{Recipe} Healthier Buffalo Chicken Mac ‘n Cheese

I am always looking for new recipes to try, especially ones that are a healthier option and will be good for dinner and leftover lunch for a couple days. I recently came across a recipe and decided to modify it and make it my own. I have to say it turned out DELICIOUS!!





  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breast (trim fat)
  • 1 jar Texas Pete Mild Buffalo Wing Sauce
  • 1 box Whole Grain Rotini
  • 2 1/4 cups Reduced Fat Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 1/2 cup Whole Grain Panko Breading
  • 1 1/2 cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 cup Fat Free Milk
  • Onion Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Pepper


Put chicken and jar of buffalo wing sauce in slow cooker on low for 5 hours. When done, it will shred very easily. After you shred, mix in some of the sauce from the slow cooker. More sauce = more flavor, depending on your liking.

Cook box of rotini as per directions, al dente, and drain.

In large pot, cook chicken broth and milk until almost a boil, about 5 minutes. Add onion powder, garlic powder, and pepper. Add in cheese (keep 1/4 cup of cheese aside) and whisk until melted.

Place pasta in a large 9×13 casserole dish coated with cooking spray. Add shredded chicken. Pour cheese sauce and mix until all coated.

Sprinkle panko breading and remaining 1/4 cup of cheese on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until golden brown.



Ready to go in oven!


**I made the chicken the day before and let it set overnight which I think really helped keep the buffalo flavor.


 What is your favorite ingredient for a healthy meal?

Catching up on the weekend…

One day, I would love to have longer weekends. A 5-day weekend and 2-day work week would be fabulous. <sigh> A girl can dream, right? I guess the second best thing is to have a great weekend and enjoy every minute. This past was weekend was just that…

After a mile run Saturday morning, hubby and I went to Fit2Run so he could have a gait analysis done for new running shoes. He is now the proud owner of a pair of Asics Gel Nimbus. I love that he wants to run with me, it’s another way we can spend quality time together. After shoe shopping, we headed to Hooters for lunch with our friend Ashley. It was such a nice day, we sat outside. What is it about a good meal, ice cold beer, and nice weather that makes the perfect lunch?




We also ran into this adorable face at lunch… My most adorable niece! Her mom and dad apparently had the same idea for lunch after purchasing tickets for Autumns upcoming dance recital.




After lunch, we went into Wal-Mart as quick as possible, and then headed home for a a couple of lazy hours. Later, hubby went to a graduation party and I met my mom at Ozona Pig for dinner. Seriously, my favorite pulled pork ever. And deviled eggs. And green beans. Yea, it’s THAT good….

After BBQ heaven, we headed up to Crystal Beach for sunset, it was the 4th after all. We love to get up there about an hour before sunset and enjoy the breeze and the view. There are always dogs up there, since it’s right in the midst of a small community. We see many of the same people up there every month. It never gets old. This particular evening, the sky was a gorgeous blue when we arrived and then as the sun set, the clouds rolled in. Every sunset is always unique.


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On Sunday morning, hubby and I headed to Memorial Causeway for an early run. There is something so calming about a run as the sun is rising. It’s not something I can do during the week, so it’s a treat to do on Sunday. I ran a a full 3.20 miles without music.

A late breakfast at home, some blogging, reading, and a nice nap, and then it was time to head out to family dinner to celebrate my mom’s birthday was which Friday. She wanted to go to Longhorn Steakhouse which made everyone happy. Another food my family loves is steak! I also tried the Skinny Blackberry Sangria which was VERY good. I would definitely have it again.



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And how do you follow up a nice birthday dinner? A trip to Cold Stone of course! Conveniently, there is one right behind Longhorn so we walked. I had Chocolate Fudge Brownie Frozen Yogurt…. Oh yummy chocolate gooey Oreo goodness in a cup. I should have taken a picture of it. But, I did take a picture of cutie-pie Autumn with her cotton candy ice cream and being silly with her Uncle Mike. Fun times!


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Hubby and I ended the evening at home and watched The Blind Side. Obviously we are way behind on seeing it since it came out in 2009, but it was such a good movie! Perfect end to a great weekend.


What is your favorite way to spend a weekend?

Yelp Fits The Bill at Fitlife Foods!

It has been too long since I’ve been to a Yelp Elite event so I was happy to make it this one. Hubby tagged along with me, he’s my favorite +1 to take along. Fitlife Foods has been on my list of places to try for awhile. There are plenty to choose from in the area – St. Pete, Clearwater, and Tampa, all easy to get to. The Elite event was at the South Tampa location.



