Blueberry Buckle Sans Streusel

A “buckle” belongs, I have discovered, in the early American family of fruit cobblers with names such as crisps, crumbles, grunts, slumps, soakers, and pandowdy (ies?).

(I just can’t help thinking about the First Household. George, grumbling: “This cake is a mess!” Martha, spritely: “It’s a new recipe. I call it a slump.”)

Anyway, a buckle was a blueberry cake with a streusel topping of flour, butter, and sugar that buckled or crumpled when baking.

Well, here’s the good news, dieters! In this recipe, the top—not streuseled to save calories—buckled anyway. The cake rose as it baked and then sank and cracked along its own internal geological lines as it cooled. How authentic is that!

In other good news, these low-calorie squares taste splendid—moist and fruity—with a blend of millet and garfava flours. Why the new blend? 1) Millet has a sweetness and texture I like. 2) Garfava flour is an easy-to-find bean flour, a mix of chickpea and fava bean flours. Bean flours up the protein of a baked product and add fewer carbs and hence calories.

Bon appétit!

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Protein-Packed Chocolate Quinoa Cookies

So far, on this blog, I’ve avoided cookies. I have some good excuses—no children at home anymore and, well, fear of the Cookie Monster.

You know this ogre.

She has tentacles that go straight into your sweet tooth and carb cravings. You will try to quit after one or two cookies while the monster manipulates your taste buds so that the first cookie—nay, the first bite—creates a powerful urge to keep right on going.

For those of you who can eat a whole bag in one sitting—YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

So I’ve avoided cookies for good reasons. Then I spotted a recipe that had good health and diet potential because of the quinoa which is high in protein and, therefore, stomach-filling. I did some adjusting to give it even more protein and reduce calories, and I kept the sweetness at a low ebb so it wouldn’t arouse the sleeping, but ever vigilant, monster.

My spouse was the first sampler. “It’s good,” he said, “but I thought it would be sweeter. Cookies are usually sweeter.”

See how the food manufacturers have trained our palates?

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No-Peel Kabocha Squash “Fries”

2012 is my year for making new vegetable friends. I’ve overcome my fear of strange root vegetables with odd or ugly outsides—for example, celeriac and yucca—which have all turned out to have mild and even sweet-tasting insides. And I plan to get to know chard and kale a lot better.

For this recipe, I ventured outside my squash “comfort zone”—butternut, acorn, pumpkin—and bought a round, yellow-and-green striped gourd called a kabocha. I put it on a kitchen counter, and there it sat for a long time. Occasionally we would stare at each other.

The kabocha seemed quite happy while I dithered. It’s interesting that trying out a new food is a lot like being compelled to learn a new software product. Denial is high, but resistance is futile.

And thank goodness for that because these fries are delicious—both peel and flesh. They are sweet and slightly salty with a flavour somewhere between butternut and pumpkin. And they’re versatile: good hot and cold; good as a snack or side dish.

Enjoy!

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Low-Calorie Snacks

Snacks and dieting…dieting and snacks. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, these are two things that don’t go well together.

In my pre-diet days, I loved the oh-so-easy snacks. I’d just grab something from the fridge or cupboard that would quickly satisfy my carb or salt cravings.

Snacks on a diet don’t have that happy-go-lucky quality. For me, snacks now require careful planning from the grocery store right up to the finished product. Even a simple nosh like an apple requires making sure I always have apples in the house.

But this post isn’t about the simple snacks. I don’t know about you, but sometimes an apple, a handful of carrots, or a bowl of popcorn (how to make your own in the microwave, oil-free) just won’t cut it. I want a snack more interesting in taste and texture that is also

  • Low in calories, i.e., has little or no fat. (Sugar isn’t a problem for me; I use artificial sweetener.)
  • Healthful because it has nutritious ingredients.
  • Filling so that I don’t get hungry again so quickly.
  • 2 Weight Watcher (WW) points or less so it doesn’t overwhelm my daily count. (Roughly 100 calories.)

To that end, I am now experimenting with snack recipes, mine and others’, with the express purpose of keeping the calorie count down. As part of this effort, I decided to compile a list of all my low-calorie recipes to better understand how to replace empty calories with good ones. I thought you’d find this list helpful.

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Butternut Squash Brownies (oil-free)

Butternut Squash Brownie
served with yogurt and clementine

Looking for a yummy and filling brownie that’s also low-calorie? This one has no oil, and that makes a big difference. I am always amazed when calculating Weight Watcher point-values how fast they go up when you add in the oil—3 points for every tablespoon. Whew!

You can substitute other gluten-free flours in this recipe, but that may change the amount of liquid (in the form of eggs or milk) that you may need. Different flours are thirsty in different amounts.

If you do decide to vary the recipe, mix batter without the egg and add, as necessary, in ¼ cup batches. The batter should be thick but spreadable.

Enjoy!

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Blackberry Cobbler (Egg-free)

Imagine yourself in the position I was in on Monday afternoon.

I am in Farmboy, a store somewhat akin to U.S. Whole Foods, standing in front of the discount-food rack (one of my favourite shopping spots) where they put the fruits and vegetables that didn’t sell on the weekend. Items have been repackaged into larger quantities.

I spot two large containers of blackberries.  This is amazing because berries rarely make it onto this rack. Each package is $2.49 and, it later turns out, holds 4 cups of berries.

I study them closely and darned if those berries didn’t look really fresh. No furry spots, no discolouration.

What would you have done? Me…well, I can’t resist the bargain, even though I know I’m going to have to use those berries up very quickly.

One of my strategies was to slightly re-cobble my very low-cal cobbler recipe and double it from 8 to 16 pieces. We’ve been eating the cobbler since Tuesday, and these are the last two pieces. Delicious!

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