Sunday, November 29, 2009

Gummy Vitamins: For Adults!

I have this problem with swallowing large things.

I don’t really know why. Goodness knows I love eating, and I can sure love a lot of macaroni and cheese or buffalo wings in my mouth. Just something about taking a large, lumpy, tasteless multivitamin was holding me back. Every morning, I’d remember that I really should take a multivitamin, and every morning I would disregard it because I hate taking my multivitamin.

Then, my weight watchers buddy referred me to her solution: Gummy Vitamins for Adults. Suddenly my life fell into place. I love gummy candies, and I WANT to take vitamins...Perfect! I ordered a 200-count bottle with glee and gusto.


Review:

I’ve been taking these Vitafusion gummy multi-vitamins for about a week now, and I love them. I actually look FORWARD to waking up in the morning because it means I get to take two more of these babies (2 vitamins = 1 serving = 15 calories = 0 WW points). They taste more like Welch’s fruit snacks than Haribo gummy bears (i.e., soft and fruity) but are highly delightful. They have a weird smell when you open the bottle, which I attribute to the fact that they are, in fact, VITAMINS AND NOT CANDY.

Their vitamin content is solid:

Supplement Facts: Serving Size: 2 Gummy Vitamins Servings Per Container: 100 Amount Per Serving - % Daily Value:* Calories 15, Total Carbohydrate 4 g - 1%, Sugars 4 g - **, Vitamin A (as Retinyl Palmitate) 2500 IU - 50%, Vitamin C (as Ascorbic Acid) 30 mg - 50%, Vitamin D (as Cholecalciferol) 400 IU - 100%, Vitamin E (as d-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate) 15 IU - 50%, Niacin (as Inositol Niacinate) 10 mg - 50%, Vitamin B-6 (as Pyridoxine HCL) 2 mg - 100%, Folic Acid 400 mcg - 100%, Vitamin B-12 (as Cyanocobalamin) 6 mcg - 100%, Pantothenic Acid (as Calcium d-Pantothenate) 10 mg - 100%, Choline (as Choline Bitartrate) 40 mcg - **, Inositol (as Inositol Niacinate) 3 mg - **. *Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Now, this is less complete than my big lumpy vitamin (this one has no iron, for example). But I actually take this every day. I figured that a less-complete vitamin that I took every day would be better than a complete vitamin that I never took. Your results may vary.

For anyone like me, this is a solid A+ product.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Red Velvet Angel Food Cake


One of my absolute favorite desserts of all time is a nice, fatty, cream-cheesy red velvet cake. I love soul food, and especially love topping off that meal with a rich slice of red chocolate cake. Since joining weight watchers, I’ve enjoyed finding recipes for my old favorites, retooled in a diet-friendly fashion.

This entry is part one in what I hope to be a Red Velvet Series. I’ve found three recipes for light red velvet cake so far, and I’ll bake whatever I find.

This particular cake comes from weight watchers online. It is an adaptation of the standard angel food cake, which is a light and fluffy cake made mostly from egg whites with just a little flour. This version adds cocoa and red food coloring to make a cake that tastes just like standard red velvet cake, except spongier (aka lighter, aka less guilty-feeling). I added cream cheese frosting from hungry-girl.com for 0 additional points. (one slice of cake is 3 points...compared to regular red velvet, which is at least 12)

The results were FABULOUS. Light, fluffy, chocolatey, and the cream cheese frosting added the perfect touch of coolness. If anything, I thought the cake got better as it sat for a while. Although I gave away 14 of the 16 slices, I ate one immediately and saved one for dessert later. The slice I ate later tasted even more moist than the first slice, that was only an hour out of the oven. The first slice tasted like chocolate angel food cake, while the second tasted like actual (albeit light) red velvet cake.


