Weight Watchers Mexican Brown Rice Casserole Review

Welcome back readers! Sorry I took the day off yesterday. By the end of the day, we were so zonked that we really didn’t feel like cooking. So, I looked up some different weight watchers fast food points and boy was I SHOCKED!

I guess I shouldn’t have been. I mean, fast food is notoriously bad for you. But MAN! But I’m glad for this, I guess. These points are really helping me see the nutrition value in different foods. When I see how many points some of my favorite fast food meals are, it makes me stop and think about how bad they must be for me. And then…I really don’t want to eat them as much.

Except for a cheesy gordita crunch (sub beans for meat if you’re a veggie head like me). I always want one of those bad boys!

I read this week that the Mcdonald’s pancake breakfast is something like 46 WW points! That’s like two whole days of points for me! GEEZ!!!

I definitely can’t be having that….

So, today I writing my review of Weight Watchers Mexican Brown Rice Casserole!

I have to say, I am pleasantly surprised by all of the WW meals we’ve been having. Not one of them has tasted bad. And that includes this casserole!

I was pretty hungry when I started cooking so I forgot to take a picture of the ingredients. Bad blogger! *slaps wrist* But that’s okay. I can still tell you our thoughts.

We couldn’t even taste that the rice was brown. In our house, we tend to stay away from brown rice because we aren’t a fan of the taste. But hey! Now we can eat brown rice and actually like it!

I ended up using some zucchini (still zero points) instead of spinach because that’s just what I was feeling. That change didn’t affect the point value so I was still good- and I enjoyed the meal more than I would have with spinach, I think. I highly recommend trying this substitution!

Weight Watchers Mexican Brown Rice Casserole

Weight Watchers Mexican Brown Rice Casserole

From the WW website:


  • 1 spray(s) cooking spray
  • 4 cup(s) long grain cooked brown rice
  • 1/4 cup(s) fat free salsa
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 15 oz canned refried beans
  • 10 oz frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 4 oz canned green chili peppers, mild, diced
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 10 oz chopped frozen spinach, or collard greens, thawed and set to drain in a strainer over a bowl
  • 3/4 cup(s) Weight Watchers Reduced Fat Mexican style blend shredded cheese, divided
  • 2 Tbsp cilantro, fresh, chopped (optional; for garnish)


Preheat oven to 375ºF. Coat a 2-quart rectangular, round or oval baking dish with cooking spray

In a large bowl, combine rice, salsa and cumin. Spoon 2 cups of rice mixture into prepared baking dish and spread out to evenly cover bottom of dish.

In another large bowl, combine refried beans, corn, chili peppers and chili power. Using a rubber spatula, scrape bean mixture on top of rice layer and smooth out top.

Squeeze out any excess water from spinach or collard greens and then spread on top of bean layer; sprinkle with 6 Tbsp cheese. Top with remaining rice mixture and smooth out top; sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Place casserole on a large rimmed baking sheet to catch any spillage. Bake until heated through and cheese is browned and bubbling, about 30 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro (if desired), cut into 6 pieces and serve.

Serving size: 1 piece”



This casserole is seriously delicious. The cumin and salsa taste really yummy with the rice, and the beans and corn added a nice creamy/crunchy texture. I will DEFINITELY be making this again and will continue to be in my weekly meal rotation!

We had a wonderful Cinco de Mayo together as a family. We went to a friend’s party and I had to avoid a plethora of delicious foods. However, I still managed to snack a good bit and stick to my point restrictions. I’m really proud of myself for being able to do that. It was HARD with all that bread and cheese laying around. Not to mention….MARGARITAS!!!

But even without margaritas, it was a good day. 😛


I’ll be updating you soon about other Weight Watchers meals i’m making and how we like them! Thanks for reading and for coming along on my weight loss journey! My stomach is definitely starting to feel a lot tighter so that’s a great sign!

I weigh in on Wednesday and I’ll let you know how that goes too!

Lots of love!

Ellen 🙂





Weight Watchers Strawberry French Toast Review & Weight Loss Surprise!

All I can say is YUM!!!

I really enjoyed making this recipe. It was extremely easy to cook and it didn’t take long at all! Those are the kinds of recipes that I love! Originally, I had planned to make the brown sugar pear french toast, but the strawberries called to me. <3



  • 2 cup(s) unsweetened frozen strawberries, very coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup(s) water
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 4 large egg(s)
  • 3/4 cup(s) fat free skim milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 8 slice(s) reduced-calorie whole wheat bread, or multi-grain
  • 2 spray(s) cooking spray

You start by mixing the strawberries (chopped) and water in a pot and cook them down until the strawberries are soft and juicy.

