About that Low-Fat, Sugar-Free Baking

Its not the same. You know that, right? When you see those 37 calorie brownies on Facebook, they are not the same as the 900 calorie brownies that you can also see on Facebook. Without sugar and fat, baked goods might look the same, but they do not taste the same. They do not have the same mouth feel. They also do not leave you with the never-ending wanting for MORE.

The "37 calorie brownies." (I ran them through calorie count and they are closer to 50 calories...that's another thing. Don't take anybody's word for the calorie count that seems too good to be true. Check it out for yourself.) I did follow this recipe. My brownies looked nothing like the picture on Facebook.

The “37 calorie brownies.” (I ran them through calorie count and they are closer to 50 calories…that’s another thing. Don’t take anybody’s word for the calorie count that seems too good to be true. Check it out for yourself.) I did follow this recipe. My brownies looked nothing like the picture on Facebook.

So that’s why I choose to do most of my baking low-fat and sugar free. I love the luxury of having a scone for breakfast every morning if that’s what I want. I enjoy having a brownie with some decaf coffee for my dessert in the evening. I can have both of those every day if I want to (I do not want to LOL.)

But as long as I have been doing this, I am still suckered in by the photos that look deceptively similar to their high-fat, sugar-loaded cousins. Its okay that they taste different. It would be better if you knew that before you tried them so that your first reaction is not disappointment.

Apple Custard –this was a really good recipe! It has a little fat (from whole eggs) and a little sugar (honey,) but it was not the same as “real custard” made with full fat milk and sugar. Still an excellent value at 150 calories for a large serving. It made the whole house smell delicious! I had it for dessert AND for breakfast. Not on the same day.

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Here’s the original recipe. I see that I “healthified” it quite a bit. Here’s my version.

A Peachy Keen Summer

After grousing about the poor harvest of peaches last summer, it seems I have been rewarded with a banner crop of peaches this year! I have gotten peaches from three different places, and all of them have been wonderful. My latest purchase was from Costco! They traditionally have had great peaches for sale each summer. But really, what is a single person to do with a DOZEN peaches? Time to get creative!!

While I was at Costco, they were promoting their organic products. The lady in the quinoa booth caught my attention, and we had a brief conversation about how we used our quinoa. I still have a lot of quinoa because I bought a SEVEN POUND BAG at Costco. Ahem…moving on. Anyway, she mentioned that she uses it with peaches to thicken them. Ooh, that sounds yummy.

One of the troubles of quinoa is that it is kind of dry. It seems like it needs something to make it stick together. So I came up with this idea. Its more an idea than a recipe, although I guess I’ll write the idea down on my recipe site, if only for myself. I cooked one serving of quinoa–1/4 cup of quinoa in 1 cup of water. While that was cooking, I peeled and chopped 2 peaches. I put them in a separate pan with just a bit of water to keep them from sticking. After they cooked for a bit, I added a slurry (don’t you love these fancy new cooking terms I pick up from my cooking shows) of 1 1/2 tsp corn starch, 1 tsp cinnamon, and 1/4 cup water. And I continued to cook for about 3 minutes. By this time the quinoa was cooked and I added the quinoa to the peaches–Voila! Peachy Quinoa Compote. Remove from heat and add sweetener of choice. This made 3 servings at 95 calories per serving.

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Now, here is another recipe I tried at the same time, because I thought they would taste good together, kinda like peaches and cream. Well, its peaches and cream for the weirdly healthy food addict LOL.

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It is Chia Pudding. Couldn’t be simpler. I got the original idea here. All you do is put 2 cups of unsweetened almond milk and 4 Tbsp chia seeds, along with sweetener of choice into a container with a lid. Give it a shake. 15 minutes later give it another shake and then put it in the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight. I really enjoyed this. Only 50 calories for 1/2 cup.

I think there are a lot of ways you could eat the Peachy Quinoa Compote. Warm, with some granola on top, for a dessert. Maybe as a topping for french toast or protein pancakes?

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(French toast made with whole grain bread, about 230 calories for this plate.)

