Sunday, March 27, 2011

Salty and Sweet Snacks.


I love to entertain and am always on the look out for low calorie appetizers.  Who doesn't love Spinach and Artichoke Dip?  I do and have a really killer recipe, but it calls for real butter, cream cheese, jack cheese, and Parmesan cheese- and spinach and artichokes.  It's delicious, but really high in fat and calories.  In the April issue of Cooking Light I came across a much lighter version and tried it.  It's creamy base is made of pureed white beans and low fat mayonnaise versus all that cheese and butter.  The beans give it more protein which makes it heartier and healthier.  I served it with toasted pita chips which I made myself, both recipes are below.

Artichoke, Spinach and White Bean Dip

1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup low fat mayonnaise (I prefer Best Foods)
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. ground red pepper ( I used cayenne)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 15 ounce can of white beans, rinsed and drained (I used Bush's Cannellini beans which are white kidney)
1 14 ounce can baby artichoke hearts, drained and quartered (I actually used grilled artichoke hearts which I find in the produce section at Whole Foods- the grilled flavor really boosted the overall dip flavor.)
1 9 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry.
Cooking spray
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  place Parmesan cheese, mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt, peppers, garlic and beans in food processor and process until smooth.  Spoon into a medium bowl and stir in the artichokes and spinach.  Spoon the mixture into a 1 quart glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly and brown.  1/4 cup of dip equals 2 points.

To make pita chips, place Alternative Whole Wheat Pitas on a cookie sheet and spray with olive oil.  Sprinkle with preferred seasoning and salt and bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.  Remove from oven and cut into triangles.  One whole pita equals 3 points.


In addition to entertaining, one of my biggest passions is to bake.  And one of my specialties are cakes.  I have awesome recipes for chocolate, red velvet and carrot- and have found a great way to make an easy, low fat version.  My indulgent cakes are made from scratch, but my easy, low fat versions all start with box mixes.  Then I simply add one cup of pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix) and one cup of water- stir and bake.  I got this recipe from a Weight Watcher meetings three years ago and make them often- it's my way of having cake and staying on plan!

Chocolate Cupcakes

1 box Pillsbury Moist Supreme Sugar Free Devil's Food cake mix (any chocolate cake box mix will work)
1 cup pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 cup water

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare cupcake pan (12 cupcakes) by spraying with non-stick spray (or lining with papers and spraying).  In medium mixing bowl mix cake mix, pumpkin and water.  Stir by hand and mix until smooth.  Fill each cupcake space evenly.  Bake for 18-22 minutes, and insert toothpick to make sure they are done.  Let cool and enjoy.  1 cupcake is 5 points.

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