Monday, January 30, 2012

Kidney Bean, Barley and Sweet Potato Stew

This is a delicious and healthy way to fill your tummy on a wintry evening.  Lots of vitamins and antioxidants, fibre and protein, all with very little fat.  I found this recipe in a book called Hunger Free Forever and I haven't changed any of the ingredients.  But, I did suggest more precise amounts for the onion and sweet potato, and used those numbers in my nutritional information calculations.

This is a great way to use some of the homemade vegetable broth that I posted on Friday.

Kidney Bean, Barley, and Sweet Potato Stew
Makes 2 servings
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 Tbs pearl barley
  • 1 cup canned kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 large onion, diced (about 1/2 cup *)
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced (about 1-3/4 cups *)
  • 1 small stalk celery, diced
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp dried thyme, crushed
  • 1/4 tsp dried sage
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a boil.  Stir in the barley, reduce the heat, and cover.  Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  2. Add the beans, onion, sweet potato, celery, pepper, salt, thyme and sage, and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. 
  3. Stir occasionally and ad broth if the stew dries out.
  4. Divide between 2 serving bowls. 
Per serving.
Weight Watchers P+ = 7.
Calories 282; Protein 11g;  Carbohydrate 58g; Fat 1g; Fibe 12g.
The * amounts are my own suggestions about the ingredient.

Preparing the ingredients before you start cooking makes it all go very smoothly.

Boil the broth and add the barley to it.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the other ingredients and seasonings to the saucepan.

Mix together, cover and cook another 20 minutes.  I added about 3 Tbs of water during this time so check occasionally to make sure the mixture is not getting dried out or it will burn.  It should be wet but not 'soupy'.

Ladle into 2 bowls.

And enjoy!  It doesn't look like a lot of volume but it is very filling.

Friday, January 27, 2012

How to Make Your Own Vegetable Broth... So Easy!

I am such a frugal foodie!  I hate to see anything useful go to waste in my kitchen.

During the winter months, when I am making more soups and stews, I like to make my own vegetable broth, to have it at the ready when needed.  Vegetable bullion cubes are expensive to purchase.  And this broth is a great vegetarian substitute when a soup recipe calls for chicken broth, too.

So, when I am preparing vegetables such as carrots, celery, and zucchini, instead of discarding the washed ends and parings, I keep them in a zipper lock plastic bag in the refrigerator.  Once the bag is full, I use the contents to make nutritious and flavorful vegetable broth. 

The flavor is a little different every time I make it, as it totally depends on the vegetables used.  But, I like to make it so it can be used in a variety of ways so I don't use the cut ends of onions,  garlic cloves or other strong-flavored vegetables such as cabbage or turnips.  You could use them if you knew that the flavor of the resulting broth would be suitable for a given stew or soup, however.

It only takes about 45 minutes to an hour to have delicious and healthy homemade veggie broth.  Here is how I do it.

To prepare the broth I take the bag of veggies out of of the fridge...

and I empty it into my soup pot.

Then I fill it up with about halfway with water... nope, don't bother to measure.

I cover the pot, and turn the heat to HIGH till it boils, then turn it to LOW to allow it to simmer for about 40 minutes. 

I remove it from the hot stover burner and allow it to cool for about 10 minutes.  It is still steaming in this picture.

Then I strain the broth from the cooked veggies.  I like to pour it into a fine strainer set over a bowl in the sink because the pot of broth and vegetables is heavy and if there is any spillage, it is easy to clean up.

I place the cooled broth in a container and keep it in the fridge for up to a week, or freeze/thaw when ready to use.  This batch resulted in almost 3 quarts of rich vegetable broth.

Next week I am going to share 2 recipes where I use this  lovely broth so do watch for them. 


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Craving Coconut? Give These Cookies a Try!

At a recent Weight Watchers meeting, the leader gave out samples of  a new coconut and chocolate bar that they are introducing for sale.  It was really good...  and I came away with coconut and chocolate on my mind.

