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Other things are just food. But chocolate’s chocolate.

172824-chocolate-heart-of-chocolateMany people believe that our palate weakens as we age, our sense of smell diminishes, and our taste buds dull or, even worse, deaden over time. This may be true about the taste of many foods, except for one delicious mouth-watering delight; the one sensational flavor that is just as sweet, as intense and as wondrous as ever – the smooth taste of chocolate. As a little girl my face would burn red at the sight of an open box. My mother thought I had developed some sort of sensitivity to it. No mom, I was not allergic to chocolate. I simply and unequivocally adored it. In fact today I couldn’t live in a world without chocolate, could you? I imagine that G-d himself was present to meet Mr. Hershey when he arrived in heaven and asked, “Milton, did you bring the chocolate?”

To be honest, I wouldn’t last one day if I thought I’d have to completely eliminate chocolate from my diet. I’m perfectly happy tracking food and going without most carbs, sugar and fat, as long as I know I can still have the stuff that melts in your mouth and sometimes in your hand. Most people who strive to lose weight know they must work hard to find the right time and place for chocolate. For me, its the time when all the day’s work is complete, when dinner has come and gone, and the dishes have all been washed and accounted for. It’s long after I’ve dropped the last teenager at dance or returned the overdue books to the library, and even after my dog Rambo is back from one last sprint around the block. That’s the moment when I’ll make my move towards the kitchen for something luscious, satisfying and chocolate. The darker, the better.

The people at Weight Watchers think it’s possible to have your chocolate and eat it too and so do I. Here are some suggestions for how to enjoy the best food on the planet without wreaking havoc on your weight loss goals. Of course, if you are following a plan to lose weight, save some points and/or calories from your daily intake and enjoy.

Chocolate PuddingHomemade Chocolate Pudding – You can do this!!! A delicious 4 oz serving is 4 ppl. It’s not sugar-free or fat-free or laden with aspartame – it’s just clean food, Yum!!! (You can lower the points value by switching to a lower fat milk and also, it is delicious frozen too.) A large batch can be stored in the fridge for up to 1 week. Ingredients: 2 cups whole milk, 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, 5 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, 2 tablespoons water, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla or almond extract. Directions: In a medium saucepan, combine milk and butter. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring gently to melt butter. In a small bowl, combine sugar, cocoa and cornstarch — add water and mix to create a paste. Add paste into milk mixture and whisk well to combine. Raise heat to medium and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon until thick and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in extract. Transfer to a bowl or 4 dessert cups and cover with plastic wrap (make sure the plastic is touching the pudding to prevent a skin from forming). Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Dark Chocolate Chip Almond Milk Popsicle – 2 ppl* – Add 1/3 c. Silk Dark Chocolate Almond Milk into each Popsicle tumbler. About half-way through the freezing process add 1-1/2 tsp of mini chocolate chips. I love these because they are low in points and just as good (actually better) than store-bought low-calorie Fudgicles and so much healthier for you. You can freeze any flavor almond milk that you like, it’s delicious.

8_24a 001Chocolate Hazelnut Crackers – Four wheat thins dipped in 1-1/2 teaspoons Nutella (or other hazelnut spread) – 3 ppl. Savor these with a cup of decaf green tea and the only thing it will trigger is pure joy.

Feel free to join the party at the next campfire with this Safe Skinny S’more – Two graham crackers with one roasted marshmallow and one small square of dark chocolate – 4 ppl.

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Chocolate Covered Pretzels Melt two squares of dark chocolate in a double boiler. When chocolate is completely melted dip low-fat home-style pretzels in the chocolate. Place on plate lined with parchment paper and put in the freezer for about 15 minutes. You can also dip pretzels in unsweetened coconut flakes and/jimmies before freezing. I like to keep it simple. 2 ppl per pretzel

Take this Chocolate Trail Mix to the movies for a satisfying snack – Eight almonds, 4 chocolate chips, and 1 tablespoon raisins – 4 ppl.

8_24a 003Chocolate Covered Strawberries – Five strawberries dipped in two squares melted dark chocolate – 3 ppl. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, then remove from heat and dip strawberries in the chocolate. Line a plate with parchment paper and allow to cool.

*WW PointsPlus (ppl) calculations are my own with the help of WW eTools. For all of these recipes I used Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate. Check nutrition facts carefully when cooking with chocolate, it can get a little tricky keeping track.

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Roasted Mediterranean-style vegetables with fresh herbs

From The Light, Lean and Low-Fat Cookbook by Ann Sheasby

From The Light, Lean and Low-Fat Cookbook by Ann Sheasby

You can eat these to your heart’s content with no worries. Takes 10 minutes to prep and about 30 minutes to roast. Makes four heaping servings!

1 red onion, sliced
1 white or yellow onion slived
4 zucchini thickly sliced
1 eggplant, cut into chunks
8 oz baby corn (I skipped this, totally your call)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into large dice
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into large dice
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
4 tsp olive oil (or for variation use a flavored oil like chili or herb oil)
salt and freshly ground pepper
2-3 tbsp chopped mixed herbs

Place all the vegetables and garlic in a nonstick roasting pan. Add the oil and seasoning and toss until the vegetables are lightly coated with oil. Bake in a preheated oven at 425 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until just tender and tinged brown at the edges, stirring once or twice. [I forgot to do the stirring, but it was okay.]. Sprinkle with the herbs and toss to mix. I used rosemary and chives in place of the mixed herbs. Delicious hot or cold with broiled lean meat or fish and baked potatoes.

Nutrition facts per serving: (figure 1/4th of entire dish)
Calories: 116
Fat: 4.2g
Protein: 5.6g
Carbs: 14.6g
Fiber: 5.3g