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If you are not familiar with Fitlife Foods, they provide freshly prepared meals and snacks, all made in house with fresh ingredients. There are different size options (small, medium, large, or one size). They also have customized wellness solutions to fit your goals and time schedule, designed to best suit your needs.






I was very impressed by this location and the kitchen and food prep area. We were spoiled with an assortment of foods to sample and tempt our taste buds. From Sicilian Chicken Meatballs to their Signature Nacho Cheese Queso Dip, a Chili Lime Dip, and an AMAZING Snickerdoodle Cookie…. It was all delicious and extremely fresh.



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I was also impressed to learn that they cut their meats and fish IN the cooler. We met “Polar Bear” Mike who works in there all day! They have large walk-in refrigerators and freezers and a very clean kitchen area. All of this means that the meals we purchase will be very fresh and full of flavor. Served in recyclable plastic containers, each meal is labeled with nutritional info and the “Best By” date, no more than 3 days out.




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Since I follow Weight Watchers, I was calculating the points of a couple meals using the nutritional info. They made my day when they offered me a list of their meals with “points” calculated! It couldn’t be any easier! From breakfast to burgers, full meals with sides, sauces, and desserts, it is all very well planned out. I look forward to trying the meals we brought home and can’t wait to go back!


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As with the other Yelp events I’ve had the pleasure of attending, there was plenty of Yelp Swag and we were once again treated well with Fitlife samples and goodies to bring home. My blogging friends Katrina, Grace, and Caroline were there, but I was a bad blogger and didn’t get any photos of us! I also met new Yelp Elite member, Dianna. it’s always fun to meet new people at this events.

Thank you Fitlife Foods and Yelp for a nice evening and delicious foods!


Have you been to Fitlife Foods or a similar type service? What is your favorite meal? Let me know!

Weekly Meal Planning ~ 04/06/13

In a perfect world, I go grocery shopping once a week, on the weekend. Sometimes we are so busy that doesn’t happen and I end up making multiple trips during the week and I buy too much of what I don’t need and not enough of what we actually do need. Yesterday morning all stars were aligned when I had the ability to go grocery shopping right after my WW meeting. As if that weren’t exciting enough, I took time Friday night to make a list so I was prepared.

I love to meal plan when I can. It makes the week easier when I am crazy busy and it’s one less thing that I have to worry about. I also love to make meals that create lunches the next day. It saves money and some meals are even better left over. Thank goodness hubby likes leftovers!

I don’t go quite as far as deciding what to have on a certain day, but I do plan enough for a full week and then decide the day before what to have the next day. That way if I need to take chicken out of the freezer, I can. Our schedules can vary during the week, depending on work, working out, or plans we may have.

I thought first that I would share what I bought at the store this week. It was a pretty big shopping trip and took me a good hour – another reason I love going on a weekend morning before the store gets busy.

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When I meal plan, it’s for dinner. Lunches are prepped from those meals or I’ll have a salad with either chicken or tuna. Snacks on hand are always baby carrots and hummus, grapes, bananas, etc… We also always have frozen veggies in the freezer to have with any meal.

I will say that the meals I make during the week are somewhat determined by what is on sale that week. Like this week, boneless skinless chicken breasts are on sale at Publix. I bought 3 packages. Whatever I don’t need for meals, I freeze for future use. Also, I freeze one chicken breast per bag so I can take out whatever I need for one of us or both of us. The pork roast was also on sale.

So, what do I intend to make this week with all this? I’m pretty excited about it….


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I made the pulled pork for dinner last night and there is enough to have again for dinner tonight. I am all about things being easy AND trying to eat healthy. For dessert, we are still hooked on pineapple cake. It’s so light and lasts the whole week. I  made another one last night! I keep wanting to try it as cupcakes but I haven’t yet.

A great source of recipes is Skinnytaste. The Italian Sloppy Joe’s recipe is from there, although I did modify it and I cook it on a skillet, not a slow cooker. The panko chicken is a WW recipe. The pulled pork recipe I now use has been tweaked several times (I used to make it with BBQ sauce and now I don’t). Here are my recipes for a few of this week’s meals…


Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork

  • Boneless Boston Butt Pork Roast (3-4 pounds)
  • Fresh garlic, sliced
  • 1 can chicken broth

Cut small holes in top of roast and insert garlic slices. Add can of chicken broth. Cook on low for 7 hours. When it’s done, I shred it with a fork and discard the fat. Put in a casserole dish and add a little of the chicken broth to it so it doesn’t dry out when you reheat it. Top with your favorite BBQ dressing if you like. I love Sticky Fingers Carolina BBQ Sauce.