When I came home I started hunting through coconut cookie and bar recipes on the internet and couldn't quite find anything that was quite what I was after. But I did find these Coconut Oatmeal Cookies on a blog called  Everybody Likes Sandwiches With a few changes, it could satisfy my coconut craving.

My plan to add chocolate meant that I needed to lighten it up so I substituted mashed banana for 1/4 cup of the canola oil.  And then I added 1/4 cup of mini dark chocolate chips and left out the 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds from the original recipe.

They got The Captain's approval, and I like them too!  And it is a nice bonus that you only use 1 bowl and don't need your mixer to prepare the batter for them.

Here is how I made them.

Coconut Oatmeal and Chocolate Cookies
Makes 30 cookies
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup mashed banana
  • 1 c brown sugar (not packed)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut shreds
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips 
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F and cover cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, pour the oil, mashed banana, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla extract. Beat well until smooth.
  3. Add the rolled oats, coconut, and flours in layers without stirring. Add the baking soda, baking powder and chocolate chips, and then stir the whole mixture slowly until evenly mixed.
  4. Using a tablespoon, drop the cookies onto a baking sheet, leaving enough room for them to expand. 
  5. Bake for 11 minutes then remove  to a cooling rack. 
Per serving of 1 cookie.
Weight Watchers P+ =2 .
Calories 78; Protein 1g; Carbohydrate 11g; Fat 3g; Fibre 1g.

Beat the wet ingedients together in a medium bowl.

Add the dry ingredients one at a time, then stir till well blended.

Drop by spoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheet.

Bake for 11 minutes and then remove to a cooling rack... wait till cool, if you can!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Frozen Pre-Cooked Shrimp Make Easy and Delicious Meals

I like to keep a bag of already-cooked shrimp in the freezer because they are so handy in putting together a quick and easy meal.  All you need to do is let them thaw and then remove the tails before adding them to a sauce to heat them through. 

I find the 71 - 90 count and the 31-40 count the most versatile.  Those numbers tell you how many shrimp are in a pound and that is how we size them.  So, if it takes 71 - 90 to make up a pound, those will be smaller than the ones where it only takes 31 - 40 to equal a pound.   These are the 2 sizes that I normally buy... anything smaller or larger just don't work as well in a dish such as this.

For this dish I put the shrimp together with some garlic, onions,  mushrooms, tomatoes, and herbs, and then combined it with cooked fettucine.  But you could use any pasta shape you like.  The ingredients could easily be doubled or tripled, and if you don't have a large enough skillet to handle that volume, just plate the pasta and pour the sauce over the top.

The Captain loved this dish and raved about it the whole time we were eating dinner.  Anytime he can have pasta and shrimp, he is a happy man.

Fettuccine With Shrimp
Makes 2 servings
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 2 medium mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced vertically
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 medium tomato, seeded and  chopped or 10 grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 8 ounces shrimp, cooked and tails removed
  • dashes of basil, oregano, salt, and pepper 
  1. Prepare 2 servings of pasta according to the package direactions, and set aside to keep warm.  I use 2 ounces dry pasta per serving.
  2. Coat a large skillet with non-stick cooking spray, and set over MEDIUM heat.
  3. Pour vegetable oil in warm skillet and spread around to coat.
  4. Add mushrooms, onion, and garlic and saute about 5  minutes, stirring occasionally, till onion is tender.
  5. Add the tomatoes and saute a couple of minutes.
  6. Add the shrimp and cook a minute or two till heated through.
  7. Meanwhile, combine the chicken broth with cornstarch in a small bowl and add to the skillet.
  8. Turn up heat slightly and cook about 3 or 4  minutes till the sauce is thickened.
  9. Add the pasta and stir till all the strands are coated with the sauce.
  10. Divide the mixture between 2 plates and adjust seasoning as desired.