Weight Watchers Strawberry Compote

Weight Watchers Strawberry Compote

After it’s done cooking, you add in the sugar and let it dissolve.

Then, whisk the rest of the ingredients together. (other than the bread obviously…that would be weird).


Dip the bread into the egg mixture and cook the slices in a pan with no stick cooking spray.


Once you’re done cooking, top the french toast with the compote.

This recipe is only 4 points! It’s a really great option if you don’t have many points left for the day. Actually…it’s just a good option all around!

We love breakfast for dinner at our house so this will definitely go in my WW weekly rotation! That compote was…MMMMM…

I topped mine with some lite whipped topping too! I highly recommend doing this!

We will most definitely be making this again!

We also went to the grocery store so that I could pick up a few snacky items that are weight watcher friendly.

We stopped and got some fuel.

Mine was a tall very berry hibiscus tea that was 90 calories and 4 WW points. It was so refreshing and yummy! The perfect pick me up! The hub’s was…well…let’s just say not WW friendly. 😛


His and hers Starbucks drinks

Once again…I forgot to get the picture of everything all pretty in the cart. One day I’ll get that elusive picture. One day…

But I digress…

Here’s my healthy grocery haul!

My healthy weight watchers friendly grocery haul

My healthy weight watchers friendly grocery haul

I can’t wait to try those WW ice cream bars! I’m drooling just at the thought!

As far as my weight loss surprise….I’VE LOST 3 pounds!

I weighed myself and after only a short time (less than a week) I’ve managed to lose 3 whole pounds just by following the WW eating plan and walking on the treadmill. I WAS SHOCKED! AND SOOO EXCITED!

3 pounds may not seem like a lot but I…

1.) wasn’t expecting it


2.) am really proud of myself for losing any weight…no matter how much.

I can’t wait to see the results that I’m going to get in the future!

If you try the strawberry french toast, let me know how you like it! I’d love to hear your thoughts and what you think of the recipe.


1.) What kind of fruit compote would you want on your french toast?

2.) Have you tried any of the items in my grocery haul?

3.) How did you find my blog?

Lots of love!

Ellen 🙂


Weight Watchers Spicy Black Bean Soup & A Weight Loss Inspiration Chat

Hello readers! Thanks for coming back and visiting my little corner of the internet!

I started the weight watchers program yesterday and am trying out some of their recipes. I am a vegetarian and I was afraid that I wouldn’t have a lot of options. I was SO wrong! There are a ton of things that you can eat as a vegetarian on the weight watchers plan!

That includes this spicy black bean soup! And it’s delicious! Ours definitely had too much water in the recipe. It calls for 3 cups, but I will be adding less next time. Although, if we used the immersion blender it probably would have had a better consistency. However, the extra liquid didn’t ruin it for us. This soup has delicious flavorings! I especially liked the cumin in combination with the black beans. YUM!

Here’s how to make the Weight Watchers Spicy Black Bean Soup!


  • 5 spray(s) cooking spray
  • 2 cup(s), chopped uncooked onion(s)
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper(s), seeded and minced
  • 4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp bay leaf (I just used a bay leaf and took it out after cooking)
  • 5 cup(s) fat free vegetable broth
  • 3 cup(s) water, or more as needed
  • 8 cup(s) canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup(s) fat-free plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp lime zest, finely grated
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped (for garnish)

*Note: I did not use cilantro as it is literally my kryptonite.


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Like I said, I found that 3 cups of water was too much, but maybe I didn’t cook it down all the way. Either way, I loved this soup! All of the flavors went so well together and there was a TON left over!

The best part? This soup is 0 points! Can you say leftover 0 point lunches? It will be so easy to heat up and enjoy! The sour cream looking stuff is actually a lime cream made from plain greek nonfat yogurt and lime zest! It was soooo good!

I also had my first call with my Weight Watchers coach and it went really well. Her name is Beth and she is super nice! We talked a lot about why I want to lose weight and how I can achieve my goals. It sounds really cheesy but I swear it’s helping me control myself around food and actually work out so I’ll keep doing it! For as long as it works, anyway. I hope it becomes a lifestyle! Or at least helps me build a healthy lifestyle so I won’t need to track points anymore.

I weigh in every Wednesday so I’ll keep you updated about that. I don’t think I’ll be sharing my weight quite yet because I’m still getting used to sharing this much, but I’ll definitely let you know how much I lose (and hopefully not what I gain).

You guys are my accountability…along with my coach. I’m literally giving this my all because I know deep down that I have to want this and look at the overall goal to make this actually happen.

My weight isn’t where I want it to be. In fact, it’s so much higher than it’s ever been. I know I had a baby and have to be gentle on myself, but It’s hard sometimes.

I am determined to make this happen. I know I can do it!

I also found one of my favorite 0 point snacks!



