Hamburger Soup

Hamburger Soup

  • Servings: 10 of 1 cup
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Cold weather is upon us. Comfort food is a must. I love seeing the leaves turning colours, cooler nights for sleep, but salads get pushed aside for cozier foods. Here is one of them.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves or 1 tsp of garlic powder
  • 19 ounce can (540ml) of chopped tomatoes
  • 10 oz can (284 ml) tomato soup (preferably sodium reduced)
  • 1 tsp worchestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 cups of low sodium beef broth (I use campbell)
  • 3 medium carrots peeled and sliced (relatively thin)
  • 1 cup chopped cabbage

Directions

  1. In a large pot or dutch oven, brown the meat and drain off excess fat.
  2. Add onions and garlic and cook on low heat until onions are tender.
  3. Add tomatoes, tomato soup, worchestershire sauce, salt, pepper, and broth.
  4. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. Add the vegetables and simmer for an additional 30 minutes.

Nutrition Per Serving

  • Calories 122
  • Fat 4.8 g
  • Sugar 5 g
  • Carbohydrates 8.5 g
  • Protein 11.2 g
  • Fibre 1.7 g

This is an easy soup that is both nutritious and low calorie. It can be served as an appetizer or as a main course. We had it as a main course and it made 6 bowls. You can serve it with a nice sunflower and flax seed bread (see recipe), white bread (see recipe) or country biscuits (see recipe).

Overall, it was a nice comfort food for a cooler night. If you want it spicy, you can add a little cayenne pepper to taste. You can add extra veggies like frozen corn. Possibilities are endless, so have fun and make it your own.

Light Apple Crisp

Light Apple Crisp

  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: Easy
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It’s apple picking time. That usually means, we have extra apples. Apples are very versatile. Nothing quite like an apple pie, or apple crumble, or apple crisp. So I went looking for a recipe that would fit the bill and not over do it on the sugar. I found a version of this (slightly modified by me) in a diabetic site.

Ingredients

  • 5 cups of diced, peeled, cored apples
  • 2 cups of unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup of flour (I use unbleached)
  • 1/4 cup of rolled oats (not the quick cooking)
  • 2 tbsp of melted light margarine
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • nonstick cooking spray

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Coat a 13×9 inch pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, oats, margarine, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and apple sauce. Blend with fork.
  3. Layer apples in the pan and sprinkle brown sugar mixture evenly over top.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle nuts on top.

Nutrition Per Serving

  • Calories 125
  • Fat 2.6 g
  • Sugar 19 g
  • Carbohydrates 18 g
  • Protein 0.75 g
  • Fibre 2 g

The picture I posted does not give it justice. It is quite good. I made the mistake (in the picture) to mix everything together. I had layered my apples, I poured the brown sugar mixture over it and then, oops, I stirred everything together. So mine did not have that nice “CRISP” to it. So if you follow the directions, you will be fine. I promise to redo the picture next time I make it.

You can add more nuts if you like. If calories don’t matter you can serve warm with ice cream. Or you can add a little coffee cream. Someone suggested Light Cool Whip. So as the saying goes, have fun and make it your own.

Skinny Banana Bread Muffins

Skinny Banana Bread Muffins

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Skinny muffins that are flavourful and moist. Wait, that doesn’t sound right. Well, it is and they are healthier than most. These banana muffins have no oil, low sugar and are only 130 calories. I apologize to the store bought or coffee house muffins.

Ingredients

  • 4 bananas mashed (about 1-1/3 cup)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-1/2 cup all purpose flour (whole wheat makes them a little more dense)
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line muffin tin with paper liners or silicon liners.
  2. In a mixing bowl, mash bananas, add egg, vanilla, sugars, and cinnamon and stir well to combine.
  3. In a larger bowl stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add banana mixture and stir to combine.
  4. Gently stir in melted butter. Don’t over-mix the batter as the muffins will be tougher.
  5. Spoon into muffin tin and bake for 18-25 minutes.

Nutrition Per Serving

  • Calories 130
  • Fat 2 g
  • Sugar 9 g
  • Carbohydrates 23 g
  • Protein 2 g
  • Fibre 2 g

Note: You can freeze these for up to 2 months in a freezer safe ziplock bag. Make sure that they are completely cooled and get as much of the air out of the bag first.

If calories or sugar are not of concern, you can add walnuts, raisins, cranberries, or even peanut butter (if you add peanut butter, you will need to add an equal amount of flour). This makes the possibilities endless. Remember to have fun and make it your own.