And I plan to have the rest of the Chia Pudding with some blueberries tomorrow morning. The Fun with Food never stops!

Oh, as long as I mentioned fun with food, I have to share a picture I took of my dinner the other night. I really eat like this.

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( 4 oz. turkey burger with tomatoes and lettuce.)

Recipes and Ideas

Another post full of recipe and food ideas! What can I say? Eating is something I do every day all day. I enjoy it.

Everyone knows about overnight oats, right? A couple weeks ago I had pre-planned my meals (as usual,) and I had written down steel cut oats for breakfast (because, hello, I bought SEVEN POUNDS of the stuff at Costco…) But I realized that it was going to be 110 degrees in the morning, and cooking oatmeal did not appeal. So I remembered the overnight oats. Kinda like breakfast pudding. And I came up with the idea of almond joy overnight oats. This was sooo yummy, and not too costly, calorie-wise. I made the basic overnight oats recipe (oats, chia seeds, almond milk, and yogurt,) and added about 1/2 Tbsp each of shredded unsweetened coconut, sugar free chocolate chips, and sliced almonds, and 1/4 tsp of coconut extract and some splenda to sweeten.

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Single Lady Lasagne–alas, no picture! I ate it too quickly. This was a recipe I came up with a while ago, and actually used it for one of my columns in The Quilt Life magazine. I wrote the column last winter, and the magazine just came out so I tried the recipe again. Quite delicious. I’ll post the recipe and you can read it there. Its very simple to assemble, and includes slices of zucchini, which makes it a nice big serving. The best part is no pre-cooking the lasagne noodle. Yes, for one serving, you only use one lasagne noodle!

I watch cooking shows ALL THE TIME. At the gym on the bike, and at home in the evening, if I can find something on the computer, its usually a cooking show. I really can’t eat anything those people cook. (example: the Barefoot Contessa, “Just a bit of butter to bring out the flavor” as she puts a whole cube in the pot LOL.)

Anyway, I was watching Giada (anyone else find it irritating that she is so thin and pretty and cooks like that and seems to actually eat the food, but then she’s so nice you can’t really be mad at her?) She was making some Strawberry-Rosemary Scones. Mmmm. What a nice flavor combination. I already have my low-cal scone recipe perfected, and just needed to add the strawberries and rosemary. I used Lori’s recipe for thickening fruit (adding just a bit of corn-starch) and made my own quick strawberry jam. These are fun and tasty. And a nice breakfast or dessert treat at about 150 calories. My recipe is here.

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I sprayed them with a bit of ‘butter’ and sprinkled my cinnamon splenda on top before putting them in the freezer.

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The other day I mentioned getting a little pizza at the farmer’s market, and how I liked Trader Joe’s whole wheat crust better. I finally got to a TJ’s, and I made a pizza over the weekend. I still haven’t mastered the art of making a nice round pizza crust, but it tastes just fine. A little leftover spaghetti sauce, chopped spinach, some fresh mozzarella, and tomatoes went on this one. Cut into 6 big pieces, each one is just 250 calories. And its funny, when you KNOW the calorie count, that is more than enough pizza to satisfy. But when you’re eating out and you *don’t know* the calorie count, you just keep eating and eating. Anyway, that’s what I usually do.

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Froyo. I’ve been thinking about this for a while. I have an ice cream freezer (had to have one of those cuisine-art things) but it usually freezes some of the ice cream to the sides of the freezer, which is frustrating, and then when I make a batch and freeze the leftovers, its as hard as ice. This is probably because of the low fat content of what I’m making. Anyway, I tried this. And I do think this is the way to go for a single person. All I need to do is freeze the froyo solution in ice cube trays, and then process the cubes in my mini food processor for instant frozen yogurt at just the right consistency.  This was just a mix of some homemade yogurt with a little of that leftover ‘strawberry jam’ from the scone recipe. It was just right!

