Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Plantains

IMGP1886Sometimes, American expats, like myself, get together for an American Thanksgiving. Which is how the spouse and I recently found ourselves with friends, Tony and Gail, eating turkey, stuffing, cranberry relish, etc., etc., and etc.

Tony had made a delicious entrée, Spicy Squash Soup, from a recipe on Oprah’s web site where it is billed as being influenced by “the vibrant flavors of the Caribbean.”

To be honest, I’ve been in various countries around the Caribbean and never had anything that tasted like this soup. But who cares? A yummy winter soup is a thing of culinary beauty and a joy to sup forever.

Here it is then, adapted to lower the calorie count and replace missing ingredients. I forgot to buy the required Vidalia onion and celery so I used leek and carrot. Furthermore, I didn’t have “Madras-style” curry.

Did you think curry was just curry? So did I. However, in addition to “Madras-style,” I’ve now also seen a recipe that calls for “Mexican” curry! Who can keep up with such fast-moving trends?

Throw caution to the wind, I say, and use whatever’s in the spice drawer.

Enjoy!

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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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Butternut Squash Brownies (oil-free)

Butternut Squash Brownie
served with yogurt and clementine

Looking for a yummy and filling brownie that’s also low-calorie? This one has no oil, and that makes a big difference. I am always amazed when calculating Weight Watcher point-values how fast they go up when you add in the oil—3 points for every tablespoon. Whew!

You can substitute other gluten-free flours in this recipe, but that may change the amount of liquid (in the form of eggs or milk) that you may need. Different flours are thirsty in different amounts.

If you do decide to vary the recipe, mix batter without the egg and add, as necessary, in ¼ cup batches. The batter should be thick but spreadable.

Enjoy!

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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.

Printer-friendly recipe

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.