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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French Toast Sans Bread

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This recipe was inspired by the kitchen in our rental casita in Tucson, AZ.

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The kitchen’s cute, but the lack of space and basic gear limited my culinary endeavours. Moreover, who wants to spend time in the kitchen when the sun is shining and the mountain trails beckon?

Still, I got a baking urge now and then although I had no supplies for baking. Which got me thinking about egg custards. Which led me, after a little research on the right ratio of egg to liquid. Which brought me to this very easy, very low-calorie dish and variations of it.

Oh, and the spouse also likes it. Also, we both agree that it doesn’t seem to matter if you use regular eggs (higher calories) or liquid egg substitute (lower calories).

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Happy Holidays and a Song Just for You!

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It’s that season again. At a Xmas potluck lunch for my Aquafit class, the dishes filled every square inch of the table. There were so many cakes, cupcakes, muffins, and cookies, it looked like a bakery gone wild.

What’s a GF, non-dairy, dieter to do? Be oh-so very, very careful. I had four choices: marinated shrimp, barbecued chicken wings, fruit, and the GF cornbread that I had brought. Needless to say, the tooth-picked pieces of melon were my mainstay.

And, this was really just the start—I still have the rest of Christmas and New Year’s to go.

Just when I was feeling sorry for myself, I discovered this musical spoof on food sensitivities, “One More Grain,” written by Michael Bihovsky, and based on the song, “One More Day,” from Les Miz.

It made me smile; it made me laugh. Enjoy!

Banana Bread with Carob Chips

chocolatechipbananabread2Okay, okay, it’s a recycled recipe. But here’s the good news.

I shaved 11 WW points (roughly 500 calories) from the original recipe by changing one flour and eliminating the oil altogether. Thank you, applesauce, for being such a great replacement!

Using millet flour instead of rice flour not only added nutrition and cut points, it also got rid of the need for milk—another calorie savings. Millet flour, I’m learning, is less thirsty than rice flour.

Of course, the applesauce may have something to do with it, but who knows? This is the kind of mystery that makes gluten-free, low-calorie baking so intriguing…she says with a smile.

Anyway, light and delicious, this banana bread can be served as a loaf, a muffin, or a square (as shown in the photo.)

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Navy Bean Brownies with Carob Chips (no flour, no dairy)

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How’s your Chocolate Monster? Mine is alive and well, thank you very much.

In fact, I would say that she has been on a bit of a rampage lately. I’ve made two batches of brownies in 3 days. I eat them for breakfast, snacks, and dessert.

Breakfast! you exclaim. Brownies for breakfast? 

Yup, unless you’ve got something against eggs and beans first thing in the morning. No kidding. These brownies* are not only delicious and filling, they’re good for you—high in protein, low in carbs, and low in calories.

So how can your Chocolate Monster or mine resist?

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Baked Turkey-Quinoa Meatballs with Cucumber Raita

I gave a luncheon on Saturday for six in which I did NOT cater to my gluten-eating, okay-with-lactose friends in any way.

Rather, I served a meal that I felt everyone would like, but it was designed—from soup to nuts—for the two of us who had gluten and dairy sensitivities.

Minority rules! Way to go!

Challenge #1: The original recipe—Incredibly Healthy and Tasty Quinoa and Turkey Balls at the FeedRight for People blog—called for chopped olives. Big problem. The spouse is opposed to olives of any shape, colour, or taste. (Where did I find this man? you may well ask.) On the other hand, I love olives and knew they would add terrific flavour to the dish.

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Sweet Potato Quinoa Cookies

This post could be called “When Two Recipes Converge.” Interestingly, these two converging recipes don’t, at first glance, appear to have anything in common.

Well…they’re both sweet. I’ll give you that.

My creative moment arrived when I idly wondered what would happen if I replaced the banana in the quinoa cookies with something else to give them a different taste and texture.

What would do the trick? Grated carrot came to mind (another day’s project), but I had, on hand, a very large, already cooked sweet potato.

(The sweet potato was shaped like a pistol, which doesn’t have anything to do with anything, but I’m sharing so you get the full flavour of this creative moment.)

I had nuked the sweet potato for the bean bake but had more than I needed—about ½ a cup too much. (Basically, the handle of the pistol.) What to do? Aha! And the cookie mix, as they say, thickened.

I used the spices from the bean bake recipe and also the currents. I altered the flour from the cookie recipe to get rid of the almond meal—too high in calories to have with the currants. (Have you ever noticed that diet baking is a continuous process of taking from Peter to pay Paul?) And, as usual when you change GF flours, the liquid requirements change too. Hence more applesauce and some milk for good measure.

So, without more ado, let me introduce you to another yummy, protein-packed, low-calorie cookie.

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No Weight Loss? Have You Had Your Thyroid Checked Lately?

This is a cautionary tale. It’s about the thyroid, a gland that controls your metabolism and can cause your weight-loss program to seemingly self-destruct.

I tell this story because it happened to me, and I should have known better because I’ve had thyroid disease for almost 20 years.

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Gaining Weight on PointsPlus: Part 2

When I first began this blog, Weight Watchers had just shifted to the new PointsPlus (PP) system. Like many of you, I had gone from 22 daily points + 35 weekly bonus to 29 daily points + 49 weekly bonus. Theoretically, the results should have been equal because the new PP program gave a higher point-value to products that are heavy in carbs.

I had been very disappointed (see Part 1) because my weight loss stopped and I started gaining! I was advised by my leader to cut back on fruit which was now free. Theoretically, this should have made a difference.

But it didn’t. I didn’t gain any more weight, true, but I wasn’t losing weight either.

For a while I went back to the old Points program, but I could see that my paper calculator wasn’t going to last forever, and I was going to have to make peace with the new program.

I decided to track my food and point intake on both programs for a week. To ensure equality between both programs, I also gave a point-value to fruit (see Points Values of Fruits on PointsPlus). The result was “six of one, half-a-dozen of the other.” I was within the total point count on both programs.

So I moved myself and the blog into the PP era, started to really exercise, watched my fruit intake, and figured everything would be fine.

It wasn’t. I’ve been hovering around the same weight for the past two months or so.

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Thanks to Roasted Vegetables, I Didn’t Gain A Pound!

This week, I went to my first Weight Watchers meeting in almost two months.  Fear lay heavily on my soul.  I’d been careful with food when we were away, but even so…I hadn’t followed any particular diet or tracked what I was eating.

And there’s a confession too: I had a love affair with pistachio nuts while in Tucson.  And Safeway carried these cinnamon sugar rice cakes we don’t get in Ottawa…

So imagine my delight and that of my WW leader to discover that I’d not gained a pound.  Clearly, I’m terrific at maintaining my weight…now to take off 20 more pounds, but that is the subject of another post.

I attribute this weight maintenance to three things: I did a lot of walking; we didn’t eat out very often; I made roasted vegetables so that we always had some for every dinner, even if we had salad as a side dish; AND I ate the roasted vegetables, of which I always made a large quantity, in place of potatoes or rice.

I didn’t plan this strategy in advance.  I ended up roasting vegetables because our rented apartment had no equipment for steaming vegetables but did have two shallow casserole dishes with covers.  The result was that I cooked vegetables that were on sale or looked good.

This is what I learned from the experience, above and beyond what I wrote in my first post about roasted vegetables (DIY Roasted Vegetable Medley):

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