Tomato Quinoa-Bean Squares

Today I’m writing to you about a culinary triumph and a baking disaster.

Disaster first. Those who follow this blog may recall that I planned to experiment with my gluten-free angel food cake recipe to bring down the carb and calorie count. Well, experiment I did, substituting erythritol for some of the sugar. Erythritol is granular like sugar, has no calories or aftertaste, and is very low on the glycemic index.

sadfaceSo what happened? The erythritol (1) melted and created a messy, black residue on the bottom of the oven that had to be scraped off, (2) sealed the tube section to the rest of the pan so tightly that the spouse had to pry it loose with a knife—good-by pan, and (3) resulted in a very crumbly, nowhere near as delicious, version of the real thing.

The cake did rise and stay that way, but…sigh. Upwards and onwards…

Now the triumph—A tasty, filling, low-cal, vegetarian bake!

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This dish is packed with protein via the beans, quinoa, and cheese. As well, the quinoa can  help you fill your daily whole grain quota, which is not always easy to do on a gluten-free diet.

This is also a great way to get rid of quinoa leftovers. In fact, it was the cooked red quinoa hanging around in my fridge that got this dish off the ground along with some recipe-surfing on the Internet.

And what’s more, it is flexible.

  • Not quite enough quinoa? Not to worry.
  • Want to add more beans? Go ahead.
  • Prefer tomato paste to pizza sauce? Do your own thing and throw in some basil and oregano.
  • Like it hot? Go for it.

But most of all, enjoy!

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Creamy Mushroom Soup (but without the cream)

Thick and delicious!

I’m not a winter person, but I sure do love the warm soups and thick stews that come with the season. This particular soup happened because I found discounted mushrooms whose best days were behind them, and bought 2.5 lbs. Believe me, that’s a lot of mushrooms. But I have a motto for situations like this.

When in doubt because of quantity and/or quality, make soup!

So I did, and this soup turned out to be the best mushroom soup I’d ever made: delicious, thick, comforting, low in calories, and a cinch to make. What makes it creamy? Using as little liquid as possible…

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Cheese-Herb Muffins with Green Onion

Best served warm.

Here is a delicious, light, savoury muffin that’s filled with sharp cheese, green onions, parsley, and dill.

You could eat it as you would have a slice of bread to accompany soup, a casserole, or stew. Or have it for breakfast with eggs. Or just enjoy it on its own, toasted with a bit of butter.

I can tolerate very small amounts of milk, such as a butter pat, once in a rare while. This muffin definitely deserves to be is one of those “whiles.”

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Sweet and Savoury Roasted Beets

A confession: I’ve always liked beets but rarely cooked them—partly because they’re messy and partly because the spouse is not enamoured.  “Well,” I say, “Too bad for him.” 

I’ve decided to make beets part of my “DIY Roasted Vegetables” diet strategy, namely, to always have cooked veggies available for snacks and general noshing.  

The result was this easy-to-make, very colourful, and deliciously sweet dish with a tang of savoury, thanks to some sharp cheese. Continue reading

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. 

  

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.