DISNEY NIGHTS HEALTHY STYLE #3: COCO!

Yeah so I am pretty excited about this post. I mean, there is a lot to be excited about here. Not only is this a post about an awesome movie and a fun Disney night, which is super-dee-duper…

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…but it’s also a movie I haven’t written about before. Which means I can actually like write about the movie without being repetitive.

Which means I can actually like write about the movie without being repetitive.

Without being repetitive.

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My mom joined us for this one. Which is cool. On account of we love her.

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And we made such good food. We made a super low point meal but managed to make this the best healthy Disney meal so far. I know. I thought the only healthy food that also tasted good was Swedish Fish. Only the Swedish could make fish taste that good.

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The movie

Oh man. This movie. It’s like, INSANELY good. Aesthetically. Emotionally. Narratively. The whole thing is nearly perfect. And while it still is probably not my FAVORITE Pixar movie, it’s right up there. Man, that is really saying something when I call a movie nearly perfect and it STILL is not my favorite Pixar. How is Pixar so awesome? Cars 2 notwithstanding.

The movie is beautiful though, inside and out. When Miguel first walks over to the Land of the Dead? I mean, insanely pretty. I feel like I could watch this movie without sound and still enjoy it. It’s THAT gorgeous.

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I wanna go to the Land of the Dead.

But I mean, I wouldn’t do that. Because the story is sooooo unique and involving and just….good. It’s so good. And in the wrong hands? It could have been terrible. But I believe everything I am seeing here. So this kid steals this guitar from a dead guy and now he is trapped in the Land of the Dead until he can get his family’s blessing? Oh and also these dead folks have, like, concerts over there and what not? Fine. I am on board. I believe it all. Because this movie makes me want to believe it all.

My favorite thing about the movie is how it brings the whole idea of Dia de Los Muertos to life. Full disclosure – I knew of the holiday somewhat but didn’t know all the specifics of it before seeing Coco. But I love the idea of keeping those you’ve lost “alive” by putting their pictures up alongside the things they loved in life. Whether or not you celebrate the Day of the Dead, the whole notion of keeping those we have lost close through tradition and memory spans family, culture, heritage, and religion.

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When does this movie take place? Why is everyone’s picture in black and white? Is anybody listening to me?

In our household, for example, we have so many of these traditions. We have Manhattan Sunday, for example, to keep my Dad in our lives. The year before he passed, my father came over my house for the last Sunday before Christmas. He came over early in the morning, armed with snacky cakes from his canteen truck, and asked for a Manhattan. At 10 in the morning. And we had one. And another. And then we started watching Christmas specials, like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Christmas Eve on Sesame Street. We spent the whole day on the couch watching Christmas specials and drinking Manhattans.

After my father left, he quickly came back into the house to tell me that Sunday was one of his favorite days. He died less than two months later.

And ever since, we have been gathering as a family – not only the four of us, but also our extended family and friends – and honoring my Dad every Sunday before Christmas with Twinkies, morning (and afternoon, lol) Manhattans, and Christmas specials. 15 years later, we are still practicing this tradition and it’s one we look forward to every year. And yeah, we love the whole Hostess-whiskey-Rudolph trifecta, but it’s more than that that makes this so special. Doing this brings the spirit of my father back into our lives for a few hours. And by the “spirit of my father” I mean that rather than this being a sad occasion, it more brings the laughter and love he brought to this world into our home. We don’t mourn him, we celebrate him.

And I love how this movie captures that, with all those that have passed coming back for Dia de Los Muertos to celebrate with those of us still here. And how as those still here, we need to remember those that have passed in order to keep them here eternally. Just so cool and such a hopeful idea.

There is so much more to love about this movie. I mean, the music is amazing. And how Miguel struggles with finding a balance between who he feels he is inside and what his family wants him to be. And man, that scene. You know the one. Yeah that one. Gah, the tears.

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Bottom line – if you haven’t seen Coco. I mean, see it. Obviously.

The theme

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Nickie refused to turn around

As I said, my favorite part of the movie was the focus on remembering those who have passed. So we put up pictures of both of our Dads and our Daisy girl so they could all join us. Of course, if we were really putting up a true ofrenda, we would have had so many more pictures up as we have lost so many people we have loved, but we just did kind of a mini-ofrenda for this one.

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The activity

With music being such a big part of this film, we decided to play a little Rock Band on the PS4. Ugh, I love playing Rock Band probably a little bit too much. While I do shred on the guitar, I really enjoy singing. Especially when it’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Deep Blue Something. On account of Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Deep Blue Something may be the best song ever written in the history of songs ever written about Audrey Hepburn movies.

