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.

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.

Turkey Quinoa Meatloaf

As my husband and I are eating less and less red meat, I’ve been turning to turkey to fill some of the gaps.  Hence, for example, the Turkey Burgers  post last month.  The trick, as I noted then, was to counter turkey’s bland flavour by adding spices and other ingredients to enrich it.   

In this recipe, the flavour of ground turkey is enhanced primarily by quinoa, fresh sage, and a little bit of tomato paste.  The result is a tasty, healthy meatloaf, high in protein and low in fat.

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8-10 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. ground turkey
  • ½ cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp. fresh sage, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp. garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. hot sauce
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • Cooking spray

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. Mix with hands until ingredients are well combined.
  3. Taste mixture to see if it requires additional seasonings. 
  4. Spray a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan and fill it with meat mixture. 
  5. Bake in a 350° F oven for 75 minutes or until a thermometer inserted in the center reaches at least 160° F.
  6. Drain liquid and let cool for 10 minutes.

For Weight Watchers: Your points depend on your serving size.  Cut your serving and weigh it, counting 1 point per ounce.  Then add .5 point for the quinoa and egg if you’ve made 8 or more slices. Good for both the Points and PointsPlus plans.

(This recipe was adapted from “Turkey and Quinoa Meatloaf” by Drew at allrecipes.com.  You can also check out the 13 custom versions by other chefs at that page.)

Quinoa Pudding #4: Mango-Banana

I bought a box of 18 mangoes because the price was…well, so compelling.  I could just hear those mangoes calling out to me.  When I arrived home, my husband groaned at the sight…yes, I’ve done this before, but this time the price was even better!  This earned me a rolling of the eyes, which I completely disregarded as we’ve been married for 45 years, and a few mangoes can’t threaten that marital bond, can they?

Okay, so what to do with all this ripening fruit?  My solution was to make several iterations of Coconut-Mango Squares and to turn to my versatile quinoa pudding recipe.  Since I also had one small, overripe banana, I decided to throw that in with some mangoes (although I’m sure you could just use mangoes).  The result: a pudding so sweet that it required no additional sweetener.  And, as with the Summertime Banana Quinoa Pudding, I served this cold—a delicious, refreshing, and filling treat for my late-afternoon snack.

When varying this recipe: The trick, I find, is to make sure that you have a total of 3½ cups of liquid between the milk and the puréed fruit.  When I combined the banana with 2 small, yellow ataulfo mangoes, I ended up with 1½ cups and, therefore, reduced the original 2½ cups of almond milk down to 2 cups.  Two other differences from the banana pudding: I altered the spices to adapt to the mango flavour and had to cook the pudding longer.  I’m not sure why: perhaps because there is more fruit and less milk?

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Egg-White Omelette with Spinach and Tomato

A dieter’s dream omelette that—and I was amazed—tasted as if it were made from whole eggs: in other words, delicious!

The original recipe called for less vegetables but, in the spirit of more-vegetables-are-better, I added green onions and used an entire package of spinach rather than the called-for cup of loosely packed spinach leaves.

I knew that this would create a lot of filling and likely mean I wouldn’t have a  picture-perfect omelette, but damn such consequences, I say.  I’d rather have a diet-perfect omelette.  Full speed ahead!

By the way, eggs and spinach seem to be a match made in heaven, but you could try this with other vegetables and, if you don’t mind some additional calories, use soft goat cheese instead of sheep romano.

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Quick Blueberry (or any fruit) Quinoa Bake

Yum, blueberries, yum, coconut…and that’s just for starters.  I like a good breakfast that includes protein (or I’m hungry by 10:00 a.m.), and this bake is filling and chock-a-block full of healthy nutrients.  In addition to the fruit, it includes two recently lauded superfoods: quinoa (protein) and chia seeds (good-for-you fats and protein).  Who can argue with sweet, beneficial, and satisfying?  Yum!

The key to this bake’s great taste is the fruit.  It requires fresh, ripe fruit.  I made it with strawberries as well, but the berries we get at this time of year are imported, a bit “woody,” and nowhere near as as flavorful as the local berries when they’re in season.  The result: good, but not great.  The blueberries (also imported) were much better.  Next time, I’m going to try peaches.  This is a recipe that calls out for experimenting.

Update: I made this with freshly harvested local strawberries.  Delicious! 

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Makes 1 serving

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup blueberries (or any other fruit)
  • ¼ cup quinoa flakes
  • 2 tbsp. unsweetened coconut, shredded
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. applesauce
  • 1 tsp. chia seeds
  • Cooking spray

Directions

  1. Mash blueberries to form a pulp.
  2. Mix in quinoa, sugar, chia seeds, apple sauce, and coconut.
  3. Spray an 8-oz. (½ cup) baking dish (I use small pyrex containers) with cooking spray.
  4. Press blueberry mixture into dish, smoothing the surface.
  5. Microwave at High for 3-3.5 minutes.  According the original recipe, you know it’s done because it has risen slightly, is harder to the touch, and pulls away from the side of the dish.  The strawberry bake did rise, but the blueberry didn’t.  No problem…it was cooked—even crunchy!

For Weight Watchers: 7 points in both the Points and PointsPlus plans.

(Adapted from “5 minute Strawberry Quinoa Flake Bake” at Healthful Pursuit.

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.)

Quinoa Pudding #3: Summertime Banana

Sweet, cool, soothing, filling, and easy to make—this is a pudding that’s just right for hot summer days.  This dish is also a new version of a versatile favourite. (Earlier warm pudding versions used dried cranberries and puréed pumpkin or squash.)

I keep finding myself coming back to this pudding recipe whenever a possible ingredient makes itself  known: in this case, aging bananas crying out to be puréed.   But bananas are calorie-expensive, my rational mind argued.  But they’d be delicious in this pudding, my stomach-inclined mind replied.  Think of something! 

That something was to tweak the original recipe by using liquid egg substitute instead of whole eggs and almond milk instead of soy milk.  That didn’t make a significant change in taste but it did lower the Weight Watcher points and, hence, calories.  My stomach-inclined mind immediately thought of adding chocolate or coconut, but I ignored it as best I could!

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Makes 9-10 ½-cup servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa seeds
  • 2 ½ cups unsweetened almond milk
  • ½ cup liquid egg substitute
  • ¼ cup artificial sugar, to taste
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • Pinch of nutmeg 
  • 1 cup puréed bananas

Instructions

  1. Rinse quinoa seeds if the manufacturer has not indicated that this has been done.
  2. Put 2 cups of water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  3. Add quinoa and bring to boil again.
  4. Lower heat to simmer.
  5. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes.  The quinoa should have absorbed all the water, and you should have approximately 2 cups. 
  6. In a bowl, beat eggs with a whisk.
  7. Stir in milk, vanilla, salt, spices, and puréed banana.
  8. Test for sweetness and add artificial sugar if necessary. 
  9. Add cooked quinoa to liquid ingredients.
  10. Bake in 325 degree oven for 55 minutes. The quinoa will not be set yet.
  11. Let stand for 15 minutes for liquid to absorbed.
  12. Chill in refrigerator

For Weight Watchers: 2 points per ½-cup serving on both the Points plan and PointsPlus plan.