Cucumber Blueberry Mint Salad

This salad is “an end-of-summer delight”—a combination of savoury cucumber (now in season) and sweet blueberries (still on the shelves) whose flavours only work together when they are textured with the fresh tang of mint. 

I know this because I made it without mint earlier in the summer, and the spouse who had never seen the original recipe said, “This would benefit from some mint, don’t you think?”

Anyway, I say “end of summer” because the temperature reached 30° C (86° F) today, and it sure as heck didn’t feel like the second week of September.  We used to get a first frost in early September but those days seem to be long past.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Quick Blueberry (or any fruit) Quinoa Bake

Yum, blueberries, yum, coconut…and that’s just for starters.  I like a good breakfast that includes protein (or I’m hungry by 10:00 a.m.), and this bake is filling and chock-a-block full of healthy nutrients.  In addition to the fruit, it includes two recently lauded superfoods: quinoa (protein) and chia seeds (good-for-you fats and protein).  Who can argue with sweet, beneficial, and satisfying?  Yum!

The key to this bake’s great taste is the fruit.  It requires fresh, ripe fruit.  I made it with strawberries as well, but the berries we get at this time of year are imported, a bit “woody,” and nowhere near as as flavorful as the local berries when they’re in season.  The result: good, but not great.  The blueberries (also imported) were much better.  Next time, I’m going to try peaches.  This is a recipe that calls out for experimenting.

Update: I made this with freshly harvested local strawberries.  Delicious! 

Printer-friendly recipe

Makes 1 serving

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup blueberries (or any other fruit)
  • ¼ cup quinoa flakes
  • 2 tbsp. unsweetened coconut, shredded
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. applesauce
  • 1 tsp. chia seeds
  • Cooking spray

Directions

  1. Mash blueberries to form a pulp.
  2. Mix in quinoa, sugar, chia seeds, apple sauce, and coconut.
  3. Spray an 8-oz. (½ cup) baking dish (I use small pyrex containers) with cooking spray.
  4. Press blueberry mixture into dish, smoothing the surface.
  5. Microwave at High for 3-3.5 minutes.  According the original recipe, you know it’s done because it has risen slightly, is harder to the touch, and pulls away from the side of the dish.  The strawberry bake did rise, but the blueberry didn’t.  No problem…it was cooked—even crunchy!

For Weight Watchers: 7 points in both the Points and PointsPlus plans.

(Adapted from “5 minute Strawberry Quinoa Flake Bake” at Healthful Pursuit.

Cinnamon Blueberry Cobbler (Egg-free)

One of my goals in life is to create baked products that meet both the needs of my diet and my sweet tooth.  I have trained the latter to be satisfied with a lower level of sweetness, but it likes its treats and grumbles when its demands are ignored. (Anybody know a dentist who can deal with this little monster?) 

Anyway, after much experimentation, I have managed to come up with a cobbler (cake with fruit on top) that is moderately sweet, light, and about as healthy as a cake can be (it includes quinoa flour, yogurt, and blueberries).  But it has no eggs and virtually no oil, making it my lowest-calorie baked product, thus far. 

This recipe is also the first time that I’ve baked with erythritol, a granulated sugar alcohol with a low glycemic index (good for diabetics) and no aftertaste whatsoever (good for everyone else).  

At the moment, erythritol ranges between $13-16 a pound in Canada for the Now Natural Food product and $18-20 for the 12-ounce pack of Organic Zero.  This is twice as expensive than the same products in the U.S.  This makes me a little crazy.  To keep my sanity, I’m looking into ordering in bulk, from a U.S. online seller.  If anyone has done this, please let me know.  At any rate, I’ll keep you posted.

Update: I have now also made Strawberry-in-Season Cobbler, which used this recipe but required a bit of tweaking.

Printer-friendly recipe

Taste tip: It is important to cool the cobbler down before eating it.  When it is hot, the cake is a little gummy.  In fact, I had thought, at first, that I had another disaster.  However, after it cooled, it was fine.  Why?  Who knows?

