Saturday, October 23, 2010

Pear Breakfast Cobbler

Have you ever heard of "Cupa Cupa Cupa?"

Apprently this dish has been around in the south for quite a while.  
If I had anything to do with my father's side of the family, who are all pure southerners, or had paid attention to "Steel Magnolias" when I was 11 years old, I may have been familiar with this recipe.  Instead I was introduced to this by my friend Jody.
The basic premise is you mix a cup of self-rising flour, a cup of sugar and a 15 oz. can of fruit salad with syrup and bake. 

Of course, I had to try to make this my own with extra nutrients thrown in.  So, here are some of the modifications I made.  

Instead of self-rising flour, I used whole wheat pastry flour and steel cut oats with leavening added in the form of 1 tsp. of salt and a half tsp. of baking powder. 

Instead of a cup of sugar,  I used 2/3 c. of agave nectar.  Instead of a can of fruit salad with syrup, a c. of skim milk and a c. of diced fresh pears. 

And to add more levels of flavor, some freshly grated nutmeg, some ground cinnamon and some ground ginger.  And there you have it!  But, I call this a cobbler because that is how I serve it.

Pear Breakfast Cobbler
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray/grease a Baking Dish

1 c. of diced pear (usually one medium pear)
1 tsp. of ground cinnamon (freshly grated if you are feeling rather culinary)
1/4 tsp. of freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. of ground ginger
1/4 tsp. date sugar

Coat the pears in the spices and date sugar and set aside.

1/4 c. steel cut oats
1 c. skim milk

Mix oats into milk and let them soak.  This helps to soften them.

3/4 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder

Whisk these dry ingredients together in a bowl.
Add the milk/oats and the pears and mix together.
Pour mixture into baking dish.

Bake for 45 minutes.

You can serve this as a cobbler with lite whipped cream on top, or as I like it, with a little bit of milk poured on.  When served like this it is almost as if you are having a glorified version of cream of wheat.  It's a great breakfast for a cold morning, almost like a dessert.

It makes about 6 servings, depending on who you are feeding and how much they want.  This WeightWatchers breakdown is based on six servings.

Information on Recipe Nutrition

"Whole wheat pastry flour is produced from soft-wheat and it has a finer texture than whole wheat flour and a high starch content. Not all of the bran and germ portions of the wheat kernel have been removed during the milling process so it is considerably more nutritious than white flour."

When researchers looked at how much fiber 35,972 participants in the UK Women's Cohort Study ate, they found a diet rich in fiber from whole grains, such as oats, and fruit offered significant protection against breast cancer for pre-menopausal women.
A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine confirms that eating high fiber foods, such as oats, helps prevent heart disease.
Oats, oat bran, and oatmeal contain a specific type of fiber known as beta-glucan. Since 1963, study after study has proven the beneficial effects of this special fiber on cholesterol levels.
 Click on the image below for information on agave syrup.

Date sugar, not really a sugar at all, is made from ground, dehydrated dates, so it contains all the vitamins, minerals and fiber found in the fruit. It can be used in equal parts for sugar in most recipes, especially baking, and is a great substitute for brown sugar. However, because the tiny pieces won't dissolve, it can't be used to sweeten beverages. Why it's better: Unlike refined or concentrated sweeteners, date sugar is rich in nutrients and is metabolized more slowly.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Num Yummy Jell-O Shake

Having a love for whole foods and a big heap of faith in the WeightWatchers program often presents me with a bit of a conundrum.  Here's the thing, when you are counting "points" you start to think of ways to work the system.  One effective way of doing this is using food substitutes.  You know what I am talking about: artificial sweeteners, churned oil imitating whipped cream,  some spray butter flavored substance in a spray pump bottle. 

Items like these have little to do with whole foods, other than serving as their impostors.  I naturally cringe from picking these things up, until I started to hold my food passions and cravings hostage to point counting.  Then a little spray of butter flavoring on some nice homemade whole wheat bread seems a little less harmful.  After all, I am eating that whole wheat bread!