Orange Chiffon Cake

Orange Chiffon Cake

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: Easy
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I was asked for a recipe that is light not only in calories but also in texture. Something that felt like summer. This is what I came up with. Hope you like it.

This cake is refreshing. It is low caloric and sweet. First time I made a chiffon cake. I had fun and made it my own. Your turn to do the same.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of cake flour (if you don’t have any, all purpose flour will do, minus 2 tbsp and add 2 tbsp of cornstarch)
  • 8 tbsp of a mixture of sucralose and sugar. (if you want to use sugar only that’s ok just remember to add that to the calories and sugar content per serving)
  • 2 tsp of baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp of grated orange zest (approx 2 oranges)
  • 3/4 cup of orange juice freshly pressed
  • 1/4 cup of canola oil
  • 1 tsp of brandy or orange liquor (optional)
  • 6 egg whites at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp of cream of tartar
  • 2 oz of semi-sweet chocolate
  • Cooking spray or butter and margarine and 1-2 tbsp of flour to coat pan

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, mix flour, 6 tbsp of the sucralose-sugar mixture, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, add eggs, oil, zest, orange juice, brandy to the flour mixture and mix until smooth.
  4. In a large bowl, using clean blades on medium, beat egg whites and cream of tartare until soft peaks. Bring speed up to high and add remaining sucralose-sugar until it forms stiff peaks.
  5. Using a spatula, slowly fold in the egg mixture to the flour mixture until blended.
  6. Pour into a very lightly greased and floured bundt pan. Cook for 50-55 min or until cake tester comes out clean. (Make sure not to open oven door during first 45 minutes)
  7. Reverse onto a parchemin covered plate after cooled completely.
  8. Cut chocolate into small pieces and place in a bowl that goes in the microwave. Stir every 30 seconds until completely melted.
  9. Pour over cooled cake and cut and serve.

Nutrition Per Serving

  • Calories 165
  • Fat 7 g
  • Sugar 15 g
  • Carbohydrates 22 g
  • Protein 4.0 g
  • Fibre 1.0 g

Note: if you are using a nonstick pan, some people recommend not greasing and flouring others say it’s imperative. First time I did it, I didn’t flour the pan just greased it and it stuck. Also make sure to let it cool completely before unmolding or else it will break.

Instead of melted chocolate, you can always add your favourite coulis. Remember have fun and make it your own.

Greek Yogourt Chocolate Cake

Greek Yogourt Chocolate Cake

  • Servings: 24
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Dessert is the perfect way to wrap up a good meal. The final touch. It doesn’t have to be much. For those of us with a sweet tooth, a small piece of sweetness ends the meal perfectly. We could always use more but because I indulged in the past on seconds in the dessert section, I now have to watch my portions. This cake is moist, flavourful and even gives that little extra in protein. With this portion size, even my diabetic friends can indulge in a serving.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup of cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp of instant coffee
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 cups of all purpose flour, a little more for the pan
  • 1-3/4 cups of sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp of baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup of plain Greek Yogourt (I use 0% fat)
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Cooking spray

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Use cooking spray on 10-12 cup Bundt pan and flour. Set aside
  2. In a small saucepan, combine butter, cocoa powder, instant coffee, salt and water and put over medium heat. Cook until just melted and combined, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Combine flour, sugar and baking soda in a large bowl and whisk to blend. Add half of the cocoa mixture and whisk until completely combined (this will be very thick). Add remaining cocoa mixture and whisk to combine. Add one egg at a time, whisking at each step. Then whisk in yogourt and vanilla until smooth.
  4. Pour into pan and bake for 40-45 minutes. Until toothpick comes out clean.
  5. Let cool in the pan on rack for 15 minutes and then invert onto rack and let cool to room temperature.

Nutrition Per Serving

  • Calories 141
  • Fat 4.5 g
  • Sugar 15 g
  • Carbohydrates 23.5 g
  • Protein 2.5 g
  • Fibre 0.7 g

As you can see, I did not frost this cake. You can make a glaze for it. I chose to simply sprinkle 1/16 of a tsp of icing sugar for the look. You could decorate with bright berries like raspberries or strawberries. It may not seem like much but it is enough to satisfy your sweet craving. Have fun and make it your own.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are always a hot subject. How much should I have, how much shouldn’t I have? Which foods are high in carbs, which aren’t? Some diets tell you no carbs, some say high carbs. I don’t claim to be a doctor nor am I a nutritionist or dietician. I won’t tell you how many carbs you should or should not be eating. I’ve personally never believed that any food should be omitted from one’s diet unless there is an allergy or you are told to by a physician. Everything in moderation. 