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Legit bringing the house down

The food

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Aw man, the food tonight was pretty, well, Bueno. We obviously went Mexican. And I mean, as a family – we LURVE Mexican food. So we were pretty worried about STILL enjoying Mexican food that is also healthy. We were really freaking out about it. Because this is how our family works. These are our problems.

This was our menu:

  • Mushroom, Cheese & Spinach Empanadas (2 points per empanada, we each had two), with a side of fat-free refried beans (0 points)
  • Mexican Chocolate Cake (3 points per serving) served with Halo Top Chocolate Covered Banana Ice Cream (3 points per ½ cup serving)
  • We also served some of Luisa’s Mild Five-Layer Fiesta Dip (1 point per 2 tbsp serving) with a handful of Tostitos Baked Scoops (2 points per 10 chips)

Total points per meal – 10 points

I know. That’s A LOT of food for 10 points! The recipes are below but a few notes:

  • Seriously, everything was good. The empanadas came out great and since this night, we have been experimenting with other fillings. We made a black bean, corn and cheese version the next day that was good but honestly not as good as the version we had here. The peppers really make it as they add so much flavor. Peppers are quickly becoming key for me in doing Weight Watchers. Omelettes, salads, everything is better with peppers.
  • I love refried beans but have never tried the fat-free variety. Were they amazing? I mean, look. Fat is good. If it wasn’t, they wouldn’t have to even make fat-free versions of anything. Fat-free would be the norm. But for fat-free, ZERO POINT foods, these were pretty good.
ORTEGA FAT FREE REFRIED BEANS

Scotty likes beans/ Dont’cha Scotty?

  • Interestingly, my mom often makes a Mexican Chocolate Cake for birthdays and this one was completely different. But we really liked it. A very good balance of chocolate and spice. If you like peppery chocolate, you will like this one. Just a heads-up, this cake was super super dense. Which is why we paired it with the Halo Top banana ice cream (the recipe we used also noted banana ice cream paired well.)
  • I am not going to bother posting much about the seven-layered dip but it was very good. Again this was Luisa’s Mild Five-Layer Fiesta Dip and Baked Tostitios Scoops. The five-layer dip was quite good.

But really, you could have just Googled that, no? So lazy.

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  • The kids ended up having soft tacos using the extra tortillas. We used ground turkey but have since discovered 99% lean ground turkey, which is ZERO POINTS. I think I know what we are putting in our empanadas next time.

The recipes

Mushroom, Cheese & Spinach Empanadas

QUICK NOTE: The linked recipe above calls for 3-point tortillas but we actually ended up using Market Basket’s Mexicali Fajita-sized flour tortillas, which were only 2 points. As the tortillas are the only points used here, this cut the total per empanada point value down to 2. Go us.

QUICK OTHER NOTE: Instead of the McCormick Perfect Pinch – Mexican seasoning the recipe calls for, we used Penzey’s Taco Seasoning Which is delicious. AND my mom works there. So win-win. Shout out to Penzey’s!

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The finished product. Erm, post-bite. I couldn’t wait. I feel shame.

Ingredients

  • 4 Flour Tortillas (we used the two point Market Basket ones mentioned above)
  • 1 Baby Bell Peppers /diced any color
  • 1 Onion diced
  • 1 large Portabello Mushroom diced
  • Baby Spinach leaves as much as you like
  • 1 tsp Penzey’s Taco Seasoning
  • 4 tbsp Fat Free Cheddar Cheese optional

Preheat oven to 400 F Ready a baking tray with lined foil and cooking spray.

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Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat spray with cooking spray and cook all your diced up veggies with the seasoning till for about 5-8 min till tender soft. In the last 2 minutes add in your spinach till it just wilts. I sometimes splash some chicken stock or water if i find the veggies sticking a little to the pan helps keep them moist.

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Ready your 4 tortillas on your work surface, Try not to over fill. divide the filling among the 4 and add 1 tbsp of cheese on each one.

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Wet the edges of your tortilla with water and seal gently with a fork by pressing it down around the edges. Spray them with cooking spray and p

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lace in the oven to bake fill golden for about 8 – 10 minutes.

Mexican Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons water

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Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together first seven ingredients (flour through salt). Make two small wells in the mixture. In one, pour in the vinegar. In the other, pour in the vanilla extract. Pour cold water over everything. Stir until moistened and a only a little lumpy.

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It should look like this.

Pour batter into an 8-inch round cake pan. Bake for 30 or 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then carefully pry out and finish cooling on a wire rack.

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While cake is baking, whisk together 2/3 cup powdered sugar and 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder in small bowl. Add water. Stir to make a thick glaze. When cake is completely cooled, drizzle over cake.

I thought I had taken a picture of the finished cake (which looked great btw) but I couldn’t find it. I am sorry. Worst. Blogger. Ever.

Oh and pair with this. Trust me.

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