Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Quick and Easy Soup Ideas

In the winter I think it is nice to have something warm at mealtime.  One of the easiest ways I know to is to include a bowl of soup.  It can be a first course, before a featured entree.... or it can be eaten as a side with a sandwich or a salad, perhaps.  Soup also makes a great snack!

But we don't always want to spend a lot of our daily calorie allotment, or P+ values on a bowl of soup so here are a few ideas that I have come up with, for us to have our soup and hang onto our P+ for more hearty fare.

These soups are quick and easy and also nutritious as they help boost our vegetable count for the day.

Beef Broth and Bok Choy
Zero P+
For 2 servings:
  • 1 beef bullion cube
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 large leaves bok choy
  1. Slice the bok choy into pieces about 1/2 inch wide.
  2. Boil the water in a medium saucepan and reduce heat till it is simmering.
  3. Add the thick white ends of the bok choy and the bullion cube to the water, and stir till the cube is dispersed.
  4. Add the leafy pieces of bok choy and let cook about 2 more minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and ladle into 2 bowls.
You could drizzle in a couple of Tbs of egg white while the broth is steaming to add some protein to this soup, and increase the P+ value to 1.

Sweet Potato and Chicken Broth
 1 P+ 
For 1 serving:
  • 1 cup cooked sweet potato
  • 1/4 chicken bullion cube
  • 1/3 cup water 
  1. Use leftover cooked sweet potato or cook small potato in microwave oven and peel when cool enough to handle.
  2. Heat water and bullion cube together in a small sauce pan till cube dissolves.
  3. Add sweet potato and heat through.
  4. Remove from heat and whizz with immersion blender or mix with potato masher.
  5. Pour into serving bowl and add a dollop of fat free yogurt or sour cream and a dash of cinnamon if you like.
This idea works with all kinds of vegetables... squash, carrots, potatoes zucchini... a great way to use up leftovers and get in some extra veggies. 

Would love to see your ideas for quick and easy and low P+ soups.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Chocolate-Avocado Vegan Cupcakes

I have seen several different recipes over the past year, that use avocado in place of the traditional butter and eggs when chocolate is involved.  This is one vegan recipe I couldn't resist.  It comes from Joy Wilson's Joy the Baker Cookbook.  I happened to have a just-ripe avocado sitting on the counter, waiting to be used.... normally I would have made guacamole with it, but since I have been doing so much running lately, I am craving sweets.

This looked like it would fill the bill... and did it ever!  Don't be worried if you see little bits of the avocado as your pour the batter into the muffin cups.  They will disappear as they bake. 

The Captain prefers plain cupcakes so I only frosted a few of them... you decide. They certainly do not need the frosting.  And I bet no one will know there is avocado in them unless you tell. 

Here is Joy's recipe.

Chocolate-Avocado Vegan Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup mashed ripe avocado (about half an avocado)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract 
  1. Place rack in the upper third of the oven, and preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Line a cupcake pan with foil or paper liners.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk sugar, oil, avocado, water, vinegar, and vanilla.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the avocado mixture and fold with a spatula until well combined.
  6. The batter will be so loose that you can pour it into a measuring cup to dispense into the cupcake molds. Fill each cupcake liner until it’s about two-thirds full.
  7. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.
  8.  Let cakes cool for 10 minutes before moving to a cooling rack.
I didn't care for the frosting recipe that accompanied these cupcakes so I made up one of my own... it lightly frosted only 4 of the cakes so you can alter the ingredients accordingly. If you want to stay with the vegan theme, use Earth Balance butter or a vegan margarine.

Elle's Mocha Frosting
Makes enough to frost 4 cupcakes
  • 1-1/2 Tbs butter at room temperature
  • 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup icing (powdered) sugar
  • 1/4 tsp  vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cold coffee 
  1. Cream butter with cocoa and icing sugar. 
  2. Add vanilla and coffee and mix well.
  3. If it is a bit dry add water, a drop or 2 at a time until it is the consistency you like.
  4. Spread over 3 completely cooled cupcakes.
Per serving, without icing.
Weight Watchers P+ = 4.
Calories 153; Protein 2g; Carbohydrate 30g; Fat 3g; Fibre 1g.

Per serving, with icing.
Weight Watchers P+ = 7.
Calories 240; Protein 2g; Carbohydrate 42g; Fat 8g; Fibre 1g.

I like to use silicone liners because they don't stick.

Mix the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and baking soda together.

Combine the sugar, oil, avocado, vinegar, water and vanilla together.

Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and fold gently.

The batter makes 12 large cupcakes.  Allow the cooked cupcakes to cool a bit before removing from the baking tin.

Moist and delicious!  No frosting here.

Cream butter with cocoa and icing sugar.

Add wet ingredients and mix well.

Frosted and garnished with a bit of powdered sugar.

