Friday, April 13, 2012

Weight Loss Does Not Mean Flavor Loss!

I like desserts. I am not big into cakes, but torts, pies, brownies and other bars are one of my guilty pleasures.

Of course, when trying to find a healthy weight, many times those are the foods that eliminated first in the quest for lower calorie consumption. But that can backfire, because denying yourself the treats that you really want will only lead to irresistible cravings, which can lead to uncontrolled binges when you finally decide to satisfy your needs.

Here are two ideas that are not bad (when you eat the correct portion size, of course.) The first recipe has a few steps and the second one is quick and easy.

You CAN eat delicious snacks and desserts, and still lose weight. Remember, the key is always portion control. And don't make a lot at one time. And bring any extra for your coworkers, to prevent you from eating all of it.

Lemon Bars Serves 24

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
8 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups powder, divided
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
The grates zest of 2 large lemons (approximately 2 teaspoons)

To make crust:
1.   Preheat oven to 350F
2.   Mix flour and light brown sugar using a food processor or pastry blender until fully incorporated.
3.   Toss butter chunks in and combine with processor or pastry blender until the butter is cut into pea-sized pieces.
4.   Sprinkle crust into an ungreased 9x13 pan as evenly as possible. Press down with your hands or a spatula to create a packed surface.
5.   Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown.

To make filling:
6.   While the crust is baking, beat eggs with an electric mixer until well blended.
7.   Add vanilla extract and 3/4 cup of the powder sugar.  Mix well.
8.   Add lemon juice and remaining powdered sugar. Mix until all sugar is completely dissolved, then mix in the lemon zest.

To finish:
9.   As soon as the crust is finished, reduce oven temperature to 300F.
10. Pour filling over hot crust (it will smell incredible!)
11. Bake for 30 minutes, or until firm.
12. Cool and cut into 24 pieces.

Nutritional data (for one piece):
Calories:      112
Fat:              4.7g
Sat fat:         2.7g
Chol:           45mg
Sodium:       40mg
Carbs:       15.7g
Fiber:          0.2g
Protein:       1.8g

The next time I make these, I will use lime juice instead of lemon and make this more like a key lime pie.

Chocolate Crunch
Make 10 servings, 1/4 cup each

1 cup Wheat Chex (or similar breakfast cereal)
1 cup pretzel sticks (broken in half)
1/4 cup whole unsalted roasted almonds
3 tablespoons semi-sweet chocolate chips (Ghiardelli are excellent)

Combine first three ingredients in a bowl. Melt the chocolate chip in a microwave or carefully in a metal bowl over simmering water. (Do not get any water in the melted chocolate or it will seize and immediately develop a terrible--and irreversible--texture.)  Pour the chocolate over the other ingredients, and stir to coat.

Spread mixture onto wax paper-lined baking sheet and refrigerate until the chocolate is set.  (According to the original recipe, this can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days. I can't vouch for that. It has never lasted for 5 days in this house.)

Nutritional data (for one piece):
Calories:      100
Fat:              4.4g
Sat fat:         1.1g
Chol:              0mg
Sodium:        40mg
Carbs:       13.9g
Fiber:          1.7g
Protein:       2.3g

My next variation will be to add mini-marshmallows, or use different nuts.  I also think a blend of semi-sweet and white chocolate would be nice.

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