Chocolate Tofu Pudding (or Popsicles)

I seem to be posting a lot of recipes that contain chocolate. On the other hand, nobody is complaining.

Let’s face it. We’re a bunch of major chocoholics. And, really, why fight it? Chocolate tastes good, and, because it raises serotonin levels, it makes us feel good. Yum and a happy “hmmm.” What’s not to like?

You can make this recipe in two ways. With the gelatin, you get pudding; without gelatin, you could make popsicles. (Unfortunately, my popsicle maker disappeared years ago.)

Either way, you and your family end up with a delicious summer (chocolate) treat!

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Quinoa Pudding: Basics and Variations

Mango-Banana Quinoa Pudding

The fruit season is just upon us here in Canada, and I’m looking forward to expanding my list of quinoa puddings.

These desserts are a low-cal favourite in our family. Or to put it another way: the spouse eats them faster than I can make them.

These recipes are all variations on the same theme: cooked quinoa, puréed fruit or squash, milk, eggs, spices/extracts, and sweetener. Once you know the basics, it’s easy to try new ones.

I thought it might be useful to bring my favourite recipes together in one post so you can see how they work. I’ll keep adding to the variations as I make them and, if you create one worth sharing, let me know and I’ll post it here.

For Weight Watchers: The point value depends on the milk that you use, but the recipe makes roughly 10 ½-cup servings with a point value of about 2 per serving.

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Low-Calorie Snacks

Snacks and dieting…dieting and snacks. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, these are two things that don’t go well together.

In my pre-diet days, I loved the oh-so-easy snacks. I’d just grab something from the fridge or cupboard that would quickly satisfy my carb or salt cravings.

Snacks on a diet don’t have that happy-go-lucky quality. For me, snacks now require careful planning from the grocery store right up to the finished product. Even a simple nosh like an apple requires making sure I always have apples in the house.

But this post isn’t about the simple snacks. I don’t know about you, but sometimes an apple, a handful of carrots, or a bowl of popcorn (how to make your own in the microwave, oil-free) just won’t cut it. I want a snack more interesting in taste and texture that is also

  • Low in calories, i.e., has little or no fat. (Sugar isn’t a problem for me; I use artificial sweetener.)
  • Healthful because it has nutritious ingredients.
  • Filling so that I don’t get hungry again so quickly.
  • 2 Weight Watcher (WW) points or less so it doesn’t overwhelm my daily count. (Roughly 100 calories.)

To that end, I am now experimenting with snack recipes, mine and others’, with the express purpose of keeping the calorie count down. As part of this effort, I decided to compile a list of all my low-calorie recipes to better understand how to replace empty calories with good ones. I thought you’d find this list helpful.

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Crustless Strawberry/Raspberry Lime Chia Pie

Hot summer days just beg for cold, refreshing desserts that are both sweet and tart at the same time.  This pie not only delivers on taste, it’s also lovely, light, and very low-cal.  Oh, and it’s also a little crunchy, thanks to the chia seeds. 

I’ve made this pie with strawberries; then I made it with raspberries (in the photo).  I’m sure you could even mix them for a third delicious flavour!  And now that I think about it: what about blueberries…?

Many, many thanks to Susan at the Sugar & Spice blog for providing the inspiration for this pie with her delicious Strawberry Lime Chia Pudding.

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Servings: Divvy it up any way you want!

Ingredients

  • 1 pkg. gelatin (1 tbsp.)
  • ¼ tepid water + ¼ boiling water
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 cups strawberries or raspberries
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened soy or almond milk
  • ¼-½ cup erythritol sugar, to taste
  • 1 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. almond extract

Directions:

  1. Prepare the gelatin by pouring the powder over the tepid water, adding the boiling water, and then mixing until completely dissolved.
  2. Prepare lime by juicing it.
  3. Put gelatin, lime, ¼ cup erythritol, and all other ingredients into a food processor or blender. Process until smooth.
  4. Taste for sweetness and add remaining ¼ cup erythritol if necessary.
  5. Pour into an 8″ or 9″ pie plate.
  6. Refrigerate until set—about 4 hours.

