Navy Bean Brownies with Carob Chips (no flour, no dairy)

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How’s your Chocolate Monster? Mine is alive and well, thank you very much.

In fact, I would say that she has been on a bit of a rampage lately. I’ve made two batches of brownies in 3 days. I eat them for breakfast, snacks, and dessert.

Breakfast! you exclaim. Brownies for breakfast? 

Yup, unless you’ve got something against eggs and beans first thing in the morning. No kidding. These brownies* are not only delicious and filling, they’re good for you—high in protein, low in carbs, and low in calories.

So how can your Chocolate Monster or mine resist?

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“Smoothie” Sailing!

Spinach Smoothie

Does the food blogosphere need yet another smoothie recipe? Probably not, but bear with me, please. There is method to my madness.

The smoothie story begins on the July 1 weekend when we were celebrating Canada Day on our boat with 3 grandchildren (all early teens) and one daughter.

We were having a grand time until a stomach flu swept through the boat in the middle of the night. I’ll spare you the grim details but it involved throwing up and fevers.

The only positive note was that I lost 5½ lbs.!

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Paper Bag Popcorn

All you need are corn kernels and a paper bag. 

AND VOILA!

Popcorn, without the oil and salt, is a great snack. It’s crunchy, filling, nutritious, easy on your pocketbook, and a cinch to make. Oh yes, and rock bottom on the calorie chart.  One cup of corn kernels is only 31 calories.

Admittedly, popcorn without oil and salt is bland, and that’s where this recipe steps in to help.

But, first, let’s be up-front with the negative. Diet popcorn will never be rich with oil. If it were, it would no longer fit in our diets. Hence it will never taste like movie popcorn, bagged popcorn, or DIY-in-the-microwave boxed popcorn bags.

Rather, you can give paper bag popcorn a sweet or savoury adornment, depending on your taste buds. The popcorn will be dry and crunchy; the flavouring, mild but satisfying.

And it will be good for you. According to NutritionSelf.com, popcorn without oil and salt “is very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Dietary Fiber and Manganese.”

All you need is an open mind about what popcorn is and how it should taste.

In this recipe, I’m going to give you my recipe for sweet cinnamon popcorn. (Yep, the darned sweet tooth insisted.) If you have any terrific flavourings, please let me know, and I’ll add them to this post.

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Quinoa Brownies for Serious Chocoholic Dieters (no flour, no oil)

Hit by an intense and unceasing chocolate craving? Fear not, these brownies will come to the rescue.

They are moist, rich, and chocolate-y to the nth degree.

They’re also healthy, chockfull of protein, and good for your diet.  Plus, a cinch to make.

Sounds impossible? Read on!

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Zucchini Cinnamon Squares

Craving carbs and rummaging in the kitchen for a snack?

These squares are moist, mildly sweet, and chock-full of protein because of the bean and quinoa flours. This means that they will contribute more to filling you up than, say, rice flours.

As I noted in a recent post on low-calorie snacks, I’m going back to early recipes to lower their calorie counts, using what I’ve learned since I started this blog in February, 2011.

These squares…well, really rectangles…are adapted from my Zucchini Cinnamon Bread, and the changes reduced the Weight Watcher point count for the total product from 32 to 23, or approximately 1600 calories to 1150, based on 50 calories per point.

  • Flour/starch blend: I replaced the brown rice flour with white bean flour which has an extraordinary amount of protein and fiber per cup. The result is that it’s significantly lower in calories than white or brown rice flour. (Weight Watcher info: the point count of a cup of rice flour is 16; for the bean flour, 9!) I also added potato starch to help with texture and lift.
  • Oil: I eliminated fats altogether. (So there, Satan of Weight Gain!)
  • 12 squares instead of 8 bread slices: I want to keep my snacks at only 2 WW points (or 100 calories). Also, I find it easier to cut equal-size squares than equal-size bread slices.

I also decreased the zucchini from 2 cups to 1 cup. The original bread was sometimes too moist and broke apart too easily, partially, I believe, because the zucchini let off moisture as it cooked. Even so, you’ll need to cook the squares for as long as possible to dry out the batter. 

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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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