Friday, September 25, 2009

Gluten Free Casein Free Lower Calorie Ideas (whew!)

Shannon at Miss J's school told me she was finding it really hard to eat ligher while also accomodating her little boy who is gluten and casein intolerant. I was thinking about it, and skipping gluten and casein actually should make it easy to lose weight -- dairy and carbs are both calorie dense foods, so cutting many of them out of your diet should make it easier to eat fewer calories while still eating a lot of food. Additionally, I find protein, fruits, and vegetables to be the cornerstone of my diet, and those are all good choices for people avoiding caseins and gluten.

I've been experiementing with silken tofu as a replacement for cream, and many of those recipes would work with few to any tweaks. I also recommend Almond Milk as a great substitute for real milk -- it has half the calories of skim milk.

What follows is some of my ideas -- but I'm definitely not an expert, so read labels to make sure these recommendations work.

Egg Whites/Egg Substitutes, cooked in the microwave. You can make a fritatta sort of dish by adding chopped up leftover veggies, cherry tomatoes, chopped turkey pepperoni, chopped fat free turkey slices, salsa, etc.
Tofu & Fruit Smoothie
Left over rice with almond milk, cinamon, sugar
Breakfast Polenta
Don't let yourself be limited by traditional breakfast foods, either -- use your leftover meats, veggies, or starches.

Dinners -- chose one from each category

broth & vegetable soup (any type, mix it up -- use the spices and/or sauces mentioned below)
Salad (spinach has the most nutritional value of most packaged greens) with homemade vinaigrette or a tofu based ranch dressing
Crudites (cut up raw veggies)

Chicken Breast (1 oz/pt)
Pork Loin (1 oz/pt)
Shrimp (2 oz/pt)
96% lean hamburger meat (4 uncooked oz/3 pt)
chicken sausages (read the package)

Stock up on spice mixes and rubs -- BBQ, Mexican, Provencal, Lemon Pepper, etc. Defrost your meat in the fridge during the day, sprinkle seasoning on while heating your cooking surface, then sautee in a skillet with a bit of oil/spray, on a George Foreman grill, bake in the oven, or broil.

If you have some gluten free cereals (corn flakes??) you could crush them up in a bag and use them for "breading" -- this is great with fish or chicken, baked or sauteed in a pan with minimal oil. (Wet the meat in egg white or almond milk first, then dredge in the crumbs.)

The kid probably doesn't like most sauces, anyway, but stock up on any interesting lower fat sauces to mix it up for yourself -- Target's Archer Farms brand has a lot of interesting ones like peanut sauce, but there's also salsa, Frank's Red Hot (buffalo wing flavor!), asian marinades, dressings, etc. Just warm (or not) and serve spooned (measure!) over your meat (or starch). I also like Cookwell and Company's Fat Free Queso (find it at HEB), and have heard good things about Tostito's Spinach Dip, although I doubt these are dairy/gluten free.

Starchy side:
small baked potato (cook in the microwave) (use the aforementioned ranch dressing to top)
polenta (make on the weekend and serve during the week or do it in the slow cooker)
rice (I like Texmati light brown rice, cooked in the microwave for as long as white rice)
frozen hashbrowns
frozen french fries -- I like Alexa (if you are turning on the oven and have more time)

Chose something that steams well in the microwave or bake if you are turning on the oven
broccoli slaw (sautee with tomato sauce)
sugar snap peas

Fruits -- fresh
Fruits -- sauteed with a bit of canola oil or spray oil, sprinkled with cinnamon.
Lighthouse makes a 1 pt caramel dip that may work, and would be great over apples or bananas
Hershey's special dark syrup -- 1 teaspoon is 15 calories, and is great drizzled over dessert
Tofu Puddings
Fruit & Tofu Smoothies
Betty Crocker Gluten Free Cake Mix made with a can of diet soda (the WW boards have these recipes)

raw veggies and a tofu based dip (or a greek yogurt dip if it's just you)
fresh fruit
sliced lunch meats -- turkey, roast beef
turkey pepperoni
vegetable soup
orville redenbacher 100 calorie pack popcorn
portion controlled nuts (100 calorie packs of almonds)
Kettle Brand Baked Potato Chips
Mr. Krisper's Baked Rice Crisps
Soy milk hot choclate (for the kid... with Hershey's syrup -- Starbucks might do this for you too)

There's also some good threads on the Weight Watchers forums you should read:
Gluten Free Tips and Resources
Gluten Free Diet for Kids
(or just search the entire site for Gluten Free.)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Get Your Chocolate Fix

Miss J's teacher was asking what were some good choices for chocolate.... So here are my favorite ways to get a chocolate fix in. And I should know -- I indulge in some variety of chocolate almost every day.

