Friday, March 30, 2012

Delicious Spicy Cranberry Sauce - 2 Ways

When fresh cranberries appear in our local markets in the Fall, I like to pick up a few bags and toss them into the freezer (when we have one!).  I seldom see frozen cranberries in our grocery stores and sometimes fresh are just not available when I want to have them.

This sauce takes only about 20 minutes to prepare and it is just delicious.  You can certainly adjust the spices to suit your own tastes.  The basic recipe is on the Ocean Spray cranberry bag, but I have added spices and orange zest to give it some additional flavor.

I like to make a sugar free sauce so I am offering you a recipe with sugar and one without, using Splenda.

The Simplest Cranberry Sauce
Makes about 2-1/2 cups
  • 12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 to 2 tsps orange zest
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  1. Rinse the cranberries in cool water, discarding stems and any blemished berries.
  2. In a large saucepan, bring the water to a boil.
  3. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved.
  4. Add the cranberries and simmer.  Stir occasionally until the cranberries pop and the sauce begins to thicken a bit.  This may take about 10 minutes
  5. Remove from heat, stir in the zest and spices.
  6. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Per 1/4 cup serving.
Weight Watchers P+ = 3.
Calories 94; Protein 0g; Carbohydrate 24g; Fat 0g; Fibre 1g.

For the sugar-free version, 1 substitute  8 packets of Splenda for the white sugar.  This makes a lovely tart sauce and the WW P+ = 0.  Nice bonus.

Rinse berries and discard and with blemishes.

Prepare orange zest.

Add berries to pot of boiling water and sugar.

Remove from heat after berries have popped and sauce has thickened a bit.

Sauce will set and thicken as it cools in fridge.

Printable Recipe

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Tuna Quinoa Cakes from The Lean Green Bean

I came across this recipe a couple of days ago and it appealed to me immediately.  I love sweet potatoes, the dark orange ones that we Canadians (incorrectly) like to call yams, and quinoa and tuna... but I certainly never would have thought to put them all together and make 'burgers', or as Lindsay calls them 'cakes'.

They are delicious... you have to try this out.  The only change I made was in the selection of yogurt.  I would use Chobani if I were able to get it here...  so I used a different Greek yogurt.  But I do think any fat free plain yogur t would work.

I did make this up into 6 patties (actually The Captain made them) and baked them in the oven.  We had 2 each for dinner and I am saving the other 2 for our lunch tomorrow. I served them warm on a pile of romaine, spinach, sliced tomatoes,red peppers, mushrooms,and cucumbers, and then drizzled EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) and dark balsamic vinegar over the top.

The Captain raved about them, and suggested we try the leftovers cold over salad greens tomorrow.  You cannot imagine my pleasure at actually hearing him suggest we have salad for lunch.  Lindsay, you are a miracle worker!

I am linking to Lindsay's recipe, on The Lean Green Bean, rather than copying it for you here. 
I did calculate the N.I. though and here is how it stacks up...

Per serving of 1 cake without EVOO and vinegar.
Weight Watchers P+ = 2.
Calories 95; Protein 13g; Carbohydrate 9g; Fat 1g; Fibre 1g.

I mixed the egg, yogurt, lemon juice, and mustard in a small bowl and then added it to the other ingredients.

Formed cakes ready to bake in the oven.  We put them on foil coated with a non-stick spray but they did stick a bit so be careful when removing them from the pan after cooking.

Makes a lovely presentation...

And so tasty and nutritious.  I just know they will be good cold as well.

Lindsay also suggested that this recipe would work with salmon instead of tuna and I am sure she is right... I will be trying it soon!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Carrot and Rutabaga Soup - Different and Delicious

This tasty soup was made with my usual vegetable soup method...  the only significant difference is in the veggies I chose today.  I wanted to make carrot soup, but I also had a part of a rutabaga that needed using so I cut that up and added it to the pot.

It turned out really nicely.  There is just enough color change from a carrot soup so you would suspect that there is something else in it, when you first see it.  And the rutabaga just slightly changes the flavor; enhances it really.  It is very subtle so if you think you don't like turnips or rutabagas, don't be put off.  There is not enough of that stronger flavor here to notice. 

Do give it a try.  Use any vegetable oil you like, and veggie broth (or homemade veggie broth) if you want to keep it vegan. I am using my homemade turkey broth here but you could certainly sub a canned chicken broth or a bullion cube and water.

And feel free to change up the spices too.  Normally I add my spices to the pot after the onions and garlic are transluscent, so that they can cook a bit too before adding the other veggies.  But today I wasn't sure what I would use until I tasted the finished soup.  Then I decided on cumin.  But I think ginger and a dash of nutmeg would be nice, or even a mild curry.

