Category Archives: recipes

The Strain Train

Yesterday was a difficult day.  By the time evening rolled around I looked into the refrigerator and noticed that all but one shelf was completely bare. ‘Hmm…guess it’s time to go the grocery store,’ I thought.  What on earth was I going to fix for dinner?  I had a sick husband on the couch with an appetite – a recent rarity in this house, and nothing to put together.   I envy people who can whip up something spectacular out of a bottle of ketchup and a can of sardines. That is not my life. 

But then I remembered I bought that chickpea flour at Whole Foods the other day and became inspired.   I had every ingredient on the list to make falafel, some Joseph’s pita bread in the frig, and some spinach/lettuce mix. The only thing I was missing was tahini sauce, and I could have kicked myself for not grabbing a container of hummus when I was at the store.  I’ve read that you can dilute hummus with a bit of water and that serves as perfectly fine sauce to drizzle on or dip falafel into.  Oh, well.  If that was all I was missing then I was still in pretty good shape overall. 

Easy.  I can do this. 

And I did.  And it was a success, even without the sauce Smile

Here’s the recipe from the bag of Garbanzo Bean Flour from Bob’s Red Mill:

Falafel Patties

  • 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Garbanzo Bean Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1.4 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Parsley Flakes
  • 1/2 tsp ground Cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground Coriander
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Onion Powder
  • 2 tsp fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 cup Hot Water
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil (for frying)

Just combine all of the dry ingredients together in a bowl and blend well.  Add the lemon juice and hot water to the mix and stir until well blended.  Then let the mixture rest for 10 minutes. 

Heat the olive oil in a pan on medium high, then add the falafel batter by the tablespoon and flatten slightly. Fry on both sides until the surface is brown; place on a paper towel to drain any remaining oil. 

Makes 12 falafel patties

 

To save on calories I used Pam instead of olive oil.  Olive Oil is perfectly good to use and I’m sure would make the falafel a bit crispier but I’ve been using Pam forever so I just immediately grab it without thinking about it.  If you are watching your weight and need to keep your calorie intake in check, using Pam is a good substitute for olive oil, in my opinion. 

 

Things are changing again in our household.  Just when I think I’ve reached the crest of a mountain and start my way back down, there it is – another mountain to climb.  Just shy of a year since my operation, Craig has been scheduled for exploratory surgery on the 28th of this month.  With his pain worsening, his rapid weight loss from near constant nausea and no real conclusion as to what’s going on, we are preparing to face this challenge together.  The next couple of weeks will be hectic as we prepare for his surgery and I generate a plan on how to effectively take care of him and run our household.  Our summer will be looking a bit different as well.  The things we put off last summer will likely be put off yet again, but hopefully if all goes well and the doctors find what Craig believes is the problem – a nagging hernia – then maybe we’ll get to squeeze in a couple of fun things before the season passes. 

I still firmly believe that everything happens for a reason and this is certainly no exception; but when this is over, we’d really like to be healthy and strong at the same time.  That’s our only goal. 

Maybe just one more mountain before we are allowed to rest our legs for a bit. 

…well then, let’s giddy-up and get to climbing.

Low-Fat, Low-Sugar Pumpkin Bread, Revised

Pumpkin bread makes such a great gift around the holidays. When I was a kid my mother used to spend an entire day in the kitchen a couple of weeks before Christmas making pumpkin bread for neighbors, family and friends. She’d let each loaf cool, then wrap them in plastic wrap and Christmas paper.  They always looked so pretty, and people came to always expect Mom’s pumpkin bread every holiday season.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a good recipe.  Technically I’ve already posted a very similar pumpkin bread recipe on this blog nearly two years ago.   Since then however, I’ve modified it several more times and thought I’d share my updated version.  The majority of the recipe is the same, but I have omitted an entire cup of sugar.  That, I thought was worth sharing, because this bread still turns out fantastic, and the calories you save by withholding that second cup of sugar allows you to add other goodies of your choosing like whole eggs for that added cake-like texture, chopped walnuts, cranberries or mini chocolate chips.   I’ve also substituted a half cup of wheat flour for part of the white.  This recipe, for us, is perfectly satisfying – especially when you toss a slice into the toaster for a few minutes.  Mmm! 