Per serving, not including the pasta.
Weight Watchers P+ = 6.
Calories 224; Protein 33g; Carbohydrate 10g; Fat 6g; Fibre 1g.

This is a very filling dish. If you like, you could save 1P+ by using only 3 ounces per serving of shrimp.

Saute the mushrooms, onions and garlic till the onions are soft.

Add the tomatoes, then the shrimp, and let heat through.

Add the chicken broth and cornstarch mixture and heat thill thickened.

Stir in the cooked fettucine and then divide between 2 plates.

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Fluffy and Filling High Fibre Pancake

I love to experiment with pancakes.  I have been working with high protein battters lately, but today I wanted something with more fibre, so I chose to use some PC Blue Menu Fibre First cereal. 

For my American friends, this cereal is very similar to General Mills Fiber One Original... you know, the little twigs!

The Captain liked these pancakes because they are light and fluffy, but thought they needed a bit of sweetening.  So, if you like, add a bit of Splenda or honey or even sugar to the batter.

High-Fibre Blueberry Pancakes
Makes 10 pancakes
  • 1 cup PC Blue Menu Fibre First cereal
  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/4 cups fat free milk
  • 1Tbsp canola oil
  • 1/2 cup white flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp  baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
  1. Break the cereal a bit by sealing it in a zipper-lock plastic bag and crushing it up with a rolling pin.
  2. Crack the egg into a large mixing bowl and beat till foamy.
  3. Add the milk and oil and blend well.
  4. Stir in the cereal and then let sit for a few minutes till the cereal softens a bit.
  5. Add the flours, baking powder, and baking soda (and sweetener, if using) and stir to blend.
  6. Fold in the bluberries.
  7. To make each pancake, using a 1/4 cup measure cup, spoon batter into a medium-hot pan that has been coated with non-stick spray.  There should be enough batter to make 10 pancakes.  If it gets too thick, as it rests in the bowl, stir in 1 Tbs of water to thin a bit.
  8. Cook pancake about 3 minutes, flip and cook the second side about the same time.  Re-coat pan with non-stick spray every 3rd or 4th cake, as needed.
  9. Remove cooked pancakes to a plate, cover and keep them warm till all are done and ready to serve.

Per panckake.
Weight Watchers P+ = 2.
Calories 97; Protein 4g; Carbohydrate 14g; Fat 2g; Fibre 3g.

The N.I. is per pancake, so multiply by the number of pancakes you eat.

Place cereal in a zipper bag and seal it.

Use a rolling pin to crush the cereal pieces, but don't overdo it!  We don't want flour.

Use a whisk to beat egg, then add milk and oil and beat again.

Stir in cereal and leave about 5 or 6 minutes to soften it.

Blend in dry ingredients, then add blueberries and fold in gently.

The batter is a bit thick to start with so if it needs thinning, add a bit of water and stir.

Use a 1/4 measure cup to spoon batter into the pan.

Cook till golden, about 3 minutes per side.

The batter will turn purple as the berries thaw!

With a bit of syrup....

or an egg!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My Favorite Oat Scones... I Hope You Love Them Too!

I am so excited to share this recipe with you today!  It was probably 4 or 5 years ago that I first found it on the bootcamp buddies forum on I usually make it during the Winter months when we have been housesitting and have a freezer to use.  We both really like it.

I made only a slight change from the recipe as I found it and posted it last Spring, leaving out some salt and artificial sweetener as I don't think they are required.

These scones are very versatile and quite portable, too.  You can eat them as is, or put some peanut butter or perhaps honey or jam on them... you can break them up in yogurt and top with fruit, or even top them with a slather of Laughing Cow cheese or a slice of cheddar.  Eat them cold or reheat them in the mike... it is up to you.  If you wrap them in plastic you can easily take them along with you for a snack or for lunch.

The cinnamon and pumpkin pie spices make the kitchen smell wonderful as the scones are baking and cooling.  Mmmmmm.

