Archive for the ‘What I ate for Lunch’ Category

When you are an important executive, like myself, you may one day find yourself with two vital pieces of office machinery in your private work suite. These items are: a microwave and a mini-fridge. The mini-fridge is especially indispensable for filing away your most important files (a 6 pack of Bud Light), and the microwave is critical to your overall desktop dining experience, lending its magical heating powers to your favorite new work lunch: the Refried Bean Surprise. Allow me to tell you how this delightful dish came to pass.

I’ve recently re-joined Weight Watchers – that Jessica Simpson got me all pumped about the Simple Start two week program:

Ok, this body has made zero amazing little human beings, however, it’s eaten a lot of amazing donuts & pizza and drank its fair share of booze, which is sort of like the same thing. 

Enter the Weight Watchers Simple Start program. It’s easy – eat until you’re satisfied from a prescribed list of Power Foods, lose weight. Take 7 Points Pluses a day for fun stuff not included in the list, like doughnuts and booze.

Weight Watchers Simple Start List of Power Foods

Weight Watchers Simple Start List of Power Foods

It really is that simple – and it works. I lost 3.2 pounds in my first week; I’ll keep you posted on the results of the second week.

But what I’m really getting at here is that my favorite “Power Food” from the list is fat free refried beans, specifically the Old El Paso spicy ones. These mushed up beauties are an essential source of protein and deliciousness in my new simple diet. Combine them with almost any meat, a sprinkle of fat free cheese (it’s as disappointing as you might imagine), a liberal dousing of hot sauce, some fat free Greek yogurt to top it off, and you’ve got yourself a truly respectable office meal. It’s like a tostada without all the best parts, but with cheese that almost melts – kind of. Just look at this thing of beauty – yes, I know it’s hard to believe, but I’m losing weight eating that.

Dining at my Desk Refried Bean Surprise

Refried Bean Surprise

At this point, I’m sure you’re dying to know what the surprise is. Well, the surprise is that fat free Greek yogurt does not taste exactly like sour cream, as promised by my best friend, Renee. The first day I tried it as a substitute was in a bowl of chili, resulting in a big blob of yogurt in my chili. Cool. That being said, the fat free Greek yogurt does work a little better in Mexican-themed dishes, especially if you put enough hot sauce on it.

If you’d like to try your hand at making Refried Bean Surprise in your own office, I’m sure you can figure it out for yourselves, but just in case, here’s the recipe:

Refried Bean Surprise – Weight Watchers Simple Start Approved

Ingredients (all Weight Watchers Power Foods):

  • Fat Free Refried Beans (you’ll need a can opener if you’re making this at your desk)
  • Meat (beef, chicken, pork) I used some sort of beef I found at Aldi they claimed was perfect for making a Mexican-sounding dish that I cannot remember. I found it to be a cross between ground beef and steak. I dumped some fajita seasoning in it and threw it in the crockpot.
  • Fat Free Cheese (ugh)
  • Hot Sauce (don’t skimp)
  • Fat Free Greek Yogurt (or fat free sour cream)

Fat Free Refried Bean Surprise


  • Put some refried beans on a plate. Spread them around in a pleasing fashion.
  • Put some meat on top of the beans.
  • Sprinkle a liberal dose of fat free cheese on top.
  • Heat in the microwave just long enough for the entire office to smell like Refried Bean Surprise, about 2 minutes.
  • Debate whether to put the hot sauce or the yogurt on first. I’m sure it doesn’t matter. Again, you can figure this out.
  • Optional toppings: I could see lettuce, tomato, onion and cilantro working nicely with this.