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And topped with three walnut halves and some SF mini chocolate chips–165 calories:

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In case you think all of my food experiments come out perfect every time, this morning I ate half of a serving of some chocolate overnight breakfast pudding that I came up with and made last night. It wasn’t horrible, but I didn’t like it. So I only ate half, and had one of my very light banana muffins on the side. Now that’s yumm! Did I tell you I came up with that recipe as a way to use up the leftover egg/milk solution from my french toast?

Who’s Hot?

Surely I’m not the only one TOO HOT this weekend. Adding to my hotness is the prediction of 6 days in a row from 103-110, and then it will cool all the way down to 98…

Yesterday two different people told me they were going out for froyo. Of course, that sounded divine to me. But not divine enough to get in the hot car and drive 20 minutes. Add that to my tendency to “overdo” when faced with frozen yogurt and all the toppings, and I decided I could make my own frozen yogurt treat.

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Yummy! I topped it with just a sprinkle of sugar free chocolate chips and a bit of muesli. I made myself add up the calories. About 265. Still a little less than the froyo place, and a whole lot more healthy, I think. Plus, I didn’t have to leave my little air conditioned haven.

Recipe: 2 banana cubes (about 1 small frozen banana,) 7 small frozen strawberries, 1/2 cup of plain low fat yogurt, a spoonful of splenda and 1/4 tsp vanilla. Whirled it all together in my mini-food processor. The only thing I would do differently is to put it in the freezer for a little while to make it a little firmer.

Stay cool, and come back tomorrow for more insights on the Adventures In Maintenance!

More Fun With Food

The other day I went to our Sewing Day Christmas potluck. It was quite lovely. Some of the women are health conscious, so there were some good choices. I had more of the good choices, and just a bit of the ‘bad’ choices. Which were quite good, BTW. I signed up to bring a fruit salad, and kind of forgot until the last minute, so I just made do with the fruit I had on hand. Which turned out to be a very delicious fruit salad, so I thought I’d share it here. I’m calling it a Winter Fruit Salad.

But what I really want to talk about is what to do with leftover fruit salad. It was delicious, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat all of it, and besides, it just wasn’t in my plan for the next few days. I hated for it to go to waste.

So what do you do with leftover fruit salad? Why, you make Baked Oatmeal, of course! Because you can cut baked oatmeal into serving size portions and freeze it.

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Just an idea for those creative cooking folks out there. I’m not going to give you a recipe, because every fruit salad has different ingredients.

This morning I made another batch of the Bare Bones Scones, only using raspberries instead of blueberries. Because raspberries are so festive this time of year, don’t you think? As I ate this scone, I worried about people who might taste this recipe and be disappointed. Because honestly, when they come out of the oven they look better than most bakery scones. But for 155 calories, they don’t taste like full fat scones. You just don’t get a lot of fat for that kind of calorie budget. But then I thought, they still taste WAAAAYYY better than any of the low calorie processed breakfast bars. And they are full of fresh delicious raspberries. Not 4 or 5 dried raspberries like you find in some bakery scones (not that I’m looking at you, Starbuck’s or Pete’s…) Its all a matter of perspective.

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So right now my freezer is well-stocked with low calorie tasty breakfast choices. Just the way I like it.

Did I tell you about my Peppermint Mocha Frappuccino (could they make that word a tinier bit easier to spell????) I save my leftover coffee (because I never drink a whole cup at one time) and use it the next day (my brother says gross, but go with me here–it works.) I put the coffee in a Magic Bullet cup along with 4 ice cubes and one scoop of Chocolate Mint protein powder and mix away. Voila–lunch is served!

We’ve been having a cold spell here. I know. 27 degrees is nothing to you northerners. But my hands get so cold, especially when I’m working on the computer. Last night I remembered that I had knit a pair of fingerless gloves. I found one of them, and it really helped! Now to find the other one…

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Well, we’re on the countdown for Christmas. I am having a very laid back Christmas. Minimal decorating. Not too much partying. Just the way I like it. I have a wonderful little book with an Advent reading every morning–all short devotions from the writing of Henri Nouwen. So lovely. Another book I really love at this time of year, and I usually read a bit from this before going to bed, is Kneeling in Bethlehem, by Ann Weems.