For Weight Watchers: The total pie is worth:

  • With soy milk (80 calories/cup): 4 points on the Points plan and 3.5 points on the PointsPlus plan. 
  • With almond milk (60 calories/cup): 3.5 points on the Points plan and 3 points on the PointsPlus plan. 

Quinoa Pudding #4: Mango-Banana

I bought a box of 18 mangoes because the price was…well, so compelling.  I could just hear those mangoes calling out to me.  When I arrived home, my husband groaned at the sight…yes, I’ve done this before, but this time the price was even better!  This earned me a rolling of the eyes, which I completely disregarded as we’ve been married for 45 years, and a few mangoes can’t threaten that marital bond, can they?

Okay, so what to do with all this ripening fruit?  My solution was to make several iterations of Coconut-Mango Squares and to turn to my versatile quinoa pudding recipe.  Since I also had one small, overripe banana, I decided to throw that in with some mangoes (although I’m sure you could just use mangoes).  The result: a pudding so sweet that it required no additional sweetener.  And, as with the Summertime Banana Quinoa Pudding, I served this cold—a delicious, refreshing, and filling treat for my late-afternoon snack.

When varying this recipe: The trick, I find, is to make sure that you have a total of 3½ cups of liquid between the milk and the puréed fruit.  When I combined the banana with 2 small, yellow ataulfo mangoes, I ended up with 1½ cups and, therefore, reduced the original 2½ cups of almond milk down to 2 cups.  Two other differences from the banana pudding: I altered the spices to adapt to the mango flavour and had to cook the pudding longer.  I’m not sure why: perhaps because there is more fruit and less milk?

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Quinoa Pudding #3: Summertime Banana

Sweet, cool, soothing, filling, and easy to make—this is a pudding that’s just right for hot summer days.  This dish is also a new version of a versatile favourite. (Earlier warm pudding versions used dried cranberries and puréed pumpkin or squash.)

I keep finding myself coming back to this pudding recipe whenever a possible ingredient makes itself  known: in this case, aging bananas crying out to be puréed.   But bananas are calorie-expensive, my rational mind argued.  But they’d be delicious in this pudding, my stomach-inclined mind replied.  Think of something! 

That something was to tweak the original recipe by using liquid egg substitute instead of whole eggs and almond milk instead of soy milk.  That didn’t make a significant change in taste but it did lower the Weight Watcher points and, hence, calories.  My stomach-inclined mind immediately thought of adding chocolate or coconut, but I ignored it as best I could!

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Makes 9-10 ½-cup servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa seeds
  • 2 ½ cups unsweetened almond milk
  • ½ cup liquid egg substitute
  • ¼ cup artificial sugar, to taste
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • Pinch of nutmeg 
  • 1 cup puréed bananas

Instructions

  1. Rinse quinoa seeds if the manufacturer has not indicated that this has been done.
  2. Put 2 cups of water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  3. Add quinoa and bring to boil again.
  4. Lower heat to simmer.
  5. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes.  The quinoa should have absorbed all the water, and you should have approximately 2 cups. 
  6. In a bowl, beat eggs with a whisk.
  7. Stir in milk, vanilla, salt, spices, and puréed banana.
  8. Test for sweetness and add artificial sugar if necessary. 
  9. Add cooked quinoa to liquid ingredients.
  10. Bake in 325 degree oven for 55 minutes. The quinoa will not be set yet.
  11. Let stand for 15 minutes for liquid to absorbed.
  12. Chill in refrigerator

For Weight Watchers: 2 points per ½-cup serving on both the Points plan and PointsPlus plan.

Mmmm-Good Chocolate Pudding Cake

A warm, crusty chocolate cake on the top, dotted with chocolate chips, and a thick chocolate-coffee pudding underneath.  It’s rich and satisfying but not overly sweet.  Mmmm-good, chocolate-good!  (Sorry, but my inner chocaholic just got out and needs to be shoved back.)

Also, this is the first time I’ve used a gluten-free flour mix suggested by a cookbook author as a basic blend for baking.  It was so simple I made 9 cups; now I’ll have more on hand for the next recipe. 