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One other thing worth repeating for those who still use oil in their recipes: since one tablespoon of oil has 124 calories and 14 grams of fat, if you replace it with equal amounts of unsweetened cinnamon applesauce, you’ll save a total of 1,927 calories and 218 grams of fat –  and you won’t miss it.

Low Sugar Applesauce Pumpkin Bread – Revised.

One cup of sugar
One 15 oz. can of pure pumpkin
One cup of unsweetened cinnamon-flavored applesauce
2 large eggs
1/2 cup whole wheat flour

3 cups of all purpose flour
Two teaspoons of cinnamon
Two teaspoons of baking soda
One teaspoon of baking powder
One teaspoon of ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Optional additions:  1/2 cup chopped cranberries, 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine sugar, pumpkin, applesauce and eggs in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, combine flours, cinnamon, soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and pumpkin pie spice.

Add dry ingredients to wet, and stir just until mixed.  Spray two 8×4 loaf pans and pour batter evenly into each.  Bake for 50-60 minutes or until bread springs back in center when lightly pressed with your finger.

 

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Let bread sit for 5 minutes, then turn onto cooling rack.  Once cool, cut each loaf into 10 slices.

Have a good weekend, everyone!  Happy baking Smile

Baked Doughnut Donuts

Spring and Fall are my favorite times of the year.  Seriously, what’s not to love when you have scenery outside that looks like this?

Truth be told, I had a completely different post planned for today.  News to share, photos to show. However, when the leaves change and it grows colder outside, my taste buds wake up to wanting food and drink that I don’t consider eating at any other time of year: pumpkin bread, sweet potato pie, hot cider and doughnuts. 

Yes, doughnuts.  Or, donuts.  Or, Heavenly Goodness.  Whatever you want to call them is up to you.  All I know is that today I made it my mission to find a good recipe for a baked doughnut.  Well, actually…this is what happened: I came across my nonstick donut pan this morning while rummaging for a saucepan and thought, ‘Huh.  I haven’t used that thing in a while.’  Then I thought about Krispy Kremes and remembered how sick I became the last time I ate them (who says you can’t eat 6 without throwing up?) which got me to thinking about how much I wanted a donut instead of oatmeal.  Then I remembered that the donut pan came with a recipe and, well….you get the point. 

Anyway, three revisions and a trash bin full of rubbery, donut paperweights later, I decided this was the one.  Now, if you’re in the mood for a cream filled long john, this recipe is probably not going to help you out very much, but if you’re looking for a healthier version of a traditional 300+ calorie-laden donut, then these at 123 calories each will do the trick.  I hope you like them:

Baked Doughnut Donuts

  • 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup of wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 3/4 cup of unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 egg white, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon of shortening

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.  Lightly grease the doughnut pan.  In a large bowl mix the flours, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt.  Then stir in the milk, egg, egg white, vanilla and shortening.  Beat everything together until well blended.  Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes. 

Fill each donut cup about 3/4 of the way full.  Tip: scoop your batter into a freezer bag, cut the tip off one end and pipe it right into the donut cup.  This is so much easier than trying to use a spoon.

 

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Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until the doughnuts spring back when touched.  Let cool slightly before removing from the pan.  Yields 12 donuts.

Measure out two tablespoons of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice and put it all into a sandwich baggie.  While the doughnuts are still warm, drop them in one at a time, close the bag and shake until well coated.  Of course you can add other toppings as well, you know.  Hmm….right now I’m thinking maybe thin layers of jam, apple butter; a dusting of confectioners sugar.  I could go on, but then we’d be teetering on the edge of food porn and this is a family blog so keep those sinful thoughts to yourself, please ;)

 

Here is the final product.  Don’t they look pretty?

 

 

 

 

 

If thoughts of cider, spiced donuts and autumn leaves don’t put you in the mood for Fall, then come back here later in the week.   Lots of happenings in my little world this week as well as some exciting news that my dogs are thrilled about. I’ll let you ponder that thought for a couple of days. 

XO,

~Ellen

Blog Block

I’ve got nothin’. It seems as though not one interesting post can be squeezed through this space between my ears today.

