Low-fat, low-cal crunchy cucumber salsa recipe

chopped-cucumbersWe are fortunate to have an abundance of local farmers markets in our area. Plus, our tomatoes and peppers are finally coming in and we’re enjoying homegrown produce at home. We didn’t grow any cucumbers this year, though, so I need to hit the farmers market for some! I ran across this on Facebook and tried to pin it on Pinterest, but it limits descriptions to 500 characters. Also, the poster on Facebook linked to some spammy weight loss products site, so I don’t want to point anything in that direction. My guess is she copied it from somewhere else, too.

So, I’m putting it here for myself and for you readers. This sounds delicious!

Crunchy Cucumber Salsa

Only 16 calories per 1/4 cup.

First Combine:

2 cups finely chopped, seeded peeled cucumber
1/2 cup finely chopped, seeded tomato
1/4 cup chopped red onion
2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
4-1/2 tsp minced fresh cilantro
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed

 

Then combine:

1/4 c reduced-fat sour cream
1-1/2 tsp lemon juice
1-1/2 tsp lime juice
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp seasoned salt

In a bowl, combine the first 7 ingredients. In another bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Pour over cucumber mixture, toss gently to coat. Serve immediately with chips.

Easy peasy! Don’t be intimidated by cooking. It’s really not difficult to make healthy, delicious salsas. If you’re unsure of how to chop or mince ingredients, check out YouTube and search for how to chop vegetables. For instance, this series featuring Norman Weinstein is great!

Make sure your knives are sharp – that’s the biggie. A sharper knife is a safer knife, plus it will do its job better.

If you have a food processor, here’s some help on how to chop veggies in a food processor:

If you have some tips or techniques to share, post them in the comments below!

Healthy oat bran muffins made with Amish friendship bread starter

Amish friendship bread starter can overwhelm a household, especially when your friends and family start hiding when they know you’ve got some more to give away. And if you’re like me, you’re trying to lose weight and don’t want to have those calorie-dense quickbreads around to temp you (let alone be making more every ten days).

Well, there’s good news! You don’t have to make that sickly sweet friendship bread out of it. There are other recipes out there. I’ve adapted one I found at Recipezaar.com for muffins. It’s included below.

Additionally, you can freeze the starter. Yes, you heard that right. Despite what the flyer people pass along with their starter claims, you can freeze it. You can also use metal bowls and utensils with it. I won’t re-invent the wheel here, so if you want to read more on that, see the excellent write-ups at My Sister’s Kitchen (be sure to read the comments!):

Amish Friendship Bread (Sharing a Delicious Recipe and Debunking a Few Myths

and Amish Friendship Bread part 2

Okay, now on to the recipe!

Healthy Oat Bran Muffins made with Amish Friendship Bread Starter

Adapted from JanuaryBride’s recipe at Recipezaar.

Oven Temp: 375 degrees
Bake Time: Approximately 30 minutes
Yield: 36 muffins, maybe a few more (standard 2 1/2″ diameter muffins)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups Amish friendship bread starter
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk*
1 cup unsweetened applesauce**
1 cup grated carrots, packed
1/2 cup natural oat bran
1/2 cup natural wheat bran
1 cup quick oats (not instant oats)
2 teaspoons salt
3 Tablespoons brown sugar***
3 cups King Arthur Flour white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda

Optional:

1 cup nuts, dried cranberries, raisins, etc.

Directions

Beat together wet ingredients til just mixed.

Add remaining ingredients and stir until just mixed (batter should be a little lumpy).

Fill greased muffin tins 2/3 full and bake about 30 minutes at 375 degrees, rotating muffin pan 180 degrees in oven about half way through. Cool in muffin tin on a rack for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack.

Notes:

* Powdered buttermilk can be used. Just mix 4 Tablespoons powdered buttermilk into 1 cup water.

