So I got around to trying the microwave paper bag popcorn method I mentioned in my original post. Well you might as well call me the paper bag popcorn princess...it works, it really works! For nights when the thought of washing a pot after making stove top popcorn is too unbearable this is the way to go (I detest washing dishes by hand).
It is so simple I was sure it wouldn't work. Microwave popcorn bags are filled with food-like substances that ensure the popcorn pops and there is some sort of lining in the bag that super heats or something. Maybe there is, but not needed my friends.
I took a plain, brown, paper lunch bag, filled it with 1/4 cup of popcorn kernels, folded the top of the bag down twice and put in the microwave for 4 minutes. I stood and listened for when the popping slowed down and stopped it then (it was around 3:30). It took a little longer than conventional microwave popcorn to start popping, but don't panic. How did it taste? Heavenly. I was sure the folded top would not hold causing kernels to pinging all over the microwave or there would just be a black, smoking mass of kernels in the bag...no to both presumptions.
So as stated above the recipe is pretty plain, I wanted to try bare bones to see if it worked. You can coat the seeds in olive oil prior to popping and add a pinch of salt after or dress as you like. Keep in mind the popcorn itself is low in calories, it is the additions after than can add up. Three cups of plain popcorn has 3.5 g of fiber (insoluble fiber which keeps you pooping) and only 93 calories. A great choice for an after dinner snack.
So get out your dental floss and become your own paper bag popcorn prince or princess!
It's no secret that the weather has been a little chilly on the Island for this time of year. I am a little excited that it has allowed for one more bowl of homemade soup. I find soup so comforting and love when it is simple to make. I could eat it everyday (too bad my husband won't).
I picked up a head of cauliflower on sale. It had been languishing in the fridge for a while...time for creamy cauliflower and cheese soup. I have been making this recipe for quite a few years and have it memorized. I am not even sure where I found it. I have passed it on to many friends, and now onto you. It freezes and re-heats well.
4 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable stock (bought or homemade)
5 cups cauliflower or broccoli or a combo of the two
1 chopped onion
2 cups skim milk
1/4 cup flour
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (low fat works well)
Bring stock to a boil, add chopped veggies and cook for about 5 mins or until tender. In a separate bowl slowly add milk to flour and mix until blended. Stir flour mixture into stock, cook stirring often until soup thickens and if bubbly. Puree with a hand-blender or blender. Remove from heat and stir in cheese until melted. Viola, done....start to finish about 30 mins. Serve with a whole grain bun or crackers and a side salad.
This soup has far less sodium that it's canned cousin. It is also loaded with veggies, made with milk and cheese to help with your calcium and vitamin D intake and is pretty low fat for a cream soup. (Nutrition Facts: Calories 117, Total Fat 1.5 g, Saturated Fat 0.9 g, Sodium 222 mg, Dietary Fiber 2.5 g, Protein 11.1 g).
P.S. I have to admit I didn't make this today my husband did, he won't like it if I take the credit.
I have never liked eggs, I actually can't stand them. I make an effort to try them every once in a while just to make sure, it usually ends in gagging and watering eyes. I think it is pretty safe to say that after almost 32 years of trying, eggs and me are not going to be friends. This leaves me in a little of a breakfast predicament. Take out eggs and take out a lot of variety. I am always looking for something to spice up the first meal of the day.
Hot cereal has always been a favorite, with steel cut oats leading the pack. They are made by cutting the whole grain into a few pieces instead of being rolled. The result is oatmeal with more texture, less mushy. The downfall is longer cooking time. I tackle this by making a bigger batch on a less busy morning and then portioning into containers for following mornings. Steel cut oats can be found at most grocery stores.
My favorite way to prepare steel cut oats is:
1 tablespoon margarine or butter
1 cup steel-cut oats
3 cups boiling water
½ cup dried fruit and nuts
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup skim milk
Melt margarine in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add oats to marg and stir for 2 minutes, until lightly toasted.
Carefully add 3 cups boiling water to oats in saucepan. Stir and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer gently for 25 minutes, stirring once or twice. Add dried fruit, nuts and cinnamon.
Stir 1 cup milk into oatmeal. Continue to cook for another 8 to 10 minutes, or until most of the milk has been absorbed. Stir once or twice during this time to make sure oatmeal is not sticking to the bottom of the pot. Remove oatmeal from heat. Cover and let stand for 2 minutes. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to three days. To reheat, stir in a little milk and heat on high in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring midway through. (Adapted from e-how)
Toasting the oats gives the oatmeal an amazing nutty flavour and makes your kitchen smell like popcorn (and you know how much I love that). You can add any dried fruit you like, this morning I added unsweetened cranberries, blueberries, apricots and raisins. I put in a few pumpkin seeds, hazelnuts and cashews, but almonds and pecans are excellent too. Sprinkle with a little brown sugar and you are in business.
What about the nutrition you ask? Well oatmeal is an excellent source of soluble fiber, 4 grams per 1 cup serving (bonus fiber in the dried fruit and nuts too). What’s so great about soluble fiber? It can help lower total cholesterol and bad LDL cholesterol in addition to stabilizing blood sugar levels. Perfect.
I have so much more to say about fiber so stay tuned…
I made a few mini-muffins as well, baked for about 15 min.
I am not really a baker, I find it too restrictive. Each ingredient plays a specific role and needs to be in the exact proportion called for in the recipe or there is a good chance your masterpiece will be a flop. I have made a lot of flops.
I love to cook because I can be more creative and adjust ingredients according to taste and what’s on hand. I also like to make substitutions to make things healthier.
My Mom lent me her Kitchen Aid Mixer, so I decided to put it to good use (just lifting it onto the counter is for sure weight training). Even though baking isn't my thing I have perfected an adjusted banana blueberry muffin recipe. I have reduced the fat and sugar and increased the fiber and fruit content while maintaining the great taste. It started as a banana bread recipe from the Best of the Best of Bridge cookbook. I will compare them side-by-side:
My Recipe Original Recipe
1 c unsweetened applesauce 1 cup butter
1 c sugar 2 c sugar
3 c mashed, ripe banana same
4 eggs well beaten same
2 ½ c whole wheat flour 2 ½ c white flour
2 tsp baking soda same
no salt 1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon same
2 c frozen blueberries 1 c frozen blueberries
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Beat together applesauce, sugar, bananas and eggs. Mix dry ingredients and blend with banana mixture, do not over mix. Fold in blueberries. Line muffin tins with paper liners, fill 2/3 full with batter. Bake for 20-25 min. Makes about 24 muffins, freeze well.
Banana bread recipes are able to stand up to some adjustments...so no flop here! By making the above changes I have reduced the calories from 210 kcal/muffin to 118 kcal, that’s 92 kcal less! The saturated (bad) fat has been reduced from 8.6 g/muffin to 1.0 g/muffin….huge. I have also cut out 6 g of sugar/muffin and added 1 g of fiber/muffin, what’s not to love about that? One of these makes an easy, on the go breakfast with a glass of milk, slice of cheese and an apple. Kids love them too.
I am not sure if my food photography does them justice? Be wild try breaking the rules….
Tiffany McFadden, RD