Saturday, November 14, 2015

NaNoWriMo - Chapter Nine

Chapter Nine
Adjusting Recipes to Lower Calories and Other Useful Strategies

Low-fat and non-fat have been a huge business for the past couple of decades. I am not a believer. Non-fat cheese just does not have the same appeal and the real thing. I would rather choose carefully where I reduce calories and splurge on the good stuff.

It is possible to adjust favorite family recipes to be lower calorie and higher nutritional value without sacrificing taste and texture. This is done by adding and subtracting various ingredients, and/or substituting one kind of food for another.

Think of my example of the Korean Noodle Bowl. I tossed half of the noodles and added almost two cups of fresh veggies to cook with it.

Here is another example of lightening up a recipe. Years ago as part of an annual leadership training meeting of a woman’s group we put on a breakfast. Our president gave us a recipe and ingredients and we made the breakfast casseroles. For my own family I lightened it and liked it much better.

First the original recipe:
Prepare the night before -  
12 slices bread , remove crust, butter each slice, and cut into 1 inch cubes
½ pound cheddar cheese, grated
1 pound cooked, crumbled sausage (or bacon or ham)
1 dozen eggs
3 cups whole milk

Put buttered bread cubes in a greased 9x13 baking pan; sprinkle grated cheese over bread. Layer cooked sausage on top. Beat eggs and milk together, pour over prepared dish, cover and refrigerate overnight.
In the morning, bake at 350° for one hour.

I put these ingredients into a calorie calculator and found that a serving, based on this size pan serving 12 people, is 429 calories per serving.

Here are my adjustments:
Skip greasing your pan, do not butter the bread, use ¼ pound of cheese, ½ pound sausage, and 1% milk.

These adjustments make each serving 215 calories, a 50% savings in calories.
(Calorie calculator at

The breakfast casserole still has a rich flavor, but is less fattening. Adding a cup of chopped onion and bell peppers would make it even more nutritious without adding to the calories. Served with a bowl of fresh fruit salad it makes a great breakfast for special occasions. In fact, the original recipe is called Brunch Souffle. I have served it for years on Christmas and other holidays.

I did not substitute any ingredients, just reduced or eliminated them. I figured that with cheese and sausage it didn’t need any butter on the bread or grease in the pan. It hasn’t. Reducing the amount of cheese and sausage didn’t affect the flavor or texture of the casserole, except perhaps to make it less greasy, which is a good thing.

A great reference book for doing this is called The Volumerics Eating Plan; Techniques and recipes for feeling full on fewer calories, by Barbara Rolls, PH.D. This book even has pictures to show the difference in serving size between the original and the Volumetrics recipes.

If you cannot or will not reduce the calories in your foods, then it is even more vital that you reduce the portion you eat. The Volumetrics plan is attractive because you can eat more food and feel fuller and satisfied while taking in fewer calories. It’s like magic.

But all this takes some work at first, educating yourself on what adjustments work for you and your family, practicing the cooking and allowing enough time for shopping, preparation and experimentation. It would be worth it though, don’t you think? To be able to eat more and enjoy good tasting food while still losing weight? I think so.

Here is a very old recipe, from my Nana Rose (1887-1969) that is tasty and nutritious.

Nana’s Boiled Raisin Cake
From the kitchen of Rose Hansen
Grandmother of Rozann Thoelke

In sauce pan place:
2 cups sugar                          2 cups water or apple juice
¼ cup Cocoa                         1 lb. raisins
¼ cup butter
Boil for 5 minutes, cool, (prepare in the morning and bake later in the day or prepare in the evening and bake the next morning).
When cool add:
3 cups flour (I use 2 white, 1 whole wheat)         ½ tsp cloves
1 tsp salt                                                                    ½ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking powder                                               ½ tsp allspice
1 tsp soda                                                                  1 tsp cinnamon

Grease and flour cake pans (2 8x8 square, 2 8” round, or 9x13), pour batter into pans and distribute evenly.

Bake ½ hour at 350°, and ½ hour at 325° or until done, when a toothpick comes out clean.

This cake is so moist and good it doesn’t even need frosting!

If you would rather not use it, leave out the butter, and add ¼ cup oil after the liquid cools and with the dry ingredients.

As you prepare meals allow enough time to think through ways to eliminate calories. Do you have to cook those vegetables with butter?  Does that recipe need mayonnaise and sour cream?  Determine what your favorite fat is (mine is cheese) and see where you can eliminate other fat calories to allow for your favorite. It is not necessary or healthy to give up all fats. Our brains and bodies need some fat to function, but any in excess of our needs goes straight to our waist, hips and thighs. If you want to trim the fat off of those places, take the time to trim the fat off your cuts of meat. Ask the butcher to do it for you too.

I do not believe in trying to find a way to make my favorite desserts low fat or low calorie. We can get much more mouth satisfaction out of the real thing. The trick is to limit portion size and eat slowly to savor each tiny bite. Use your prettiest dishes, a small dessert fork and let each bite linger in your mouth for full flavor and texture enjoyment.

It is possible to eat everything we want, just not in the quantities we are used to. Choose your indulgences carefully and limit portion sizes. Fill up on low calorie foods first. And for goodness sakes let’s not wait until we are desperate and out of control. A binge does not do anyone any good. But, when those times happen, we can look forward to the light of new day and begin again.

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