Cocoa Meringue Cookies

2014-04-13 10.38.07

Orchids and meringues

John and I had a dinner party last night to celebrate our (gasp!) 49th wedding anniversary. Oh, do those years slip away.

One of the friends we had over is on a low-fibre diet which meant foods like legumes were forbidden and everything had to be cooked very well. Here was our menu:

  • Creamy Tomato Soup with Herbed Goat Cheese served with my husband’s fabulous, homemade Challah Bread (regrettably not gluten-free, but it’s his specialty)
  • Lamb Shanks, Braised in Red Wine and Chicken Stock with Carrots and Celery and served over White Rice
  • Puréed Cauliflower, Zucchini, and Leeks
  • Roasted Shallots with Balsamic Vinegar
  • Mocha Tapioca Pudding
  • Cocoa Meringue Cookies

The only dish I had made previously was the soup (the link). Everything else was an experiment. One of the things I enjoy about having a dinner party is that I give myself permission to try out new things. Like making meringue cookies.

Cookies are rarely on my radar because they bring out my Cookie Monster and invite serious, over-the-top gluttony. You know, eat one, eat another one, and…keep right on going. Even in my cookie-baking days with small children, I never made meringue cookies. Up until now, I had been discouraged by the amount of sugar they require and the high-calorie cost of chocolate, if I decide to use it.

But I had an unopened carton of egg whites in my fridge, and research revealed that I could use cocoa powder—the dieter’s alternative to chocolate. In Weight Watcher terms, cocoa powder is 1 point per 3 tablespoons as compared to semisweet chocolate which is 6 points per 3 tablespoons. (For more info, check out “>All About Cocoa Powder.) 

The result was everything meringue cookies should be—light, crunchy in the centre, and deliciously chocolate.

Continue reading

Advertisements

DIY Apple-Spaghetti Squash Kugel

Go wild! Go artistic!

Go wild! Go artistic!

Happy New Year to everyone! May it be filled with good health and resolutions held firm…if possible. I’m a little late getting 2014 started blogwise, but I’m charging out of the gates with a new “blog-look” and a revised recipe. Here goes!

Back in 2012, I posted a recipe for Apple-Spaghetti Squash Kugel, adapted from one on the blog, Cara’s Cravings. It was low in calories, had no oil, and tasted yummy. Recently, I decided to make it again, but now the recipe struck me as, well, conservative.

So I went as wild as I could, considering my forever diet. I used currants instead of raisins. I added pumpkin and sunflower seeds. I exchanged regular Splenda with Splenda’s Brown Sugar Blend (I told you I went wild!).

IMGP2040The result was super-yummy and more filling than the original.  Of course, it had more Weight Watcher points, but it also made 8 servings which spread those points around.

Then I realized that I hadn’t plumbed this recipe’s possibilities. Hence, this a DIY recipe because you can mix and match ingredients to your heart’s content.

Continue reading

WOW! Gluten-Free Angel Food Cake

IMGP1971

Every once in a while, I get a real thrill when baking for this blog, and this is one of those times. Why? Because what I’ve made not only exceeds my expectations, it proves that gluten-free cakes and breads can be just as good as those that include wheat. (Other thrills were cornbread, a loaf of yeast bread, and non-yeast mini-bread loaves.)

So…ta-da! I’m utterly thrilled and delighted to be able to bring you a gluten-free angel food cake that rose beautifully in the oven and didn’t sink while cooling. This success was wonderful in itself because I’ve tried other angel food cake recipes and had major flops (pun intended).

Best of all, this cake tastes like the real deal—sweet, moist, light, and delicious. Mmmm.

The credit for this marvel goes to the Taste of Home website and what you see here is 99.9% of their recipe (somewhat rewritten for clarity). My .1% contribution? I added cocoa powder because one of my mottos is “Chocolate Whenever!”

Speckled swirls?

Speckled swirls?

I thought I could get a black/white swirly thing going. Instead I got a speckled somewhat swirl, but…well, who cares? It’s still…Mmmm.

However, I have plans for this recipe. Right now, it is not a low-carb version. It has 1¼ cups of sugar and, if you slice this 16 ways, each piece has 23 g of carbohydrate. (For more nutrition info, see below.)

I’d like to bring the carbs down because I’m pre-diabetic and need to be careful about my carb intake. I plan to experiment with creating a cake that has a sugar/xylitol or sugar/erythritol combination.