Here a few functions of carbs and the primary one is to provide your body with energy. Most of the carbs in foods you eat are digested and broken down into glucose. Glucose goes through your blood stream to produce fuel for your body. 

Glucose in your muscles is vital for long periods of high intensity exercise. In circumstances where your body has all the glucose it needs, it will convert it and store it as fat.

If you lack glucose in your body, muscle can be broken down into amino acids and converted into glucose to generate energy. Obviously this is not an ideal scenario. 

In carbs, fibre is also included. Fibre promotes good digestive health and reduces the risk of digestive track diseases. Eating plenty of dietary fibre can benefit your heart and blood sugar levels thus reducing your risk of diabetes.

Bottom line, carbohydrates serve several key functions in the body. They provide energy for daily tasks and are the primary fuel source for your brain’s high energy demands. The fibre in carbs help promote good digestion and reduce your risk of heart diseases and diabetes.

I’ve included a list I found on the internet that lists all sorts of products and their carb content. This is just a quick reference guide when you are making choices like, do I have a bagel or a 2 inch cube of corn bread. This guide has helped me plan some of the meals to make sure that I have a controlled amount of carbs to my diet. This can also be helpful to all you diabetics out there. 

Carbohydrate Content of Foods

So, the above is just my opinion. I believe we need to have a little of everything in our diets. It helps keep it interesting, less cravings, and I believe, healthier. We’ve all done diets that remove a food from the lineup and guess what, first day, most of us crave that food. Tell me I can’t have chocolate and guess what I crave it. Even if I haven’t had chocolate in weeks, all of in a sudden, I just have to have it. But that is just me. 

Above all make sensible choices, stay healthy and if you need help, seek advise from a nutritionist or dietician. 

Easy Salsa

Easy Salsa

  • Servings: 4 - 1 cup jars
  • Difficulty: Easy
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We grow lots of cherry tomatoes and because they are sweet, they make a great salsa. I use a canning process to jar them to preserve this so that I can have some throughout the year. I put them in 250 ml or 1 cup jars. It will keep in the fridge for 2 weeks easy without canning. The recipe is without the canning process.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of chopped cherry tomatoes
  • 1 large spanish onion chopped
  • 2 cherry bomb peppers minced
  • 1 large jalapeño minced
  • 1 tbsp of salt
  • 1 tbsp of pepper
  • 1 tbsp of white sugar
  • 1/2 cup of fresh chopped cilantro

Directions

  1. In a large bowl put all ingredients together and cover for 3 hours so all the flavours can marry. Adjust your salt to your taste.

Nutrition for complete recipe

  • Calories 244
  • Sugar 34.6 g
  • Carbohydrates 51.8 g
  • Protein 6.2 g
  • Fiber 10.8 g
  • Fat 0.2 g

Nutrition per 1/4 cup

  • Calories 60
  • Sugar 8.6 g
  • Carbohydrates 13 g
  • Protein 1.3 g
  • Fiber 2.8 g
  • Fat 0.02 g

As I mentioned you can use your favourite canning process to preserve these. If you are having a party, 4 cups spread out is not that much (trust me). There is no end on how you can change up this recipe. I usually make one batch really spicy and one batch not so much. When ready to serve I’ve added cooked corn kernels and black beans and it becomes one heck of a dip. You can add, at that time a little sour cream to it and it becomes another type of dip. I’ve used it in tacos, tortillas, and thrown a jar in for different tex/mex recipes I’ve done. There is no limit to the changes you can do and what you use this for. The only limit is your imagination. So enjoy it and make it your own. Let me know what you come up with.