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Who here watches Top Chef? Oh, all 3 of my loyal, very patient readers? Perfect. Well, then I’m sure you remember Kristen Kish‘s revamped Crustless Chicken Pot Pie in Season 10. It rang a vague, dim bell for me in the frozen meals aisle of my local Dominick’s, when the Healthy Choice Steamer line was on sale 4/$10. I hadn’t seen this particular Steamer in the store before, so I figured I’d better pick it up with the intentions of blogging about it, then eating it at my desk and totally not blogging about it when I got home in lieu of watching reruns of Vanderpump Rules. Side note, I think we can all agree Bravo has the best programming lineup ever, am I right?

But…I feel inspired by this Healthy Choice Crustless Chicken Pot Pie Steamer – not because it’s really all that good, but because I’m curious about this Google Authorship business. I’ve been spending some serious time at work updating my company’s Google+ profile because I’m pretty sure it’s going to do great things for its SEO, and I’m pretty sure adding authorship to my blog content will also skyrocket me to instant success! Job offers will pour in, I’ll be booking speaking engagements and press tours in no time and will have to write my labor of love memoir/cookbook, which I imagine will be a cross between Sonja Morgan‘s toaster oven cookbook and Teresea Giudice’s “Fabulicious!”. Perhaps should stop watching so much TV.

Back to the topic at hand – this Crustless Pot Pie Steamer. Meh. I mean, you should try it, and I will actually probably try it again, just in case I actually do like it, but I was underwhelmed. This was the Top Chef Season 10 Elimination Challenge winner in Episode 9, “Past Suppers“? I’m sure Healthy Choice got a hold of it and it went something like this:

Healthy Choice executive: “Kristen, this dish is nice and all, but have you thought about using a bland, mildly revolting, translucent sauce as your base? I’m just saying…. Oh, and have you thought about adding pearl onions? We really like pearl onions around here.

Healthy Choice Crustless Chicken Pot Pie

Yeah, the translucent sauce is the base of this Steamer, but it does seem to have a better flavor this time around. Described by Healthy Choice as ” juicy chicken breast tenderloins with carrots, corn, peas, and tender dumplings, all in a savory pot pie sauce,” one instantly hones in on “tender dumplings” and gets oneself pretty pumped for this crustless crust. And then oneself is pretty damn disappointed, because the tender dumplings taste like the outside of a Wow Bao, and we all know the best part of the Wow Bao is the bbq pork inside. You wouldn’t just eat the outside of a Wow Bao, would you? The answer is no, you would not.

I would like to say the corn was really excellent in this Steamer. It seemed fresh and delicious, and the chicken wasn’t in the least bit disgusting. It just overall lacked flavor, but I’d be willing to give it another try, just to make sure. In the meantime, I’m going to get back to these DVR’ed episodes of I Dream of Nene. Oh, and if someone stumbles across this blog, it seems I’d also be willing to get famous writing reviews of Bravo reality shows.

Healthy Choice Crustless Chicken Pot Pie Nutrition Facts:


FAT: 6g



SODIUM: 560mg


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Um, I finally entered the 2000ies and got a smart phone. Not that the dumbphone wasn’t great – obviously it’s awesome to take 1000x longer to text because your inbox is always 99% full, not have access to your email, and not be able to take pictures!

But now I’ve got a super smart, fancy phone with what appears to be a really great camera. I mean, look at this salad (which I totally made at my desk)! You might not be able to see it once WordPress shrinks it down (click to enlarge), but the details are spectacular! I can count the grains of pepper!

So long dumbphone, and look forward to much, much better pictures from now on!

ps. I just went to New Orleans WITH the smartphone (well, and some friends) and I’ll be posting a very special Dining Away from the Desk: New Orleans soon…ish!

Desktop Salad

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Something happened during March. Well, a few things. I managed not to post a single blog, I totally fell off the Weight Watchers bandwagon and I tripped, fell and tumbled quite un-gracefully to my knees while running on one of the busiest streets in Chicago. Fabulous. I quickly mumbled an incoherent f-bomb, then recovered enough to speed-limp away from the stares of the gaping hipsters. Only, my leg hurt. My knees were bloody and my hands were missing some skin, but the real problem was my left leg – some sort of muscle behind my knee felt pretty terrible. That thing hurt (badly), but I stupidly pressed on, determined to hightail it to Kmart to redeem some coupons. This was probably a mistake, as that thing still kind of hurts, but hey, I’m set on Ziploc bags for the next year. A torn muscle is a small price to pay for such a luxury.

