Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Date Night Dessert

I found this recipe on a blog I really like called In Good Taste.  It particularly appealed to me because it makes up just 2 single servings - no tempting leftovers.  There is  just enough to share with a special someone, or you could easily make a single for yourself, of course.

I did substitute Splenda for some of the sugar in Maris's original version, as I wanted to lower the calories and P+ values as well. 

We had some fresh blackberries and I was saving this recipe just for them.

This is how I prepared it.

Mixed Berry Crisp for Two
Makes 2 servings

  • 1 cup mixed berries, fresh or frozen (use any combination of blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries)
  • 6 packets of Splenda
  • 4 tablespoons flour, divided
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons old-fashioned oats
  • 2 tablespoons light packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon chilled butter 
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Combine berries, 3 packets of Splenda, 1 tablespoon flour and lemon juice in large bowl; toss to blend well.
  3. Transfer berry mixture to two oven-safe bowls or ramekin dishes, at least 8-ounce capacity, that have been lightly coated with a non-stick spray.
  4. Combine remaining 3 Tbs flour, oats, brown sugar, 3 packets Splenda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in medium bowl. Add butter; rub in with fingertips until topping holds together in small moist clumps. Sprinkle over berry mixture.
  5. Bake crisps until berry mixture bubbles thickly and topping is golden brown, about 20 minutes.
  6. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature – and they’re even better with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream or yogurt.
Per serving, without topping.
Weight Watchers P+ = 5.
Calories 199; Protein 3g; Carbohydrate 34g; Fat 7g; Fibre 5g.

Mix the berries with  some flour, Splenda and lemon juice.

Mix flour, Splenda, brown sugar, oats, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt together.

Then add the chilled butter in pieces, and work in with your fingers.

Serve baked crisp with a topping such as yogurt or ice cream and garnish with more berries.

It's sure to become a favorite!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Here's a Light and Skinny Summer Dip...

Summer brings outdoor get-together with friends and family and that means munching and snacking.... here is a dip I put together for my calorie-conscious friends.  It is nice with cut up veggies, tortilla or potato chips, and even small crackers.

Sundried Tomato Dip
Makes 8 servings, 2 Tbs each
  • 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes
  • 1 cup fat free sour cream
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup less 1 tsp fat free milk (11 tsp)
  • 2 medium green onions, minced
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • dash of pepper
  • dash of thyme
  1. Place tomatoes in a bowl and pour boiling water over them.  Let stand for 10 to 15 minutes until they have plumped a bit and softened.  Drain water from the tomatoes and then chop them finely.
  2. While the tomatoes are rehydrating, put 1 tsp lemon juice in a 1-cup measuring cup.  Add fat free milk to the 1/4 cup line.  Let sit for 5 minutes while milk thickens.
  3. In bowl, stir together tomatoes, sour cream, onions, thickened milk, salt, pepper and thyme.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours.
  5. Sprinkle with a bit of thyme to garnish before serving.
Per serving.
Weight Watchers P+ = 1.
Calories 39; Protein 3g; Carbohydrate 7g; Fat 0g; Fibre 1g.

This can be make-ahead. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Place dried tomatoes in a bowl.

Drain the tomatoes well, and then squeeze the remaining water from them before you finely chop them.

Mince the green onions.

Stir it all together in a bowl and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Healthy Portable Power Bars

This recipe was recently given to me by a dear friend I met through Weight Watchers.  She happens to be a nurse, and is focussed on taste-good nutrition and a healthy, active lifestyle. 

This is a portable bar, packed with flavor and chew... satisfying and nutritious.  It makes a great after-workout snack and is easily packed along on a walk, a bike ride or a hike... or tuck it away in your desk drawer at the office for an energy boost during that mid-afternoon slump.

These bars can be stored in the fridge for several days or the freezer for weeks... of course they won't last that long!

