Thursday, April 28, 2011

Low-Cal Culinary Curiosities #1

I know we informed you all on Tuesday that we would test two recipes yesterday.  Well, surprise, we did three!  Each of these came from Lisa Lillien's 'Hungry Girl: 200 Under 200' recipe book.

'Gooey Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing'

Yesterday morning, Melissa came over to my house, joined by her three-year-old side-kick, Bailey, to make a cinnamon roll recipe that caught our eye the day before, and they were everything we hoped they would be.  Believe us when we tell you, they did not taste low-cal.  They were just as sweet and creamy as what you'd get fresh at a bakery.

The Dough: refrigerated reduced-fat crescent roll dough and '0 calorie' butter spray
The Filling: dark brown sugar, Splenda, light butter, cinnamon, and salt
The Icing: fat-free Cool Whip, fat-free cream cheese, and Splenda
(yields 8 servings)

The finish product!  Yum!
They didn't take much time at all to prepare, and only 13 minutes to bake.  Also, these yummy treats double as both breakfast and dessert!  And they keep well in the fridge overnight.  I just popped the last one in the microwave for a few seconds, and after eating it, I'm still having to work to convince myself that these aren't terrible for me.  Seriously wonderful.  And if that isn't enough, Bailey gave these 'two thumbs up'!

What IS the calorie-count, you ask?  *drumroll*  Each of these tasty morsels rides in at only 126 calories a piece!  Behold, a cinnamon roll that doesn't make you feel guilty for eating it.


'Dan's Snazzy Green Pepper Pizza'

Yesterday's dinner was a rather unique recipe that, instead of using regular pizza dough, uses green peppers as the pizza crust.  We aren't really pizza-dough-people, but we love pizza, and this sounded like a perfect solution to cut calories out of a favorite dish.

Ingredients: large green bell peppers, fat-free mozzarella, turkey pepperoni, seasoned tomato sauce, onion, mushroom, red bell pepper, sweetener, salt, pepper, garlic powder
(yields 2 servings)

Several things made this dish one we immediately wanted to share with family and friends.

1. Very simple recipe - it gets about as hard as seasoning the tomato sauce.  Sign me up!
2. Versatile - everyone can mix and match their own veggies without much change in calorie-count.  For example, I had mushrooms and Melissa didn't.  We also tweaked the recipe by adding some chopped red pepper in the sauce in addition to the onion.
3.  Filling - one serving, or three pieces, is absolutely enough to satisfy your hunger.  And tasty to boot!

All-in-all, this dish is an absolute winner.  It's creative, it's simple, it's delicious.  We couldn't stop talking about how good it was after the first bite.  And it wasn't heavy, like regular pizza, because it's full of veggies.  But the best part is that the calorie-count for an ample serving of three pieces of green pepper pizza is... only 189 calories!


'S'mores Krispymallow Treats'

Last night, we ended with a simple, very low-cal dessert.  Sort of a s'more twist on the usual puffed-rice cereal treats.

Ingredients: puffed wheat cereal, Golden Grahams cereal, Fiber One bran cereal, mini marshmallows, light butter spread, mini semi-sweet chocolate chips.
(yields 25 bars)

As with most marshmallow treats of this sort, these took only minutes to make.  Melt light spread and marshmallows, mix in a ton of cereal, let cool, sprinkle chocolate chips.  Easy-peasy.

Finish product: before division
We ended up making a double-batch, planning for some company in the evening.  These were definitely well-received among dieters and non-dieters alike... especially non-dieters.  While not incredibly unique, these s'more squares are very tasty and a wonderfully crunchy and sweet dessert.

And best of all, one 2"x3" square has only 57 calories!  I also found that these make a great breakfast.  It is basically a cereal bar, after all.


Bailey quote-of-the-day: (after eating one of our ooey-gooey cinnamon rolls) "Can I pleeaase have another 'minnacim' roll????"

