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!

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Carob-Covered Pomegranate Seeds

Today the stars aligned!  Truly.  First, this dessert is a delicious and richly satisfying mixture of sweet and tart.  Secondly, the recipe is gluten-, dairy-, and egg-free.  And, thirdly, I made it—just by chance—on  “National Chocolate-Covered Anything Day” (according to Foodimentary who keeps track of these things).  Yep, the moon was definitely in the seventh house.

Alas, however, it isn’t calorie-free, but we can’t have everything, can we?  On the other hand, it isn’t so rich that my diet “pocketbook” can’t afford a serving.  So now I too can eat something wonderfully sweet during the holidays and not feel deprived as everyone else guzzles down egg nog and hogs down cheesecake.  So there, world!

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Lemon Bean “Cheesecake” with Fruit Sauce

Imagine mixing white beans with some lemon, eggs, sugar, and baking powder and baking the concoction for 45 minutes.

What would you have?

The photo of the cake in the pamphlet looked nice.  But what about the taste?  And the texture?  I wasn’t hopeful.  After all, the pamphlet was published by the Ontario White Bean Producers, and you know they’ll root for their product, no matter what.

Now imagine my surprise when I took a taste and realized I had baked a sweet white cake that was tartly flavoured with lemon and textured like cheesecake!  I was so excited I ran to the spouse and fed him a piece.  He confirmed that my tastebuds hadn’t gone around the bend.

Of course, it isn’t real cheesecake.  It isn’t as thick and it lacks that to-die-for creaminess which comes from loads of butter fat.  But for someone with lactose-intolerance who hasn’t eaten cheesecake in years, this faux version is truly a thrill.

Cooking update (10/2011): My stove died, and I don’t get quite the same results with my new stove.  The texture is more cake-like than cheesecake, but the taste is much the same.

Oh, and this dish is whole lot healthier than real cheesecake.  It’s high in protein, low in fats, and if you use artificial sugar, it’s also low in calories.

Speaking of which, if I were to make this for a dinner party, I’d use real sugar.  I could slightly taste the artificial sugar and may try it with 50% sugar/50% artificial sugar the next time I make it just for me.

More info (10/2011):

  • I did make this with real sugar for a dinner party with excellent results.
  • I’ve tried to lower the calorie/cholesterol count by using a liquid egg substitute.  Doesn’t work!  The result is soggy cake.

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Makes 8 slices

Ingredients for cake

  • 1 lemon, juiced (¼ cup) and zested
  • 2 cups white navy/pea beans (19 oz. can), drained and rinsed
  • 3 eggs (don’t use liquid egg substitute)
  • 1 cup sweetener (artificial or real)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • Cooking spray

Directions for cake

  1. Put lemon juice, zest, and beans into a processer and mix until smooth.
  2. Add eggs, sugar, and baking powder.  Blend well.
  3. Spray an 8″ or 9″ springform pan with cooking spray.
  4. Bake in 350° F oven for 40-45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Serve with a dollop of fruit sauce.

Ingredients for fruit sauce

  • 1 cup fruit (Fresh is best but frozen is fine.  I’ve used frozen raspberries and strawberries.)
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tbsp. sugar

Directions for fruit sauce

  1. In a small saucepan, put in fruit, water, and sugar and boil for 3-5 minutes until thick.
  2. Let cool and spoon over each served slice.
  3. If you have extra fresh fruit, you can either add it to the sauce or use it as a garnish.

For Weight Watchers:

  • With artificial sugar: 1 slice is worth 1.75 points on the Points plan and 2 points on the PointsPlus plan.
  • With real sugar: 1 slice is worth 3.75 points on the Points plan and 4 points on the PointsPlus plan.
  • Fruit sauce for 1 serving: The sugar quantity per serving is negligible.  If you’re on the Points plan, calculate the points of 1/8 a cup of the fruit that you use.

(Adapted from “Lemon Bean Cake with Fresh Fruit Sauce” from The Supreme Bean by the Ontario White Bean Producers.)

Orange Marmalade Baked Tofu

Do you suffer from the “no cheese” blues?  If you’re dieting and lactose-intolerant, I’m sure you know what I mean.  Cheese is a high calorie food, and non-cow cheeses are high in cost.  Other people can grab some ordinary cheese for a snack while you and I just sigh with longing.

To counter these blues, you might consider baked tofu.  When you let the tofu bask in a tangy marinade before baking, you end up with a tasty, cheap, low-calorie, and easy-to-make protein alternative that you can grab as a snack or chop up and add to a salad.