So, in saying this, I am going to address this issue by presenting two options for this specific recipe.  One is a regular jello shake recipe, and the other is the sugar free jello shake recipe.

Regardless if you go for the sugared or non sugared option on this recipe, the reality is that this is a lower calorie, and lower fat, substitute for other thick and creamy drinks.  My son drank this down like it was a delicacy.  It was fast and easy.  A word of advice?  As soon as you are done with your blender fill it with hot water.  That will ease clean up later if you can't do it right away.

Here is some info regarding the nutritional benefits of gelatin.

Health Benefits:
  • Gelatin appears to be beneficial to athletes for muscle growth and metabolism.
  • Gelatin promotes a feeling of fullness.
  • Gelatin helps maintain regularity
  • Gelatin's high collagen protein content helps keep your skin smooth and firm. Many creams contain collagen to moisturize the skin but it is more effective when taken through food.
  • Gelatin strengthens the hair, keeping it looking shiny and healthy.
  • Gelatin is also excellent for the nails because it makes them stronger, so they do not break easily.
  • Gelatin is excellent for your bones because of its high concentration of glycoprotein and proline amino acids. If you have a deficiency in both amino acids, you can have joint pain. When it is taken orally, it travels directly to your blood and from there; it goes to its destination, the connective tissue. By adding at least 10 grams of gelatin to your regular diet, your joints will quickly regenerate in case you overexert yourself.
Now that you see the benefits, let me inform you on the less-than-appealing process by which that little package of powder gets in your kitchen.

Commercial Making of Gelatin: To make gelatin, manufacturers grind up the various animal parts and pre-treat them with either a strong acid or a strong base to break down cellular structures and release proteins like collagen. After pre-treatment, the resulting mixture is boiled. During this process, the large collagen protein ends up being partially broken down, and the resulting product is called gelatin.

Both of these excerpts are taken from the same website:

The recipe that I am working from comes from the cookbook that accompanied by Blendtec Blender (boyfriend).  I adapted it to make it lower in calories, but really, it is super simple.  This recipe does require that you have a capable blender.  I think any blender that can mix ice up well is good enough.  I use the Blendtec Total Blender.  Isn't he handsome?  Sigh.... it's true love.

Blendtec TB-631-20 The Professional's Choice 1560-Watt Total Blender, Red

Num Yummy Jello Shake 
(I used lime for the sugar option, and a box of lime and of lemon for the sugar free option)

1 C. Boiling Water
6 oz. package flavored gelatin (any flavor)*******
Put those two items in the blender and blend on a medium/low speed for half a minute.

Add 3 cups of ice to blender carafe.
Blend for another half minute at a little higher speed.

Add 1 c. Cold Skim Milk

Blend for another half minute at same speed as last step.
Pour into a glass, put in straw and enjoy.

*******Sugar Free option
Instead of using one 6 oz. package of regular Gelatin, use two .30 oz. packages of sugar free jello.

Other options for the recipe are to pour the shake into a container and allow it to set in the fridge for a fluffy/whipped treat, or use a version of whipped cream instead of skim milk to add more creaminess.

WW/Calorie Info.

Recipe yields about 7 cups, or 7 servings.

Regular Jell-O:
WW points: 2 per serving
Calories: 108 per serving

Sugar Free Jell-O:
WW points: .5 per serving (the website calculator will tell you it is 0, but when you do the math on the 7 cups and then divide by the number of servings you get .5)
Calories: 23 per serving

For more information on the artificial sweetener in sugar free Jell-O, aspartame, go here:

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mini Turkey Meat Loaves (5.5 WW/Serving)

Three servings pictured.  One mini loaf= one serving.
This recipe is a good way to revamp meatloaf and add extra nutrition to it.  It is full of ingredients, like most recipes of this sort.  I am a bit of a loaf of meat person.  I think that the terminology isn't particularly appetizing.  But, I love these little loaves because they pack quite the nutrient rich punch.  I devised this recipe based off of two other recipes found in the following books.

