Saturday, March 7, 2009

Trimming the Fat

I've been trying to cook delicious food that is a little bit lower in fat and calories. I think I've hit that age where every little bit actually does count! Plus, it's just got to be better for the kids.

One thing I use all the time in baking is either applesauce or prune puree. Buying the prune puree can be sort of expensive, though I'm not sure why. Laurie gave me her recipe for cowboy cookies (thanks, Laurie!!) which included directions on how to make prune puree and I just slapped myself in the head... duh. Just put a bunch of prunes in your food processor. Turn it one and start pouring in hot water, slowly. Eventually, you will get "prune butter." Just make it the consistency you want, but be careful not to make it too watery. Turn off the machine every once in a while, scrape down the sides, and start again. Okay, this stuff is delicious! I really like it on toast or crackers.

I just substitute it straight for butter or oil in a recipe. It works especially well for things that can handle a bit of added sweetness, and amazingly well with anything chocolate. Last night, the kids found a box of brownie mix in the pantry. It was from Trader Joe's, "Truffle Brownie Mix." The directions called for 1 stick of butter, melted, and 2 large eggs. I used 1/2 cup of prune puree and egg replacers equivalent to 2 eggs. Voila! Gorgeous, moist and delicious brownies! I know they're not health food, but still, better than the alternative.

Another of my favorite things is bean dip. I love bean dips on veggies and crackers and I really love to spread them on tortillas to make wraps. My favorite is hummus, but I've been searching for a way to make it lighter. I came up with a very tasty bean dip, but I'm not even sure you can call it hummus! It doesn't have tahini or oil in it, though it does have chickpeas. Here's how I made it:

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 clove garlic (large-ish)

2-3 Tbs lemon juice

1-2 Tbs tamari

1 roasted red bell pepper (from a jar)

1/2 tsp smoked paprika (must use SMOKED, not regular)

Whirl it all up in a food processor; let it chill for an hour or so to blend the flavors. This is really delicious! I used it as a dip and then I used it as a spread on my wraps. I just spread a layer on a sprouted grain tortilla and then added whatever veggies I wanted. One time, I sauteed onion, mushrooms and corn and added some spinach leaves... heavenly! Usually, I just put some salad on top and roll it up and eat it. (sorry about this sorry-looking photo:-)

I thought it might make a good base for a salad dressing. I tried diluting it with some rice vinegar and, honestly, it was okay, but not great. I think it might need more seasoning or something; I'll have to play with it.


LizzieK8 said...

I've just embarked on a low fat life style change, and wondered if you substitute the applesauce in equal amounts for the oil or butter: 1 cup for 1 cup?

So, with prune puree, where those brownies kinda like the infamous Exlax Brownies???? EMWTK!

Cheryl said...

I'm sure you could substitute applesauce. I just really think the prunes go well with chocolate:-) You are so funny! My kids had the same comments about the prunes, but that didn't stop them from eating them! (and we didn't notice any...uhmm...side effects:-)

runner wannabe said...

I've tried the applesauce many times and always got very inconsistent results (depending on the recipe). The prunes seem to be far more consistent and I love the flavor, even though I'm not one to sit around and eat prunes. (Although I did try them and decided they aren't as bad as people would have you believe. They were pretty good.)