Apricot-Orange Breakfast Bread

This breakfast bread is not too sweet, slightly tart, and substantial.  (I don’t want to be hungry two hours after breakfast.)  It mixes happily with eggs done once-over-lightly and does not complain if it gets soaked with egg yolk.  It took four tries to get here but, hey, who’s complaining?

The inspiration for this bread came from a recipe for a cake made with orange marmalade.  In Canada, we have a line of good-tasting, no-sugar jams and jellies made by Smuckers, and I had already successfully used their marmalade in Orange Rosemary Chicken Breasts.  Hence…great for a breakfast bread, right?  I wish. 😦  The bread had a bitter flavour.

I tried different flour blends; I added chopped oranges for more sweetness.  Nothing worked.  The marmalade may be delicious in a mix with oil and spices, but it was not going to work in a baked product.  Something in the ingredients and/or cooking process was turning the rinds in the marmalade bitter.   After three attempts, I was ready to throw in my dish towel, apron, whisk, and bowl.

“What about using apricot jam?” my husband suggested.  He has a vested interest in my success.  He is my primary taste-tester.  He does a lot of bowl-drying and putting kitchen things away so he doesn’t want to work in vain.  And, finally…well, need I tell you that a happy partner is a much, much more pleasant person to live with?

I used the jam and kept the notion of adding chopped orange.  “Very good,” the spouse announced so I bring you…ta-da!

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Makes a loaf with 8 slices (could also be made as squares or muffins)

Ingredients

  • ½ cup white rice flour
  • ½ cup quinoa flour
  • ¼ cup tapioca starch
  • ¼ cup potato starch
  • ½ cup sweetener (Note: Weight Watcher points for this recipe are based on the use of artificial sugar.)
  • 1½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. xanthan gum
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 clementines (or 1 orange), peeled, pitted, and segmented
  • ½ cup liquid egg replacement (2 eggs)
  • ¼ cup no-sugar apricot jam
  • ¼-½ cup unsweetened soy milk (I only needed ¼ cup, but I find that not all alternative flours are created equal)
  • 6 tbsp. unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • Cooking spray

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients: flours, starches, sugar, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt.
  2. Chop clementine segments in a blender until lumpy.
  3. In a large bowl, put the chopped orange and whisk in the other liquid ingredients: egg, jam, milk, applesauce, and oil.
  4. Add dry ingredients in thirds to liquid ingredients, mixing well after each addition.
  5. Spray an 9″ x 5″ loaf pan with cooking spray.
  6. Pour batter into pan.  If top needs to be smoothed out, spread with wet fingers.
  7. Bake at 350o F oven for 50-60 minutes or until sides are pulling away from the pan and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

For Weight Watchers: Each slice is worth 3 points on the Points plan and 4 points on the PointsPlus plan.

(Adapted from “Marmalade Cake” in Lucy’s Kitchen by Lucy Waverman.)

Cinnamon Spice Cake

This cook can learn new tricks! 

Back in the early depths of this blog—February, to be precise, and during my non-photo era—I posted a recipe for a spice cake which I described as “dense and delicious” and having the “heavenly aroma of cinnamon and other spices.”  At that time I was just thrilled to create a really good-tasting, gluten-free, baked dessert.

Yesterday, I revisited this recipe to improve it.  Having gained much more understanding of alternative flours/starches, I put together a blend of white rice, quinoa flour, tapioca startch, xanthan gum, and salt.  (Good-bye trying to rely on rice flour alone.)  And, having learned to cut back on fats by using unsweetened applesauce combined with much less oil, I managed to halve the caloric content.  The recreated cake is now light, moist, delicious, and low-cal, while definitely retaining that mouth-watering aroma.  Much better all around!

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Makes 16 squares

Ingredients

  • ½ cup white rice flour
  • ¼ cup quinoa flour
  • ¼ cup tapioca starch
  • ½ cup artificial sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. xanthan gum
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground cloves
  • Pinch of ground allspice
  • ½ cup liquid egg replacement (2 eggs)
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 6 tbsp. unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • Cooking spray

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients: flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, xanthan gum, and spices.
  2. In a larger bowl, whisk together all liquid ingredients: egg, milk, applesauce, and oil.
  3. Add dry ingredients in thirds to liquid ingredients, mixing well after each addition.
  4. Spray an 8″ x 8″ pan with cooking spray.
  5. Pour batter into pan.  If top needs to be smoothed out, spread with wet fingers.
  6. Bake at 350o F oven for 30-35 minutes or until sides are pulling away from the pan and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

For Weight Watchers: Each piece is worth 1.5 points on the Points plan and 2 points on the PointsPlus plan.