Carrot and Rutabaga Soup
Makes 9 servings of 1 cup each
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
  • 4 ounces onion, chopped
  • 7 ouncs rutabaga, roughly cut in chunks
  • 16 ounces carrots, cut into 1/2-inch lengths
  • 4 cups turkey broth
  • salt, pepper, cumin to taste
  1. Gently heat the canola in a large saucepan.
  2. Add the garlic and onions and cook till translucent, about 10 minutes.  Add cumin and let cook about 1 more minute.
  3. Add the chunks of rutabaga and carrot and saute for a few minutes.
  4. Add the broth, cover, bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and let cool enough so that you can whiz with your immersion blender, or blend in batches if you prefer.  Puree till there are no chunks left.
  6. Serve hot, seasoned with salt and pepper.  Add a dollop of yogurt or sour cream.
Per serving, without topping.
Weight Watchers P+ = 1.
Calories 47;  Protein 2g; Carbohydrate 9g; Fat 1g; Fibre 2g.

Add the carrots and rutabaga to the pot after the onions and garlic are cooked.

Saute for a few minutes before adding broth.

After the soup is cooked, remove from heat and allow to cool a bit...

then puree still smooth with blender or immersion blender.

Reheat to serve.

Season with salt and pepper....

and add yogurt or sour cream if you like it.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Beautiful Spring Colors Inspired These Cookies...

Spring always brings to mind pastel colors.   I think of all the beautiful flowering shrubs and trees we have on the Southern end of the Island.  The rhododendrons, flowering plums, cherries and crab apples.  And the daffodils, tulips, and crocuses.  And the green grass, beautiful birds and of course there is the blue of the nearby ocean and the beautiful sky overhead.

I wanted to make something with these colors as a treat for The Captain

I decided to try some cake mix cookies using colored sprinkles in them. I know that cake mix cookies are really popular right now but I hadn't ever tried one.  All of the recipes I found had way too much fat in them for my liking so I put this together and crossed my fingers that they would be all right.

They turned out so well and are delicious!  Perhaps tooooo delicious....  but if you can handle having a cookie or two, go ahead and indulge.  They are so easy and make up really quickly.  And if you like, put them in the freezer to get them out of sight. 

I did some where I put additional sprinkles on the cookies as I formed them and put them on the baking sheet.  And then I did a batch without doing that and they are just as good... just no crunch of extra, unmelted sprinkles as you bite into them.

If you don't want to bother with that, cause the dough is rather sticky, just mix the whole cup of sprinkles into the dough.

Pretty Spring Cake Mix Cookies
Makes 38 cookies
  • 1 single white cake mix, 517 g
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup rainbow-colored sprinkles
  1. Preheat your oven to 350° F.
  2. Line a large cookie shee with parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the cake mix and baking powder together.
  4. In a small bowl, mix the oil, egg, egg whites, and water.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir till combined.
  6. Stir in 2/3 cup of sprinkles and mix well. Place the other 1/3 cup sprinkles into a small bowl.
  7. To make the cookies, use a 1 Tbs measure to scoop dough and lightly coat with sprinkles from the small bowl.  Place on cookie sheet.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes and then remove to baking rack to cool.

Per serving.
Weight Watchers P+ = 2.
Calories 81; Protein 1g; Carbohydrate 13g; Fat 3g; Fibre 2g.

Mix cake mix with baking powder and stir till well-combined and there are no clumps.

Mix oil with egg, egg whites, and water.

Add wet to dry and mix well.

Add sprinkles...

and stir well.  It will be sticky.

Scoop dough by the tablespoonful to make cookies and coat with more sprinkles if you like.

Round a bit and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

They are very soft when first taken from the oven.  Remove to a backing rack to cool.

They do firm up when cooled.

This batch did not have extra sprinkles added before baking.

They are softer in color and texture.

Side by side, one without added sprinkles, one with added sprinkles.

Monday, March 19, 2012

GNC Whey ISO Burst Protein Powder... and a GREAT Protein-Packed Cookie!

As a FitFluential Ambassador, I am currently involved  in some product sampling sponsored by GNC Canada.  I was given some Whey Iso Burst protein powder to use and review.  I chose a new-to-me flavor called Banana Berry Burst as I thought it would be fun to try something other than my usual choices of chocolate and vanilla.

I love bananas so it really was not that much of a stretch... and I was not disappointed!

This product sampling has come at a very good time for me because I am running 3 times per week right now, training for a half marathon to be run Mid-May.  And I am also strength training 3 times per week and doing some yoga and Pilates.  I am noticeably hungrier, and was craving sweets until I started adding more protein to my diet.  This protein powder has really helped with that effort.

I have been using this protein powder in a variety of ways...

Stirred into my breakfast oats after they are cooked.