I have notes tacked to my journal in case I ever found myself in this mental void but, who knew I’d actually draw a complete blank for over three days?

 

Things to blog about when you have nothing to blog about:

Idea Number One: Review old posts and elaborate on an idea further.

Not to sound whiny, but it takes a long time to review old posts.

Idea Number Two: Pick a quiet place to sit and think. Choose a place with few distractions.

I went into my tiny office and sat. It was quiet. Too quiet for this household.  Where were the dogs, anyway? As it turned out they had their own things going on. Important things! Take Brulee for example:

Idea Number Three: Take a break and run a hot bath. Sink way down in the bubbles while the mind fills with ideas.

Nope. Only two ideas came to me while in there: shave my legs; and maybe not take any more photos of my feet.

Idea Number Four: Carry your camera and take photos of everything you did during the day, showing what you’ve been up to.

I decided to spare you pics of me standing in line at my local pharmacy and waiting for lunchmeat at the deli counter.  I did take a couple of photos from my iPhone while at the park.  Want to see those?

How about that one on the left?  I surprised even myself with how well that one turned out!

 

I did make an incredible meal in the kitchen this week.  Lately I’ve been trying out new crock pot recipes so that my husband will be able to throw meals together in a breeze while I’m on surgery vacation (surgication? How about vacurgery? Eww…that last one was really awful!  I need a good catch phrase so I can stop using the words ‘post surgery’.  Any ideas?) 

Anyway, is there anything easier than creating a meal in a crock pot?  I think not!

My recipe came from Waisting Time (thank you, Karen).  It is her famous Mexican Chicken Crock Pot Casserole.  I’ve slightly modified her recipe according to taste but if you click here you’ll sail off to her site where you’ll find the original recipe along with others just begging to be tried.  Here is what mine looked like –  I know you need no reminders that this is not a foodie blog:

 

 

 

Mexican Chicken Crock Pot Casserole (modified) courtesy of Waisting Time:

5 chicken breasts
2 (15 1/2 ounce) cans black beans, drained 
1/2 package frozen corn
6 ounces sliced black olives, drained
1 onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 (15 ounce) jar salsa, mild
1 (8 ounce) package of fat-free cream cheese
1-2 tablespoon taco seasoning

1.  Add all ingredients to crock pot EXCEPT cream cheese.
2.  Cook on high for 4-5 hours.
3.  Add the cream cheese to top of cooking chicken mixture for last 30 minute of cooking.  Stir in before serving.

My husband has instructed me to assure you that even though this particular picture isn’t terribly appealing, he ate from this meal for three days – a new record for him.  Translation:  seriously yummy.  We used this mixture as filling for tortillas.  So easy to make. 

 

Well, that’s about all I can muster up for today.  Hey, at least you got a great recipe out of this post; that’s something, right? 

Tell me, what do you do to get your creative juices flowing when you’ve got Blog Block? 

New-to-Me Food Week

I’m typically the kind of gal that can eat hot cereal and Greek yogurt for breakfast every morning for months.  I’m so predictable that if I’m invited out for breakfast, you’d probably find me ordering the exact same thing.   Lunch is the same way; I’m perfectly happy with a turkey sandwich and could eat one every day for weeks on end and not get tired of it.  I’m boring that way, I guess. I often wonder if other maintainers eat this way.

Over the past several weeks I’ve been trying new-to-me foods like a crazy person.  Or, more realistically, like a normal person that appreciates a little variety in the things she eats.   I decided to condense everything down to the best new food finds and share them with you this week. 

 

I should mention that my decision to experiment with all of these new foods began a few weeks ago with my excitement over catching this sign out of the corner of my eye while driving through town:

I can’t tell you how excited I was to learn that my town is FINALLY opening a Whole Foods Grocery Store.  We have very little choices around here other than a couple of mainstream big-named giants, so this is my present all wrapped in brick-and-mortar.  They expect to open sometime this Fall.

