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.

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Cauliflower-Carrot Bean Bake with Ginger and Garlic

Okay, y’all. Here’s another one. The possibilities are so endless, I just keep on going. But I do promise you no more on this blog as I’m in the process of creating a blog just for bean bakes. I’ll keep you posted!

In the meantime, this bean bake is amazing, and not only because it’s a bright yellow-orange. (At last, a pretty bean bake!) The taste is also terrific!

It’s neither cauliflower nor carrot, but a delicious, rich mix with a tang of ginger and a hint of garlic. For meat-eaters, it would be a great complement to a roast beef or steak.

I wish I had better words to describe the flavour. But this, I find is the cook’s bean-bake dilemma: the beans absorb and/or enhance flavours in unexpected and indescribable ways. In fact, I was afraid that this bean bake might be bland; hence the sprinkle of grated cheese. But it didn’t need the additional seasoning. It was very, very good just on its own.

By the way, I’m on my 5th attempt with kiwi, trying to get the right mix of taste and texture. Upwards and onwards!

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Creamy Sweet Potatoes with Goat Cheese

Thanksgiving brings one’s thoughts around to sweet potatoes…at least, it does mine.  I have to admit, however, that my family is split on the issue.  On one side we have the sweet potato lovers; on the other side, we have those who would rather skip them altogether, if you don’t mind.  Well, what do they know anyway? I am firmly in the sweet-potato-lover camp…three times over.

  • First, I love the taste.
  • Second, I love their nutritional value.  According to Nutritiondata.self.com, sweet potatoes are low in Sodium, and very low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol…a good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin B6 and Potassium, and a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Manganese.
  • Third, I love the fact that, because of their high fiber content, sweet potatoes score lower in point value than regular potatoes in the Weight Watchers program.  More food, less guilt!

So…what’s not to like?  Especially in this easy-to-make dish, where sweet potatoes are blended with soft goat cheese and spiced with cinnamon and ginger. Continue reading

Dieter’s Spiced Cranberry Relish

We Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving on October 10 so our family had its groaning board yesterday, replete with turkey, stuffing, and all the usual wonderful and calorie-rich accompaniments.

In the past, I used to throw caution to the winds and dolloped lots of cranberry sauce (canned) on my turkey even though I knew it was chock-full of sugar.  This year, I decided to make my own cranberry sauce and spend those calories elsewhere—on pumpkin pie, for example, and some stuffing.  And this was a good thing for two reasons.

First of all, this relish was a much superior product to the canned variety: the cranberry flavour enhanced by spicy undertones of orange and spices.  And secondly, I needed to save those extra calories because one daughter brought home-made coconut macaroons, which were to die for.

And, honestly?  My diet did die a little…a smidgeon, really, dear god of weight loss.  But then, such is the fate of diets when Thanksgiving rolls around.

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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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Spiced Frozen Bananas

My favourite breakfast is fruit and yogurt so my idea of heaven is a berry season that goes on year-round which, alas and sigh, is not the case here in Ottawa.  So bananas are my staple for fall, winter, and spring—that is, until reader and friend, Becky, sent me this recipe.

So what turned me back onto bananas in the summer?  The small explosions of what tasted like vanilla ice cream in my fruit-yogurt mix, courtesy of frozen bananas that have been brushed with a light coating of spice. 

Of course, you can eat these bananas by themselves for an “ice cream” treat, but I found that mixing them with other fruit minimized the banana flavour (which I can get in other seasons) and emphasized the vanilla ice cream taste.

Makes 8 servings of ¼ banana each

Ingredients

  • 2 bananas
  • 1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract (pure is better than artificial)
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon (the original called for allspice which I don’t like but you may)
  • ¼ tsp. ground ginger

Directions

  1. Prepare bananas by quartering them.
  2. Mix vanilla extract and spices.
  3. Using a brush, apply spice mixture on all sides of bananas.
  4. Place bananas cut-side down on wax paper.
  5. Freeze for at least 30 minutes before using.
  6. Cut into small slices and add to a fruit mixture.

For Weight Watchers:  .5 point per serving for the Points plan and 0 points for the PointsPlus plan.

Carrot Soup with Leek, Ginger, and Garlic

This puréed soup is easy to make, thick, mild, sweet, and beautiful; it’s good enough for a dinner party.  I discovered it several years ago when I took advantage of the seasonal prices on carrots and bought 10 lbs. worth.  My husband looked askance at the two huge bags and asked, “What are you going to do with all those carrots?” 

That was a good question.  I began to research carrot recipes and discovered many for carrot soup.  I took ideas from several recipes and made a soup using large Spanish onions.  The soup was good but not great.  That’s when I switched to leeks and discovered that they were key to a great flavour.

This soup also appeals to children.  My grandchildren (ages 9-11 when I started making this soup) like this soup best of all the soups I make—even the granddaughter doesn’t like cooked carrots enjoys a bowl of it.

Printer-friendly recipe

Ingredients

    • 6-8 cups of carrots, peeled and chopped into chunks
    • 3-4 leeks, cleaned and the whites chopped into chunks
    • 8-10 cups chicken broth, enough to barely cover the vegetables
    • 1½ tbsp. garlic
    • 1 tbsp. ginger

Directions

  1. Put all ingredients into one large pot.
  2. Bring to a boil.
  3. Lower to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Vegetables should be very tender.
  4. Purée with hand blender or in a processor.

 

For Weight Watchers: 0 points on both the Points and PointsPlus plans.