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.

Continue reading

Advertisements

GF Dieters: Please Be Cautious with this Cookbook!

Recently, I checked The Joy of Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Baking by Peter Reinhart and Denene Wallace out of the library. It is a newly published cookbook, and the title and claim—“80 low-carb recipes that offer solutions for celiac disease, diabetes, and weight loss”—sounded as if its recipes would be perfect for me and many of the readers of this blog.

The reality, however, doesn’t live up to the hyperbole, particularly if viewed through a Weight Watchers lens. If you’re a gluten-free dieter or a person with diabetic issues who has to keep your weight down, caution is in order. Here’s why.

Continue reading

Point Values for Commonly Used Seeds

Back in June, 2011, I started realizing that seeds could carve a deep hole in my daily WW points. I knew about the high fats in nuts, but I wasn’t sure about seeds. This was during the height of the chia seed craze, and they seemed to be in every recipe I looked at.

Research on chia seeds confirmed my worst suspicions: 2 tbsps. = 3 points (see note at bottom) because of the high quantity of fat in the seeds. True, chia seeds contain healthy fat but, unfortunately, WW doesn’t distinguish between good and bad fats when assigning point values. Clearly, I wasn’t going to be sprinkling chia, or any other, seeds around with happy abandon.

I wrote about the seed problem in what has turned out to be the 2nd most popular post on this blog, To Chia or Not to Chia: This is the Seed/Nut Question. I attribute part of this popularity to the fact that the WW Pocket Guide doesn’t include point information on seeds—nuts, yes; seeds, no.

But I hadn’t really delved into all the seeds or provided an easy basis for comparisons among the seeds. My remedy is a “Point Values of Commonly Used Seeds” chart which uses 1 tbsp. as the common quantity.

Continue reading

Check It Out! (2)

I love sharing information that I find helpful, funny, ironic, thought-provoking, etc. so I’m really pleased that many of you enjoyed my first “Check It Out!” post.

I don’t have any schedule for these posts, but I’ve accumulated some more interesting articles for you to “chew on,” if you wish. (Gotta keep those food metaphors going!)

Do you trust cookbook authors? You won’t after reading this Slate exposé about the misinformation and downright lies food writers make when giving instructions on caramelizing onions. Shocking indeed!

Are you a food blogger? Then you’ll find the Food Blog Alliance a very useful site for information on writing about and photographing food with contributions from a number of hands-on bloggers.

Say adios to good cholesterol. Honestly, the longer you live, the more you realize that health information is only as valid as the last scientific experiment. (Take, for example, the poor, yoyo-ing egg: once upon a time, it was good for you, then it was bad for you, now it is once again a beneficial food.) Today, the scientists have put HDL in the spotlight, and...oops…there goes one path to heart health!

Keep up with the grains-es! Just when I think I’ve got the alternative flour/seed world under control, it takes off again. “17 Healthy Grains You’ve Never Heard Of” includes some that I do know about, but also quite a few that I didn’t. This helpful article also summarizes health information about each grain.

Happy reading!

To Chia or Not to Chia: This is the Seed/Nut Question

A word about seeds and nuts for food refashionistas

I visit many food blogs when I research recipes.  Many of the blogs that promote healthy eating and/or vegetarian/vegan lifestyles include seeds and nuts in their recipes: chia seeds, sesame seeds, flax seeds or flaxseed meal, almonds or almond flour, pecans, coconut, and so on.  In fact, many recipes that appear to be low-calorie and appropriate for dieters include small amounts of such ingredients.

From one health standpoint, the use of these foods is very sensible.  Seeds and nuts are rich in protein and often high in fiber and other important minerals.  Here, for example, is a description of chia seeds from Nutritiondata.self.com which provides nutritional data and analysis of different foods: This food is very low in Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Calcium and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber and Manganese.  And this doesn’t begin to mention the delicious taste and crunchy texture that these ingredients can bring to a dish.

So, why not throw a tablespoon or two of chia seeds, flax, coconut, or nuts into a recipe if you can?  After all, we all want to eat “healthy,” don’t we? There is one important reason for people who are dieting.  All seeds and nuts contain very high levels of oil in comparison to their quantity.  One ounce (two tablespoons) of chia seeds, for example contains 9 grams of fat!  But it’s healthy fat, you say.  Unfortunately, fat is fat when it comes to calories.  For Weight Watchers, 2  tablespoons of chia seeds translates into 3 points in both the Points and PointsPlus plans.  That can make a dint in your daily plan.

This doesn’t mean avoiding seeds and nuts, but it does mean being extremely careful about their use.  For instance, if a recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of chia seeds, I suggest using 1 teaspoon.  The result would be a Weight Watcher value of .5 points instead of 3 points.  I generally either cut out, replace, and/or reduce the amount of these ingredients in any recipe I’m re-fashioning.

To help you decide how much of these ingredients you should use, I’ve calculated the point-values of seed-and-nut ingredients that are not included in the Weight Watcher booklets.  If I’ve left any out, please let me know.

  • Almond meal flour (¼ cup): Points 4; PointsPlus 5
  • Chia seeds (2 tbsp.): Points 3; PointsPlus 3
  • Coconut, sweetened (2 tbsp.): Points 2; PointsPlus 2
  • Coconut, unsweetened (2 tbsp.): Points 2.5; PointsPlus 2.5
  • Flaxseed meal (2 tbsp.): Points 1; PointsPlus 2
  • Poppy seeds (2 tbsp.): Points 1; PointsPlus 1
  • Quinoa flakes (¼ cup): Points 2.5; PointsPlus 3