the longest to cook, so they should start cooking first. Boil these until cooked, about 10-15 minutes.
6. If your pot is large enough, you can throw in all your seafood! I had about 10lbs of seafood and only a regular stove sized large stockpot, so I did mine in batches. Also, since some of my seafood was already cooked, I thought it would be a good idea to do each of them separately to accommodate for their different cooking times and prevent over-cooking. Chewy, over-cooked seafood is yuck!! Shrimp should only take about 3 minutes - remove immediately when they have all just turned pink! They will stay hot and continue to cook for a minutes after taking them out, so PLEASE do not overcook!! Since my crawfish and crab legs were already partially cooked, I let the water come back to a rolling boil then threw these in until they were heated through (crab took a little longer since they were bigger) - maybe only 1-2 minutes.
7. Pour all your goodies (corn, potatoes, sausage, shrimp, crawfish, and crab legs) in to a large dish or bag and set aside.
8. Return to your garlic, lemon, creole seasoning, butter sauce. Add some of the nicely seasoned boiling liquid to your sauce until the consistency is to your liking. I probably added a cup or two of the boiling liquid to my sauce, but then again... I had a lot of food. Add more Emeril's Essence Creole Seasoning until the flavor is to your liking (I love strong flavors and spiciness, so this is why I realized I should have left the salt out of Emeril's recipe... I kept wanting to add more of his seasoning, but it was starting to get too salty!). You can also add any creole-style hot sauce or just straight cayenne to add extra spice. Salt to taste, if needed. Making the sauce is all to taste - adjust levels of butter, garlic, lemon, creole seasoning, boiling liquid, and spice to your own tastes.
9. When you're finished with the sauce pour it all over your bowl or in to your bag of seafood and toss around to coat well.
10. Dig in, get messy, and eat!
Me and my creation!! We made one more spicy tray and one less spicy tray. My boyfriend and I were monsters and ate about 2/3 of the spicy tray ourselves. The less spicy tray fed four family members with half of the tray still leftover - I have a feeling they were afraid of getting messy so they didn't eat as much. We served ours with Ballast Point beers (YAYY SAN DIEGO BEERS!), grilled garlic bread, and salad. Did I even touch the salad? No... I know... Bad... But my hands were too messy... Lol.

Here's the damage by just me and my boyfriend... Our huge pile of shells... Dangerous...

Happy eating!

Simple Late-Night Dessert

Here's a sweet, yummy dessert I made a little while ago.

This is probably about 1/2 or 3/4 of a cup of nonfat, plain yogurt, about 1/8 of a teaspoon each of vanilla extract and almond extract, stevia to taste, and a few blackberries. Really yummy and I LOVE the flavor of sweet almonds with berries MMMMMMMM.

Instagram: @margomangooo

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"Kale salad w persimmon, pomegranate, parsley, green onion, lemon, and olive oil. LOVE these fall fruits!!"

Instagram: @margomangooo

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"Maple spice TVP oatmeal w apples, pecans, and flaxseed. Low calorie, high fiber, high protein, and yummy!"

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Instagram: @margomangooo

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"My lazy cooking and ridiculously low calorie dinner. Under 50 calories and somehow pretty filling! Shirataki noodles, dashi stock, miso, curry powder, soy sauce, sriracha, sesame oil, and pepper. Wish I had some green onions though..."

Thursday, November 8, 2012


Today's lunch = leftover grilled turkey burger with burger patty with with whole grain mustard, red chili flakes, onion, romaine, tomato, and avocado (no bread) with a low fat cheddar stick on the side!

No pic because it looks ugly... but it's yummy!! :)

Instagram: @margomangooo

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"Resisting the pastries that someone brought in to the office... Went for some blackberries and yummy tea sweetened with stevia instead to satisfy my sweet craving and keep me from giving in. So glad my company started paying for fresh fruit and healthy snack to be stocked up in the office!"

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Instagram: @margomangooo

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"First time breaking wood! Here's my broken boards!! Not all in the same hit though... Yet! Hahahaha... Maybe... Not... Someday lol"

Instagram: @margomangooo

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"One of my fav snacks and it's still pretty healthy!! It's fake junk food!! Trader Joe's: whole grain mini rye toasts w spinach kale Greek yogurt dip"

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Instagram: @margomangooo

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"Homemade Emeril's Essence Creole Seasoning (I halved the salt so I can control the saltiness myself). Going to use this to season the sauce for our seafood boil! Plan is to slow simmer lots of garlic and lemon zest in butter then add this creole seasoning, fresh lemon juice, and hot sauce to taste yummmm"

Instagram: @margomangooo

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"Spice blend for tomorrow's seafood boil day! Mustard seed, allspice, chili flakes, coriander, dill seeds, and cloves. Will use this along w bay leaves, lemon, garlic, and beer to season the water mmmmmmm!"

Instagram: @margomangooo

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"Beautiful day in a beautiful city. Why would I want to take the highway when I can take the scenic route home instead?"

Instagram: @margomangooo

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"Look at ALL these spices I got for super cheap!! I love shopping at Sprouts."

Instagram: @margomangooo

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"Shrimp, crawfish, and crab legs... Guess what we're planning this weekend?? CAJUN SEAFOOD BOIL!!!"