Creamy Broccoli Soup

Forgive me, but I’m on on a soup roll.  After satisfying myself that Creamy Cauliflower Soup makes a terrific cold drink on a hot summer day as well as, I’m sure, a fabulous hot soup on a cold winter day, I turned to broccoli and gave it the purée treatment.  Voilà!  An equally delicious, refreshing, filling, and easy-to-make soup.

The photo is of my lunch today—Creamy Broccoli Soup, with soy milk swirled in, and a piece of Sweet Quinoa Cornbread. Yum!

 

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Cooking tip for making a thick and creamy soup: The correct amount of broth is tricky because vegetables often shrink and also contain their own liquids.  To ensure that the soup will not be too thin, remove 1-2 cups of broth after the cooking is finished and before you start blending.  After a first blend, you’ll know if it needs more broth.  Add in ¼ cup increments until you reach the desired creaminess.

Ingredients

  • 2 bunches of broccoli, washed, trimmed, and chopped into big chunks
  • 6 cups of chicken broth (vegetables can be above the water line; they will reduce while cooking)
  • 2 medium yellow onions, chopped into big chunks
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  •  Salt, to taste

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large pot.
  2. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Before blending, remove 1 cup of liquid and hold in reserve.
  4. Purée soup with a hand blender or in a processor until smooth.  If the purée is too thick for your taste, add the 1-2 cups of liquid held in reserve.  (If not, you can throw away the liquid or save it as a vegetable broth.)
  5. Put container of soup in the refrigerator until cold.
  6. Pour out a glass and, if you prefer, mix in a tablespoon of goat yogurt or soy milk.

For Weight Watchers: Unless you’ve added a “countable” amount of yogurt or milk, any size serving is 0 points on the Points and PointsPlus plans.

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.)

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

Non-dieters can drink whatever cold drinks they enjoy during the hot summer months.  Those of us on the other side of the divide must avoid mint juleps, beer, fruit juices, soft drinks (other than diet), and any other delicious drink I forgot to mention.

But what about vegetable purées, which are great winter soups, acting as cold beverages when it’s sweltering?  This question would never have occurred to me if I hadn’t been having a very lazy afternoon on board our boat, the Outrageous, reading on the back deck.

I began to get nagging messages from my stomach (that demanding organ) that it wanted something more filling than diet iced tea.  My brain (another equally demanding body part) reminded me that whatever I ate had to be very low in calories.  I had brought up a container of cauliflower soup, but felt way too lazy to crank up the inboard generator and reorganize the galley so I could use the stove in order to heat up it up.  (Readers may recall that the galley is the size of a shower stall; hence the top of the stove, when not in use, provides storage for a fruit bowl among other things.)  Besides, who wants hot soup on a hot afternoon?

The voilà moment occurred when I asked myself, “Why not drink the soup cold?” I poured some into a glass and added a dollop of yogurt.  I took it out on the back deck, sat back in chair, and drank it down to the last drop.  It was as delicious cold as when hot, delightfully refreshing, and very satisfying—all for the diet-cost of a teaspoon of yogurt.  For me, a new food category was born!

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Cooking tip for making a thick and creamy soup: The correct amount of broth is tricky because vegetables often shrink and also contain their own liquids.  To ensure that the soup will not be too thin, remove 1-2 cups of broth after the cooking is finished and before you start blending.  After a first blend, you’ll know if it needs more broth.  Add in ¼ cup increments until you reach the desired creaminess.