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup white rice flour
  • ¼ cup quinoa flour
  • ¼ cup tapioca starch
  • ½ cup + 2 tbsp. sweetener (Note: Weight Watcher points for this recipe are based on the use of a no-calorie sugar.  I used erythritol.)
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. + 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. xanthan gum
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp. plain goat yogurt
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • Cooking spray

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients: rice flour, quinoa flour, tapioca starch, ½ cup erythritol, 1 tsp. cinnamon, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together water, yogurt, and vanilla.
  3. Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients.
  4. Spray 8″ x 8″ baking pan with cooking spray.
  5. Pour cake batter into pan.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together remaining  2 tbsp. of erythritol and 1 tsp. of cinnamon.
  7. Add blueberries and mix gently until coated.
  8. Cover cake batter with blueberries.
  9. Bake in 350° F oven for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the pan comes out clean.
  10. Do not eat until cool!  Cut into 8 servings and enjoy!

For Weight Watchers: Each serving is 2 points on the Points plan and 2.5 points on the PointsPlus plan.

(Adapted from “Very Berry Cobbler” at Raia’s Recipes.)

Blueberry Quinoa Pancakes

Imagine light, moist, gluten-free pancakes that are healthy for you and have enough sweetness that you don’t need sugar or syrup (unless you want to, of course).  Impossible, you say?  Not in the least.

Thanks to Nora at the Natural Noshing blog who recently posted a wonderful quinoa waffle recipe, I was inspired to create what seemed to me to be one of my ultimate verboten foods, ingredient-wise and diet-wise: pancakes.

This recipe proves, once again, that being a gluten-sensitive, lactose-intolerant dieter does not mean a life of despair (sob!) and deprivation.  These pancakes are a wonderful comfort food.  In fact, I tweaked the original recipe so that I could eat all the pancakes in one sitting and not create a ripple in my diet.  And, while they were delicious with blueberries, I’m going to try diced peaches next.  Yum!

Printer-friendly recipe

Makes 5-6 pancakes

Cooking tip #1: If you’re dieting, you’ll want to fry these pancakes in a non-stick pan using cooking spray.  I used a large skillet as follows.  I sprayed one side of the pan and poured in 2 pancakes (¼ cup batter) when the pan was medium hot.  When they were ready to be flipped, I sprayed the other side of the pan and turned them over onto that side.  Then I sprayed the original side and started another set of pancakes.  I used medium heat and, if any smoking occurred, I turned the heat down a bit.

Cooking tip #2: Unlike their gluten-flour counterparts, these pancakes do not announce that they’re finished on the hidden side by creating bubbles on the visible side.  You’ll need to cook these on one side for about 3 minutes or when the edges are fully browned.  Flip them carefully and cook for another 2-3 minutes or when a spatula pressed into the surface does not leave a dent.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup quinoa flour
  • ¼ cup quinoa flakes
  • 2 tbsp. sweetener (Note: Weight Watcher points for this recipe are based on the use of artificial sugar.)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. xanthan gum
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup soy milk or other alternative milk
  • ¼ cup canned pumpkin
  • ¼ cup liquid egg substitute
  • 1 tsp. oil
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ cup blueberries

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients: quinoa flour, quinoa flakes, sweetener, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, cinnamon, and salt.
  2. In a smaller bowl, whisk together all liquid ingredients: milk, pumpkin, egg substitute, oil, and vanilla extract.
  3. Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients.
  4. Add blueberries to combined mixture.
  5. Heat frying pan over medium heat.  Use ¼ cup as a measure to hold the batter per pancake.  Cook 3 minutes on one side and 2-3 minutes on the other. (See Cooking tips #1 and #2 above).

For Weight Watchers: The entire recipe is 7 points on the Points plan and 8.5 points on PointsPlus plan.  If you wish to reduce points on the Points plan, make these without any fruit.