Monday, June 1, 2009

Low-Fat Whole Wheat Vegan Microwave Brownies

It's been so long since I updated this blog, I guess I just haven't gotten very motivated to keep it up. Since my last post, however, I've made several changes to my basic diet. I continue to eat whole grains, but I stick to rice about 50% of the time, to keep most of my meals gluten-free. I also now stick to a 90% vegetarian, 80% vegan diet. I don't think I could ever give up meat entirely, but eating vegetarian/vegan keeps me healthier. Now, whenever I look up recipes, I try to go as vegan as possible.

I found this recipe this morning, while craving a chocolate fix. They take about 5 minutes in the microwave, and 10 minutes total including prep time. On the plus side, they satiate instant cravings, on the minus (?) side, they're so easy to make, you'll probably find you've already made them before your conscience kicks in and tells you "no". Also, the fact that they're made in the microwave means that in college, there will me no stopping me making these. Uh oh....

I found the original vegan recipe on recipezaar, but I changed it up quite a bit. I subbed in an extra banana for the oil because I had no applesauce. I'm sure either would work. I also added some baking soda just to make up for it, but I'm not quite sure if it did anything. I used light brown sugar instead of white, but they both work, I'm sure. I used whole wheat flour, instead of white, as always, and I added mint-chocolate chips. The recipe does call for chocolate chips, and though they're not necessary, I do recommend using them because they definitely make the recipe.

Oh, and one last thing... these are extremely "low-fat" in the sense that they don't have any butter, oil, eggs, or what have you in them, but they do have plenty of sugar and chocolate in them, so these shouldn't be eaten blindly, as if they have no effect on one's waistline.

So, without further ado, here's my Low-FatWhole Wheat Vegan Microwave Brownie Recipe

Recipe is for 8 good-sized brownies. Nutritional info is calculated w/ 2 bananas. Calories will be lower if using apple sauce.


  • 2 bananas, mashed (OR 1 banana, 1/4c unsweetened apple sauce)

  • 3/4 c sugar (light brown, unpacked OR white)

  • 1 t vanilla

  • 1 c whole wheat flour

  • 4 T cocoa powder

  • pinch of salt (optional)

  • pinch of baking soda

  • chocolate chips (normal, mint, whatever)


  1. Mix all ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl. I like to leave the chips for last, and then just sprinkle them on top.

  2. Microwave on high for 4 to 5 minutes, depending on how chewy you want them.

  3. Let them cool a little bit (or don't! ;-) ) and dig in.

Nutrition Facts
8 Servings
Amount Per Serving
Calories 159.0
Total Fat 2.5 g
Saturated Fat 1.4 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.0 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.2 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 8.0 mg
Potassium 188.9 mg
Total Carbohydrate 35.1 g
Dietary Fiber 3.7 g
Sugars 2.7 g
Protein 2.8 g

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Low-Fat Crustless Spinach and Cheese Quiche

I’m a big fan of quiche. The truth is, I rarely have it… but when I do, I’m always very in the mood, and it’s therefore always very satisfying. I think a lot of people consider it a comfort food, and really, I can’t blame them. With a decent crust, and the egg baked in such a way that the top has just a slight crunch to it, it pretty much has the best kind of texture (for food) in existence. The flavor is also very homey. The mixture of egg, cheese, and at least some other type of staple just screams “comfortable family dinner”- (and bear in mind my family rarely eats dinner at the same time… yet quiche can still conjure up “memories” of a picture-perfect lifestyle).
The problem with quiche is that it’s pretty fattening. The best things in life always are. As I said before, I rarely eat quiche, as much as I love it, and I’d never made it before. I always kind of assumed a food with so much power would take near-mystical abilities to conjure up. I was wrong (at least in this case). This quiche is much healthier than normal quiche, without sacrificing too many of “real” quiche’s virtues. The crust is gone, but really, that bread was just a filler. I promise you’ll hardly notice it’s gone. The eggs are now just egg whites, getting rid of the fat, but adding much more protein. The egg-y flavor is still there, and prominently, too. Quiche recipes are very flexible, especially this one, and you can fiddle with the egg to filler ratios quite a bit. The following ingredient amounts will give you a very high filler (spinach) to low egg (and cheese) ratio. I like it this way… it’s much healthier, and the egg flavor is already very strong. Try it once this way, and if you’d prefer less spinach, more egg, cheese, or anything else you’d like to it, go right ahead and try it.
I like to mix in the salt and pepper near the very end, once it’s in the casserole dish, before popping it in the oven. It gives me a better idea of exactly how much I’m putting in. I then mix it into the upper layers with a spoon or fork. Worcestershire sauce is optional. Keep in mind that if you add it, it’s no longer vegetarian.
The following recipe yields 8 large slices of quiche.


