(A Little Bit of) Squash Heaven

Dear fellow-dieters,

Here’s the bad news. My weight has been gradually inching in the wrong direction (along with my hips!) even though my thyroid is fine and I’m tracking my food, staying within plan, and exercising 3-5 days a week.

So, yesterday at the WW weigh-in, I brought in my food tracker so the leader could see that I was a faithful dieter who should be losing weight. The diagnosis? Too many carbs among the fruit, cereal, and baked goods that I ate.

Some people, the leader said, can’t throw off carbs easily, adding that she was one of them and I was clearly another. I can’t print here what I thought about that (several not-nice words came to mind.). But I clearly need a carb-rev-up button. Is there anyone else out there who considers their body Enemy Numero Uno?

The solution = vegetables, vegetables, and more vegetables.

The creative wheels began to turn, and I remembered those Spiced Sweet Potato Rounds. Why not add that wonderful spice blend to cooked, mashed winter squash instead? The result was a vegetable

  • Lower in calories/carbs than sweet potatoes
  • As filling as sweet potatoes
  • Equally delicious!

Voilà! (A Little Bit of) Squash Heaven. Truly.

Yours in the uphill climb,

Claire

P.S. Re the photo: I was trying for a sprinkled paprika topping, but got a little carried away.

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Pumpkin Currant Muffins (no oil, no dairy)

If you’re like me, you’re constantly on the look-out for a diet-friendly baked good. I want carbs to satisfy the Carb Monster and sweetness to satisfy the Sweet-Tooth Ogre. (Yes, I’m inhabited by a bunch of craving maniac gargoyles. Aren’t you?)

Pumpkin Currant Muffins to the rescue!

  • Yummy, pumpkin-pie flavour
  • Sharp sweetness and crunch of currants
  • Moist and filling
  • 1.5 WW points or about 75 calories
  • Comes with the spouse-approved guarantee!

Okay, these muffins aren’t big, I acknowledge that, BUT there are three other important reasons they are great for dieters: no oil, no dairy, no *rice flour—all ingredients which are calorie-rich.

The result? Muffins that won’t overwhelm your daily point count or calorie intake. Enjoy!

*For the gluten-free: Dietwise, there are 4 no-no flours—almond meal, white rice flour, brown rice flour, sweet rice flour—when these flours form the basis of a baked good. For more information on flours, check out Point Values of Gluten-Free Flours, Starches, and Ground Meals.

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Thanksgiving: A Dieter’s Suggestions

Arghhh…Thanksgiving, the dinner that just keeps on giving—weight-wise that is. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie…and the list goes on.

This weekend is Canadian Thanksgiving and, as our Weight Watcher leader brought us through techniques for diet-managing the bounty of food, I began to think about my own strategies.

In our house, the spouse handles most of Thanksgiving. That is, he makes the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and gravy and is not—repeat, is not—open to diet suggestions. Daughters bring salads and desserts.

I’ll have roast vegetables, probably Brussel sprouts, to ensure there’s lots for me to eat. But here are some other dishes I’ll make to keep my Thanksgiving calories down.

Dieter’s Spiced Cranberry Relish

Dieter’s Spiced Cranberry Relish: Love cranberry sauce? Don’t waste your valuable points on the canned stuff. This relish, made with cranberries, oranges, spices, and artificial sweetener, is easy to make, delicious, and 0 points!

Sweet Potato Bean Bake with Currants

Sweet Potato Bean Bake with Currants: If you can, try to avoid the white mashed potatoes and gravy; it’s just one big point-fest. This dish, on the other hand, provides protein, carbs, and great taste for only 3 points per serving. (Think 1/8 of a pie–see photo for Crustless Pumpkin Pie.) BTW, this is my favourite bean bake, and I often have a pan of it in my fridge. Bean bakes will keep for 4-5 days when refrigerated.