** You can substitue pureed carrots or bananas for the applesauce.

*** Since Amish friendship bread starter already has sugar in it and both the carrots and the applesauce are naturally sweet, you may find you don’t need as much (or any) brown sugar. Before you add it, taste the raw batter and see what you think, then decide.

You can always use a little less flour and substitute more oats. I did this one time when I accidentally didn’t put in enough flour and they still turned out very nicely. Muffins are pretty forgiving!

As for greasing the muffin tin, I love Baker’s Joy spray. It is a non-stick cooking spray that contains flour. The muffins pop right out of the tins when I use this.

Applesauce Whole Wheat Bread

I got this recipe from a Google search that led to fooddownunder.com, a website that’s no longer in existence. Fortunately, Google had a cached copy, so I copied it!

Applesauce Whole Wheat Bread
For the bread machine.

1 1/2 cup Applesauce
1 1/4 cup All-purpose flour
1 cup Whole wheat flour
1/2 cup Oatmeal (grind to coarse flour first)
1/4 cup Wheat Germ
1/4 cup Oat bran
2 tsp Gluten
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Ginger (optional)
1 tsp Salt
1 1/2 tsp Yeast

The combination of oatmeal, wheat germ and applesauce is deadly!

Add the solid and liquid ingredients and the yeast in order according to the machine’s manufacturer*. Be on hand to observe the first mixing cycle and add flour or water as needed as the moisture content of applesauce varies dramatically from batch to batch. Because of the applesauce this bread needs no sugar or butter/oil.

*Most bread machines call for you to first add the liquid ingredients, then your dry ingredients, and wait until last to add the yeast. My Oster 5838 breadmaker’s instruction book says not to let the yeast come in contact with the liquid ingredients. I’d imagine most of them are the same way. If in doubt, search for your brand and model and you may find the manual available in PDF format online like I found mine.

I like that this recipe doesn’t call for any fats like butter or oil. I use olive oil in my bread, but cutting out the fat sounds like a winner to me. Plus the applesauce ought to make it a sweeter wheat bread. Sweet is good in my book!

Okay, now for my tweaks to this recipe. I didn’t have any oat bran, so I substituted Kellogg’s All Bran cereal that I ground into a coarse flour like I did the oatmeal. I know it’s not the same, but you make do sometimes! Additionally, I used KAF white whole wheat exclusively rather than using part all-purpose flour. Lastly, I opted for fresh grated ginger since I keep a tuber of it my freezer.

You’ll definitely want to keep an eye on the dough ball as it mixes and goes through its first knead. I had to add a little flour because the dough was too sticky.

I used my Pampered Chef Food Chopper to grind up the oats and cereal. I’d really like a small food processor like this kind. That and a cheap blade coffee grinder just to use for grinding herbs.

I’m going to have to replace my big food processor before too long; the bowl has a crack in it and the chopping blade housing has some cracks forming, too. I tell ya, these small appliances are a not just conveniences, but a godsend and I use them! Since I have tendinitis in my hands and wrists, doing a lot of prep work by hand can cause flare-ups. The food chopper works well, but pounding on the thing isn’t something I need to be doing.

Okay, so back to the bread! It’s still in my bread machine, now in its second kneading cycle. I’ll update this post with the results. If it’s good, I’ll take it to home group tonight to share.

UPDATE: The bread turned out well. Owing to the sugar in the applesauce and my decision to use the medium crust setting, it browned more than other breads I’ve made; however, the crust wasn’t overly crusty and the bread is still tender inside. You can taste the apple, but it’s not overpowering. The white whole wheat gives it a wheat taste, but a mild one. Howie and I both like it, so I’ll make it again. I never got a photo of it – next time I make it, I will.

I ended up going to bed instead of home group because I had a terrible headache. After 3 hours’ sleep, my head felt better. I awoke to find Howie bringing home a care package from group – a bag with some mini chocolate eclairs and mini banana muffins. Oh, my! If you must have a headache, having some love sent in the form of sweet treats helps. 🙂