It gives them a bit of added sweetness too, and I am satisfied till lunch time.

I have been making protein-packed smoothies to drink after running.

And I have made flourless high-protein pancakes.

And I recently found a recipe for protein-packed cookies that I couldn't wait to try!

The original recipe came from Itty Bits of Balance and looked like a great way to get some more protein into my day, in a fun way.  It is a cookie and I did change a few thing so I am going to offer it here the way I made them up(with Brittany's approval).  Brittany's original recipe calls for chocolate chips and peanut butter... I am using butterscotch chips and almond butter.  I think any combination of baking chips and nut butter that you like would be great!  And liquid honey would be fine in place of the agave syrup with very similar N.I. too.

Hat's off to Brittany for coming up with this great idea... and I will be making more of them.  I like to have a high-protein snack in my pocket when I set out on a walk or a bike ride, or a drive in the car, and these cookies will fill that need quite nicely.

Here is how I made them...

Butterscotch Chip Protein Cookies
Makes 15 cookies 
  • 1 cup quick (not instant) oats
  • 1/2 cup protein powder
  • 1/4 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 2 Tbs agave
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the oats, protein powder and butterscotch chips.
  3. Crack the egg into a small bowl and lightly beat it.  Add the almond butter and agave and mix till smooth.
  4. Add the wet ingdredients to the dry ingredients and mix.  You may have to use your hands. It will be sticky and stiff.
  5. Form into 15 balls and set on parchment paper on a cookie sheet.  If any chips have not stuck in the dough, press them into the tops of the cookies. 
  6. Slightly flatten the cookies with a fork.
  7. Bake for 8 minutes till lightly golden and then remove from oven. 
Per serving of 1 cookie.
Weight Watchers P+ = 2.
Calories 90; Protein 5g; Carbohydrate 9g; Fat 4g; Fibre 1g.

Mix oats, protein powder and chips.

Lightly beat egg, then add almond butter and agave. Mix well.

Add to the dry ingredients and mix well.

Resulting cookie is dense and quite tasty. It makes a good 'dunker'.

And just so you know, there was only a hint of banana flavor in these cookies!  I did use the Banana Berry Burst protein powder in them but vanilla or chocolate would be great, too.

I hardly need to tell you that The Captain loves them!
This powder is so easy to work with as it readily mixes with liquids just by stirring.  There is no need to use a blender or shaker.  Here is what GNC has to say about it.
"Protein Drink Mix
Low Carb, Low Fat Formula
40 Grams of Protein Isolate
Mixes Instantly

Whey ISO Burst contains 40 grams of protein per serving derived from Cross Flow Microfiltered (CFM) Whey Protein Isolate. This high quality whey isolate has an exceptional protein percentage while being very low in fat, carbohydrates and lactose. Whey ISO Burst also contains a balanced array of naturally occurring whey protein microfractions and is an excellent source of essential amino acids

I was given this product to review at no cost but the opinions expressed are 100% my own.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Wee Taste of Ireland

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Somehow having the 17th land on a Saturday, makes the whole idea of Saint Paddy's Day much more festive!

Last year I made a traditional brown Irish soda bread instead of  white, raisin-filled soda bread. And we liked it so much, and it was so easy, that we are having it again this year.  It tastes much like a whole wheat yeast bread and rises up so nicely... I like to slice it in wedges though to make it more traditional, and serve it buttered.

And I made up an Irish beef stew and let it simmer in the crock pot all day while we went for our 6 mile run and took part in some other activities.  Normally when I make a beef stew I use crushed tomatoes, but I didn't have any on hand so I used diced tomatoes instead, and pureed them in the blender before putting them in the crock pot.  Either way, the P+ values are going to be the same.

To assemble the meal, I steamed some fresh green beans to serve alongside the stew and the bread.  Wonderful!

Irish Beef Stew in the Crock Pot
Makes 4 servings
  • 1 pound stewing beef, cubed
  • 1/2 envelope dry onion soup mix 
  • 1-1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes,  pureed in blender
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1-1/2 cups carrots, cut in 1/2" lengths
  • 2 cups potatoes,  cut in chunks
  • 1 cup onion, sliced vertically 
  1. Layer carrots, potatoes, onions, beef cubes, onion soup mix, tomatoes, water, salt and pepper in slow cooker.
  2. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours.
  3. Ladle into 4 bowls to serve.
Per serving.
Weight Watchers P+ = 8.
Calories 339; Protein 36g; Carbohydrate 30g; Fat 7g; Fibre 5g.

All stew ingredients in the slow cooker and ready to start.

8 hours later, ready to serve.

Cut and butter some bread wedges, steam some fresh green beans.

Happy Meal!

Have a wonderful, Happy and Green Day!