You decide!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Chobani Greek Yogurt Keeps Me Coming Back For More

It's been a couple of weeks since I first talked about my love for Chobani yogurt.  On the day I pubished that post, another Chobani shipment arrived on our doorstep, and I could not have been more excited!

The Captain helped me bring it in and open it up and inside the cardboard carton we found...

An insulated bag with 8 still-frozen ice packs, and....

2 large containers of  my very favorite fat free Plain Chobani yogurt, along with...

2 flats of single-serving (170g each) flavored Chobani yogurt...

8 containers each of Peach, Pomegranate, Strawberry, and Black Cherry Chobani yogurt.

Are you kidding me?

I was practically jumping for joy and having the worst (and best) time ever trying to decide which one to try first.  Finally The Captain put an end to my torment and tore open 2 containers, one for each of us....

Peach for himself....

and Pomegranate for me.

We stirred and stirred and stirred, mixing in the fruit laying on the bottom of the containers.  And we savored every little mouthful, never wanting to get to the bottom.  This yogurt is so thick and so creamy and so delicious and downright sinful tasting!  It is hard to believe that each of these 170g containers is only 4P+ each on the Weight Watchers Points Plus program. 

I loved that there are bits of real fruit in them and even more that the Pomegranate actually has a few seeds in it.  A great surprise and it really adds to the authenticity of the flavor and 'pom' experience.

Well, since then, we have also been enjoying the other 2 flavors...

The Black Cherry...

And the Strawberry... 

I wasted no time in making a Strawberry  Yogurt Pie for our wedding anniversary. 

I made some lovely Baked French Toast with Fruit and Chobani for a special dinner one evening.

 and for a special Valentine's breakfast, I whipped up some Heart-Healthy and delicious  Strawberry Oatcakes.

And for a treat for yourself... an Easy Single Serve Brownie.

There is so much you can do with Chobani Greek yogurts OTHER than just opening a container and eating it... which we love to do.  And they are so filling, we often share one, just to stretch them out a bit longer.  Now that I have discovered Chobani Greek yogurt, and come to love it so much, my greatest fear is that I will not be able to get anymore! I have been entering giveaways where I find them and just learned I have won another one...  so happy for that and feeling quite fortunate and grateful, too.

Chobani Greek yogurt is not yet available in Western Canada, although you lucky peeps in the GTA and in the U.S. can get it, and new flavors are being added all the time! 

Check out Chobani Kitchen for recipes and ideas and a store locator, and find them on Facebook too.

I was given this shipment of Chobani Greek yogurt at no cost to myself, but the opions expressed are 100% my own. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fat Free Hollandaise... You Have Got To Try This!

This week my favorite local freggie market had the most beautiful fresh asparagus... and at a fantastic price.

I am very picky about buying asparagus and rarely do.  The spears I see at the markets are usually thick and woody looking, and very expensive.  Not worth it in my opinion.

But this week was an exception, so I chose a large bunch, with the thinnest stalks I could find and as soon as I brought it home I washed a couple of them and ate them... raw.  They were crunchy and sweet and quite lovely.  The first time I ever ate asparagus was when I picked it growing wild in the Southern Okanagan many years ago, and it was so good that I always judge any I have now by that day's yield.  This measured up pretty well.

So I began hunting for a Hollandaise recipe that I thought The Captain would eat.  He told me years ago that he dislikes Hollandaise sauce because it is too vinegary for him.  I never really cared about it and thought it was too fatty and rich anyway... but this asparagus was just begging for something special, and we have some lovely thin ham slices in the fridge too so I was really hoping I could find something The Captain would like.

I came across the Chobani Kitchen and to my delight, there is a Hollandaise Sauce recipe posted there, and it has no vinegar, no butter, no cheese!  I immediately copied it and took it ino the kitchen to give it a try.... it is wonderful!  And thankfully, my fussy Captain agreed.

The only thing I did change was to leave out the Tabasco Sauce that it calls for.  It you want to see the recipe the way it was orignally published, follow this link.

I am calling mine Milder Chobani Hollandaise and here is how I made it.

Milder Chobani Hollandaise
Makes 1/2 cup, enough for 2 servings
  • 1/4 cup fat free Plain Chobani yogurt
  • 1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 egg yolk
  • dashes of salt and pepper
  1. Combine and whisk the ingredients in the top of a double boiler and set over simmering water.
  2. Cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is thick enough to coat back of spoon. This will take 6 to 8 minutes. (Sauce can be kept at room temperature up to 1 hour; reheat gently in double boiler.)
  3. Spoon Hollandaise over asparagus.
Per serving.
Weight Watchers P+ = 2.
Calories 63; Protein 7g; Carbohydrate 2g; Fat 3g; Fibre 0g.

I don't have a double boiler so I just set a small pan inside a larger one.

