Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A trio of low-calorie foods

In the spirit of my recent healthy eating kick, I made three dishes today out of Cook Yourself Thin: Sweet potato fries, turkey burgers, and peanut butter dream bars.

Sweet potato fries

I have never really eaten many sweet potatoes - I usually like my regular potatoes just fine. However, sweet potato fries have gained popularity in recent years, and I took the opportunity to try them through a recipe.

First, wash and chop the potatoes into finger-sized pieces:

Then you toss the pieces in a little bit of olive oil, chili powder, garlic powder, and salt. (I split the difference and just used chili powder and garlic salt.)

Spread and bake on a sheet pan:

They look pretty good, right? And they were super easy; all I had to do was toss them a few times during 30 minutes of baking. I really liked how they were crispy on the outside but oddly creamy on the inside. This is certainly a healthy way to do low-calorie fries and get veggies into your diet!

I am definitely working sweet potatoes into my grocery list from now on.

Turkey burgers

I have made turkey burgers very frequently, but I haven't made them like this. Usually the general idea behind making really juicy and flavorful turkey burgers is to mix in some type of vegetable, usually onions. (I typically make them with green onions.)

This recipe called for a 4 oz. can of diced green chilies, which is a super flavorful and juicy idea. I really liked it, and I might switch to using these from now on instead of my usual green onions.

Here's the full meal: burger with fixings and sweet potato fries. (Yes, that's tomato, onion, and avocado peeking out from under the whole wheat bun.)

Under the recipe, the calorie counts for these dishes are around 340 for the turkey burger and 89 for the sweet potato fries. Not too bad, especially when you consider that a burger and fries at a restaurant or fast food chain are typically at least 1,000 calories.

Peanut butter dream bars

One of the recipes that first stood out to me in the "Cook Yourself Thin" book was this one, for a peanut butter and chocolate dessert bar. Any low-calorie dessert bar - especially a no-bake one - that involves chocolate and peanut butter is OK by me!

The first layer is a chocolate crust. It's made from oats, crushed chocolate wafers, powdered sugar, butter, peanut butter, and salt. It sticks together very nicely, though maybe because it contains an uncharacteristic amount of butter for this cookbook.

After the first layer is chilled, you add the next layer: the peanut butter layer, which is just a bit of cream cheese mixed with some peanut butter and salt.

After you chill the dessert, you can melt and pour some semisweet chocolate on the top. Then you chill and slice before serving.

These were tasty, but there are a few things going on that makes me not sure if I would make them again. For one thing, this is 157 calories for this tiny little guy. It's good, but it's tiny, so I'm not sure how many calories we're really "saving" here. Second, the two tablespoons of chocolate is not nearly enough to cover the base, so you get a sparse-looking chocolate layer like I have, rather than the thick, luxurious layer that they show in the photo.

So, I think if I made it again, I would have to use a smaller pan so that they would be thicker and so that the chocolate would cover better. But still, tasty little guys!

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