Healthy Power Bars
Makes 30 servings
  • 2-1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup oat bran
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour 2 tsps vanilla
  • 2-1/2 Tbs ground flax seed
  • 1/4 cup chopped or slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, finely chopped - approximately 12 apricots
  • 1/2 cup chopped pitted prunes, finely chopped - approximately 8 prunes
  • 1/4 cup dried lightly sweetened cranberries
  • 3 Tbs raw pumpkin seeds
  • 2 Tbs raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • dashes of ginger, nutmeg, cloves
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup liquid honey
  1. Preaheat oven to 325° F.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients toether in a large bowl.
  3. Mix the vanilla, applesauce and honey together in a small bowl.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well to combine.  The ingredients should start to stick together in clumps.
  5. Place the mixture into a  9 X 13 inch baking dish that has been coated with non-stick spray. Press batter into pan till level and compact.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool before cutting into 30 bars.

Per serving.
Weight Watcher P+ = 2.
Calories 86; Protein 2g; Carbohydrate 16g; Fat 2g; Fibre 2g.

Make sure to chop the apricots into small pieces.

Place all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and mix well.

Combine the applesauce, honey, and vanilla in a small, separate bowl.

Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and mix well.. may take a few minutes to completely combine all ingredients.

Place in a baking dish with edges.

Pat to flatten and compress.

Make sure to cool completely before cutting into bars.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Power Up

Are you someone who naturally snacks on fresh cherries or grape tomatoes, instead of popsicles or frozen yogurt?

Do you find it easy to get in your daily requirement of vegetables and fruits?

If you answered no to these questions, then these tips just might be for you... whether you are interested in weight loss/maintenance or whether you are just trying to fuel your daily workouts and keep up with your busy life.

At a recent Weight Watchers meeting we talked about how to ‘power up’ our meals with zero or low P+ fruits and vegetables.

Here are some of the ideas we came up with:

1. Add vegetables to meals and snacks wherever you can to bulk them up and increase nutrients.

Cut up peppers, mushrooms, spinach and onions and add to omelets; chop cucumbers and onions into your tuna salad; shred carrots and celery into your soups.

2. Plan your meals around vegetables. 

Try grilling kebabs made of onions, peppers, mushrooms, and grape tomatoes, along with a few shrimp. Make vegetable sauces for your pasta and shredded cheese. Plan spinach salads with fruit and chicken for dinner. Stir fry veggies with pork to eat with brown rice.

3. Snack on dried fruit.

Keep boxes of raisins and other dried fruit in your purse or desk drawer and reach for them instead of a cookie or doughnut, or stopping for an ice cream cone while driving.

4. Purchase convenient pre-packaged veggies and/or veggies with sauce.

There are lots of different brands and styles of frozen veggies available. All you need to do is add the protein of your choice for a complete meal.  

5. Eat fruit for dessert.

Top yogurt or ice cream with blueberries, or diced bananas. Or, top a brownie with sliced strawberries. Freeze banana chunks and whiz them in the food processor to make a banana-flavoured soft serve. Grill pineapple chunks on the BBQ.

6. Drink your fruit and your veggies.

Make smoothies with bananas, berries, spinach leaves, kale, milk, yogurt or protein powder.

7. Have fresh, cut-up veggies in the fridge for between-meal snacking.

Snap peas, green beans, grape tomatoes, carrots sticks, pepper slices, cucumbers… and they all go nicely with a low-fat hummus or a fat-free sour cream dip.

8. When you are in a hurry, stop at your local deli or salad bar to pick up freshly made salads or even just an assortment of vegetables.

Buy sliced peppers, broccoli, and carrots to make up a stir fry or diced tomatoes and spinach for an omelet or frittata.

9. Mix fruit and vegetables in new cominations.

Add strawberries, pears, or blueberries to spinach salads with feta or blue cheese crumbles. Mix grains with chopped apples, onions, green peppers, and dried cranberries.

10. Try experimenting with vegetarian 'meatless' meals.

Try stir-fries with tofu, meatless chilis, Moroccan stews.  Have grains and beans with vegetables for dinner salads.

