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.

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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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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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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.

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Eggs and Nutrition: Update

I’ve become interested eggs and nutrition, in particular, after reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan.  In it, he discusses the quality of organic eggs vs. non-organic eggs.  According to Pollan, the yolks of eggs of free-range chickens can be much superior in terms of taste and cooking.  As a result, I have been considering getting my eggs from a local farmer in the fall.  However, Pollan says nothing about nutrient value and, knowing that I would be paying more for these local eggs, I wondered how much extra nutrition my money would be buying.  (Photo from FreeFoto.com)

Thus I found an article from Feedstuffs Foodlink, “Clearing Up Egg, Milk ‘Myths,'” which addresses issues concerning the nutrient value and safety of raw eggs and milk, to be interesting and worthy of a post.  

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Tomato-Basil Egg Drop Soup

I grew up with a basic egg drop soup because my mother used to make it when we were recuperating from some illness.  As a kid, I liked the way the stirred eggs, mixed with parmesan cheese, would burst into tiny “flowers” when the mixture was dripped into a boiling broth.  It also tasted good, too.  It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized our non-Italian family was eating a very well-known Italian soup: stracciatella.

This delicious version includes tomato and spices, all of which enhance the original, delicate flavour.  It’s also a lot more elegant and would be great for a dinner party.  And you could verbally dress it up for guests by calling it “Tomato-Basil Stracciatella.”  Sounds a whole lot more impressive than a soup for kids with tetchy stomachs!

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2-4 servings

Cooking tip: Although making a hot soup in summer may not seem entirely logical, this soup benefits from freshly grown basil and local, ripe tomatoes—summer ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • ¾ cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 sprig of basil
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup sheep romano cheese, grated
  • 2-4 tbsp. of fresh herbs such as parsley, basil, and chives
  • Salt and pepper, to taste 

Directions

  1. In a medium pot, add ½ cup of chicken broth, garlic, diced tomatoes, and sprig of basil.
  2. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. While this mixture is cooking, whisk eggs, cheese, and herbs together in a small bowl  until frothy.
  4. Add rest of broth to cooking pot and bring to a full boil.
  5. Stirring constantly, slowly drip the egg mixture into the boiling broth.
  6. Reduce heat, simmer for 2-3 minutes, and remove basil sprig.
  7. Taste to adjust seasonings.

For Weight Watchers: The point value depends on how many servings you decide to make.  The total overall point value of the soup is 6 points on the Points and PointsPlus plans.  Divide this amount by the number of servings.

(Adapted from “Tomato Stracciatella” by Martha Rose Shulman, published in The New York Times.)

Potato-Crust Quiche, with Broccoli and Mushrooms

Quiche—that heavenly blend of crust, eggs, milk, and whatever filling—has been off my radar for years because of my lactose-intolerance.  I would go out with friends and watch with envy as they ordered the quiche and salad special for lunch.  Sigh (many times over). 

But now, no more self-pity, thank you very much!  Thanks to a helpful post from Shirley at Gluten-Free Easily on how to build a quiche, I began to re-consider my quiche options: potato instead of flour crust, soy milk instead of regular milk, liquid egg substitute instead of regular eggs, lower-calorie romano cheese instead of higher calorie other cheeses, and lots of vegetables. 

My most successful experiment, thus far, has been quiche with broccoli, mushroom, and onion, and this is what I am posting today.  In this quiche, I follow Shirley’s lead by using grated potato for the crust.  However, you could also use use mashed potatoes or potato slices.  If you do, please do some Internet research on how those crusts are prepared and cooked.

Printer-friendly recipe

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients

    • 2 medium-sized potatoes, peeled
    • 1 bunch broccoli florets
    • 2 tbsp. chicken broth powder plus ½ cup water
    • 1 small yellow onion, diced
    • 8 oz. of sliced mushrooms, any type (in the quiche in the photo above, I used enoki mushrooms)
    • ¾ cup liquid egg substitute (approx. 3 regular eggs)
    • 1 cup sheep romano cheese, grated
    • ½ cup soy milk or other alternative milk
    • Cooking spray

Directions

  1. Grate potatoes (you should have approximately 2 cups).
  2. Spray 9″ or 10″ pie plate with cooking spray.
  3. Using your fingers, spread the grated potatoes around the pie plate and as far up the sides as possible.
  4. Spray completed crust with cooking spray.
  5. Bake crust in pre-heated 425° F oven for 15-20 minutes until crust is brown and crusty around the edges. 
  6. While crust is in the oven, make the filling.
  7. Steam broccoli until soft (about 10 minutes) and then chop florets into small pieces.  You should have about 1 cup of florets.
  8. In small frying pan, heat chicken broth-water mixture until bubbling.  
  9. Sauté onions and mushrooms in broth-water mixture until soft.
  10. In a large bowl, mix together egg substitute, ½ cup of the cheese, milk, broccoli, onions, and mushroom. (If your mixture seems too thick, you can add another ¼ cup of egg substitute or milk.)
  11. Pour into cooked potato crust.
  12. Top with remaining ½ cup of cheese.
  13. Bake in 425° F oven for 10 minutesLower heat to 350° and cook for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

For Weight Watchers: One serving (1 of 8 pie slices) is 2.5 points on the Points plan and 3 points on the PointsPlus plan.  Note: If you want to add ¼ cup more egg substitute or milk, the addition will not significantly affect the point count.