The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids' Favorite MealsDeceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food

At the end of this post I will include some info on why you should be pleased to serve you and yours this dish based on each healthy ingredient.

Mini Turkey Meaf Loaves

Preheat Oven to 350 Degrees.

1 c. Homemade Sprouted Wheat Bread Crumbs (You can use your own homemade or store bought)

2/3 C Wheat Germ
2 Whisked Eggs
20 oz. 93% Lean Ground Turkey
1/2 C Ketchup
1 Stalk Chopped Celery
1 Large Chopped Onion
1 C pureed carrot
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1 C Freshly Grated Parmesan

Spices added to your own taste:
Dried Oregano
Dried Thyme
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Garlic Salt
Onion Powder
Ground Mustard
Herbes de Provence

Add all the above ingredients in a large bowl.  I use a masher, as pictured below, to help mix it without overmixing.  If you overmix you can change the texture of your meat into something less appealing.  I just lift up and down slowly and fold it all together.  You can go old school and just use your hands, but again, don't overwork the meat.

Form into 14 mini loaves and place on a foil lined baking sheet with sides.  If you want to be even healthier use a broiler pan.

Bake for about an hour or until your meat is browned on the outside and 170 degrees inside.  Make sure to bake thoroughly since you are dealing with poultry (even if it is functioning like ground beef).

My lunch today.  5.5 points all together.
Here are your nutrition fact so you can see what your giving yourself and your family to eat.
Double click each image to open up a window with a legible chart.

Calories and WeightWatchers Point Breakdown:

Calories: 3247
Fat: 141
Fiber: 27

76 Points, 14 Servings
5.5 WW Points per Serving
232 Calories per Serving
After baking each loaf is around 3.5 oz.

And each loaf has lean protein, dairy, vegetables, and whole grains!

Nutrients MATTER!
Sprouted Wheat Breadcrumbs: "Flourless bread is made with grains and legumes that are sprouted before grinding into flour. Sprouted grains have increased vitamin and nutrient content because the seed is first sprouted, making it alive and active in its growth process."

Wheat Germ: "Wheat germ is one of the most nutritional products available. In fact, wheat germ contains 23 nutrients, and has more nutrients per ounce than any other vegetable or grain."

Eggs: "Eggs are a good source of low-cost high-quality protein, providing 5.5 grams of protein (11.1% of the daily value for protein) in one egg for a caloric cost of only 68 calories."

Lean Ground Turkey: "Turkey is a very good source of protein. A four ounce serving provides 65.1% of the daily value for protein, along with 11.9% of the daily value for saturated fat, about half the amount of saturated fat found in red meat."

Celery: "Celery leaves has high content of vitamin A, whilst the stems are an excellent source of vitamins B1, B2, B6 and C with rich supplies of potassium, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, sodium and plenty essential amino acids."

Onion: "In animal studies, there is evidence that onion's sulfur compounds may work in an anti-clotting capacity and help prevent the unwanted clumping together of blood platelet cells. There is also evidence showing that sulfur compounds in onion can lower blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, and also improve cell membrane function in red blood cells."

 Parmesan: "Parmesan contains 33% protein compared to 20% in lean beef and that animal protein takes 4 hours to digest while the protein in Parmesan takes just 45 minutes. Other benfits to the digestion include Parmesan's ability to promote the development of Bacillus Bifidus, which is useful for the maintenance of a healthy gut, and also the fact that there is no lactose present - good news for the lactose intolerant or those with gastro-intestinal inflammation."