Ingredients

  • 1 very large cauliflower or 2 small ones, washed, trimmed, and chopped into big chunks
  • 8 cups of chicken broth (vegetables can be above the water line; they will reduce while cooking)
  • 1 large sweet onion (the onion’s sweetness is key to this soup’s great taste), chopped into big chunks
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  •  Salt, to taste

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large pot.
  2. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Before blending, remove 1 cup of liquid and hold in reserve.
  4. Purée soup with a hand blender or in a processor until smooth.  If the purée is too thick for your taste, add the 1-2 cups of liquid held in reserve.  (If not, you can throw away the liquid or save it as a vegetable broth.)
  5. Put container of soup in the refrigerator until cold.
  6. Pour out a glass and, if you prefer, mix in a tablespoon of goat yogurt or soy milk.

For Weight Watchers: Unless you’ve added a “countable” amount of yogurt or milk, any size serving is 0 points on the Points and PointsPlus plans.

Variation on Mark Bittman’s Watermelon and Tomato Salad

Those of you who are familiar with Mark Bittman’s recipes in The New York Times know that he likes to take the mystery out of good food.  His recipes are rarely complicated and always delicious.  Hence, given my adoration of watermelon, I had to make his Watermelon and Tomato Salad which, indeed, delivered a wonderful taste-and-texture mixture: watermelon sweetness plus the tart tomatoes and savoury cheese, all tied together by a vinaigrette dressing.  (I’ve added Mark Bittman’s video on making this salad at the end of the post.)

Of course, I had to start adapting the recipe immediately because his cheese suggestions—Stilton, Gorgonzola, Roquefort or Maytag blue cheese—don’t work for for anyone who is lactose-intolerant.  I used goat feta instead.  My second adaption was to cut back on the oil to reduce calories.  Finally, on my third making of this salad, I decided to cut back on the cheese and add cooked quinoa. I wanted to give the salad more “heft” so that it could be a meal unto itself as opposed to an accompanying salad.  It was still delicious although, if you can afford the extra calories (or the 3 extra WW points), I’d keep the cheese at the 2.6 oz. level.  There’s nothing like cheese to take a dish from delicious to sublime.

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Makes 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 2½ cups watermelon in 1″ cubes or balls (cut over a bowl so that you can catch the juice and reserve it)
  • 1½ cups cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1.3 oz. goat feta cheese, crumbled
  • ½ cup green onions, finely minced
  • ½ cup cooked, cold quinoa
  • 1 tbsp. of watermelon juice
  • 1 tbsp. oil
  • 1 tbsp. vinegar (Mark Bittman suggests sherry; I had balsamic)
  • ½ cup cilantro or parsley, roughly chopped
  • Salt, to taste

Directions

  1. Combine watermelon, tomato, cheese, green onions, and quinoa in a bowl.
  2. Whisk together watermelon juice, oil, and vinegar.
  3. Pour vinagrette over salad mixture.
  4. Garnish with coriander or parsley.
  5. Salt to taste.

For Weight Watchers: 5.5 points per serving on the Points plan and 4.5 points on the PointsPlus plan.  (This is cheaper on PointsPlus because the watermelon has no point value.)

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.

Light Cocoa Carob Squares

These squares came about because I found myself with 2/3 cup of soured milk that I had forgotten to put in a different bread I was baking.  How did I do that?  Well, I had to give the milk time to sour so I put it to one side as I got the rest of the ingredients put together and then completely forgot about it.  When I mixed the batter, I found the dough—not surprisingly, in retrospect—terribly dry.  Needless to say, this hodge-podge didn’t turn out too well.

Then, of course, I discovered the soured milk.   I couldn’t throw it out, could I?  Nor could I ignore a certain chocolate craving that had arisen because I’d bought some carob chips earlier in the day.  It’s interesting how a craving (which knows it can be fulfilled) just keeps nudging at you, isn’t it?  At any rate, the result is a delight.  Squares that are mildly sweet and light in texture, taste, and calories. 

Cooking note: The original recipe called for ½ tsp. of unflavoured gelatin.  As this wasn’t a “jell0” style cake, I didn’t know what function the gelatin served.  Some research later: In order to avoid having a cake cracking along the top as it cools, you should “Add gelatin to the cake batter as you mix it. The gelatin works to keep the cooling cake intact and it can also add fullness to the baked cake.”  (eHow Food)

Update: I recently bought my quinoa flour at a different store than usual and discovered, when making these squares, that I had to add more liquid.  In fact, I’ve altered the recipe for 1 cup of soured milk.  Feel free to add ¼ or so of water or alternative milk if you still find your batter too dry.