Italian Sloppy Joe’s (my version)

  • 1 package Italian Turkey Sausage
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • Pepper

Remove sausage from casing and crumble as it cooks, till brown. Add garlic, onions, and pepper (to taste) and cook for a few more minutes. Add green and red peppers and cook a few more minutes. Add can of crushed tomatoes and simmer on medium heat for about 10 minutes. You can serve on rolls, we skip the bread and enjoy it without.


Baked Chicken

  • Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
  • Olive Oil (I use an olive oil sprayer and do one full spray per chicken breast which is 1 point in WW world)
  • Basil

Drizzle chicken breast with olive oil and sprinkle with basil. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes (for 2 breasts). This chicken comes out very tender and juicy!


Panko Chicken

  • Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
  • Plain Panko breading
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp. Paprika
  • Basil
  • Pepper

In large bowl, mix Panko breading, parmesan cheese, basil, and pepper. In another bowl, put egg to dip chicken in. Coat both sides of chicken with breading mix after you dip in egg. Cover a cookie sheet with foil and coat with oil spray. Bake for about 40 minutes (for 2 breasts).


Not every week is a planned out as this one, so I’ll share when I can!


Do you meal plan? What is your number one reason for meal planning?

WW Weigh-In #13

Confession: I did not track my meals the whole time my aunt was here. After tracking religiously since the day I went back to WW, this seemed really wrong to me. We ate out A LOT, kept really busy, kept Starbucks in business, had sinful dessert in Tarpon Springs, enjoyed wine, played cards, and ate amazing home cooked meals. I do not regret one single minute of my indulgence and I certainly wouldn’t change it. Last week, I was up a pound which I absolutely expected but I was ecstatic with as I thought it would be more.

So this week, I figured I was really in trouble. The week before, I had run the Sarasota Half Marathon and we walked around Universal Studios one day. I knew that was my saving grace. This last week, I ran two days, which helped, in addition to keeping busy. My hands got a work out playing cards. That’s about it – not stellar.

When my aunt went home on Wednesday, I knew I had to immediately get back to tracking and preparing my meals. And honestly, I was ready for it. I function much better with routine. Spontaneity is not for me. I need a plan, and then a back-up plan in case the first plan doesn’t work.

The day after she left, I was back to bringing my lunch and snacks, skipped the Starbucks and used my Keurig in the morning, and made it back to hot yoga. I did the same on Friday, including the hot yoga class. Jumping back into the routine that has been successful for me the last 3 months is exactly what I needed.

When I went to my WW meeting this morning and walked up to the scale, I believe my exact words were “I’m afraid”. I still wasn’t regretting my indulgence, but I was very curious to see what kind of damage it did.

Drumroll, please….


WW Weekly weigh-in Week 13


What?! I lost 1.6 pounds! How does that happen? Talk about a mood-lifter! However, my favorite meeting receptionist Marilyn quickly told me to be careful this week, and she’s right. Here’s hoping all that indulgence doesn’t show up this coming week!


Things I did right this week are:

  • Regardless of all the things I did wrong, I made sure to drink plenty of water.
  • Thursday and Friday, I jumped right back into tracking, making breakfast and lunch, keeping snacks on hand, and having a healthy dinner.
  • Went back to hot yoga. It’s amazing how quickly your body becomes accustomed to an activity, and then when you don’t go for awhile, it forgets. It was definitely great to get back to my yoga practice.


What I will focus on this week:

  • Getting back to meal planning. Always having foods on hand for breakfast, lunch, and dinner is a huge help.
  • Back to splurging or eating out only once or twice a week. Tonight we are going to a wedding where there is sure to be amazing food and drinks, and then tomorrow we are going out to dinner for my sister’s birthday. I know I can indulge every so often and I will be fine.
  • Back to the beach early tomorrow morning for bridge repeats – the Iron Girl Half Marathon is in just 2 weeks!
  • I would love to make it to hot yoga three times this week. My unlimited month ends on Friday and I want to make the most of it. I really love it, even when I am a hot mess. (note to self: wash off the eye makeup before class…)


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Not too bad on the ActiveLink this week…. 24 points for the week – 2 runs, 2 walks (yes, I count walking the dogs!), and 2 days at hot yoga.


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So that’s that! As always, I’m excited about the weekend and NOT working for two days. I am also looking forward to getting back to my routine and then running tomorrow. It works for me!


Have you taken time off from your healthy eating? Regardless of the results, how did it make you feel?