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Makes 8 servings (approximately 1/2 cup each)

The Basic Gluten-Free Mix (for 9 cups), courtesy of author Bette Hagman, is as follows:

  • 6 cups white rice flour
  • 2 cups potato starch
  • 1 cup tapioca flour

Cooking tip: The original recipe called for ½ cup of milk.  I found that adapting the recipe to gluten-free required ¾ cup.

Taste tip: When served warm, the pudding cake has no artificial sugar taste.  When the cake is cool, the artificial sugar is little less obliging.  Therefore, I suggest serving this warm.  Or you could use an artificial baking mix or use ½ real sugar, ½ artificial sugar.  If you do, remember to add the additional points to the dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Basic Gluten-Free Mix (or approximately 2/3 cup of rice flour, 3.33 tbsp. of potato starch, and 1.66 tbsp. of tapioca flour)
  • 1/3 cup artificial sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. xanthan gum
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  • ½ – ¾ cup soy or other alternative milk
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup chocolate chips
  • 1 and 1/3 cups brewed coffee
  • 2/3 cup artificial sugar

Directions

  1. In large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: flour, artificial sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
  2. In a smaller bowl, whisk together liquid ingredients: egg, smaller amount of milk, oil, and vanilla extract.
  3. Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well.  Batter should be thick but not “balled up” in the whisk.  Add small portions of milk as needed.
  4. Fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Spray a 1.5 qt. baking dish.
  6. Scrape batter into the baking dish.
  7. Mix coffee and artificial sugar in a measuring cup and pour over batter.  (This liquid should now be sitting on top of the batter.  During baking, the cake will rise to the surface and the pudding sauce will be beneath it.)
  8. Bake in 350º oven until top is solid, not wet, and pulling away from the sides of the baking dish, approximately 40 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature.  Pudding will thicken during this time.
  10. Cut cake into eighths and dig all the way to the bottom to make sure each piece has its share of pudding. 
  11. Serve warm.

For Weight Watchers: Each ½-cup serving is 4 points on the Points plan and 4.5 points on the PointsPlus plan.

(Adapted from “Chocolate-Fudge Pudding Cake” in The EatingWell™ Diabetes Cookbook by Joyce Hendley and the editors of EatingWell.)

Quinoa Pudding #2: With Pumpkin or Butternut Squash

Right out of the oven

Right out of the oven

I’ve been experimenting with this pudding and have discovered that it offers great versatility.  Quinoa Pudding #1 had cranberries and was delicious.  I then made the pudding with 1 cup of pumpkin purée and liked it even better.  It was filling and a sweet comfort food.  I also had to cook the pudding longer because there was more of it.

Yesterday I made it with mashed butternut squash to see what would happen.  Another success and it made the kitchen smell like butterscotch!  My husband liked the pumpkin pudding better, but I’d rate both as equal.  Also, both pumpkin and butternut quash are great foods for dieters because both are 0 points on the Weight Watchers program.

Update: I have also created a summer version with banana that is now posted.

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Makes 9-10 ½-cup servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa seeds
  • ½ cup liquid egg substitute
  • ½ cup artificial sugar
  • 2½ cups almond milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 cup pumpkin purée or butternut squash, cooked and mashed

Instructions

  1. Rinse quinoa seeds if the manufacturer has not indicated that this has been done.
  2. Put 2 cups of water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  3. Add quinoa and bring to boil again.
  4. Lower heat to simmer.
  5. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes.  The quinoa should have absorbed all the water, and you should have approximately 2 cups.
  6. In a bowl, beat eggs with a whisk.
  7. Stir in artificial sugar, milk, vanilla, salt, spices, and mashed squash.
  8. Test the flavour to ensure that it is sweet enough for you or needs more spices.
  9. Add cooked quinoa to liquid ingredients.
  10. Bake in 325 degree oven for 55 minutes. The quinoa will not be set yet.
  11. Let stand for 15 minutes for liquid to absorbed.

For Weight Watchers: 2 points per ½-cup serving on the Points plan and 1.5 points per ½-cup serving on the PointsPlus plan.

Quinoa Pudding #1: With Dried Cranberries

Quinoa-Cranberry Pudding

Quinoa-Cranberry Pudding

Sick of rice in just about every dish?  Here’s an alternative, a quinoa version of rice pudding. 