  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped

  • 3-4 cups frozen spinach pellets (can use fresh spinach)

  • 2 cups assorted cheeses, grated (I use 4 cheeses. Feta and parmesan are strongly recommended, and any others you may have laying around that you think may work. Low-fat ones are better.)

  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

  • Oil for cooking

  • Optional: 1-2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce


  1. Mix egg whites and cheese in a large bowl. Set aside.

  2. Preheat oven to 180C (350F).

  3. On medium/high heat, heat up a large skillet. Add a dash of oil, and when this is hot, begin sautéing the minced garlic and chopped onions.

  4. When the onions are have almost finished browning (degree of browning is to taste), add the frozen spinach. (If using fresh spinach, add a little bit earlier). Continue heating until all frozen spinach has melted and is hot, or until fresh spinach has wilted. If using frozen spinach, make sure most of the liquid has evaporated, or it’ll pool at the bottom of your casserole dish when the quiche is done (no great fiasco, just doesn’t look as nice). When done, take off heat and let cool for about 30 seconds.

  5. Add spinach mixture to the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Pour into a lightly greased glass casserole or similar oven baking dish. Add salt and pepper, mix into the top of the quiche with a fork or spoon.

  6. Place dish on middle rack in oven, bake for 40 minutes. When it’s done, it will jiggle slightly in the middle when shaken. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.
    When divided into 8 slices, the serving size is very big (in my opinion), but spinach is very filling for me. The nutrition facts are calculated when there are 8 slices, and as if the only cheeses used were parmesan and feta (they’re on the more fattening side, so the calorie/fat count will probably be lower if you use 4 cheeses.)


Nutrition Facts
8 Servings
Amount Per Serving
Calories 159.5
Total Fat 8.0 g
Saturated Fat 5.2 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.3 g
Monounsaturated Fat 2.0 g
Cholesterol 26.6 mg
Sodium 546.4 mg
Potassium 339.0 mg
Total Carbohydrate 8.8 g
Dietary Fiber 3.2 g
Sugars 0.0 g
Protein 14.9 g

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Even Healthier Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

We all know that frozen yogurt is the healthier alternative to ice cream, but even compared to normal frozen this recipe is crazy healthy, and craaazy good.
It's amazing that something so simple could be so good. I made this today, and I didn't even follow the recipe measurements, it's that flexible. I snagged the original recipe from an MSNBC list of healthy, sweet snacks that won't spike your blood sugar and cause unwanted cravings which, in my case, usually lead to some form of what as commonly known as stuffing-of-the-face.
It's basically blending frozen strawberries, plain yogurt, and honey. Somehow the blending/food processing combined with the cold from the strawberries actually gives it an ice-creamy texture. It looks a bit runny in my picture, but that's probably due to my amazing lack of blender-wielding skills. I'm not much better with the food processor, but I'll probably try that next time. Or have my sister do it for me.
The official recipe says to serve it immediately and, to be frank, I really was not excited about freezing leftovers- didn't think the texture would work. In the end, though, sis had her half a mere 20 minutes later, so we couldn't really see how it would do after being frozen for extended periods of time. That's for you to find out. The original recipe only serves one, anyway, so ending up with massive amounts of home-made strawberry frozen yogurt should not be a major fear. Don't lose sleep over it.
Aaanyway. Without further ado, this is the magnificent recipe. Like I said, I didn't follow it, just froze as many strawberries that I could fit in a random tupperware container, then blended with 2 plain yogurts and a generous helping of honey. I then added honey as a topping, as you can see in the picture. My sister didn't.