The recipe freezes very well so I often package them in two's and then pop them into the freezer... they only take an hour or so to thaw on the countertop, or a few seconds in the mike.

Oat Scones by @WeCanBegin2Feed

Oat Scones
Makes 8 servings
  • 1 cup fat free milk
  • 1-1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup fat free plain yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or other spices to taste the same.. allspice, cloves, nutmeg)
  • 1 cup oat bran 
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Heat fat free milk till scalded - about 2 minutes in the microwave oven.
  3. Add milk to regular oats in large mixing bowl, and let sit for a few minutes to soften oats.
  4. Spray large pie plate with non-stick spray.
  5. Add fat free plain yogurt to oats, along with the egg and unsweetened applesauce, and mix well.
  6. In another bowl mix the baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and oat bran.
  7. Stir the 2 mixtures together and pour into prepared pie plate and put into preheated oven.
  8. Bake approximately 30 minutes, or until golden on top.
  9. After removing from oven, let sit for about 15 minutes and then cut into 8 wedges.
Per serving of 1 wedge.
Weight Watchers P+ = 3.
Calories 122; Protein 6g; Carbohydrate 22g; Fat 3g; Fibre 4g.

UPATE 2017 for Smart Points calculation.
Per serving of 1 wedge or 1/8th recipe
Weight Watchers SP = 4.
Calories 122
Saturated Fat .5g
Sugar 3g
Protein 6g

Oat Scones
Add oats to scalded milk and let sit so the oats can soften.

Oat Scones
Add the yogurt, egg, and applesauce.

Oat Scones
Stir to mix well.

Oat Scones
Stir in the other already-combined dry ingredients.

Oat Scones
Pour the batter ino a prepared pie plate.

Oat Scones
After baking for 30 minutes, let sit to cool somewhat before cutting.

Oat Scones
The wedges are easily removed from the baking pan.

Oat Scones
And are generous in size.

Oat Scones
With a wedge of Laughing Cow cheese....

Oat Scones
and jam

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Golden Soup Brightens up a Dreary Day

It is a wintry day in my little corner.... a slight dusting of snow on the ground, a chill in the air, and a bit gloomy.  Surely a pot of hot and tasty golden soup will cheer things up! 

Thick, tasty soup is pure comfort food.  It warms you up all the way to your toes.  And this one is full of vitamins and healthy antioxidants, too.

I still have some of my homemade turkey stock on hand so I used it to make up this batch of Gingery Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup, but you can use bullion cubes or chicken stock if you have some in your cupboard.  This soup is similar to the Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup that I posted in the Fall, but it is spicier because I use freshy grated ginger root... and it is a bit thicker too.  I love it!

Gingery Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup
Makes 6 servings, just over 1 cup each
  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 or 3 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
  • 4 cups butternut squash, cut into cubes
  • 1-1/2 cups carrots, sliced
  • 3 cups stock
  • 1 Tbs ginger, peeled and grated or chopped
  • Dashes of salt, pepper, nutmeg
1. Sauté onion and garlic in canola oil till soft, about 15 minutes.
2. Add the butternut squash, carrot, and half of the broth and simmer 15 minutes.
3. Add the rest of broth, ginger, seasonings and simmer 30 minutes longer.
4. Allow to cool a bit and then puree in batches, adjust seasonings if necessary.
5. Garnish with dollop of yogurt or sour cream before serving.

Per serving, not incuding garnish.
Weight Watchers P+ = .
Calories 87; Protein 3g; Carbohydrate 17g; Fat 2g; Fibre 3g.

Peel and cut the butternut squash into chunks.

Onions and garlic cook in the canola oil on a low til softened.

Simmer the vegetables in half of the broth.

I like to peel and then grate the fresh ginger.

The immersion blender saves a lot of cleanup.

Be patient!  It may take a couple of minutes.

But oh so worth it!

Divide into 6 servings if you are going to store in the fridge or freeze.

Topped with a bit of fat free plain yogurt... dig in!