So I took two weeks off running, and 3ish weeks off my diet, because that makes good sense. I sunk so low that I managed to have McDonalds twice before 8 a.m. the other day, and I probably single-handedly kept the Reese’s Pieces Easter egg factory in business this year. Damn, those little eggs are good.

Reese's Pieces Easter Eggs

But, like always, I’ve got to reign things in and make an effort to throw away that gigantic bag of fried cheese balls I accidentally bought yesterday. Luckily, things over at Lean Cuisine seem to be on the right track, too. Instead of making things that people sort of dread to eat, they’re making things that are fun to eat, like cheesy dips and spring rolls. I live for dips and foods in the shape of taquitos, so it’s no wonder that both the Spinach Artichoke Dip and Thai-Style Chicken Spring Rolls get my big stamp of approval.

Lean Cuisine Spinach & Artichoke Dip

Mmmm, dip. I ate this the other night after I had an early dinner of the new Dorito Taco Loco from Taco Bell (more on that later). I was hungry, but not starving, so thought this would be a sensible option. Notice how I cut that pita bread into 4 chunks, not the mere 3 pictured on the box (genius). You might not be able to tell, but that’s actually a pretty large amount of dip. In fact, there was even dip left over when I was done, and I am NOT just putting a smattering of dip on my bite of pita. I’m double dipping all day long, and basically just using the pita in lieu of a spoon. This dip is delicious, tastes like something you’d get at a restaurant, and will cost you just 5 Points Pluses for one pita and one dip (2 come in a box). It makes an awesome snack, and would be perfect with a small salad or veggies for lunch.

Next up are my new favorite, Thai-Style Chicken Spring Rolls. Let’s have a look:

Lean Cuisine Thai Chicken Spring Rolls

Disclaimer, they do not come with those multi-colored pepper strips; I merely added those for garnish and nutritional benefit in the days when I actually cared about eating a vegetable. Alright, listen, I’m not getting paid in free Lean Cuisines or anything, but these spring rolls are insanely good. They have a bit of a coconut zing to them, which I love. They, too, are only 5 Points Pluses for 3, and are another excellent snack/late night after bar option, or nice for lunch with a side of veg. I even served them to my intern a few weeks ago, and he agreed that they’re great. I highly recommend you pick them up next time you’re in the “Single Dinners” section of the frozen foods aisle.

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I’m getting in that winter mode where I cannot for the life of me tell you what the actual date is. I can generally tell you the day of the week, but the corresponding numerical date has been lost on me until spring. I know there are weekends, but they’ve been assigned “first, second, second to last and last.” So, anyway, it seems weird when I have to write down the date…like in a blog title.

Dining at my Desk

Alright, let’s look at this lunch! Look at all that food! Unlike some people who subsist on mere snacks, like a handful of nuts or a piece of string cheese for lunch, I’m into volume eating. One of the best parts about being on Weight Watchers is that this is actually encouraged. Of course, you’re supposed to fill up on fruits and veggies, so if that’s what I have to do to get into Camille Grammer shape, well, damn it, I suppose….I mean, ah crap, I can at least try. So I went grocery shopping over the weekend, and instead of just piling my groceries on the counter and then watching crappy reality tv for an extended bit, I put everything away, and then forced myself to prepare and portion out healthy options for this coming week. And then, in a stroke of sheer genius, I even wrote myself a note so that I wouldn’t forget all these healthy snacks in my fridge, like I’m so often wont to do.