Whisk together and keep stirring as it thickens.

It will easily coat a spoon when it is ready... and it will become a bit paler in color, too.

Spoon over cooked asparagus spears.

Printable Recipe

Monday, February 20, 2012

No-So-Fat Tuesday...

Mardi Gras is traditionally a time to eat all you can before you have to give something up for Lent...  But it doesn't have to be that way! 

Shrove Tuesday dinner traditionally calls for pancakes in our house.  Last year we had them for breakfast AND dinner!

Here are some of my favorite Not-So-Fat pancake recipes for those of you wanting to have pancakes for dinner but not blow your calorie budget out of the water:

Friday, February 17, 2012

Baked French Toast with Fruit and Yogurt

I really like baked French Toast and rarely make it for breakfast because it just seems to take too long... but for dinner, bring it on!  It is delicious and pretty and can be different every time you make it with the variety of seasonal and frozen fruits that are so plentiful... and though I chose a Plain Greek yogurt, you can certainly use a flavored one if you prefer.

The addition of Greek yogurt not only adds a luscious creaminess to the taste of this dish, but it adds protein which makes it much more satisfying, and for longer.

The nutritional information is going to depend on the type of bread and yogurt you choose but this will give you an idea of how many Points Plus it might contain. I did include the fruit I used.  I used a hearty Dempster's mulitgrain bread, and Chobani Greek yogurt.... one kiwi, about 2/3 cup of sliced fresh strawberries, and 1/3 cup of frozen/thawed blueberries and blackberries.

Baked French Toast with Fruit and Greek Yogurt
Makes 2 servings
  • 4 slices whole grain bread
  • 1/3 cup fat free milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup sugar free syrup
  • fresh or frozen/thawed fruit of your choice
  • 1/2 cup 2% Plain Greek yogurt
  1. Preheat your oven to 350° F.
  2. Coat a baking dish large enough to hold 4 slices bread, with non-stick spray. Lay the bread slices in the dish.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, vanilla, eggs, and syrup and pour over the bread slices in the baking dish, making sure each slice of bread is coated with the mixture. 
  4. Bake for 30 minutes until golden and crispy.
  5. Remove from oven and divide the 4 slices of bread between 2 serving plates.
  6. Garnish with the fruit and yogurt, and pour a bit more syrup over top, if desired.

Per serving.
Weight Watchers P+ = 11.
Calories 430; Protein 21g; Carbohydrate 65g; Fat 11g; Fibre 9g.

Lay bread slices in prepared pan. I could only fit 2 in a pan so used 2 pans.

While toast is baking, prepare your fruit. 

It will be golden and crunchy when it is baked.

The underside will have more egg mixture baked on it and will be darker.  Serve either side up, as you prefer.

Top the bread slices with fruit and yogurt.

Drizzle with a bit more syrup if you like.

And prepare to hear lots of compliments!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sweet and Spicy Hoisin Chicken Parcels

I really like the spicy sweetness of hoisin sauce and jump at the chance to use it in salad dressings and stir-fries.  We have enjoyed this recipe from the G.I. Cookbook many times.  Normally I make it as written but this time, I didn't have any snow peas on hand, so substituted very thinly sliced carrots.  Where you read carrots in the recipe here, the original reads snow peas.  Both are good and a mixture would be nice, too.

I like to serve this dish over cooked rice.  Mixing the ingredients and sealing them in foil packets makes for easy cleanup.... and it reminds me of campouts from my childhood.  Whether you cook it on the barbeque or in the oven, you will really appreciate the spicy and smoky blend of flavors, I am sure.

Hoisin Chicken Parcels
Makes 2 servings 
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 Tbs soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs mirin or sherry
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut cross-wise into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 cup carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 2 green onions, chopped 
  1. Preheat oiled grill to medium-high or oven to 425°F.
  2. In large bowl, combine hoisin sauce, soy sauce, mirin, garlic, ginger and sesame oil. 
  3. Add chicken, carrots, red pepper and green onions; toss to coat.
  4. Divide mixture between two 12x14 inch pieces of aluminium foil.   Fold up packages and seal tightly. 
  5. Grill over medium-high heat, or cook in oven, for 15 to 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender-crisp. 

Per serving not including rice.
Weight Watchers P+ = 7.
Calories 262g; Protein 25g; Carbohydrate 30g; Fat 5g; Fibre 4g.

Combine the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl.

Prepare vegetables...

and chicken breasts.

Add veggies and chicken to sauce mixture in bowl.

Lightly coat foil pieces with a non-stick spray.

Stir the veggies and chicken in the sauce, making sure to coat each piece.

Divide the mixture between the 2 pieces of foil.

Fold up the edges to seal the packets and either cook them on the grill on or in the oven.

Open the packets after cooking, and pour each one over a plate of cooked rice.

I like to serve with chopsticks.