1.) What’s your favorite Weight Watchers recipe or snack?

2.) How do you stay motivated?

3.) Will you be trying the Spicy Black Bean Soup?

Talk to you all tomorrow with another recipe and review!

Ellen 🙂


My Weight Watchers Vegetarian Meal Plan

So, I started Weight Watchers yesterday. I signed up for the online version with the coaching. I have my first call with my coach tonight. I’m really excited and looking forward to this process!

I’ve been lacking in motivation recently but I’ve been having fun sharing healthy foods and habits on my instagram page.

Follow me on instagram! @mamabird_blogger

Follow me on instagram! @mamabird_blogger

On instagram, I feel like I am more motivated to eat healthy because I can inspire others with what I make to eat. I can also share my passions and capture some of my favorite moments and keep them in a little public scrapbook. So much fun!

I absolutely love lifestyle blogging and am having a really fun time learning some new tricks and planning new content for you all to read!

Today, I’m excited to share with you a meal plan that I came up with for my dinners (and some other meals too). These are Weight Watchers recipes that I found on their app and that fit into my budget and dietary restrictions.

I’ll be sharing a post every day each week about my previous night’s meal. I want to give you an idea of how they tasted, if they were worth it, how many points they are, and how we liked it overall. If they are good enough, they may just make it into my weekly rotations!

I’m going to share with you the links to the recipes on the WW site! I’m thinking I may try and do this most weeks to help those who are vegetarian (and also those who aren’t) and trying to lose weight. I can’t wait to write the reviews and share my journey with you!

I got up early with my husband and baby bird and we got our grocery shopping on! We loaded up on coffee at the Starbucks kiosk in Ingles (proof that there are Starbucks EVERYWHERE- even in the middle of the mountains).

Starbucks Cinnamon Dolce Latte

Starbucks Cinnamon Dolce Latte

We took a few sips and…we were off! I meant to take a pretty picture of everything in the cart like a good blogger. Alas, you’re getting a picture of everything in the trunk of the car…one day I’ll get that elusive picture. Because I’ve literally forgotten to take it for the past like…5 grocery trips. *facepalm*

*Dr. Pepper for hubs- it is his life source*

Weight Watchers Grocery Haul

My Weight Watchers Grocery Haul

Here’s My Weight Watchers Vegetarian Meal Plan!

1.) Mexican Brown Rice Casserole 

2.) Sauteed Brown Sugar Pear French Toast

3.) Quick Vegetarian Chili 

4.) Spaghetti with no Cook Tomato Sauce

5.) Black Bean Soup with Lime Cream

Some of these recipes are as low as 0 points! I’m so excited to try them and see how they all taste. And especially see if they help me lose weight!

The other two nights of the week will be leftovers. Money doesn’t grow on trees, ya’ll.

We try to have leftovers to save money whenever possible but I love eating out. It’s an addiction that I’m admitting to.

However, now that I’m doing WW, I have a reason to stay in and cook more! So, it’s saving me some money (more than I probably realize) and I’m going to be losing weight! Sounds good to me!

For snacks, I’m thinking i’ll mostly stick to fruits and veggies as those are easily 0 point foods! Here’s a list of the 0 point foods if you’re looking for an easy and delicious snack!

Tomorrow, I’ll be writing about how my first call with my WW coach went and how our first WW dinner was. I’m not sure what we’re going to pick yet, but I hope it’s delicious!

I’ve heard some really amazing things about WW and I’m excited to go on this journey with you all! I’m so thrilled to be kicking up my lifestyle blogging game, and I hope you enjoy all the new content I have coming out for you! And the blog’s new look!

I’ve been taking a lot of free online classes about lifestyle blogging and my husband also got be this helpful book. I hope you’ll be visiting my little corner of the Internet a lot more often now!

Lifestyle Blogging Basics 

Lifestyle Blogging Basics

Thanks for reading and make sure to check back tomorrow for my full review!

Lots of love!

Mama Bird (AKA…Ellen) 😉

Baby Bath Time!

Baby Bath Time!


Favorite Vegan Blueberry Muffins!

I’ve recently been trying a lot of vegan recipes and I am amazed out how great they have tasted! A lot of people hear vegan and are immediately turned off. The truth is, vegan can be delicious! This is especially true when it comes to sweet treats! Check out my favorite vegan blueberry muffins!


1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar or artificial sweetener

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 cup soy milk

1/4 cup oil

1 cup blueberries

Sprinkle of chocolate chips (optional)

Combine all ingredients and evenly distribute into 6 muffins tins. Top with chocolate chips if you choose. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until cooked completely through.

And there it is! I made a batch of these the other day and they were gone sooner than I care to admit. Let me know if you try this recipe and how you like them!