Oh, one last recipe suggestion. This one is a little more decadent, and I have it bookmarked for my Christmas morning treat. It is Georgie’s Chocolate Banana Butter Crepes. I KNOW this will be a great recipe. The crepe recipe is just a version of our favorite protein pancakes, with a lot more egg white, and less oatmeal. And what’s not to like about a combination of banana, chocolate, and nut butter. Yumm. Yumm. Yumm.

 

Single Minded

Hmmm. That’s what I thought this morning, as I started in stitching. As the day went along, I decided that wasn’t exactly true. While I have been working quite steadily on the quilts for the upcoming show (some of you asked–it is at the Art and Soul Gallery in Oak Hills Church, Folsom, CA from January 6-February 10,) I have been balancing some of those other hats I talked about the other day.

I am working on five small quilts at one time! I told myself I couldn’t start or do any more, even though I have new ideas constantly cropping up. There is beauty in God’s word, and I am constantly finding a phrase that ignites my imagination. But I need to finish up, and do some of those unpleasant chores I don’t particularly like, like labeling the quilts, cleaning up the backs, and writing descriptions of each quilt.

Here is a glimpse of the last five!

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I am holding steady on my new diet plan. Which I still don’t want to talk about very much. Except to say that that is why I have some new ‘pared down’ recipes posted. I talked about making that low calorie apple cranberry sauce the other day, and I have enjoyed it so much that I wanted to write the recipe down so I wouldn’t forget it. And BTW? It does freeze very well. I used my ice cube tray method, and I took out a couple of cranberry cubes for dinner tonight–tasted as good as fresh to me!

And then a few weeks ago, I experimented with paring down my blueberry scone recipe, thanks to Suzi, who shared her low calorie pumpkin scone recipe with me. So here is my “Bare Bones Blueberry Scone” recipe–only 155 calories per scone! They have been a very enjoyable lower calorie breakfast that holds me quite a while, thanks to the oatmeal in it I think.

Oh, and here’s a rather weird new recipe that I enjoyed today. If you use flavored protein powder, this was quite enjoyable. Just mix 3/4 of a measuring scoop of protein powder, 1/4 cup egg beaters, and 1 Tbsp oat bran. mix thoroughly and let set in fridge for 15 minutes. Makes a nice pudding, and still has 18-24g of protein (depending on the protein powder you use.

I think that’s all I’ve got in my brain for now. Off to rejuvenate the brain cells (sleep) and start all over again tomorrow!

The Post-Tday Report

So how did everyone do?  I did so much better than I thought I would!  I just took a little of this and that.  It really helped that I had already planned my ‘leftovers’ of my favorite foods.  I didn’t feel like I had to eat as much as I could because there wasn’t going to be another chance.

BTW, can I just say that I CANNOT BELIEVE that I have been blogging about the same stuff for this long!  I was looking for an old recipe and found some of my video blogs from three years ago (which, BTW, I’m very sorry that I rambled on for so long in them.)  Anyway, in some way it was comforting to see that I had not changed that much.  And in another way, it was very distressing to see that I had not changed that much…

Back to the topic at hand.  I had a wonderful time with my family. I was very thankful for that. I am thankful for a lot of things this year. I was going to write a post about being thankful on Thanksgiving, but the time slipped away from me.  One of the things I am thankful for is the beautiful fall weather we have had.  It has been just cold enough, and there has been just enough rain.  The color on the trees has not been as dramatic as in past years, but on the other hand, it has been a long slow change, and every day there is something new to see.  I really try to pay attention as I drive around.

I am also very thankful that I am still able to move and exercise. I am enjoying my renewed love of exercise. I went to the physical therapist, and he gave me some beginning exercises. He even made the statement that he thought we could get me back to jogging!  WHAT??  That was not even on my radar screen. What a kick that would be!

I am very traditionally NOT a black Friday shopper.  But I slummed around online, and saw that Lowe’s had a good deal on a stove. Have I told you that my oven has not had a thermostat for quite a while? It was amazing that I was able to bake anything by just guessing that the temp might be around 350 or so.