Carrots: "Carrot contains a very complete nutrition to provide our body the essential enzymes, vitamins and minerals. For each 100 gram, the carrot has 7.6 gram of carbohydrate, 0.6 gram of protein, 0.3 gram of fat, 30 milligram of calcium and 0.6 milligram of iron. Also, it is a good source of fiber, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin K, biotin, potassium and thiamine.
Carrot also offers an excellence source of beta-carotene, which is 3.62milligram (equivalent to 1981 international unit for the value of vitamin A) in each 100 gram of carrots. Many studies have shown that carrot provide us the highest amount of beta-carotene among the list of vegetables we always consume everyday.
The best thing of carrot is that it is easily assimilated by our body. Chinese practitioners said that carrot tastes sweet, and it is good for the health of spleen and stomach. It is also believed to improve impotence (lower sexual drive), sexual dysfunction, night blindness, long term cough (or call hundred days cough in Chinese medical prescription) besides strengthening kidney and eliminating excessive wind and cold in our body.
Carrot has proved its outstanding role in anti-cancer effect. The research revealed that people with lack of beta-carotene were more likely to have 2 times higher risk of cancer than normal people. It is wiser to eat an appropriate amount of carrot per day to prevent cancer. This is because beta-carotene in the carrot can be easily changed by our body into vitamin A, which is essential for healthy cell growth, strong immune system and protection against muscular degeneration."

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Homemade Corn Chips (3 WW pts./serving)


I can't put words to my chip fetish.  Recently I have shed quite a bit of weight from restricting my diet with WeightWatchers, so chips aren't really a big part of my diet.  But, I did find a recipe for homemade baked corn chips in a book that focuses on health. And the outcome is rather tasty!

In "The Sneaky Chef" Missy Chase Lapine has a recipe called "Crunchy Corn Chips".

The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids' Favorite Meals

She states that this recipe is good for kids because it packs more nutrients, and less calories, than prepackaged fried corn chips.  The recipe yields 48 chips, six 1 oz. servings.  One oz. is composed of 8 chips.  It comes out to about 3 points per serving for those doing WeightWatchers, and about 96 calories per one oz. serving.

So here is the recipe, more or less:

Baked Corn Chips

12 Small Corn Tortillas (I used white)
2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt (1 tsp. recommended)*

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Brush both sides of the tortillas with olive oil and salt.
Cut up the tortillas into quarters (or if you want you can get creative and do stripes etc.)

Put in a single layer on a cookie sheet (I used two sheets to get them all baked in one go).
Bake 10 minutes.
Flip (I just utilized my cat-like reflexes and used my fingers.  You could also use a wimpy spatula).
Bake another 8-10 minutes, or until crispy and golden brown.


*Personally, I can NEVER use a recipe as it is given.  So I used two different types of flavor-infused salt.  One was wild garlic sea salt, and the other a red chili sea salt. YUM!!!

Ok, some more info on this recipe.

From my online research, the typical serving size (one oz.) of corn chips is 4 WW points.  That means, you save yourself some points with this recipe.  That would be one point per serving, to be exact.

The other option here is to use a butter substitute spray to save yourself some points and calories, but don't forget that there are calories in there regardless of what the bottle tells you.  They use a labeling loophole to reel you in.

I have a hard time trusting anything that claims to be butter-ish and has little calories.  As said so eloquently by a website, "The main ingredients are water, soybean oil, buttermilk, and salt. Plus a bunch of chemicals that give it a thick, creamy texture, a buttery flavor, and a pleasant yellow color. Basically, you can think of it as a spray butter."  


Since I am a whole food kind of girl, I will take the calories over the chemicals and colorants.  (Just don't hold me to this when I am stuffing sugar free jello down at the end of a night when I have already eaten almost all my points.  I KNOW! I KNOW! I am a hypocrite!)

So, try these out!  Don't forget that spices are a free for all, and can make these chips much more tasty and individualized.  I am thinking of doing a cumin and ancho chili version next!

Warning: I do not recommend making these little bitches unless you want to eat and snack all day.  Right now they are taunting me from the pantry.  I would put this recipe in the "Get Together/Party" file in your brain.  Pull out the recipe and make these more healthy, and more originally spiced chips for friends or family. It's nice to know that they are a step up from the usual in more ways than one.