Monday, November 29, 2010

Guest Blog Spot: Stock your Holiday Cookie Jar

I'm proud to introduce a guest blogger this week. No, I'm not getting lazy. My friend Cynthia is such a star Diet It Up supporter that she surprised me by making a batch of blog worthy cookies. They were superb and just over 100 calories each. I thought it would be fun to let her tell you all about them. A little shameless pat on the back never hurt anyone! Enjoy.

Fabulous. That is my favorite word to describe my friend Trish. From our holiday ‘dad’ texts to our mid-work phone calls, Trish and I go back…way back. The great thing about old friends is the way we’ve watched each other grow up into the adults we have become. And while we usually deny our adulthood (who doesn’t relish in the moment the bouncer with the giant biceps asks for your ID?), at times it surprises us more than we’d like.

So yes, now that adulthood has come, one of the things I’ve noticed is my body’s inability to bounce back. And I am not just talking about the hangovers that occur after those rare nights we still stay out ‘til 2am. I am talking about the ins and outs of daily life…the cookies in the office for my colleague’s birthday…the nights catching up with friends over succulent Mexican/Thai/Italian dishes…the Sunday afternoons spent watching football over a plateful of wings and blue cheese dressing. I feel like every day brings new occasions for wonderful foodilicious opportunities. (heyyyy, Microsoft Word says foodilicious isn’t a real word, but who are they kidding? I am sure you all know what I am talking about!) Anyway, back to what I was saying…these foodilicious delicacies are not just a memory when I wake up the next morning. No way, no how. They stick around in more ways than one: on the hips, on the scale, and unfortunately, in the doctor’s office. The question is, what’s a girl like me to do?

This question is what brings me back to Ms. Fabulous. Yup, Trish is just that. She has introduced me to a new way to look at staying healthy. Not just counting points, obsessing over the scale, or running ‘til I want to throw my Sauconys into a bonfire. Not only does this fab chick know how to make some healthy food, but it tastes awesome too. How she finds time to do the cooking (do they let you bring an oven on the LIRR?) I will never know, but everything she makes turns out amazing.

So yes, here is one of my recent Trish-inspired recipes. Last weekend, we had our Annual Pre-Thanksgiving get together at Di and Marc’s. We always look forward to this night, and I really wanted to surprise Trish with her B-Day coming up and all. (That’s right, say Happy Birthday to the foodie!) I found this recipe online for BLUEBERRY & WHITE CHOCOLATE CHUNK GINGER COOKIES. They were the perfect surprise ending to a wonderful night to kick off the holiday season. Try them out and they are sure to be a hit! And remember the old adage…Make new friends, but keep the old…One is silver, and the other gold.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

“Squash” those holiday calories with Pumpkin Pudding!

I love all things pumpkin. Too bad 99% of those things are dessert. Man, I’m a sucker for dessert! Over the weekend, I tried my best to create a Diet It Up worthy Light Pumpkin Pie. Unfortunately, my efforts failed miserably. Light pie crust is an oxymoron. Butter and flour join forces to make pie crust a tender, flaky experience. Whole wheat flour and margarine do not. So, where does that leave me? I want some pumpkin pie!

My second thought was to make a pumpkin mousse. But what makes up the base of a delicious mousse? Heavy Cream. Foiled again! I decided to experiment with a PUMPKIN PUDDING. Don’t let the name fool you. This is much fancier than those pre-portioned diet pudding cups at the supermarket. I made the mistake of trying Jello’s Mousse Temptations once. Never again.

So, the dessert starts with fat-free, sugar-free vanilla pudding. I make it slightly less fat-free by preparing the pudding with 1% milk to give the finished product a little body. I stir in a can of pure pumpkin, spice it up with your classic pumpkin pie spice, a little honey for some sweetness, fold in Lite Cool Whip and bingo, bango, a delicious pumpkin dessert.

Let’s chat about pumpkin pie spice for one second. Don’t buy it. It’s silly. I’m taking a tip from Alton Brown here and not spending my hard earned bucks on something that is NOT a valuable multi-tasker. Mix together 1 tsp cinnamon, ¼ tsp nutmeg, ¼ tsp ginger and 1/8 tsp cloves. Keep the mixture on hand and measure it out according to the recipe you’re using. This way you don’t end up with a jar of spice that will make 30 pumpkin pies and you can use the individual spices for other culinary masterpieces.

I spooned the pudding into some martini glasses for a little added fanciness. I topped the glasses with Reddi Wip. I happen to think Cool Whip tastes pretty funky. I only use it for texture and prefer real whipped cream if I’m going to really taste it. A little garnish of toasted pecans gave the dessert a much needed crunch.

I hate to toot my own horn (who am I kidding, of course I do!), but I kind of loved this. It’s really light. It tastes like pumpkin pie, but you don’t have to skip a meal to have enough calories in your day to enjoy it. Plus, it looks festive enough to put on the Thanksgiving table. Pumpkin pie, you’ve been dethroned!

* Get cooking. Let me know what you think. Love it? Hate it? I’m interested in hearing your feedback and suggestions.

Pumpkin on Foodista