This recipe serves one.

  • 3/4 c frozen strawberries
  • 1/3 c low-fat plain yogurt
  • 2 tsp honey


  1. Take the frozen strawberries out of the freezer and, using a serrated knife, carefully cut into chunks.
  2. In a blender or food processor (must have metal blade), pulse about 10 times to finely chop the strawberries.
  3. Add the yogurt and honey to the strawberries in the blender/processor.
  4. Process until smooth, or until you have reached wanted consistency. (Fruit chunks work for texture if you like.)
  5. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Facts (According to MSNBC)

Calories: 151
Carbohydrates (grams): 32
Calcium (milliggrams): 161
Fiber(g): 4
Omega-3 (g): 0.04
Vitamin D (IU): 0

Monday, April 6, 2009

Extremely Delicious Low-Fat Whole Wheat Carrot Cake

As a part of my Diet-Pimping, I've spent a countless number of hours searching for healthy, low-fat recipes, mostly online. The biggest issue I see people worrying about on their similar quests for the low-fat alternatives is the possible negative effect on taste that the "low-fat" bit of the title entails. In short, most people seem to assume that low-fat= bland, tasteless, gross, not-worth-it. Let's get one thing straight. I'm all for going healthy, I'm fully committed to the Pimp-my-Diet cause... but not if the price is good-tasting food.
That being said, this recipe is extremely healthy and definitely delicious. I found a reasonably healthy recipe for carrot cake online, but I immediately made changes to the recipe in the hopes that I would get an even better version. I've only ever made it following these ingredients and directions, so I can't really compare it to the end product of the original recipe. The original recipe called for 3/4 cup oil instead of 1 cup applesauce, white whole wheat flour instead of plain whole wheat, honey instead of brown sugar (I'm sure honey works in this recipe just as well), pineapple, 4 eggs instead of 3 egg whites, and quite a bit more salt.
Carrot cake is awesome with cream-cheese icing. When I find the golden, healthy version of the stuff, it'll definitely be put up here. This time, I made one mixing light cream cheese with almond cream... (almond butter?). The outcome was OK.
The nutritional value for this recipe was calculate for 16 servings, but I usually cut it into more (about 24).

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (or honey)
  • 3 egg whites
  • 2 cups grated or finely chopped carrots


  1. Combine dry ingredients.
  2. Add applesauce, sugar/honey, and eggs; mix well.
  3. Stir in remaining 3 ingredients.
  4. Bake in greased cake pan for 35 to 45 minutes at 350 degrees F (180 C).
  5. Cool in pan several minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely on wire rack.

Nutrition Facts (per serving, 16 servings)

Calories 94.1
Total Fat 0.3 g
Saturated Fat 0.1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.0 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 244.0 mg
Potassium 80.5 mg
Total Carbohydrate 21.1 g
Dietary Fiber 2.5 g
Sugars 2.2 g Protein 3.1 g

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Starting this Blog (and the day) with Whole Wheat Pancakes

Well, for my first entry I think it's appropriate to start off with a recipe for Whole Wheat Pancakes. I usually make Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes, but you can add any kind of fruit, or none at all, to this recipe. I encourage adding fruit because it naturally sweetens them a bit more, and you don't have to load up on tons of syrup. You can also, of course, add anything else you want, like chocolate chips... but let's keep this on the uber-healthy side for now.
I find this recipe serves about four (and very well). Be sure to check the notes at the bottom before you start.