I used my new favorite method of hard boiling and peeling eggs from my new favorite pastime (hint, hint – it’s Pinterest), I packed up some multicolored peppers (on sale at Aldi for $1.39/3 pack this week), threw in one of those Starkist tuna salad pouches I’m obsessed with, plunked down a handful of grape tomatoes (also from Aldi), and served this up with some fat free ranch (not nearly as good as the “light,” but I bet Camille Grammer doesn’t even know what salad dressing is) and whatever that mango wasabi stuff is. I found it on clearance the other day at Jewel, and being unable to resist red clearance tags in combination with 5 calorie/serving wasabi, made this exciting purchase. Yeah, it’s a little weird, but research shows me that a cranberry wasabi sauce is also available, and I would really like to try it!

Alright, let’s break this down – 2 pts/egg + 2 pts for the tuna salad + 0 pts for the veggies + 0 pts if you use the ranch sparingly + 0 pts for the wasabi + 0 pts for the ketchup for the eggs (DISCLAIMER – I eat a ton of ketchup. Yes, I realize that it’s all sugary and probably deceptively high in points. I also realize that in the grand scheme of things, if I were to count my ketchup points, I would be a horrible person to be around. It’s a give and take, people. I also apply this theory to spray butter and fat free coffee creamer. Let’s put it this way – I’m no stranger to the pleasures of Taco Bell, McDonalds, KFC and every comfort food, candy, cookie and alcoholic beverage known to man. Trust me – it’s not the ketchup that’s making me fat). Anyhow, that’s a 6 pt lunch, and it looks kind of pretty and fulfilled my volume consumption requirements.

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One of my most favorite apps is It’s your horoscope, only translated from French, so sometimes things don’t always come across…as intended. A few of my favorites have been when it suggested my hair was dull and lifeless and to remedy this by starting an intensive vitamin regimen, and when it basically told me I had cankles. So, yes, let’s agree, this thing knows me. Knows me so well that here is today’s wellness forecast:


Well, that last part isn’t exactly true, but “gobble down astronomical amounts of food”…spooky.

So, yes, I’m back on Weight Watchers, and I’ve been mostly kicking ass. I’m down 6.8 from the height of my Christmas cookie consumption glory days, my pants are going on with a minimal amount of squats and lunges, and I seem to have lost that attractive fat face look I’m prone to getting in photos.

But old habits die hard, and it’s so easy to assume you have enough weekly points for half of your friend’s movie theater popcorn that you buttered yourself, even using a straw to deliver butter to the lower layers. Hot damn I love movie theater “butter.” The worst part? No, it wasn’t the suffering/sleeping through entirely too much Jar Jar Binks, although easily a very close second. I packed my own snacks and abandoned them entirely. One portion controlled bag of cheese popcorn (4 points pluses), two Cuties (0 points) and one Coke Zero. I’m such an idiot.

And let’s talk yesterday’s lunch. See, yesterday was Valentine’s Day, and Tuesday – realtor open house day. Chicken salad with guacamole (!) in my favorite little garlicky pita day. Mini cupcake day. (Flowers courtesy of my new office manager – so nice!):

Chicken Salad Pita

Ah, actually not so bad, right? Well, I couldn’t wait to eat one of those pitas, so one is absent from the photo as the photographer was busy eating it as fast as humanly possible. Amount of Points? Indeterminate, as I just didn’t care at the moment. And the not caring extended into the evening, when I ate a sensible meal…and then another sensible meal, with a pause for a lot of chips and hummus and capped off by…just guess…cereal. Luckily it was just one of those little boxes, but, still. This is not exactly how you run a clean Weight Watchers program.

So, today is a new day and the true beginning of my WW week. We’ll let last night fall into that weird twilight zone between weighing in and starting the next day/week of points, and sorry, I can still eat quite a bit. I just have to promise to care and promise to track it.

ps Couldn’t Have Said it Better Myself is my favorite Meatloaf song (just over 7 minutes of epicness) AND I’m having meatloaf for lunch. Full circle.

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