Low-Fat Pumpkin Spice Granola

Pumpkin Granola PicI absolutely love homemade granola.  It is incredibly easy to make and so nutritious!  The best part is that you are in control of the ingredients, it is completely customizable.   Add any combination of nuts and dried fruit, whatever you prefer.  You can even switch up the sweeteners, use honey or agave instead of maple syrup.  This recipe uses maple syrup to keep it vegan.  The possibilities are endless.  I love the fact that this recipe uses no butter or oils to hold the mixture together – the pumpkin does it all, making it low-fat with a lot less calories.  Added bonus, it makes the house smell heavenly!

It’s a great recipe to welcome in the fall season!

LOW-FAT PUMPKIN SPICE GRANOLA

Makes about 6 cups.

3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups old fashioned oats
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup pecan halves
1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
1/4 cup roasted pumpkin seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, stir together pumpkin puree, cinnamon, pumpkin spice, and salt. Stir in brown sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla until thoroughly combined.

Add the oats, cranberries, raisins, pecans, coconut, and pumpkin seeds to the bowl. Stir to evenly coat with the pumpkin mixture.

Spread evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, stirring well at the 20 minute mark.  Note:  If you prefer your granola clumpy like I do, then spread the mixture in a thinner layer and do not stir during baking.  Do not stir until it has cooled completely on the baking sheet, then break apart into chunks.

It will not be crisp when you remove it from the oven, but it will crisp up as it cools.  Allow granola to cool for several hours before storing – so that it doesn’t get soggy!.

Source: Adapted from Pastry Affair

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Low Fat Leek and Potato Soup

Low-fat Leek and Potato Soup

The best leek and potato soup I’ve ever had was at this little French boulangerie in downtown Vancouver; come to think of it, everything they served was fantastic and so authentic.  The soup, however, was a culinary masterpiece, in my opinion.  I couldn’t get enough of the velvety smooth texture and the uncomplicated yet delicate flavor.  It tasted fancy and gourmet, and for that reason, I assumed it would be a complicated recipe.  Much to my surprise when I started researching recipes.

Fresh leeks and potatoesLeek and potato soup is generally a calorie rich soup made with heavy creams giving it that  gourmet flavor.  I’ve reinterpreted the recipe to come up with this super ‘skinny’ version that has all the flavor but a fraction of the calories!   There are so many new and interesting variations of this soup; some by combining other vegetables; some with garlic and white wine, and even spicy variations.  However, I still prefer the traditional recipe that dates back to the 15th and 16th centuries, it’s simple with only a few key ingredients:  leeks, potatoes, broth, and cream (for which I’ve substituted low-fat buttermilk).  The combination of these simple ingredients is like heaven on earth!  Served with crusty whole grain bread and it’s a meal in itself.

Ingredients

1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 T unsalted butter
4 Leeks (white and light green parts only), sliced
1 Bay Leaf
3 Medium Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and cubed
6 cups Chicken Broth
½ t white pepper
½ t Kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
1 cup Low-fat Buttermilk

Directions

Wash leeks in a colander under cold water and let drain for a few minutes.

In a medium stock pot over medium heat, melt butter in olive oil.  Add leeks, bay leaf, and ½ teaspoon of salt, allow to sweat for 5 minutes.  Decrease heat to med-low and cook for another 15 minutes, until leeks are tender.  Stir occasionally, making sure the leeks do not brown.

Add potatoes and chicken stock, turn the heat up to med-high and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium, partially cover and let potatoes cook until very soft (almost falling apart), approximately 20 minutes.

Turn off  heat, remove bay leaf from soup, and blend with an immersion blender until smooth.  Add the buttermilk and white pepper.  Season with additional kosher salt as per taste.  Serve immediately as is, or topped with a dollop of sour cream and croutons.  Enjoy!

Makes 10 cups

Per Serving:  96.3 cal, 2.8 g fat, 14 g carbs, 2.7 g protein

Guilt-Free Brownie Bites!

These are so absolutely delectable that you’ll never know they’re guilt-free!  The texture comes out perfectly moist and the flavor is so rich and fudgey that a mini bite-size muffin is all it really takes to satisfy that chocolate craving.  The best part is they contain only a fraction of the calories and fat!  The mixture for these can make 12 regular size muffins or about 30 generously topped mini muffins.  The rule of thumb seems to be 1 regular muffin to 3 mini muffins, but I like to make my minis a bit more substantial, therefore, I only get about 30 minis instead of 36.

I’ve omitted the eggs and oil in this recipe and replaced it with a healthy natural substitute that doesn’t alter the taste.  The secret ingredient in this recipe is pure pumpkin puree, which is naturally low in calories, zero fat, and provides dietary fiber (and who couldn’t use a little extra fiber!).  Sounds really healthy right?  You wouldn’t know it from the taste!  These are super easy to make and a great way to sneak in some extra veggies for the kids.  To make them even more decadent, add a cup of chocolate chips.

Guilt-free Brownie Bites

1 pkg Devil’s Food Cake mix
1 can pure pumpkin puree
¼ cup milk (skim or low-fat)
1 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl blend together the pumpkin and milk.  Add box of devil’s food cake mix, combine well.  Batter will be sticky.  Fold in the chocolate chips, if using.

Line mini muffin tins with paper liners and spray the inside of the liners with cooking spray.  This will keep the brownie from sticking to the paper when you are peeling the liner off.  It would be a shame to waste any of the brownie goodness to the paper, especially since they’re mini muffins, every bit counts!

Spoon the batter into the liners, bake for 12-15 min.

Makes 24-36 mini muffins, each serving is 70 calories

Or 12 regular sized muffins, each serving is 183 calories