Monday, May 9, 2011

Low-Cal Culinary Curiosities #2

This Wednesday, Melissa and I tested a few recipes from Lisa Lillien's 'Hungry Girl: 200 Under 200' recipe book, as well as made a mostly-successful attempt at an original recipe for low-calorie cake balls.

EZ Tomato-Basil Chicken

The emphasis is definitely on easy with this recipe.
With three simple ingredients, this dish is very simple to make and delicious to boot.

Ingredients: 12 lean chicken breast tenders (1lb.), a can of crushed tomatoes with basil, and thinly sliced onions
(yields 4 servings)

So simple.  Preheat the oven, brown the onions, and layer the ingredients in a pan.  Thirty minutes later, a very flavorful and moist chicken dish.  And the final calorie total for a serving of three tenders and a generous helping of onions and sauce is only 175 calories!

That calorie total left plenty of room for us to pair it with the most deliciously low-cal mashed potato dish I've ever had.


Miracle Mashies

These are nothing short of incredible.  For someone like me, who has really missed her mashed potatoes while dieting, these are really worth a try!

Ingredients: one large potato, three cups cauliflower florets, fat-free half & half, light butter, salt, pepper, and crushed garlic.
(yields 5 servings)

Very straight-forward to prepare--the same process as regular mashed potatoes, only you use mostly cauliflower.  Peel, chop, boil, drain, add add-ins, and mash.

Going in, we weren't sure what to expect for taste or texture; however, Melissa and I can assure you that these taste like real mashed potatoes.  There's nothing funny about the texture or the flavor.  In my opinion, they're even better than regular mashed potatoes, because I can eat more of them without feeling guilty!

The final calorie count: one serving (about 2/3 of a cup) of these 'miracle mashies' is only 82 calories!

The final pairing
For a point of comparison, typical mashed potatoes are about 150 calories for that same amount, depending on the amount of milk and fat. And on top of that, these potatoes are freaking tasty! I couldn't wait to share these with my potato-loving family.


Low-Cal Strawberry Cake Balls

These came out a bit sticky (easily solved with a toothpick), but incredibly tasty.

Cake: strawberry cake mix, two egg whites, 8oz. diet 7UP
Frosting: 1c. strawberry slices, 3/8c. splenda, 1c. fat-free cream cheese
Glaze: confectioner's sugar, water, vanilla, sprinkles

Super easy to make, but a little time-consuming.  To make the cake part of the cake ball, simply follow the instructions on the box, but instead of adding eggs, oil, etc., use a couple egg whites and some diet soda.

For the frosting, instead of using a tub of pre-packaged icing, we made our own.  I mixed 1 cup of chopped strawberries with 1/4 cup of Splenda and let that sit over night.  The next day, I mixed the strawberries in a blender with 1 cup of fat-free cream cheese and added and additional 1/8 cup of Splenda.

When the cake was done, we mixed it together with the strawberry frosting mixture.  Once mixed together into a moldable dough, I rolled the mix into about 75 balls (about 1 inch in diameter).

At this point, the calorie-count for a plain cake ball, with no glaze, is 31 calories. The topping is where you could add a lot of calories.  I decided to go for a 'donut-hole' feel and created a sticky confectioner's sugar glaze.  You simply mix powdered sugar with a little water and a little vanilla, coat each ball, set it on a rack to drip, and top with sprinkles.  This gets rid of any excess glaze and ultimately adds only around 10 more calories.  Of course, if you don't mind the extra calories, you could coat these with dark chocolate as a fun option.  Whatever your coating, we've given you an easy way to cut calories in the ball itself.

Extremely yummy for 42 calories, but pretty sticky.  These definitely received Bailey's seal of approval--she's still asking about them!


We end with an amusing exchange with Bailey yesterday:
Melissa: "I've lost 20 pounds!"
Bailey: "You did?  Where did they go?  I'll help you find them, Mommy!"

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

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