So I headed down the hill. First thing I saw was one of those infrared heaters that I’ve been stalking for a while. It was on their black Friday sale too, and  was quite a bit cheaper than any I’d seen, so that went into my cart. I went over to check out the stoves. They had the sale stove in stock, but not on the floor. I was really planning to go to the local appliance store to see if they would match the price of Lowe’s.  I had been told that their service was so much better than Lowe’s.  So off I went to the appliance store.  I told the guy what I was looking for, and sure enough, he matched their price on what he said was a superior product. Its just your basic stove, but its new to me! Very exciting!

So do you know how small my kitchen really is?  A stove is 30″X25″. The opening to my kitchen is 26″. The poor delivery guy. I said, I’m pretty strong. Could we lift it over the refrigerator? LOL. I think that offer was what made him get creative. He took the handle off the fridge and got it in there.

So here are a couple of post-holiday recipes for you.

I was watching The Food Network during my bicycle session at the gym, and I saw a pumpkin bread pudding.  That really ignited my imagination, and I started dreaming about how I could create a ‘healthy pumpkin bread pudding.‘ I think I was very successful on my first attempt! Basically using the ingredients for pumpkin custard and my healthified french toast (that I make with whole grain English muffins) I came up with this recipe.  It is good enough that I have eaten all four servings.  I’ve had it for dessert, a snack, and breakfast. Now that’s what you call an all-purpose food! At 140 calories, its a darn good deal.

Then the recipe I was searching for was my “Thanksgiving salad.” Originally I added some avocado, but I did not have that tonight. Basically you could add anything you want to this salad.  Bare bones, it is like a deconstructed turkey sandwich:  lettuce, laughing cow light cheese, cranberry sauce, and turkey.

This salad came in at under 200 calories, with 2 ounces of turkey breast and 1/4 cup of the cranberry sauce I made. I love this flavor combo.

So the cranberry sauce! I had planned to just buy some at the store.  But the stores were all out the day after Thanksgiving. So I found a lone package of cranberries in the produce department and then set about finding a recipe I wanted to try. Cranberries are darn tart on their own. I know that’s why most of the recipes have so much sugar in them. I didn’t want to try to make the orange juice recipe, because the author herself says it is tart. Plus, I didn’t want that much orange flavor in my cranberry sauce. I looked and looked for a lower sugar recipe. And then I thought APPLES! Apples are naturally sweet. So I googled apple cranberry sauce, and found this recipe. Of course I had to change it just a little bit because I didn’t have all of the ingredients ( just sub’d fresh orange juice for the apple juice.) And to be honest, it was STILL quite tart. And then my brilliant BF said, why don’t you just add a little Splenda to it? Bingo! For me this was perfection. At 35 calories for 1/4 cup, quite the bargain! It is very fun to see the cranberries turn into sauce–kinda magical.

I do believe this is the end of this long and rambly post. I hope all of you had a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving celebration! Oh! I will leave you with a candid shot of Noah pretending that he is not on the sofa.

Broccoli Slaw Two Ways

I posted the delicious broccoli slaw the other day.

And then I remembered why I had originally picked up the package of broccoli slaw.  I wanted to try cooking it.  Fortunately I had gotten another bag of it at TJ’s last week.  So tonight I threw the whole package (140 cal) in the pan and cooked it, added those leftover veggies (53 cal) from last night, some pre-cooked shrimp (90 cal,) some crumbled bacon (70 cal,) one container (2 servings, 310 cal) of brown rice, and 1 Tbsp sesame oil (130 cal.)  Seasoned with some pepper and soy sauce.  Four big servings of delicious for less than 200 calories each!  I love the texture of the broccoli slaw in this.  And no extra work for me–win-win!!

Based on my basic fried rice recipe.

I am definitely on a cooking jag lately.  I made another batch of homemade yogurt today, and there was still some leftover milk, so I dug a box of the sugar free chocolate yogurt out of the cupboard, and made a batch of that.  I like that pudding once in a while!  I’m going to have a bowl of that tonight, and then give the little guys some lap time.