Note: I also recently packed up some of this bake for an airplane trip to Florida.  Our plane from Ottawa was late to Newark, and we didn’t get a chance to have dinner.  We arrived in Florida at midnight and, thanks to tofu along with some fruit and pistachio nuts, we didn’t starve!

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Shirataki with Tomato and Cheese

One of my favourite quick lunches is a package of shirataki (tofu) noodles tossed with diced tomatoes and grated sheep romano cheese and cooked for a couple of minutes in the microwave.  It’s not only tasty, the noodles have hardly any calories or carbs and even better: No Weight Watcher point-value! 

Other benefits of Shirataki: 1) The noodles don’t require cooking and that’s what makes it so useful when you’re hungry and want a meal fast; and 2) it’s not expensive because it is a noodle commonly used in Asian cooking.  You can find Shirataki in Asian food stores.

If you haven’t met Shirataki before, let me introduce you.  Shirataki is made of water, tofu, and yam flour.  However, this flour is not related to the yam we see in our grocery stores.  It comes from the Asian konjac yam and does not act like other flours. 

According to eHow Health, the yam flour creates a gelatinous mass when mixed with water, and this mass is not digestable.

Rather, the gelatinous mass moves through the digestive system, stimulating the peristalsis of the stomach and the intestines.  It also acts as a diet aid…Its ability to swell when mixed with water allows it to fill the stomach. It also moves through the digestive system very slowly, making the appetite feel satisfied for a longer period of time… [The yam] has an effect on diabetes as well. Its ability to move through the digestive tract very slowly also slows down carbohydrate absorption. This slowed absorption will keep the blood sugar at a moderate level. 

Although we do not digest the flour from this yam, eHow Health says it is healthy for us:

It is an alkaline food that provides several nutrients to the body. It contains water, protein, carbohydrate, lipids, sodium, potassium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, copper, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin D, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, pantothenate, niacin, fatty acid, folic acid and dietary fiber.

You can use Shirataki in any recipe which calls for pasta.  In fact, when serving spaghetti, I have regular noodles for everyone else and Shirataki for me. Does it taste like pasta?  Not really, but it does the trick, and that’s what counts for me.  Here is the recipe for my oh-so-quick lunch:

Makes 1 serving

Preparation Tip: You must drain the shirataki noodles and rinse them thoroughly.  They have a somewhat fishy smell when they come out of the package. 

Ingredients

  • One package Shirataki (8 oz.), drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes and juice
  • 2 tbsp. grated sheep romano cheese

Directions

  1. Rinse noodles and put in microwavable bowl.
  2. Add tomatoes and cheese.  Mix well.
  3. Microwave at High for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Eat!

For Weight Watchers: The package of noodles and the tomatoes have no point-value.  Only the cheese counts.  This lunch is 1 point in both the Points and PointsPlus plans. 

  

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.

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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.)

Chicken Dijon, Breaded and Baked

Half-breasts and thighs: Ready for the oven

Half-breasts and thighs: Ready for the oven

This breaded  chicken dish has everything going for it.  Crisp and tasty on the outside.  Moist meat on the inside.  A cinch to make.  And it never goes wrong.  I’ve made it with chicken breasts and chicken thighs, both boned and boneless.  100% success rate!

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Serving Tip: If you think your chicken pieces are too large for one serving, you can cut them in half.  I often cut chicken breats in half cross-wise.

Taste Tip: The key to good taste in the crust is the yogurt-mustard mixture—so be generous.   If you run out of the mixture, just make some more.

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 skinless pieces of chicken (breast, thigh, leg, or drumstick), bone-in or boneless 
  • 1/2 cup goat or sheep yogurt
  • 2-3 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup non-wheat, dry bread crumbs (see how to make breadcrumbs in video below)
  • 1 tsp crushed dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. salt and pepper
  • Cooking spray

Directions

  1. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Combine yogurt and mustard in a small bowl.
  3. Mix bread crumbs, thyme, salt, and pepper in a shallow bowl.
  4. Coat each piece of chicken with yogurt-mustard mixture; then roll in breadcrumb mixture.
  5. Place each piece of chicken on sprayed baking sheet.
  6. Bake in 350 degree oven for until golden brown and meat is no longer pink.  45-50 minutes for bone-in chicken; 30 minutes for boneless chicken.
  7. Can be served hot, warm, or cold.

 

For Weight Watchers: Point count in either plan depends on your choice of chicken piece, the size of the chicken piece, and the fat content of your yogurt.  According to the original recipe (which called either for a chicken breast or leg and low-fat yogurt), the point count per serving was 4 points on both the Points plan and PointsPlus plan.

(Adapted from “Chicken Dijon” in the Lighthearted at Home cookbook by Anne Lindsay.)