Cooking Light Carrot-Cake Bars

The idea of baking lighter treats appeals to me, and there was a time many years ago, when I was in the habit of using egg whites and applesauce every time that I would bake a cake, quick breads, etc.

My how times have changed… 

While shopping my most favorite thrift store recently, I stumbled across a Cooking Light cookbook for a quarter.  I know, what a bargain! This cookbook has every recipe from the year 1999 that was featured in the Cooking Light magazine so I snatched it up and figured maybe it’s time I get back on the light wagon. 

The recipe for Carrot-Cake Bars is one of many that caught my eye in my new used cookbook.

These bars turned out moist, tender, definitely not oil laden, and delicious.  Yea!  I did make a few slight changes to the original recipe.  First, I used all-purpose flour in place of the whole-wheat flour the recipe called for.  I also used 3/4 cup of sour milk (made with skim milk) instead of the buttermilk, and I skipped adding the raisins.  I think not adding the raisins was a mistake.  While I am not a raisin lover, I do think they add a nice subtle flavor to your treats.  And lastly, I used only 1 cup of old-fashioned oatmeal which I think this was a good move.  Below I’m sharing the original recipe with you.  So feel free to go with it, or make your own modifications.

Carrot-Cake Bars from Cooking Light (Original Recipe)

2/3 c. packed brown sugar

2 tbsp. margarine or butter, softened

3/4 c. low-fat buttermilk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 large egg whites

3/4 c. whole wheat flour

1 1/2 c. regular oats

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 c. shredded carrots

1/2 c. raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray an 11×7 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Beat sugar and margarine until blended.  Add buttermilk, vanilla, and egg whites; beat well.  Add flour and next 5 ingredients; mixing until combined.  Stir in carrots and raisins.  Pour batter into a prepared baking dish.  Bake for approximately 30-33 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center.  Cool in pan and serve.

According to the Cooking Light Cookbook, these bars (original recipe) have 121 calories, 2.3 grams of fat, 3.1 grams of protein, 23.3 carbs, 2 grams of fiber, and 138 mg of sodium.   I added a few calories to my bars because I drizzled a thin buttercream icing on top.  Shame on me I know.  But look at the calories I saved elsewhere.

Do you like baking and cooking light?  Or do you say –  Ah, what’s the sense?

Easy as Pie

The phrase “easy as pie” doesn’t normally refer to the act of making a pie, because we all know that it is not always an easy task.  What it refers to is the act of eating pie – which is normally considered quite simple.  At least it is for me anyway.

I’ve found a recipe for a pie that gives the phrase “easy as pie” a whole new meaning.

This recipe is from Kraft Foods, and I promise you it will be the easiest,  and probably the healthiest pie you’ve ever made.   The reviews that this recipe got are so good that I couldn’t wait to make it myself.  In all honesty, I’m not sure why I haven’t made this pie before now since it’s a fairly common recipe. I’m almost thinking it might even fit into the retro recipe category.

Aside from the pie crust, this recipe only requires three common ingredients.  Yes, you read that correctly – just three!  And as long as we are talking pie crust,  I made my own graham cracker crust instead of buying a packaged one because I wanted to serve my dessert in an 8”x8” pan which then turns this recipe into a square pie.  Is that a new word – square pie?

Cool & Easy Pie  (slightly adapted from Kraft Foods)

1 package of  sugar-free raspberry gelatin

2/3 c. boiling water

1 c. of cold water (I put mine in the freezer 15 minutes before I made the pie)

1 (8 oz.) tub of lite whipped topping

1 (9”) graham cracker pie crust

1 c. fresh or frozen raspberries

In a large bowl, add gelatin.  Pour in boiling water and stir for about 2 minutes until all of the gelatin is dissolved.  Stir in cold water.  Add whipped topping; mix with a wire whisk until smooth.  Add berries and refrigerate for 20 minutes.  Remove from refrigerator and pour into pie crust.  Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.  Serves 8

I love the lightness and fruity flavor of this dessert.  If you’re not a raspberry fan then be creative and try a different flavor.  I’m already thinking ahead to Easter!

For the original  Kraft recipe, to read reviews, or see the nutritional information, follow the Kraft Foods link above.   And remember, the nutritional value of the pie I made is going to have less sugar and calories because it’s made with sugar-free gelatin. 

