Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tomato and Vegetable Cobbler

When you think of cobbler, you probably think of fruit, right? Well, the tomato is a savory fruit rich in lycopene, other antioxidants and Vitamin C. The tomatoes at my local farm stand are at their peak right now and this recipe highlights them beautifully. I've already made it a couple of times and plan to bring it to a pot luck supper at my church this Friday, it's that good! The cornstarch thickens the liquid drawn from the vegetables during cooking to create a light glaze. The vegetables glisten like the jewels that they are and taste divine. I used a variety of tomatoes, including plum, beefsteak, and some heirloom varieties in yellow and orange to add color and an assortment of subtle flavors. The crunchy, cornbread topping just adds to the fun!

If you're not a huge tomato fan, you can cut back on them and fill in with other vegetables that have a high water content, such as summer squash, zucchini, eggplant and mushrooms, also add an additional ¼ cup liquid or stock to the vegetables along with the cornstarch to create the glaze. Leftovers keep well in the refrigerator and make an excellent, simple lunch the next day. I top mine with cheese and reheat for about 20 minutes in an individual baking dish until hot. Yum!

Tomato and Vegetable Cobbler
(Makes 6 servings)

4 large tomatoes
1 small zucchini
1 small yellow summer squash
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon cornstarch

½ cup almond flour/meal
1/4 cup cornmeal
1-1/2 tablespoons coconut flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch salt
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup kefir or buttermilk (or ½ milk mixed with ½ tablespoon lemon juice and allowed to sit for 5 minutes)
Additional water, if needed, to reach desired consistency

1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Core and cut each tomato into 8 sections, then cut each section into bite-size pieces and place into a large bowl. Slice each squash lengthwise, then cut into ¾” chunks and add to the tomatoes. Season vegetables with salt and pepper. Add cornstarch and toss to coat. Allow to sit while you prepare the pan and topping.

2. Spray a casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray; set aside. Measure the almond flour, cornmeal, coconut flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a food processor or medium mixing bowl. Add butter and pulse until butter is distributed or cut into dry ingredients with two knives or pastry cutter until mixture is the texture of wet sand. Add egg and kefir or buttermilk and pulse (or blend with a fork) until a batter is formed. If needed, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time to the batter to reach the desired consistency.

3. Toss the vegetables one more time before transferring them into the prepared baking pan. Drop batter in spoonfuls over vegetables then spread batter with a knife to cover, leaving spots without batter so steam can escape during cooking. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until bubbly and cornmeal topping is golden. Remove from oven and cool for a few minutes before serving.

Nutritional Information per serving: 166 calories, 14.6 g carbohydrate (3.9 g dietary fiber, 4.9 g sugars), 10.4 g total fat (3.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 42 mg cholesterol, 180 mg sodium, 58.4 mg calcium, 497 mg potassium, 5.7 g protein.  Net carbs per serving: 10.7 grams

Recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2010, revised 2016
All rights reserved. Please do not duplicate without author's permission.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

White Peach Panna Cotta

I recently learned of a new type of cheese becoming more available in the US which is low fat, low carb, a good source of protein and calcium and low calorie! It sounds too good to be true, doesn't it? It's called quark and is a European-style soft, fresh cheese similar to cream cheese but softer and not as tangy. It is available at Whole Foods in the cheese refrigerated section and comes in an 8 ounce tub. Also, you can make it at home by cooking buttermilk in a low oven overnight and then straining the resulting solids with a cheese cloth. It's delicious as a topping for potatoes with chives or even as a spread on toast with jam or apple butter.

In this recipe, I've used it to make the light Italian dessert called Panna Cotta, which is a cooked cream thickened with gelatin. Unflavored gelatin comes in a dry powder and is available in the traditional variety (which is a meat product), but also kosher and vegetarian varieties, as well. Instead of heavy cream, I used low-fat milk, quark and pureed peaches for the creaminess that is the hallmark of this dessert. Any pureed fruit will do. I just happened to have some delicious, local white peaches on hand, but this would be equally good with nectarines, yellow peaches (even no-sugar added canned), strawberries, ripe pears or plums. Just peel, seed and give them a whirl in your food processor or blender to create the puree. (Wash but do not peel strawberries.) Another benefit of this simple dessert is that its an excellent source of calcium containing 155 mg per serving! It can be made ahead for dinner guests or will keep for 2-3 days in the refrigerator to provide a wholesome snack to grab when you need a lift in the afternoon.