0 points
1 teaspoon Hershey's Special Dark syrup -- 15 calories (great drizzled over vanilla yogurt, fruit, ice cream...)
1 chocolate pizzelle -- 25 calories (Whole Foods)
~2 or 3 chocolate meringues (I found these at Whole Foods, but haven't seen them in a while)
sprinkle of cocoa powder
Swiss Miss Diet Hot Cocoa

1 points
Vitatop, triple chocolate
Jello Sugar Free Pudding Cup
1/3 ounce dark chocolate (measure it!)
No Bake Fiber One Cookies
Fiber One Crunchy Fudge Cookies

2 points
1/2 cup "Churn Style" Chocolate Ice Cream
No Pudge Brownie Mix (made with pumpkin, with 2 Tablespoons mini chocolate chips, cut into 12 pieces)
2/3 ounce dark chocolate
short (8 oz) nonfat no whip mocha
Smart Food Caramel Chocolate Popcorn
Emerald Cocoa Roasted Almonds (100 calorie pack)
1 Tablespoon Mini Chocolate Chips (minis go further -- sprinkle and add to all sorts of things)

3 points
Tall, nonfat, no whip mocha
Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches
1 ounce dark chocolate (hmm. may be 4, read the label)
Betty Crocker Warm Delights Minis (easy shared, too)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Savory Yogurt Snack

I often sautee fruit and use it to top Chobani vanilla yogurt, but today for snack I was in the mood for something more salty and savory. Browsing my fridge, I spotted the big box of golden cherry tomatoes I had intended to roast. I didn't have time to roast them, but I thought "what if I sauteed them instead?" Topping yogurt with sauteed tomatoes didn't seem that different from topping it with fruit, but I swapped out some plain Fage greek yogurt for the Chobani to get more tartness. I find the warmth of the tomatoes and the coolness of the yogurt a wonderfully decadent combination.

10 cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup plain nonfat greek yogurt
1 slice fatfree turkey lunch meat
smoked sea salt

Spray a small skillet with nonstick spray. Cut tomatoes in half, lay cut side down in the skillet. Cook at medium high heat with a lid on until the tomatoes are soft and starting to caramelize on the bottom. Cut the turkey into small pieces. Add the turkey, tomatoes, and a dash of sea salt to the yogurt.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Silken Tofu Chocolate Pudding

Tofu chocolate pudding

Tonight's decadence was a continuation of the "silken tofu as cream replacement" theme. I adapted Mark Bittman's recipe for Mexican Chocolate Tofu Pudding, with a number of tweaks. Here's the first thing to know: It's easy, easy, easy. It took less than half an hour with a 4 year old helper. Second: you can eat it immediately. Third: While you need a blender and (ideally) a microwave, you won't need to heat up the oven/house. Fourth: It's rich. Really, really rich.

1/2 cup agave nectar
3.5 oz bittersweet chocolate ( 1 bar, high quality. I used Green & Black's.)
12.3 oz lite silken tofu (1 package, I used Mori-Nu. Non lite would also work)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla

1) Drain the silken tofu in a colander while you are doing the next steps.
2) Break the chocolate up into small pieces. I put it in a zip lock bag and let the 4 year old hit it with a meat hammer on a cutting board, but I'm sure there are other ways to accomplish small chunks of chocolate.
3) Melt the chocolate. If you want to do it in the microwave, put it in a microwave safe bowl and microwave at 50% power in 30 second increments, stirring after each one, until the choclate is almost completely melted. Stir to finish melting. It took between 2 and 3 minutes for mine to melt completely.
4) Dump everything into the blender and whirr until well blended.
5) Spoon into very small serving dishes -- I think espresso or demitasse cups would be perfect here.

A note on servings: I couldn't eat all of the serving pictured above, it was so rich and filling. I really think the optimal serving size would be 2 oz (8 servings total), which is going to seem small.

Nutritional Information:
2 oz serving (makes 8)
162.5 calories 8 grams fat 1.25 grams fiber 2.75 grams protein = 4 pts

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Cheesy Artichoke Spinach Lasagna

Some days, you just want cheese. I've found that the best way to have cheese is to make it the cornerstone of your meal, in place of meat. This Artichoke Spinach Lasagna hit the spot perfectly!