Now, let’s talk about the phrase “easy come, easy go”.

weekend-potluck-buttong

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guilt Free Mini Pies

I use to get Kraft Food & Family magazines (when they were free).  I loved them.  They were loaded with great recipes and enticing photo’s.  The recipes were simple too.  Somewhere along the way Kraft started charging for these magazines and it (sadly) disappoints me.   Fortunately, I still have all of my original issues so I can refer to them.

Last night I was looking for low-fat, low-calorie recipe.  For inspiration I dug out my old issues from Kraft.   I didn’t need to search beyond the issue that was on the top of the pile (Summer 2007). 

Although a lot of recipes jumped out at me, the one that I decided on was called “Flat Bottom Fruit Pie”.  It looked so fresh and inviting.  Just what my diet ordered.

Of course, I can’t leave well enough alone so I adapted this recipe to actually make a healthier version.  Once you read the recipe you will see how easy it is to interchange ingredients to satisfy just about any taste.

Here is my adaptation.  I must warn you this is a fast and easy one.  If you are looking to spend hours in your kitchen this one isn’t for you. 🙂

You will need:

1 refrigerated ready to use pie crust

1 tsp. of cinnamon & sugar (3/4 tsp. sugar and 1/4 tsp. cinnamon) I used King Arthur Vietnamese cinnamon – my absolute favorite! 

1 package of Jell-O Sugar Free Cheesecake Pudding (and 2 cups of non-fat milk)

Fresh Blueberries

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Unroll pie crust, take a round cookie cutter and make cut outs.  (Hint – once I made the initial cutouts I rolled out the remaining dough and made several more to prevent wasting the dough.) 

Lay the cutouts on a baking stone.  Sprinkle with cinnamon & sugar mixture.  I didn’t use the entire teaspoon but feel free.  Bake for 8-10 minutes until golden brown.

While the crusts are baking mix up your pudding. 

Let the crusts cool, and put the pudding in the refrigerator to thicken for 1 hour.

Once the crusts are cool and the pudding is thick put your mini pies together.  Top with fruit and low-fat whipped cream.

These are so versatile.  If you don’t want to use sugar-free pudding you can use regular pudding.  You could also sprinkle the dough with a cocoa and sugar mixture. Can you image these made with chocolate pudding, and topped with fresh raspberries?  Vanilla pudding and fresh peaches?  Or,  how about white chocolate pudding with cherries and chocolate drizzled on top?  The list of possibilities is endless, and these are guilt free. 

More modified Kraft recipes to come!

A healthy oatmeal berry muffin

Until tonight, I haven’t baked anything since the day before Christmas.  Surprisingly, I haven’t really missed the sweets.  I’ve found healthier ways to compensate for my sweet tooth, and exercise now replaces the time I spent baking.  Progress – slow but sure. 

Tonight however, I had the urge to bake something, not something loaded with sugar, but something with fruit and oats.  I like having muffins on hand for a breakfast option so I did a little research and decided to make a muffin that would satisfy, and wouldn’t throw me off the wagon. 

This muffin is hearty and moist.  I made a quick trip over to Sparkpeople.com  and converted the recipes ingredients to come up with the calorie content, etc which I’ll share with you.  Sparkpeople offers some very useful tools if you are trying to be healthier. 

These muffins have no oil, butter or margarine in them.  In lieu of the those I used light fat-free vanilla yogurt.  The sugar is minimal, and I used  white whole wheat flour for a bit more nutritional value .  I opted for cinnamon and vanilla to flavor, and to accompany the oats and fruit.   

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Spray non-stick cooking spray in 12 muffin cups

2 egg whites

1/2 cup skim milk (sour with 1 tablespoon of vinegar)

1  6 oz light, non-fat yogurt

1/2 c. brown sugar

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups oatmeal

1 cup white whole wheat flour

1 cup of berries (your choice)  I used black raspberries

Add ingredients into a large bowl in the order the appear on the recipe.  Stir thoroughly.  Pour equally into the 12 muffin cups.  Bake for 17-20 minutes until toothpick inserted into the center of muffin comes out clean. 

Let cool for 5 minutes and remove from pan.  Store in airtight container.

The nutritional facts based on conversion for 12 muffins:

Calories:  125.9 per muffin

Total Fat: .08 g

Cholesterol: .o6 mg

Sodium: 312.8 mg

Total Carbohydrate: 29.5 g

Dietary Fiber: 1.9 g

Sugar: 13.8 g

Protein: 3.9 g

Potassium: 109.3 mg

Do you have a favorite low-fat recipe for a baked good?  I’d love to hear about it.  Or, if you made a New Year resolution I’d love to know what it was, and how it’s going.