*Dishes are rated out of five spoons on taste, creativity, and ease of preparation.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sweets sans Guilt

Melissa and I are currently sitting in Starbucks, each enjoying a 'birthday cake pop', one of the new 'Starbucks Petites'.  If you haven't heard of these, go check them out.  I had been waiting for Starbucks to catch up to the 'low-cal' trend, and they finally have.  Each of these 'petites' is under 200 calories, and they are delicious.  Now, I'm not going to pretend that these morsels are particularly healthy, but when dieting has caused me to seriously cut back on the usual sweets I crave, these are the perfect bite-sized solution.  

Already, Melissa and I are brainstorming how to make a 'birthday cake pop' for even fewer calories.  Perhaps for another day.  Right now, we're getting very excited about our first foray into this blog's mission to prepare calorie-conscious cuisine.  We decided to start with one savory dish and one sweet dish.  Tomorrow night, the menu will include 'Snazzy Green Pepper Pizza' and 'S'mores Krispymallow Treats', both found in Lisa Lillien's 'Hungry Girl: 200 Under 200' recipe book.   As you might be able to tell from the title, each of these recipes render full servings for under 200 calories.  This is a very happy thing to hear when calorie-counting has become a part of our every meal.  We'll be anxious to share our results.  Photos will be included!

We thought we'd wrap up this post with a few tips that we've collected.  

Snacks: We highly recommend the Weight Watchers(R) Ice Cream Bars, particularly the Dark Chocolate Raspberry Bar (80 calories) and the Snack Size Chocolate Fudge Bar (45 calories).  These are perfect for when you are craving something sweet, but you'd rather not splurge on the calories.  

Working out:  I've spent the last several months building up a workout regiment that I can stick to.  Melissa's just starting out, and I've shared with her that it's important to start small.  If you start by setting easy goals, i.e. 15 mins of walking/day, you'll be much more likely to reach those goals.  By setting and surpassing the small goals, it will motivate you to do more.

Helpful Apps: Melissa and I are both using the MyFitnessPal app on our smart phones to track our caloric intake.  We are both loving it!  It lets us track our calories and our exercise while keeping us aware of our daily calorie goals.  But not to worry, if you haven't joined the smart phone craze, the same app is available for use online at  It has an extremely helpful food database that has nearly everything you could think of, including many restaurants.  And in the event that the program cannot find the food you're looking for, there is an easy-to-use 'quick-add calories' button to simply enter the number.  

We end with a quote from Bailey, while watching the new animated flick, Rio: "He can't fly... if I were in the movie, I could TEACH him!" 

I hope that Melissa and I can take on this challenge with same unbridled enthusiasm.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Mission: Edible

Melissa and I are two fiercely real young women on a weight-loss journey together.  I am a singer and painter, and I am going to graduate school in the Fall to study opera.  Melissa is a single mom, working as a phlebotomist and studying to become a medical assistant.

We've known each other for fourteen years, and are very familiar with each other's struggle with weight-loss.  We have both recently tackled the staggering challenge of counting calories.  I began my journey a few months ago, and Melissa began hers two weeks ago.  So far, so good.  We've been very good about keeping ourselves on track.

We decided to write this blog as a summer project, because we refuse to believe that 'low-calorie' is just another way of saying 'low-taste'.  Delicious food does not have to be packed with calories, and healthy food does not need to suffer from a lack of flavor.  

We will be sharing the tricks and tips that we've soaked up along the way.  Each week, we will be testing and rating a few (hopefully) yummy and low-calorie recipes that we've stumbled across.  Here and there, we might throw in an exercise tip as well... stay tuned!

It is also inevitable that you will hear about our day-to-day lives, our ups and downs.  (We hope the 'downs' come more often in the form of a number on a scale.)  The idea is that we remain accountable to each other and to the few of you that might read our blog.

For now, we leave with a quote from Melissa's three-year-old daughter, Bailey: "I like to eat Rapunzel food... it's kind of like a butterfly."

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