Exciting news coming up this weekend!

Ellen 🙂

Weekly Recap: Movie Star Grandmother & Awesome Recipes!

I’ll be honest…this week seemed LONG! My husband and I couldn’t wait until the weekend! However, it wasn’t all bad! In fact, there were some pretty awesome moments!

My grandmother (Meemaw), had her 92nd birthday this week. She has been a HUGE part of my life and I love her so much! I have so many memories growing up of doing fun things with her. My favorite memory is standing on the piano bench as a little girl, and Meemaw playing my favorite songs on the piano while I sang along.


She is hilarious, sweet, kind, and talented. She is my grandmother…she is a big part of who I am today.

And doesn’t she look like a movie star?!


That’s on of my favorite photos of her.

Happy Birthday, Meemaw!

In other news, I made some really delicious and healthy recipes this week! They were both really easy and fairly quick. I really enjoyed making these with my husband and we definitely enjoyed eating them!

Check them out:

Weight Watchers Broccoli Mac and Cheese

You can find the recipe and all the points (if you’re using the program) here.


Here is another DELICIOUS recipe, and probably my favorite thing we ate this week:

Weight Watchers Lasagna Soup

Here are the recipe and points.

Follow me @ellenvandever on Instagram to see everything we make and all our fun adventures!

And that’s the blog for this week! Super simple and short. I’m sorry about that, but next week will be FILLED with fun stuff! I hope you enjoy the recipes! If you try them out, let me know what you think of them!

Have a wonderful week and I’ll talk you guys on Wednesday!

Ellen 🙂

Weekly Recap: Homemade Hibachi & Family Hike

Welcome back, friends! I’m glad you’re back to hear what’s happening at my little cabin in the woods.


I love these weekly recaps! I was literally just thinking about how awesome these are going to be to look back on when baby Flynn is all grown up and I get nostalgic. I wonder if that’s the reason a lot of people start blogs. It seems like these days, I’m seeing a lot of “10 ways to be happier”, and while that’s totally fine and dandy, those blog posts are very frequently information that it’s all but too obvious to the reader already.

Communicate with my partner? No kidding.

Take time to do the things I like? Done.

Wake up early? I have an 8th month old.

I just feel like I’d love to read more stories and fun things that people are doing than some boring list of stuff that’s really not helpful to me or is obvious to everyone in the world.

Someone should start a blog called “Captain obvious” that’s just those lists and nothing else.

I digress…

This week was awesome! It’s really fun taking more pictures and documenting what we’re doing. It makes me more present and I am likely to do more things now that I’m blogging about them!

On Sunday, we went on a family hike in the woods around our house. We are currently renting a little cabin in the woods and close by are some old stone chimneys from a home that used to sit there. It’s really amazing, and my husband has taken the medal detector down there a few times.

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This time, he found an old cast iron pot lid buried in the dirt. We’re planning to take some lawn chairs or a blanket down there and have a picnic one day. What a cool and secluded location for some good old fashion family time!

Baby Flynn also enjoyed his ride! Speaking of Flynn, I made him some yummy baby food this week!

Green beans (his favorite), sweet corn, and peas and carrots!

Let me know if you’d like to see a blog post of how I make all of Flynn’s baby food. I’m even experimenting with some yogurt making for his breakfasts!

I also made a very conscious effort to eat better this week (notice I said better, not less) and did some meal prepping as well. I made:

Vegan chocolate muffins, healthy apple crisp, corn on the cob, sweet potatoes, vegan mac and cheese, veggie burgers, asparagus…and many other delicious things!

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One of those delicious things was homemade hibachi!

My husband and I started to make our own hibachi style food at home in an effort to save money. We love Japanese Steak Houses and our cooking it all only serves to save money and bring us closer together as we work to prepare a meal. That’s something we really enjoy doing together- cooking.


Anyone interested in a healthy yum yum sauce recipe? Let me know!

My good friend Sam came to stay for a few days, as well! We had such a lovely time (we always do with Sam), and Flynn had the time of his life! Lots of board games were played, tea was made, and delicious food was consumed.

We also had a little photo shoot! Check out the pictures!

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Has anyone else seen the movie “Definitely Maybe”? It’s a blast from my past and we watched it while I did some bullet journaling and drank a little tension tamer tea.



I love bullet journaling. I’m not great yet at making it look all fancy- frankly, I don’t have the patience. But I’m working on it and really enjoy my own style of bullet journaling too.

And that was my week! Tomorrow we’re going to my sister in law’s birthday party and we have a lot of fun things planned for this week!

As always, I’ll also be posting this Wednesday so check back then and subscribe if your not! I’d love to see your beautiful faces back here again!

Thanks for visiting and have an awesome week!

Ellen 🙂