It didn't need much lightening up: I swapped out fat free feta for the the normal feta, figuring the feta was there to add tang, and not to melt. I also used Ragu light spaghetti sauce, one of the lowest calorie for the volume sauces I've found. I also happened to use a slightly larger pan, which meant one fewer layer (slightly less noodles), and made the servings visually larger. My version worked out to 5 WWPs per serving, even with tons of good mozzarella goodness.

Bacon and Egg Breakfast -- Portion Control!

2 slices of Oscar Mayer centercut bacon are only 40 calories, 2 2/3 grams of fat (1 WWP). Add in one egg, over easy (2 WWP). A perfect decadent breakfast.

This really drove home to me how it's all about portion control.... and shopping for the "better" option. :)

Fettucine Alfredo

I continued my experiments in "silken tofu as a cream replacement" with this recipe for fettuccine alfredo. It was great -- the entire family enjoyed it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Pumpkin Spice Latte, Lighter

Ah, Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks, I love thee so. But even a tall nonfat no-whip has 200 calories! That's a bit more than I like for my morning coffee. What to do?

1) Order the "short" 8 ounce size for 130 calories. Didn't know the 'bux had an 8 ounce size? Now you do, and you can order most drinks in it!

2) Order the short, above, and bring it home, put it in a nice coffee cup, and water it down with almond milk (add 4 ounces for 20 calories). In a pinch, I think you could water it down with water. There's plenty of sweet syrup in the short to go to 12 ounces (or higher).

3) Ask for less syrup in a tall (or short) latte. The drink is plenty sweet already. I'll have to ask next time I'm there how many "pumps" they put in the short, but since a short plain nonfat latte is 70 calories (vs the short PS Latte at 130), the "short" amount of syrup is 60 calories. Add this quantity to a tall latte, and get a ~160 calorie tall slightly-less-sweet pumpkin spice latte.

4) Make it at home. (I did this in the microwave last year, and it hit the spot.)

Other useful tidbits: The difference between a short nonfat latte (8 ounces -- 70 calories, 1 WWP) and a tall nonfat latte (12 ounces -- 100 calories, 2 WWPs) is 30 calories.

Addendum: The difference between a tall nonfat latte (100 calories) and a tall pumpkin spice latte (200 calories) is 100 calories. I quizzed my local baristas about how much syrup they put into a PS latte and they said 3 pumps. That means each pump is ~33 calories. Today I had a one pump pumpkin spice latte for 133 calories (3 WWPs). It was "spicy" but not super sweet or pumpkin-y. I may also try a short pumpkin spice latte with 1 pump for ~103 calories) for a sweeter, more decadent drink.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

High Protein, Low Fat Fire Roasted Tomato Soup

I wanted to experiment with cream soups made without cream (yes, an oxymoron). I love the texture of cream based soups; the high fat content not so much. I ran across the idea of using silken tofu to "creamify" soups, so last night I hacked the recipe for Fire Roasted Tomato Soup that's on the Muir Glen website Muir Glen is the maker of the most decadent Fire Roasted Tomatoes ever -- these are staple in my pantry.

I followed the recipe as written, with the exception of adding 6-7 ounces (half a package) of pureed silken tofu instead of cream at the end. I drained the tofu in a colander first, then sliced it up, added it to my blender with some vegetable broth, and ran it until it was a smooth thick gloppy texture. (You *might* be able to add sliced silken tofu to your soup and use an immersion blender for the pureeing of the tomatoes and tofu together -- I'll try this next time, since I used the immersion blender for pureeing the soup itself.) I added the pureed tofu to the soup about 10 minutes before serving, heating thoroughly.

My husband's comment: "Taste just like La Madeline's." And since that is the epitome of cream of tomato soup to me, I called it a success.

Here's the numbers for the tofu swap:
whipping cream: 400 calories in 4 oz (no protein, 40 grams fat)
silken tofu: 80 calories (8 grams protein, 4 grams fat)
So the swap saved 320 calories and 36 grams of fat overall.

Additional note: I think choosing tomato soup -- with it's high acidity -- was a good choice for my first silken tofu recipe -- the acid cuts the tofu flavor in a way a mushroom soup might not.

It was low enough in calories/points that I was able to pair it with two "cheese toasts" -- a third of an ounce of Beecher's Smoked Cheese melted over a 1 oz slice of Central Market's MultiGrain Mini Baguette and a quarter of the container of Boursin Light on another 1 oz slice. (For the record, the Boursin light did not really melt, although it was tasty. The Beecher's was a wonderful full fat cheese that melted and was fabulous!) (2 WWPs each cheese toast.)