How do you add more vegetables and fruits to your day’s food plan?

Do you ever have meatless meals?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Grill that Eggplant

I am so enamored with eggplant!  I love the color, the size, the shape, and the feel of the raw skin as I hold it in my hands.

The taste, however, not so much.  But when I ran across this idea for grilling them, I decided to give it a try.  And I am so glad I did.  It was delicious, the texture was creamy and smooth, and I will definitely be making this again.... besides, The Captain does the grilling so all I had to do was the prep!

I didn't use the chili pepper that the author suggests so left it out of my rendition of the recipe... and I altered the proportions of the ingredients as well.  I am favoring a white balsamic vinegar these days which has a slightly milder flavor than any dark you may use. 

Do give this recipe a try next time you are firing up your grill.

Honey Garlic Grilled Eggplant
Makes 2 servings
  • 1 eggplant, about 1-1/4 pounds
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 4 tsp olive oil
  • 2 mashed garlic cloves
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  1. Wash the eggplant and cut off the ends.  With a vegetable peeler, remove stripes of skin from the eggplant, lengthwise, to create alternating stripes of skin and no-skin. This is not only decorative, but makes the skin easier to bite. Slice eggplant crosswise into ½ inch thick circles.
  2. Lay out a large sheet of paper towels. Sprinkle eggplant generously with salt on both sides and lay out on paper towels. The eggplant will release a lot of liquid. This will help get rid of bitterness (if any) and make the eggplant more succulent and less watery after it’s cooked. Let sit for 15 to 30 minutes, then dry both sides well with paper towels.
  3. In a large bowl, wide enough to hold the largest eggplant slice, mix honey, olive oil, garlic, balsamic vinegar, and pepper to taste.
  4. Coat the grill with a non-stick spray and preheat it to HIGH.
  5. Dip one side of each slice of eggplant into the mixture in the bowl and place the eggplant slices on the grill, cover, and turn down the heat to MEDIUM. Grill until marked, about 3 minutes. Rotate each slice 90 degrees to make cross-hatch grill marks. Grill until marked, about 3 more minutes.
  6. Brush or spoon the remaining marinade on the eggplant slices, then flip them over and repeat the grilling procedure on the other side. Regulate heat so that the eggplant is browning, but not burning.
  7. Remove from heat and serve while still warm.
If you have leftovers, heat them in the mike and add them to a lunch sandwich. 

Per serving.
Weight Watchers P+ = 4.
Calories 166; Protein 3g; Carbohydrate 21g; Fat 9g; Fibre 6g.

Start with a lovely, firm eggplant.

Make stripes with a vegetable peeler.

Salt both sides liberally and then lay on paper towel.

Mix the marinade ingredients in a wide mouth bowl.

Dip one side of each slice in the marinade and then place on the preheated grill.

Flip over to cook second side.

Ready to serve.

Part of a lovely dinner.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Skinny Cranberry Cinnamon Bran Muffins

Normally I am not a big fan of the muffin.  I think, in general, they have too much fat and are not worth all the calories they contain and the P+ values they use up, too.

But, when one of my Weight Watchers friends recently shared her recipe for bran muffins with cranberries, it looked so good to me, I knew I had to try it.  I did make a couple of changes to skinny it up even more, using mashed banana in place of the canola oil and applesauce mixture suggested. They are a heavy muffin but so tasty and definitely worth the few extra steps in putting them together.

If you are looking for a light, fluffy muffin, this is not the recipe for you, but if you want something you can sink your teeth into, give it a try.  You could easily add different dried fruits, nuts or seeds to the batter.

I made only 6 muffins the first time I mixed these up,  just to test my changes, but you can easily double these ingredients to make a dozen.

