Saturday, March 20, 2010

Healthy Chocolate Cupcakes - Food Find!

Ok, I know that sounds like it's too good to be true, but check out these delectable little beauties! I created this recipe for the California Raisin folks who wanted a great chocolate cupcake...but they wanted it to be healthy too.

Here's what I did. First, I used unsweetened cocoa powder to keep the fat and saturated fat down. Using light and fat-free dairy products kept the fat down as well. (I could do a whole blog on fat-free half & half - one of my favorite products!) But the real secret was to add pureed raisins to the cupcake batter. Using raisin puree lets you add way less fat to the recipe without sacrificing any quality in flavor or texture. It's amazing!

These are moist and chocolaty and the little swirl of frosting on top adds just a bit of fun! Perfect for kids parties or for any one looking to satisfy their sweet a good way!


Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 18 to 20 minutes

3/4 cup California raisins
2 to 3 tablespoons hot water
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
1/4 cup softened heart healthy vegetable spread
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
4 egg whites
1 cup flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cups powdered sugar, divided
1/4 cup softened heart healthy vegetable or soy spread
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons fat-free half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F and line 12 muffin cups with cupcake papers. Set aside.

Combine raisins and hot water in food processor or blender; process until smooth. Beat raisin puree together with sour cream, spread and extract in a large bowl until light. Beat in sugar, then egg whites. Add dry ingredients and beat until well mixed. Spoon into lined cups and bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool before frosting.

For frosting, beat together 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar with remaining ingredients until smooth; spread the top of each cupcake with a thin layer. Stir remaining 1/2 cup powdered sugar together with a few drops of half-and-half until thick and smooth. Drizzle a swirl on top of each cupcake.

Makes 12 cupcakes

Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories: 300, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 330mg, Potassium: 317mg, Carbohydrates: 55g, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 30g, Protein: 5g, Vitamin A: 2%, Vitamin C: 0%, Calcium: 4%, Iron: 15%

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Barley - Food Find!

I developed this tasty healthy recipe for a TV segment promoting Dr. Andrew Weil cookware. It's simple to prepare and is packed with nutrients and fiber. If you've never tried barley, you'll be amazed at how addicting it is! The slightly chewy texture is perfect topped with crunchy toasted walnuts. Stir in chopped sun-dried tomatoes for extra flavor, if you like.

Mediterranean Barley with Chicken and Vegetables

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: about 1 hour total

2 cups chicken stock or reduced-sodium broth

1 cup pearl barley

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

2 medium carrots, peeled and diced

1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped portabella or crimini mushrooms

1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/2 cup white wine

2 cups coarsely chopped fresh baby spinach

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (such as thyme, rosemary or basil)

1/2 cup coarsely chopped, toasted walnuts

Bring stock and barley to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30 to 40 minutes or until stock has been absorbed. While barley is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet. Add chicken and cook over medium-high heat for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until chicken is browned. Remove from skillet and keep warm. Add remaining oil and onion to skillet; cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add carrots and cook for 5 minutes more. Stir in mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes more. Add bell pepper, wine, cooked barley and chicken; cook until very hot. Stir in spinach, Parmesan and herbs; cook until spinach is barely wilted then sprinkle with walnuts. Makes 8 servings.

Recipe Tip:

Barley may be cooked ahead of time and refrigerated or frozen until ready to use.