I had to share the big news of our new store and eagerly bragged about it while posting a comment over at LauraLivesLife.  Several days later I received a package on my front porch from Whole Foods.  After my immediate confusion (did I order something and forget?) then kid-at-Christmas excitement (this box is so hard to open – why is there so much tape?!), I found these:

 

 

Laura was kind enough to give me a head-start on the Whole Foods experience by sending some of her favorite things.  The best part of my goodie box was that if I’d come across any of these items on my own while shopping in the store I wouldn’t have ever thought of placing them in my basket.   It was then I realized that I have another comfort-zone issue that needs dealt with, and that issue has a name:  NFFS, or  New-Food-Fear Syndrome.  (I thought it would look more menacing if I made it scary large!  Did it work?) lol

Because of my feelings of inadequacy around the kitchen, I tend to buy what I know unless I’m specifically looking for something in particular.  Unfamiliar foods intimidate me. So, I decided to begin my recovery program immediately and start behaving a bit more daring around the kitchen.  Laura’s thoughtful gift was a perfect way to begin. 

I was thrilled – and a bit hesitant. What does one do with a mung bean? 

Luckily, there were recipe cards (whew!) and here is the first one I used – with most of the ingredients already from my package.  Oh, if all cooking could be that simple. 

1/2 cup truRoots Organic Quinoa

1/2 cup truRoots Sprouted Mung Beans

1 bunch of kale, steamed

Grilled chicken, salmon or tofu (optional)

1 avocado

Cook quinoa and mung beams according to package directions.  Divide quinoa evenly into 2 bowls and top with mung beans, kale and chicken (what I used).  Garnish with avocado and serve at the table with liquid aminos, organic sprinkle seasoning, and lemon wedges.

 

The kale was the only thing I had to buy at the store.  Everything else I already had, and this new and unfamiliar concoction was really delicious.  Oh, and fyi – mung beans have just the right amount of texture; almost crunchy but not quite, and is a great compliment to the softer quinoa.  The Bragg Liquid Aminos and the Organic Sprinkle are going to become staples in my cupboard. The Liquid Aminos is a fantastic alternative to soy sauce and I have used it on vegetables, meat, on rice and tofu.  One half a teaspoon has 0 calories, is gluten free and has no preservatives.   The Organic Sprinkle is like an herb garden in a jar; it contains 24 herbs and spices including rosemary, onion, garlic, thyme and basil.  Thanks to Laura, I will now be able to walk into Whole Foods with a small but solid grocery list. 

 

Does anyone else shop at Whole Foods?  Even though the Grand Opening is a few months away, it’s never to early to start a grocery list.  Anything I should add to mine? 

Low-Fat Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins

When I’m trying to curb a craving, generally the only thing that soothes my sugary soul is to bake. I call it Be-good Baking because I make an effort to keep the recipe as clean and low in calories/sugar as possible.  The challenging part is trying not to sacrifice taste in the process.  I’ve thrown away more ruined concoctions than I care to admit (food that my dogs will sniff but refuse to eat) but I’ve been able to sacrifice a few recipes as well. 

I know that we just had our first day of Spring not too long ago but is there really an off-season when it comes to pumpkin?  I think not.  I eat it all year round.  I use it in my brownie mix; add a little to my hot morning cereal; put it into my pancake batter and yesterday, into my muffins.   With family coming into town this weekend I’ve been busy playing homemaker and wanted to have a little comfort food on the counter after their long day’s journey.

I’ve had the base recipe since my Weight Watcher days and tweak it here and there depending on what I’m in the mood for.  The outcome is great every time   I hope you like it.   

1 cup all purpose flour (or 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup wheat flour)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 cup oats

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup pumpkin

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup fat free sour cream or Greek yogurt

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup cranberries

 

Blend wet ingredients.  Blend dry ingredients in a separate, larger bowl.  Make a well in the center and pour in wet ingredients.  Add cranberries.  Mix until just blended.  Divide evenly into a 12 muffin pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 17 minutes or until middle springs back when you gently press on the center of  a muffin.

* I chopped my cranberries and added them to the tops of my muffins (see above pic) but honestly they’re better left whole and mixed into the batter.  It gives just the right amount of added sweetness.  You can also add or substitute nuts, mini chocolate chips, even a ripe banana.  Give your imagination some exercise with this recipe and have fun with it.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

XO,

~Ellen