  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk, plus more if necessary*
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon artificial sweetener
  • 1/2-1 cup mashed bananas**(about 2 medium bananas)/blueberries/etc.


  • Sift together your dry ingredients (flour, baking powder) and set aside. Beat together your wet ingredients (egg, milk, salt and artificial sweetener) in a bowl. Add and stir in dry ingredients. Mix in fruit of choice.
  • Preheat a skillet over medium heat, and spray with cooking spray. Pour batter in according to the desired pancake size. Cook until bubbly, about 1 1/2 minutes. Turn, and continue cooking until golden brown.***


* I usually add a little bit more milk to this batter, to make it more liquidy. Depending on how you want your pancakes you can add varying amounts of milk to get it to the desired consistency. My sister likes "Juicy Pancakes", which are slightly raw on the inside. To get this, the batter should be thicker.

** Tip for mashing the bananas: Put the bananas in a bowl. Using a fork, slice them up a bit, then stick them in the microwave for up to a minute. When you take them out, they'll be a lot softer. Use the fork to mash them up in the bowl until mostly liquidy.

*** Tip for fluffy pancakes: When you flip the pancake, don't press down on it with your spatula. This won't make them cook faster, nor make sure they're fully cooked. It'll just squeeze out the air that makes your pancakes light and fluffy. Also, if you can, try to only cook each side once.

And now... for a little rumination on the benefits of whole wheat. Growing up in a house where white bread was pretty much forbidden, I grew up hating whole wheat. I was the only kid at school with whole wheat bread slices for my sandwiches. As I grew older, my mother (the whole wheat lover of the family) relaxed more on her eating rules. As she began to eat more unhealthily, so did the rest of the family. Of course, I'm sure this had something to do with me and my sister growing up and entering teenage-hood... we got old enough to pressure our mother into getting the junk-food alternatives, and we would buy white-bread sandwiches at the cafeteria in a kind of rebellious act. But on this healthy-eating mission of mine, I've made several changes in my eating ways, the first one being the switch to whole wheat.

I now only eat whole wheat. All my bread, cake, and cookie recipes are 100% whole wheat. In fact, I think it was this first rule that I made for myself that first got me into cooking. Before a couple of months ago, I could hardly even make pasta. Now, I'm the main cook of my family, and I make sure everything is the healthy alternative.

Whole wheat is the healthier alternative to normal, white wheat for several reasons. It has more healthy fiber, and isn't refined the way white flour is. Because of this, it doesn't cause Blood Sugar levels to spike as much, which can lead to a lot of binge eating. Whole wheat is also an extremely good source of antioxidants, Vitamin B, Vitamin E, magnesium, and iron... even more so than vegetables. Whole grains have been shown to lower the risks of heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and blood coagulation. Other studies have shown benefits including a lowered risk of cancer, and several have found that people who consume whole grains consistently weigh less than those who consumed less, or none.

It's easier than you think to get more whole grains into your diet. If you cook, you can start by finding versions of your favorite recipes that use whole wheat. You can also substitute in whole wheat flour for recipes that call for white flour, but it's recommended that you only substitute in about half the amount of flour with whole wheat flour, and leave the other half as white. It is possible to do a full substitution with some recipes, but baking time and texture may change considerably. You can also start by buying products with whole grains in them, but be wary of the actual ingredients in them. It's important to check the food labels on products that claim to be "whole grain", because, more often than not, they include SOME whole grains, but also great amounts of refined grains as well. The easiest way to ensure that you're eating 100% whole grains is cooking your own foods. With a lot of recipes, people can't even tell that what they're eating is whole wheat... and if they don't know it, they don't seem to care. It seems people just have a predisposition to dislike the taste of anything they know is whole grain. Don't tell them, and in a lot of cases, they'll never know.

So. To conclude, my first step for Pimping my Diet, was to commit to eating only whole grains (or hardly any refined grains, when impossible to avoid completely).