Rutabaga and Pear Puree

IMGP1976Many eons ago the spouse read somewhere that you could add pears to a rutabaga to mellow its taste.

Since he is a pear aficionado and I am not, this purée became his dish to make and consume. I still found it too bitter.

So when he said he was going to make it for our Easter meal, I was somewhat less than enthusiastic. I think I shrugged.

Hence you can imagine how surprised I was to discover that this dish was light and delicious! What had changed? The spouse had used canned pears in water instead of real pears.

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Roasted Radishes

dsc01559Many, many thanks to Christine at The Perky Poppy Seed blog for discovering that radishes roast so beautifully. As she says,

When you roast a radish something happens to that in-your-face-bold radish taste. The radish becomes an elegant vegetable, with a mild delicate taste. Roasted radishes are lovely on their own or in a salad.  I like mine on top of a spinach salad with a bit of of lemon zest and a nice simple vinaigrette.

After reading her post, I bought 3 bunches of radishes (on sale—extra bonus), roasted them, and they were delicious! I had no idea that your could roast radishes and, probably, daikon as well.

This blog has her recipe, adapted from The Silver Palate cookbook, and her lovely photos. (Stars are mine.)

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French Toast Sans Bread

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This recipe was inspired by the kitchen in our rental casita in Tucson, AZ.

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The kitchen’s cute, but the lack of space and basic gear limited my culinary endeavours. Moreover, who wants to spend time in the kitchen when the sun is shining and the mountain trails beckon?

Still, I got a baking urge now and then although I had no supplies for baking. Which got me thinking about egg custards. Which led me, after a little research on the right ratio of egg to liquid. Which brought me to this very easy, very low-calorie dish and variations of it.

Oh, and the spouse also likes it. Also, we both agree that it doesn’t seem to matter if you use regular eggs (higher calories) or liquid egg substitute (lower calories).

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Turkish Carrot and Lentil Stew

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Yep, carrots again. But this time, instead of making them sweet and spicy, I adapted a coriander-spiced dish from NPR’s show, The Splendid Table.

I was attracted to this recipe because it

  • sounded like a tummy-warming, tasty, vegetarian winter stew.
  • required a lot of carrots and I’d bought a lot on sale.
  • included bean protein, which is always a good and nutritious thing.
  • would use up the tomato paste languishing in my fridge.
  • needed fresh herbs which I actually had on hand (almost never happens!).
  • would help fill up my teenaged grandchildren who were coming to dinner. (The dinner was cancelled after this dish was made, and we’ve been eating it ever since…but that’s another story.)

So I re-fashioned the recipe: eliminated the oil, used more carrots and, generally, simplified where possible. The result was delicious, had delightful grace notes of parsley, and was every bit as warm and filling as I had hoped.

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Banana Bread with Carob Chips

chocolatechipbananabread2Okay, okay, it’s a recycled recipe. But here’s the good news.

I shaved 11 WW points (roughly 500 calories) from the original recipe by changing one flour and eliminating the oil altogether. Thank you, applesauce, for being such a great replacement!

Using millet flour instead of rice flour not only added nutrition and cut points, it also got rid of the need for milk—another calorie savings. Millet flour, I’m learning, is less thirsty than rice flour.

Of course, the applesauce may have something to do with it, but who knows? This is the kind of mystery that makes gluten-free, low-calorie baking so intriguing…she says with a smile.

Anyway, light and delicious, this banana bread can be served as a loaf, a muffin, or a square (as shown in the photo.)

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Sweet and Spicy Roasted Carrots

IMGP1894I admit it: I’m recycling. If you follow this blog, you know I write about roasted root vegetables ad nauseum* because I consider them a dieter’s best friends.

Then, to add insult to injury, I am also recycling a spice mix from Spiced Sweet Potato Round and (A Little Bit of) Squash Heaven.

It happened this way: I was staring at a 3 lb. bag of carrots and asked myself, “If that spice mix is so great with sweet potatoes and squash, why wouldn’t it be equally great with carrots?” Yes, such are the profound, metaphysical questions that mark my days.

And, happily, the universe went along because the answer was a resounding “Yes,” not only from the spouse, but also from two grandchildren (aged 13 and 14) who gave it a definitive thumbs up.

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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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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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GF Dieters: Please Be Cautious with this Cookbook!

Recently, I checked The Joy of Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Baking by Peter Reinhart and Denene Wallace out of the library. It is a newly published cookbook, and the title and claim—“80 low-carb recipes that offer solutions for celiac disease, diabetes, and weight loss”—sounded as if its recipes would be perfect for me and many of the readers of this blog.

The reality, however, doesn’t live up to the hyperbole, particularly if viewed through a Weight Watchers lens. If you’re a gluten-free dieter or a person with diabetic issues who has to keep your weight down, caution is in order. Here’s why.

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How to Blend Low-Calorie, Gluten-Free Flours/Starches

Recently, I got a reader comment that surprised me.

Katherine from the Kat’s Health Corner blog was remarking on my Pumpkin Currant Muffins and wrote, “I love how you combined the chickpea and quinoa flours — how creative!” What surprised me was the praise. (But thank you, Katherine, thank you!)

The truth is I’m driven, not so much by the desire to be creative, but by the search for low-calorie GF flour/starch blends for baking.

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