Sweet Stuff

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You’ve heard me talk about the Nutrition Action Healthletter before. Every month they have some very tasty looking recipes included, and last month the recipes were for desserts. Well, you know I kept that issue. This week the opportunity to try out a couple of the recipes came around. I am having a couple of ladies over (on two separate days!) and the recipe for Apple Almond Custard Cake sounded just right for dessert after a salad lunch. The recipe called for four apples, sliced thin (Lori, I was really wishing I had your spiralizer this morning,) and also included almond meal (and remember, I have that cashew meal in my cupboard.)

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The second recipe on the same page was calling to me. And I remembered that I had bought some 80% chocolate in “the bins” at a Sprouts grocery. I was disappointed when I tasted it–too bitter for me, but I thought that using it to make these Chocolate, Fruit, and Nut clusters might be just the thing to sweeten it up a bit.

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These are really tasty, and one is a nice sized dessert treat for 140 calories. Oh, and here’s a tip on substitutions–I made half the recipe with 4 1/2 ounces of chocolate, and then deduced that for half the recipe you can use 1 cup of nuts of your choice, and 1 1/2 cups of dried unsweetened fruit of your choice. I used walnuts, raisins, and apricots.

Well, how about that. Since these are not my recipes, I found a link to a PDF page from the magazine with both recipes included for you!

A Different Kind of Before and After

I had to scan a lot of photos for an upcoming project (I’m actually just happy that I finally know how to scan.) And I found an old picture from when I first moved into this cabin.

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Here is the cabin now.

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And a bonus recipe idea–one of my sewing ladies served this at lunch last week. The combination was DELICIOUS! Okay, so the original had arugula, watermelon, goat cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette. My version has romaine, watermelon, laughing cow lite, and low fat balsamic vinaigrette. You choose–both ways were delicious!

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I had it for dinner with one of my ham and cheese muffins. A delightful meal!

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Pansy Parade and Pudding Report

After months (I am not exaggerating) of Noah mowing down every single pansy bloom, and me almost killing the pansies with my “treatments”–pepper, “Boundary” repellant for dogs, and Bitter Apple spray,– I decided to try feeding Noah some baby carrots every night in his supper. The little dogs get them every night. But Noah started urping them, and I had stopped giving them to him. I don’t know if its a coincidence, or its really a cure, but since I started feeding him the carrots again, he has stopped eating the pansies, and now all his “pruning” has rewarded me with the best crop of pansies I’ve ever had! Each little plant is like a bush full of flowers. Is there a better way to spend $3 than on a six-pack of pansies?

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And the pudding report. Remember I mentioned that chocolate sweet potato pudding? Well, first I tried it substituting pumpkin for sweet potatoes. Because it turned out I didn’t have any sweet potatoes. I could still taste the pumpkin, so I didn’t like that too much. I did like that it was nice and thick. So a couple days later I got sweet potatoes at the store and tried again. I added a little more cocoa powder. It was good, but for me it was not worthy. The calories come out to between 170 and 200 per serving the way I figured it. You could divide it into smaller servings if you wanted. The thing about it is, that whole recipe is very healthy, so if you liked it, it would really be a good one to keep in the rotation. For me, I’d rather eat two walnut-stuffed dates.

Recipe Review: Other People’s Recipes!

Here are some recent recipes I’ve tried that are truly excellent in the taste department, and not half-bad in the nutrition department either!

First up: a crockpot chicken salsa recipe. I’ve tried various versions of this recipe, but for some reason this one hit me just right! I think it had to do with the fact that the ratio of beans to chicken was not too high. I’m not a big fan of the bean, altho I have come to enjoy the flavor it can add to food (I don’t like the texture.) Anyway, the big (for me) change I made to this recipe was to substitute 8 oz (8 wedges) of Laughing Cow Lite for the 8 ounces of cream cheese. That is a savings of 520 calories for the recipe, (about 43 calories per serving.) I didn’t have limes, so they just got left out. The recipe also did not have “amount of servings” listed, so I figured that with 2 pounds of chicken and a can of beans, 12 servings seemed reasonable. Which figured out to only 150 calories per serving! (as always, I recommend you figure out your own calorie count.) Dividing the finished recipe into 12 servings was just right. And, it froze well–tasted just as good after thawing! I had this recipe in a wrap (I use La Tortilla 100 calorie wraps,) over a baked potato, and almost most awesome of all, I converted it into taco soup. I just took 2 or 3 servings, added whatever veggies I wanted, and 2 Tbsp of taco seasoning (yes, I use the pre-made stuff.) It was just delicious! This one’s a keeper. Anytime I can eat 12 servings of anything in a relatively short time period, you know its good.

Here’s another little tasty treat--Coconut and honey no-bake energy bites. And that is exactly what it is: LITTLE, TASTY, and a TREAT. Being a volume eater, I usually don’t go for LITTLE. But these are very satisfying (I can eat just one.) Be sure to do the calorie count yourself, but I came up with 80-100 calories each. The only change I made was to add some chopped walnuts. Oh, and I made some walnut butter to use in it (instead of peanut butter.) And I added a little salt : ) And I made half a recipe. Because 50 little energy bites is too much for a single girl. Another recipe that freezes just fine!

The latest recipe I’ve bookmarked to try is this Sweet Potato Chocolate pudding recipe. I do enjoy chocolate pudding, and I have too many sweet potatoes in the drawer right now, so I think I’ll try this one sooner than later. Its an intriguing idea, don’t you think?

A Good Bowl of Oats

I went to bed last night thinking about what I was going to eat today. What? Doesn’t everyone do that? I have a notebook on my bedside table where I write down a brief plan for the next day’s food. It only takes a minute, and then I don’t have to think so much about “what am I going to eat?” the next day.

ANYWAY, I started thinking about oatmeal. Somewhere along the way, I lost my oatmeal mojo. Then I added up the calories in the way I like it (custard oats, with walnuts and raisins) and I remembered one reason I stopped eating it. That bowl was 300 calories, and I try to keep my breakfasts under 200 calories. (Don’t feel sorry for me. I do that because I want my mid-morning snack.)

ANYWAY, I started thinking about how I could change that bowl of oats, but still make it delicious. And maybe get a little more nutrition into it? What if I made it REALLY custardy, and doubled the usual amount of egg whites in it? How about using fresh fruit instead of the raisins?

Its hard to get a tasty picture of oatmeal...

Its hard to get a tasty picture of oatmeal…

Oh yes, this was a most worthy recipe! It made a nice sized bowl of oats, so creamy and delicious, and came in at just under 200 calories, with 10 grams of protein per serving (that’s more protein than my usual breakfast fodder.) Here’s the official recipe. Best part? It makes 2 servings, one for now and one for later!

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.)