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Makes 16 squares

Ingredients

  • ½ cup white rice flour
  • ½ cup quinoa flour
  • ½ cup artificial sugar
  • 1/3 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/3 cup potato starch
  • 1 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. unflavoured gelatin
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk or 1 soy or lactose-free milk + 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • ¼ cup liquid egg substitute
  • 4½ tbsp. unsweetened applesauce
  • 1½ tbsp. oil
  • ¼ cup unsweetened carob chips
  • Cooking spray

Directions

  1. If not using buttermilk, mix alternative milk with lemon juice, let sit for about 5 minutes, and then stir.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients: rice flour, quinoa flour, artificial sugar, tapioca flour, potato starch, cocoa powder, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, gelatin, cinnamon, and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl mix together all liquid ingredients, buttermilk or soured milk, liquid egg substitute, applesauce, oil, and carob chips.
  4. Add liquid to dry ingredients and mix until it forms a thick batter.
  5. Spray a 9″ x 9″ baking pan with cooking spray.
  6. Pour batter into the pan and bake in a 350° F oven for 35-40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Cool and cut into 16 squares.

For Weight Watchers: Each square is worth 2 points on the Points plan and 2.5 points on the PointsPlus plan.

(Altered from “Irish Soda Bread” by Jefferson Adams at www.celiac.com)

Crustless Strawberry/Raspberry Lime Chia Pie

Hot summer days just beg for cold, refreshing desserts that are both sweet and tart at the same time.  This pie not only delivers on taste, it’s also lovely, light, and very low-cal.  Oh, and it’s also a little crunchy, thanks to the chia seeds. 

I’ve made this pie with strawberries; then I made it with raspberries (in the photo).  I’m sure you could even mix them for a third delicious flavour!  And now that I think about it: what about blueberries…?

Many, many thanks to Susan at the Sugar & Spice blog for providing the inspiration for this pie with her delicious Strawberry Lime Chia Pudding.

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Servings: Divvy it up any way you want!

Ingredients

  • 1 pkg. gelatin (1 tbsp.)
  • ¼ tepid water + ¼ boiling water
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 cups strawberries or raspberries
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened soy or almond milk
  • ¼-½ cup erythritol sugar, to taste
  • 1 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. almond extract

Directions:

  1. Prepare the gelatin by pouring the powder over the tepid water, adding the boiling water, and then mixing until completely dissolved.
  2. Prepare lime by juicing it.
  3. Put gelatin, lime, ¼ cup erythritol, and all other ingredients into a food processor or blender. Process until smooth.
  4. Taste for sweetness and add remaining ¼ cup erythritol if necessary.
  5. Pour into an 8″ or 9″ pie plate.
  6. Refrigerate until set—about 4 hours.

For Weight Watchers: The total pie is worth:

  • With soy milk (80 calories/cup): 4 points on the Points plan and 3.5 points on the PointsPlus plan. 
  • With almond milk (60 calories/cup): 3.5 points on the Points plan and 3 points on the PointsPlus plan. 

Strawberry-in-Season Cobbler (Egg-Free)

It’s strawberry season! I can’t pass a farm foodstand without stopping and buying the luscious-looking and equally luscious-tasting strawberries.

Having bought several quarts during the past weeks I’ve been looking for ways to use the strawberries that are a bit more elegant than munching on fistfuls. Hence I turned to my Cinnamon Blueberry Cobbler recipe and rejigged it for strawberries. Mmm…good!

Again, I’ve used erythritol as a sweetener because it has no aftertaste and the cobbler has a delicate flavour. Also, without eggs and using only two tablespoons of yogurt, this cobbler remains my lowest-calorie baked dessert.

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Taste tip: It is important to cool the cobbler down completely before eating it. When it is hot, the cake is a little gummy. 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 erythritol + 2 tbsp. erithyritol
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. xanthan gum
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp. plain goat yogurt
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups stawberries, washed and sliced
  • 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, add strawberries and 2 tbsp. erythritol, and mix gently until fruit is coated.
  7. Cover cake batter with strawberries.
  8. Bake in 350° F oven for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the pan comes out clean and edges are pulling back from the sides of the pan.
  9. 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.