Skinny Cranberry Cinnamon Bran Muffins
Makes 6 muffins
  • 1/2 cup wheat bran
  • 1/2 cup bran cereal (All Bran, Fibre One, Fibre First)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup fat free milk
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/8 cup mashed banana
  • 5 packets Splenda
  • 1 egg white
  • 3/8 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup oat bran
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon 

  1. In medium bowl, combine wheat bran, cereal and salt. Pour boiling water over and stir to combine. Stir in milk and cranberries and set aside.
  2. In another small bowl, whisk together Splenda egg white, and mashed banana. Stir into bran mixture.
  3. In large bowl, stir together flour, oat bran, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. Pour bran mixture over flour mixture in large bowl, and stir until just combined.
  4. Divide batter among 6 silicone cups, or 6 lined or greased muffin cups. 
  5. Bake in 375° F oven for about 20 minutes or until tester inserted in center comes out clean.
Per muffin.
Weight Watchers P+ = 3.
Calories 102; Protein 4g; Carbohydrate 24g; Fat 1g; Fibre 5g.

Pour boiling water over wheat bran, cereal, and salt.  Then mix.

Combine mashed banana with Splenda and egg white.

Mix whole wheat flour with oat bran, baking soda and cinnamon.

Stir till dry ingredients are just moistened.

Fresh out of the oven.

Waiting ... waiting...

Finally cool enough to enjoy.  Mmmm.

And for a different twist, break one up in a bowl with yogurt and fruit.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Cucumber Jellied Salad

I cannot recall the last time I made or even ate, a jellied salad.  It seems that no one takes the time to prepare them anymore.  And in the past, I have stayed away from them because the ones I did see, were wet and runny on my plate... who wants that?

When one of my Weight Watchers buddies mentioned that she was taking a jellied salad to a luncheon one day last week, we asked her to share the recipe she uses and she was kind enough to do that.

She uses 1 cup of fat free Miracle Whip in her version.  I halved all the ingredients to make a smaller salad, and instead of using 1/2 cup of the fat free Miracle Whip, I used 1/4 cup of fat free Miracle Whip mixed with 1/4 cup of fat free plain Balkan style yogurt.  I also used lime Jell-o instead of the lemon that she suggested but next time I will use lemon and change up the veggies a bit, too.   The possibilities are endless once you know the basic method.

This salad does take a bit of babysitting to get to the end result, but so worthwhile.  It  is a lovely way to add something a little different to your meal.  And, if you happen to have a jelly mold, do go ahead and use it!

And I should also mention, that it does stay nice and firm, even when it touches hot food on your plate. It doesn't melt and run away!

Cucumber Jellied Salad
Makes 6 servings, about 1/2 cup each
  • 1 pkg sugar free lemon or lime Jell-o
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 fat free Miracle Whip
  • 1/4 cup Balkan or Greek style fat free plain yogurt
  • 1-1/2 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 cup grated cucumber
  • 1 Tbs grated onion
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  1. Combine the Jell-o and the boiling water in a bowl that holds at least 4 cups.  Stir until the gelatin powder is completely dissolved.
  2. Add the Miracle Whip, yogurt, and vinegar and whisk till combined.
  3. Place the bowl into the refrigerator for approximately one hour till the gelatin begins to set up.
  4. Meanwhile, grate the cucumber, carrot and onion, and put them in a strainer to drain as much water away as possible.
  5. When the gelatin has begun to thicken around the edges, remove it from the fridge and fold the veggies into it.
  6. Replace it in the fridge and leave till completely set and ready to serve  - this may take another 3 or 4 hours.

Per serving.
Weight Watchers P+ = 1.
Calories 30; Proteing 1g; Carbohydrates 4g; Fat 0g; Fibre 0g.

The leftovers, if you have some, will keep nicely in the refrigerator over night.  Some jellied salads get weepy.  This one doesn't.  It stays lovely and firm.

Make sure the gelatin powder is completely dissolved in the boiling water.

The addition of the mayonnaise and yogurt turns it to a milky color.

Drain the vegetables to get as much liquid out as you can.

When the gelatin has begun to set, stir in the drained veggies.

About 3 hours later, it is completely set and ready to serve.

A single serving... lots of veggies in each bite.