Crustless Pumpkin Pie

Crustless Pumpkin Pie: At the WW meeting, the leader passed around a recipe for a “crustless pumpkin pie.” My hopes lifted but then dashed. The recipe called for evaporated milk, and I don’t know how to replicate that with soy or another alternative milk. So…what will I substitute? Pumpkin “Pie” Bean Bake, that’s what! It looks like pumpkin pie, tastes like pumpkin pie, and is creamy like pumpkin pie. And even better? WW value: 2 points per serving unless you add coffee liqueur (optional).

Steamed Cauliflower: Variations

First of all: Many thanks to Jeff from jeffs kitchen for this post.

Jeff had read the cauliflower-tasting story from my post, Can Our Tastebuds Have Orgasms?, and clearly felt sorry for the spouse who ate the cauliflower I had served plain. Why plain? Because I thought that beautifully fresh cauliflower would taste great on its own.

And it did! To me, that is.

Anyway, Jeff wrote a great comment on that post with ideas for spicing up the cauliflower that I want to pass on to you.

Jeff steams his cauliflower whole, but you could also steam florets or roast them (see Roasted Veggies Redux) using these spices.

How to Steam a Cauliflower Whole

  1. Cut out the core from the bottom of the cauliflower.
  2. Place the head in a large cast-iron pot.
  3. Add about 1/2 inch of boiling water. (You can also add flavours to the water—see below.)
  4. Sprinkle spice generously over the cauliflower head (see possibilities below).
  5. Reduce heat so that the water is simmering.
  6. Cover pot and steam for 10-20 minutes. The amount of time will depend on the size of cauliflower and how soft you prefer it.

Jeff’s Spice Possibilities:

  • Allspice: Also add 1 tbsp. coconut milk to the boiling water.
  • Curry: Also add 1 tbsp. of balsamic vinegar to the boiling water.
  • Garam masala: Also add 1 tbsp. of balsamic vinegar to the boiling water.
  • A good quality paprika: Also add 1 tbsp. of balsamic vinegar to the boiling water. According to Jeff, “I’ve experimented with smoked paprika, and it tastes like I did it in a pot on a grill. The paprika adds a layer of flavor, and using smoked paprika adds yet another layer.”

I can think of other variations such as using cumin or fresh dill. Have you done something interesting with cauliflower that you’d like to share?

Quinoa Pudding: Basics and Variations

Mango-Banana Quinoa Pudding

The fruit season is just upon us here in Canada, and I’m looking forward to expanding my list of quinoa puddings.

These desserts are a low-cal favourite in our family. Or to put it another way: the spouse eats them faster than I can make them.

These recipes are all variations on the same theme: cooked quinoa, puréed fruit or squash, milk, eggs, spices/extracts, and sweetener. Once you know the basics, it’s easy to try new ones.

I thought it might be useful to bring my favourite recipes together in one post so you can see how they work. I’ll keep adding to the variations as I make them and, if you create one worth sharing, let me know and I’ll post it here.

For Weight Watchers: The point value depends on the milk that you use, but the recipe makes roughly 10 ½-cup servings with a point value of about 2 per serving.

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Dieter’s Spiced Cranberry Relish

We Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving on October 10 so our family had its groaning board yesterday, replete with turkey, stuffing, and all the usual wonderful and calorie-rich accompaniments.

In the past, I used to throw caution to the winds and dolloped lots of cranberry sauce (canned) on my turkey even though I knew it was chock-full of sugar.  This year, I decided to make my own cranberry sauce and spend those calories elsewhere—on pumpkin pie, for example, and some stuffing.  And this was a good thing for two reasons.

First of all, this relish was a much superior product to the canned variety: the cranberry flavour enhanced by spicy undertones of orange and spices.  And secondly, I needed to save those extra calories because one daughter brought home-made coconut macaroons, which were to die for.

And, honestly?  My diet did die a little…a smidgeon, really, dear god of weight loss.  But then, such is the fate of diets when Thanksgiving rolls around.

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