Thursday, January 1, 2009

Leader Enterprise - October 2009 - Healthier Substitutes for Cooking

I love fall and the refreshment that it brings with the cooler, crisper mornings and evenings. God’s artwork is on display as He paints autumn’s beauty in colorful canvases for us to enjoy. I’m reminded that I’m in the ‘fall’ of my life, and need to make the most of every day, because as they say "Life is like a roll of toilet paper - the closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes."

Hopefully by now families have a new routine with school and the homework that comes with it. When my hubby was in the Air Force,we lived in Alaska for 8 years in the late ‘70's and early 80's. Folks there always tease that fall lasts only one day and without a doubt, winters hit with an ‘excess’ of darkness. Our kids went to school in the dark and came home in the dark. That’s something to think about, huh?

I love walking into a warm house after being out in the cooler temperatures. I love the splashes of orange pumpkins and leaves in my fall decorations throughout our home. If you’re like me - autumn is a good ‘excuse’ for me to do more baking - to heat up the house and warm my body and soul.

It’s easy to prepare calorie-laden, fat-filled dishes using traditional recipes, but I wanted to share some ideas for doing more nutritional baking.

Applesauce can often replace the butter or oil used in many recipes. Little to no fat, low sugar options are available. I usually use 1/2 the amount of oil called for and replace the other half with applesauce. Coconut oil is a nutritionally rich fat which can also be used for part or all of the butter or shortening in a recipe. Flaxseed meal offers fiber and vitamins & minerals. Adding ground flaxseed -1 Tbsp in the place of 1 Tbsp of flour can lend a nuttier flavor to your product. My favorite way to use Flaxseed meal though, is to REPLACE the eggs called for in a recipe! For each egg use 1 Tbsp Flaxseed meal + 3Tbsp water. By doing this,cholesterol and fat are reduced and the final product is more moist and nutritional.

This is a great time of the year to make soup. It’s easy and nutritious too.You can use some of those vegetables that you’ve stored up over the summertime. Using whole grain pastas and fiber rich beans offer lower fat and healthier options. A sandwich or muffin served with soup makes for a good warm-you-up meal.

I want to share my favorite soup recipe. It’s comfort food and I usually have all the ingredients on hand. It has also been published in the American Profile "Blue Ribbon Winners" cookbook.

CHEESEY CHICKEN CHOWDER

3 cups chicken broth
2 cups diced, peeled potatoes
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
½ (one half - for editor) cup diced onion
1-1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Pepper
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/3 cup all purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups diced cooked chicken


In a large pan bring chicken broth to a boil. Reduce heat. Add potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add flour and mix well. Gradually stir in milk and cook over low heat until slightly thickened. Stir in cheese and cook until melted. Add to broth and vegetables along with chicken. Cook and stir over low heat until heated through.

Sometimes I use frozen hash browns and mixed vegetables instead of doing all the chopping. We also prefer Velveeta cheese - a little less than the suggested amount of cheddar. Enjoy!!

It’s the time of year for harvesting apples. A gala apple is one of my absolute favorites for fresh eating. It is heart-shaped with a distinctive yellow-orange skin with red striping. Galas are just the right size for snacking and are great in salads, good for baking and very good for applesauce.

A wonderful new apple dessert I recently tried, has become a real hit. I’ve already shared the recipe with many. Hope you’ll give it a try too. It can easily be doubled to be baked in a 9x13 pan for more servings. I have used fuji or gala apples. Any baking apple will work well. Jonagolds are good for eating fresh or for baking too.

APPLE BUTTERSCOTCH CAKE

1-1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. Baking powder
½ (one half) tsp. Baking soda
½ (one half) tsp. Salt
½ (one half) tsp. Ground cinnamon
1 cup sugar
½ (one half) cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups chopped, peeled (tart) apples
½ (one half) cup chopped pecans
½ (one half) cup butterscotch chips, divided


In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Combine the sugar, oil and eggs; stir into dry ingredients just until combined. Stir in the apples, pecans and 1/4 cup butterscotch chips. Pour into a greased 8-inch square baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining butterscotch chips. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Yield:4-6 large servings.

A friend who recently made it commented that she thought it was only 2 servings - she couldn’t stop eating it once she started.

Stroll through an apple orchard or go to the park and enjoy walking in the crisp fallen leaves,and soak in the changing colors. We all know it won’t be long and winter will be upon us. As an 80-something friend once said to me-’Do what you can while you can’.