Valentine’s Weekend: Healthy Comfort Food for the Heart

Let’s face it, we all know that Valentine’s Day really extends into Valentine’s Weekend. And, for all intensive purposes of this post, I had a hott dinner date with my DVR filled with Modern Family and the Mindy Project! Being Valentine’s weekend and all, I was really in the mood for something decadent and comforting…something like baked mac and cheese?? (Insert mischievous face here). However, the leftover cauliflower in the fridge got the best of me. And so, since I’m still trying to stick with this healthy cooking challenge, I attempted to make a healthy baked cauliflower mac and cheese. And boy, did it hit the spot…or should I say heart? 😉

I made this in an individual baking dish and it turned out perfectly. I’m proud to say the picture (and recipe) is actually mine this time! 🙂 This is so simple and easy to make, it’s going to be addicting. Thankfully, you can indulge in this dish guilt-free!

Single Serve Baked Cauliflower Mac-and-Cheese

Disclaimer: the listed ingredient measurements are approximate, because I just threw together what I had. Also, this recipe makes quite a bit. I couldn’t finish all of it, even though I wanted to!

  • 1.5 cups chopped cauliflower
  • 1 cup shredded fat free cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup organic skim milk
  • 2 strips organic reduced fat turkey bacon
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 tsp flour
  • Dash of ground mustard (or dijon mustard)
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • Salt/pepper to taste


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a pot, bring water to a boil. Add chopped cauliflower and cook for 10-15 minutes until cauliflower is soft.

2. While cauliflower is cooking, in a separate skillet, cook the two strips of turkey bacon over medium heat. Remove cooked bacon from the skillet and set aside to cool. When the bacon is cooled, chop it into tiny pieces.

3. In the same skillet that the bacon was cooked, heat the milk over medium heat for a few minutes. Add the butter and let it melt, constantly mixing. Add the dashes of nutmeg and ground mustard. Season with salt and pepper to taste! Finally, mix in the flour and stir for a few minutes until the sauce thickens. Add the cheese to the sauce and let it melt until is forms a thick gooey deliciousness (you’ll know what I mean)!

4. Drain cauliflower and return to pot. Pour the sauce over the cauliflower and mix to combine. Stir in bacon bits, and mix everything together breaking up cauliflower into bite sized chunks. I like to give it a quick taste here to make sure everything is yummyyy.

5. Pour mixture into a single serve oven proof dish. Sprinkle the top with cheese and bake at 350°F for 7-12 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

For a total of 355 calories, there is no way you can’t enjoy this dish! Seriously, your tummy is going to be so happy. Wishing everyone a Happy Healthy Valentine’s Weekend! ❤

How did you spend your Valentine’s Day/Weekend? Did anyone try out some new recipes with their significant other? Share your adventures in the comments below 🙂


Healthy Cooking Challenge

This past week, I set a new goal for myself to make at least one new healthy dish per week. For me, the most difficult part about maintaining a healthy lifestyle is having a variety in the food I’m eating and finding time to actually prepare the food (mostly the ladder). While there are tons of resources for finding healthy recipes, there is very little cooking advice for people like me: single, working, attending school, and on a tight budget. Not to mention moonlighting as a titleholder in the Miss America Organization, which means a lot of my free time is spent volunteering, promoting my platform, and being actively involved in my community–all while living an active and healthy lifestyle. This also means the last thing I want to do when I come home is cook for myself; thus began my healthy cooking for one challenge. I’m hoping this helps me find ways to make cooking for myself a little easier (and fun)!

Let me first start off by saying that I am so happy I set this goal for myself because this first week’s dish was amazing and the experience was even more so! Ever since I found out there would be a P.F. Chang’s opening in Syracuse, I could not stop thinking about their chicken lettuce wraps. They’ve literally been taunting me in my dreams. After googling “healthy lettuce wraps recipes”, I decided to try out Joy Bauer’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps.

And boy, was it good. Really good. I’m talking “is this actually healthy” kinda good.


*Okay, so the picture isn’t actually mine, but they really did look like this and tasted even better!

Here are a few crucial things I learned this week while embarking on my healthy cooking for one challenge:

1. Plan ahead. This is much easier said than done. As for myself, I’m way more likely to cook earlier in the week because that’s when I’m most motivated. By the end of the week, I’m ready to throw in the towel and resort back to my lifeless (no pun intended) grilled chicken or skip dinner altogether and head straight for happy hour (come on, we’ve all done it).

2. Be smart about investing in ingredients. This recipe called for a lot of asian ingredients. Thankfully, I already had quite a few of them, but I don’t know if I would have made it otherwise because it would have been pricey! I was also mindful of prices while I was shopping. For example, I left out the cashews because they were an expensive ingredient; however, the upside to this was that it ultimately lessened the overall calorie count! Happy wallet and happy waist!

3. Prepare your ingredients. If you’ve ever watched the Food Network, you’ve probably noticed most of the chefs on television breeze through their recipes. This is because they have all of the ingredients chopped up and ready to go. To unleash the inner “Food Network Star” in me, I decided to put this into practice and prepare my veggies the night before. The lettuce wraps called for “finely diced” carrots, celery, peppers, water chestnuts, and scallions. I chopped up the veggies on Sunday night, which took me about 15 minutes, and stored them in a large container overnight. On Monday night after a long day of work, studying, and Bikram Yoga, I came home, threw the pre-chopped ingredients into my wok and had dinner in less than 12 minutes. There was no chance I would have made this if I hadn’t done the prep work before. I will definitely keep doing this because it was a huge time saver. And trust me, it’s worth it.

4. Make the entire recipe. I struggled a lot with this living alone and cooking for one. I would always try to half recipes and use the ingredients for something else, but one thing or another would always go to waste. This time, I made the whole recipe and it worked out really well! The entire recipe makes 6 cups of filling, so I froze 3 cups and refrigerated the other 3. I ate the entire dish over the course of one week: 3 lunches and 2 dinners to be specific! That may seem a little monotonous, but I spaced it out and changed it up for lunch to make it more like an asian salad by chopping up the lettuce and tossing it with the filling.

Shopping List

  • 1 pound organic ground chicken ($7.99)
  • Celery ($1.79)
  • 1 red pepper ($1.50)
  • Green Onions ($0.69)
  • Rice Vinegar ($2.50)
  • Plum sauce ($2.50)
  • 1 can water chestnuts ($0.69)
  • Lettuce head ($1.70)

I already had the following: sriracha (chili paste), soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and carrots (a staple veggie I buy weekly).

Total: $19.47 for 5 servings which comes to a grand total of $3.89 per serving! Honestly, you really can’t beat that.

Bottom Line: Love, love, love! For the price, taste, quality of ingredients, level of ease, and storage, I give this recipe 5 stars! I will definitely be making this again very soon and it will most likely become one of my staples. Overall, a successful first week of said challenge.

What about you? Do you have any tips or tricks when it comes to cooking for one? I’d love to hear what works for others. Post in the comments below! 🙂