Benson’s Shortbread Cookies

Benson’s Shortbread Cookies

  • Servings: 24 cookies
  • Difficulty: Easy
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What says Christmas more than cookies. I remember there always being shortbread cookies. Oh no, I don’t have a recipe! Tried a couple that didn’t quite turn out like I wanted. While talking to my best friend, she said she had a recipe from an old box of Benson’s corn starch that her mom used to make. To this day, those cookies reminder her of her mom. Well Benson’s is no longer around, but their recipe brought a smile to a lot of young faces. This recipe is too good to go forgotten with the times.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of corn starch
  • 2 cup of icing sugar (powdered sugar)
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup of softened butter

Directions

  1. Sift together flour, corn starch, and icing sugar
  2. With a wooden spoon, incorporate butter until a smooth dough forms
  3. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes
  4. Preheat oven to 300
  5. Roll dough to 1/4 inch thick and use cookie cutters for fun shapes
  6. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes or until edges are lightly browned
  7. Cool on wire rack

Nutrition Per Serving

  • Calories 90
  • Sugar 2.54 g
  • Carbohydrates 8.9 g
  • Protein 0.61 g
  • Fiber 0.17 g
  • Fat 5.8 g

As you see in the picture, I added sprinkles. I did that to the dough as I was mixing the dough. (they are not counted in the nutritional facts) I’m not great at decorating. The size of your cookie cutters will determine how many cookies you get. Mine are approximately 3 inches from top to bottom. They are low enough on carbs and sugar that even diabetics can indulge in a cookie or two. Have fun and make them as festive as you like. this old recipe your own.

Buttermilk Apple Cake

Buttermilk Apple Cake

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: Easy
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This is a recipe that I didn’t even alter. Thank you to Anne Lindsay on this one. This is a coffeecake-type cake that stays moist and is great for brunches, packed lunches or just plain dessert. I didn’t peel the apples because the skin is added fiber.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup soft light margarine
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 cup of buttermilk (light)
  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour (I use unbleached)
  • 1 cup of whole-wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 2-3 medium apples, cored and finely chopped (about 2.5 cups)

Topping

  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Lightly grease and flour an 8″ or 9″ square cake pan
  3. In a large bowl, beat together margarine and sugar until combined; beat in buttermilk
  4. Add flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and apples; mix until combined
  5. Spread batter evenly in pan
  6. Topping: combine sugar, cinnamon and coconut; sprinkle over batter
  7. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean
  8. Let cool in pan

Nutrition Per Serving

  • Calories 192
  • Sugar 21 g
  • Carbohydrates 35 g
  • Protein 3.9 g
  • Fiber 2.9 g
  • Fat 5 g

This is a nice moist cake. Serves great with coffee, fresh fruit, or just plain as is. Enjoy this and remember to make it your own.

Szechuan Orange-Ginger Chicken

Szechuan Orange-Ginger Chicken

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
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This is much easier and faster to make than it sounds. Chinese dishes from Szechuan region of China usually have a spicy flavour. If you prefer milder, use less chili paste, and if you are like me and like it hot, use a little more. Even as is, this is delicious either way. I served with plain white rice as to not take away from the flavour of this meal.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs of boneless chicken breast
  • 1 large sweet green pepper coarsely chopped
  • 1 large sweet red pepper coarsely chopped
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 orange
  • 1 tsp of bottled chili paste
  • 2 tbsp of sherry or bourbon
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp of vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp of cornstarch
  • 1 tsp of minced garlic (or more to taste)
  • 1 tbsp of minced fresh ginger root

Directions

  1. Cut chicken into 1 inch cubes, set aside
  2. Chop green pepper and red pepper in about 1 inch cubes
  3. Chop onion coarsely
  4. Peel orange, remove rind and cut into thin julienne strips about 1.5 inches long, set aside. Squeeze orange and reserve 1/4 cup of juice
  5. In a small bowl, combine juice, paste, sherry, sugar and cornstarch, stir until smooth
  6. In wok, heat oil, add chicken and stir fry for 5 minutes or until no longer pink. Remove chicken. Add orange rind, garlic and ginger root and stir-fry to 10 seconds. Add peppers and onion and stir fry for another 2-3 minutes
  7. Add chili paste mixture and bring to a boil
  8. Return chicken to wok and stir until heated through

Nutrition Per Serving

  • Calorie 264
  • Fat 12.3g
  • Carb 6g
  • Sugar 0g
  • Fiber 0g
  • Protein 41.4g

I served this with plain rice but if you want to be carb conscious then I would suggest pasta as per 1/2 cup of white rice compared to 1/2 cup of vermicelli is 10 grams of carbs less. Good option for diabetics.

Now for spicy, well you can use chili paste or dried chili peppers or hot chili sauce. If you use dried peppers, make sure to watch the quantity of the seeds you put in. The more seeds, the hotter it gets. If you want a little more orange flavour to it, just add more zest. Remember most of all to have fun and make it your own.