White Peach Panna Cotta
(Makes 4 servings)

¼ cup cold water
1 envelope unflavored, dry gelatin powder
1 cup 1% low-fat milk
½ cup Splenda, granular (plus more, if needed)
1½ cups peach puree (about 4 medium peaches)
8 oz. quark
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

1. Sprinkle powdered gelatin over the cold water and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes until water is absorbed and granules have softened. Meanwhile, bring the milk to a simmer over medium heat. Add gelatin and whisk until granules are dissolved, about 4 minutes. If mixture begins to boil, remove from heat and continue whisking.

2. Add Splenda, fruit puree, quark and cardamom. Whisk to combine. Taste to determine sweetness. If more sweetness is desired, add 1 tablespoon of Splenda at a time and whisk until desired sweetness has been reached.

3. Pour ¾ cup of the mixture into each dessert dish and place in the refrigerator until chilled and set, at least 3 hours. (For convenience when entertaining, this dessert can be made the day ahead.) Optional: Garnish with two thin slices of peach and a dollop of whipped cream, if desired.

Nutritional Information per serving (not including garnish): 162.7 calories, 18 g carbohydrate, 6.7 g total fat, 2.6 g saturated fat, 113.7 mg sodium, 1.4 g fiber, 9.3 g protein.

Original recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2010

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Peanut Butter Caramel Dip with Apples

It's football season again...and a danger for mindless snacking while my attention is focused on the game is a very real threat to my commitment to healthy eating. I'm surrounded by an array of pretzels, chips, pizza and beer. I must be vigilant, or my hand will stray to a bad place and make its way to my mouth! The key to success is to plan ahead and have nutritious snacks within my reach, preferably some with protein, which will be more filling and keep my BG from spiking and crashing later. If you need some good ideas, check out the appetizers in my blog archive, along with the recipe below.

I want to tell you about a product I use often for flavoring my morning smoothies that has many other uses, as well. I'm talking about the wonderful selection of sugar-free flavored syrups available. I use DaVinci Sugar Free Syrups, which are available online and in some stores. They are great for flavoring plain yogurt, to spice up a mug of coffee or to use in the many recipes posted on the company's website. I recently purchased the Dulce de Leche flavor and used it to add the taste of creamy caramel to peanut butter, which is excellent as a dip for sliced apples. It satisfies my craving for caramel apples that I strangely only get this time of year. So, enjoy the game AND take care of your health at the same time!

Peanut Butter Caramel Dip with Apples
(Makes 2 servings)

2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon sugar-free caramel flavored syrup
1 large apple, cored and sliced

1. Measure the peanut butter and caramel syrup in a small microwavable bowl or custard cup. Microwave for about 12 seconds on high and stir until combined. Use as a dip for the sliced apples.

Nutritional Information per serving: 148 calories, 18.4 g carbohydrate, 8.2 g total fat, 1.8 g saturated fat, 81 mg sodium, 3.7 g fiber, 3.8 g protein.

Original recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2010

Saturday, September 4, 2010

BLT Salad with Homemade Buttermilk Dressing

I made another batch of my delicious Blueberry Muffins the other day and have plenty of buttermilk leftover. I'm not one to throw anything away, so I came up with this creamy homemade buttermilk dressing. I also happened to have a variety of tomatoes in my vegetable basket gathered from the local farm stand and a generous neighbor's garden, so it made sense to star them in this recipe. If you can, use different colors and types of tomato to create a beautiful salad that will dazzle the eye, as well as the palette. Tomatoes come in many colors besides the classic red, such as yellow, purple and orange and each has it's own flavor. They are also a rich source of lycopene, one of the most powerful natural antioxidants, along with Vitamins C and A. This salad is the perfect venue for the delicious, ripe tomatoes so abundant in gardens and farmer's markets right now. It makes a wonderful side dish or main dish salad for a light meal. Enjoy the harvest!

BLT Salad with Homemade Buttermilk Dressing
(Makes 4 servings)

½ head iceberg lettuce
6 tomatoes, cored and cubed (about 1½-2 cups)
2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

2 tablespoons chives or scallions, minced
1 small shallot, minced
1 tablespoon parsley, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ cup low-fat mayonnaise
1/3 cup fat-free buttermilk

1. Whisk all the dressing ingredients together and refrigerate. The dressing can be made ahead. Cook bacon until crispy, drain on paper towels and crumble into a small bowl; set aside.

2. Core the iceberg lettuce, cut in half and reserve half for another time. Take the remaining half and cut into ¼ inch strips, give the lettuce a rough chop to create bite-size pieces and place into a large bowl.

3. Core and slice tomatoes, then cut into cubes. Add to the lettuce and toss with the dressing and ½ of the bacon. Divide evenly among four serving plates and sprinkle the remaining bacon evenly over the top of each serving. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information per serving: 153 calories, 12 g carbohydrate, 11.7 g total fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 383.5 mg sodium, 1.2 g fiber, 3.6 g protein.

Original recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2010