Monday, February 15, 2010

Chocolate Carrot Cake

Yesterday was Valentine's Day and I have to confess that I was immersed in watching the Olympics on TV and trying to learn a bit about Wordpress for a business related blog. But it was Valentine's Day - and my husband loves chocolate...and he's not supposed to have sugar. What to do?

I looked through "375 Sensational Splenda Recipes" by Marlene Koch and found "Chocolate Carrot Cake".
It sounded like a strange combination to me - but if people can make chocolate cake with a can of tomato soup - why not carrots?

I read through the recipe and wonder of wonders - I had all the ingredients in the house. Well, not quite. I don't buy orange juice anymore because my DH should avoid the liquid fruit sugar, but I did have some shriveling oranges from which to squeeze the juice.The recipe called for 2/3 of a cup of orange juice, but I found that it needed more. At least 3/4 of a cup or maybe a bit more.

I even had prune puree in the freezer! I made a batch some months ago and froze it in small containers.

I find that when using Splenda in a recipe, there is a slightly different taste than it would have with real sugar. But it's a small sacrifice!

Chocolate Carrot Cake


1-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2-1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1-1/2 cups Splenda Granular
1/4 cup prune puree or 1 small jar baby food prunes. 
1/4 cup canola oil
1 large egg
3 large egg whites
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 cup orange juice. (I used more.)
2 cups grated carrots (about 3 medium)
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup pecan pieces
2 tsp. powdered sugar.

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Coat a 9"x13" cake pan with non stick spray.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. Add Splenda and set aside.
3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together prune puree, canola oil, egg, egg whites, vanilla extract and orange juice.
4. Fold flour mixture into liquid mixture a little at a time. When all flour is incorporated, fold in carrots.

5. Pour batter into the pan.
6. Before baking (if desired) sprinkle coconut and pecans on top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack. Dust with powderd sugar if desired before serving.

I chose to top it with strawberry yogurt - since it was, after all , Valentine's Day - and strawberry yogurt was the closest thing I had to strawberries!

Divide the cake into 16 pieces.

According to the cookbook, 1 piece is 3 WeightWatcher points. The 1/4 cup of yogurt topping would add 1 point if the nuts and coconut were also used.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

New Age Borscht - Not Like My Mother Used to Make

I remember the borscht my late mother used to make. It was pink and creamy and had peas and potatoes in it in addition to the vegetables I use to make mine. I don't think it would qualify as a "Zero Point" soup by today's WeightWatcher standards!

I weighed in at my neighbourhood WeightWatcher meeting yesterday - and the news was heartening! I broke 2 barriers - 30 lbs. accumulated weight loss AND I'm now officially under 150 lbs. in weight. Yes - I started my journey tipping the scales at 180 - and I'm only 5 feet tall. That's 3 pounds for every inch of my height! I was beginning to look like a refrigerator - and it was time to gain control.

I am a big fan of soups for lunch - they are warm, filling and satisfying - and can be low in points if the ingredients are zero-low point values. One of my favourites is borscht. I started out using a Meatless Borscht recipe from a WeightWatcher cookbook that preceded the "points" value calculations, but it has evolved to a point where it barely resembles the original recipe.

Why "New Age"? Well, it's a working gal's time saving version - I use packaged baby carrots, packaged cole slaw mix, leeks instead of onions - and no fat or cream. It's purely vegetarian.

New Age Borscht

2 cups chopped leek (3 leeks - white and pale green parts)
1 cup chopped celery (3 stalks)
1 cup chopped baby carrots
2 cups beets - julienned
3 cups packaged cole slaw mix or shredded cabbage
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 tbsp. tomato paste
5 cups vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill ( or 2 tbsp. dried) or more if you like dill

  1. Spray a large pot with vegetable spray and "sweat" all the vegetable ingredients except beets and cabbage.  
  2. After these have softened, add the beets and continue to cook for a few minutes.
  3. Add the cabbage. If it gets a bit sticky to the pot, add a little vegetable broth to loosen.

4. Add chopped dill, salt, pepper, broth, tomato paste, bay leaves, lemon juice and sugar. 
5. Simmer until vegetables are tender - 45 minutes or so.

This recipe makes about 9 cups of borscht. Point value is 0 per 1-1/2 c. serving.  Enjoy.