This dessert provides all the comfort-food quality of milk, eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon cooked together, but the quinoa adds more texture than rice, and the dried cranberries punctuate the dish with a chewy sweetness. 

Also, you can vary it by not using cranberries but adding other ingredients.  Recently, I used leftover pumpkin puree, and a blog reader, Rhonda, has added chocolate.  Just remember to subtract the value points of the cranberries and add in those of the new ingredient.

Update: I have posted two more versions of this pudding since its original publication: the pumpkin or squash pudding and a summer edition with banana.

Best served warm.

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Makes 8 ½-cup servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa seeds
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup artificial sugar
  • 2 ½ cups milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup dried cranberries

Instructions

  1. Rinse quinoa seeds if the manufacturer has not indicated that this has been done.
  2. Put 2 cups of water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  3. Add quinoa and bring to boil again.
  4. Lower heat to simmer.
  5. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes.  The quinoa should have absorbed all the water, and you should have approximately 2 cups.
  6. In a bowl, beat eggs with a whisk.
  7. Stir in artificial sugar, milk, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, and cranberries.
  8. Add cooked quinoa to liquid ingredients.
  9. Bake in 325 degree oven for 45 minutes. The quinoa will not be set yet.
  10. Let stand for 15 minutes for liquid to absorbed.

For Weight Watchers: 2.5 points per ½-cup serving on the Points plan and 3.5 points per ½-cup serving on the PointsPlus plan.

Nutritional Information for a ½-cup serving:

  • Calories 108 (19 from fat)
  • Protein 5 grams
  • Fat 2 grams
  • Carbohydrate 17 grams
  • Fibre 2 grams
  • Cholesterol 0 mg
  • Sodium 102 mg

This food is low in saturated fat, and very low in cholesterol. It is also a good source of Vitamin D, riboflavin, Vitamin B12, magnesium, and manganese.

(Adapted from “Quinoa Pudding” at Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfood Blog at http://www.cookingquinoa.net/quinoa-pudding/)

Sweet Cardomom-Carrot Pudding

We're happy to be your comfort food.
We’re happy to be your comfort food.

Shredded carrots and rice simmer in soy milk and are then sweetened and delicately flavoured with cardamom.  This pudding is related to carrot halwa, an Indian dish, but it’s lower in fat and sugar and doesn’t include nuts.  It’s filling and delicious whether hot, warm, or cool.

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Makes 5 ½-cup servings

 Cooking Tip:

 The key to this dessert is the stirring.  You should stir frequently during the first 45 minutes and regularly in the last 15 minutes.  Is this a lot of stirring?  Yes.  Is it worth it? Absolutely.

 
Ingredients
  • 4 cups soy or other alternative milk (your choice may affect the points count)
  • 2 cups shredded carrots (2 large carrots)
  • 2 tbsp. uncooked white rice
  • ½ cup artificial sugar
  • 1 tsp. margarine
  • ¼ tsp. ground cardamom

Directions

  1. In medium-size heavy saucepan, put milk, carrots, and rice.
  2. Bring to boil and then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered.
  3. Stir frequently so that milk doesn’t form a skin or burn to the bottom of the pot.
  4. Simmer for about 45 minutes until milk is reduced by half.
  5. Stir in artificial sugar and margarine.
  6. Continue simmering and stirring for another 15 minutes (mixture will be thicker).
  7. Pour into 1/2 cup serving dishes.
  8. Mixture will continue to thicken as it cools.
  9. Serve hot, warm, or cool.

For Weight Watchers: 2 points per ½-cup serving on the Points plan and 3 points per ½-cup serving on the PointsPlus plan.

Nutritional Information for a ½-cup serving:

  • Calories 122.4 (33.2 from fat)
  • Protein 7.4 grams
  • Fat 3.8 grams
  • Carbohydrate 14.8 grams
  • Fibre 2.2 grams
  • Cholesterol 0 mg
  • Sodium 68.8 mg

This food is very low in cholesterol. It is also a good source of Riboflavin, Pantothenic Acid and Magnesium, and a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12 and Calcium.

(Adapted from “Carrot Pudding” in A Collection of Recipes Celebrating Ontario’s Flavours)