Both of these sugar alternatives have the crunch of sugar but are much lower on the glycemic index and, thus, will have less impact on my blood sugar levels. An added benefit? A lower calorie version as well.

I’ll keep you posted.  In the meantime, bake…eat…enjoy!

Continue reading

Pumpkin-Spaghetti Squash “Kugel”

Only 1 WW point!

Aren’t leftovers nature’s way of improving human creativity?

That was my take on 1½ cups of leftover pumpkin purée.

Gotta do something other than painting the walls with the stuff.

Hit the creativity button!

1) I remembered my recipe for Apple-Spaghetti Squash Kugel. (Revised January 21, 2014.) 

2) Just by coincidence, we also had spaghetti squash leftovers.

Clearly, fate was trying to tell me something. Even better, I was listening for once!

Some thoughts on this ersatz kugel:

  • It tastes just like pumpkin pie but doesn’t have the same texture. I left the spaghetti squash strands as is, but you could purée them to have a smoother texture. That would make this dish a terrific, low-cal version of the real thing.
  • The WW point count of this dish is 3 points for the eggs + 2 points for the Splenda Brown Sugar Blend = 5 points. Next time I’ll just do ½ cup of the Blend and eliminate the Splenda regular artificial sweetener. That will enhance the brown sugar flavour and add only 2 more points.

Continue reading

Blackberry Buckle with Faux-Streusel

One of the challenges of writing a food blog is deciding whether changes to a recipe are just variations on a theme, or if they create a product different enough to justify a new post.

To be honest, I wobbled on this one. To create it, I had made three changes to the Blueberry Buckle Sans Streusel:

  1. Used blackberries (on sale!) instead of blueberries
  2. Used white bean flour instead of garfava flour
  3. Added a topping made of erythritol and cinnamon

Each of these would be a variation if it were on its own, but put them all together…well, I felt they made a considerable change of texture from the original recipe.

Most significantly, the cake is less moist although I used a smaller pan which made the batter deeper. Was the dryness the result of a difference in fruit, in the flour, or in both? The short answer: I don’t know.

I do have a longer, rambling speculation, but I’ll spare you. Suffice it to say that gluten-free baking remains as fascinating to me as ever.

The second textural change involved the topping. I only added this because the blackberries were tart, but they gave each piece a sweet crunch that didn’t exist in the original…and even merited a compliment from my grandson.

So, given that I think texture is as important as taste

Continue reading

Blueberry Buckle Sans Streusel

A “buckle” belongs, I have discovered, in the early American family of fruit cobblers with names such as crisps, crumbles, grunts, slumps, soakers, and pandowdy (ies?).

(I just can’t help thinking about the First Household. George, grumbling: “This cake is a mess!” Martha, spritely: “It’s a new recipe. I call it a slump.”)

Anyway, a buckle was a blueberry cake with a streusel topping of flour, butter, and sugar that buckled or crumpled when baking.

Well, here’s the good news, dieters! In this recipe, the top—not streuseled to save calories—buckled anyway. The cake rose as it baked and then sank and cracked along its own internal geological lines as it cooled. How authentic is that!

In other good news, these low-calorie squares taste splendid—moist and fruity—with a blend of millet and garfava flours. Why the new blend? 1) Millet has a sweetness and texture I like. 2) Garfava flour is an easy-to-find bean flour, a mix of chickpea and fava bean flours. Bean flours up the protein of a baked product and add fewer carbs and hence calories.

Bon appétit!

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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. 

Continue reading

Blackberry Cobbler (Egg-free)

Imagine yourself in the position I was in on Monday afternoon.

I am in Farmboy, a store somewhat akin to U.S. Whole Foods, standing in front of the discount-food rack (one of my favourite shopping spots) where they put the fruits and vegetables that didn’t sell on the weekend. Items have been repackaged into larger quantities.

I spot two large containers of blackberries.  This is amazing because berries rarely make it onto this rack. Each package is $2.49 and, it later turns out, holds 4 cups of berries.

I study them closely and darned if those berries didn’t look really fresh. No furry spots, no discolouration.

What would you have done? Me…well, I can’t resist the bargain, even though I know I’m going to have to use those berries up very quickly.

One of my strategies was to slightly re-cobble my very low-cal cobbler recipe and double it from 8 to 16 pieces. We’ve been eating the cobbler since Tuesday, and these are the last two pieces. Delicious!

Continue reading