A few notes before we get started:

You will need a NON-nonstick angel food cake pan. Ideally, it will also be in two pieces (movable bottom) and will have feet for proper upside-down cooling, but apparently the NON-nonstick function is essential. I learned, from reading the amazon.com reviews of various angel food cake pans, that angel food cakes rise by “climbing” up the side of the pan. They can’t climb if there is nothing to stick to. If you get a NON-nonstick pan, you will be rewarded with a tall and fluffy cake. Cleanup really was not that difficult; a quick soak and a once-over with a scrubby sponge did the trick.

This takes a while to prepare. I think I'd budgeted half an hour, which was absurdly optimistic given the fact that the egg whites alone took at least twenty minutes to beat.

Sixteen egg whites require a REALLY large bowl. As they got bigger, I had to split the whites into two separate bowls. I’m not sure how big your largest bowl is, but mine wasn’t big enough.


1 Fl. oz of food coloring requires you to buy a separate color. I sprung for one of the 4-color variety packs, only to discover that each color bottle in the variety only held 1/4 oz. The cake still tasted lovely, but was a less deep shade of red than it should have been.

And now, on to the recipe!

HEAVENLY SINNERS’ RED VELVET ANGEL FOOD CAKE
From WeightWatchers.com. 3 points per serving!

Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup(s) unsweetened cocoa, do not use Dutch cocoa
  • 1/4 cup(s) water, boiling
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 fl oz food coloring, red
  • 1/4 tsp table salt
  • 1 3/4 cup(s) sugar, divided
  • 1 cup(s) cake flour
  • 16 large egg white(s), about 2 cups
  • 2 tsp white vinegar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

In a medium bowl, combine unsweetened cocoa, boiling water, vanilla and food coloring; whisk and set aside.

In another medium bowl, combine salt, 3/4 cup of sugar and cake flour; mix well and set aside.

Using an electric mixer, in a large bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Add vinegar; continue to beat until soft peaks form. With electric mixer running on slow speed, gradually add remaining cup of sugar; increase to high speed and beat until stiff peaks form.

Remove a heaping cup of egg whites and add it to chocolate mixture; gently combine and set aside.


Sift flour mixture over egg whites, a little at a time, and fold after each addition to incorporate.

Add chocolate mixture and gently fold into egg whites. When just combined, turn batter into a two-piece 10-inch angel food cake pan with feet; smooth top into an even layer.


Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 40 to 45 minutes. Remove cake from oven and invert pan onto its feet so the inverted cake can cool properly (the cake will not fall out of the pan). If your pan does not have feet, invert it over the neck of a wine bottle or a glass soda bottle.


When cake is completely cool to the touch, loosen edges with a sharp knife and remove cake from pan. Slice into 16 pieces and serve. Yields 1 piece per serving.

But what is red velvet anything without cream cheese frosting? Hungry-Girl’s version adds 0 points. It was a little goopy, but perhaps I didn’t let it set long enough? (1 hour?)


Hungry-Girl.com Cream Cheese Frosting

Combine these ingredients, then allow to set in the fridge:

4 oz. fat-free cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup Fage Total 0% Greek Yogurt (or another thick, plain fat-free yogurt)
1/2 cup Splenda No Calorie Sweetener (granulated)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Monday, November 2, 2009

On Mugs

I love preparing my morning coffee; not just because it is a comforting routine that I know will make me feel happier and more awake at its completion, but also because I am somewhat required to define myself.


Faced with a cabinet full of coffee mugs, I ask myself which one best suits my personality for the day. I feel peaceful with my blue pattern mug. Stylish with my green diva mug. Silly with my crazy faces mugs. Domesticated and down-to-earth with the Zabar’s mug. I know I’m stressed---though maybe self-effacingly so---when I reach for my old roommate’s “OMG” mug.

Do you have anything like this in your morning routine?

Fakely-Real Peanut Butter!!!


I stumbled across this stuff in my grocery store the other day, and I had to try it. I am truly quite unclear on what this product is. It’s called “Better’n Peanut Butter,” but for all intents and purposes it IS peanut butter. Peanuts are the first ingredient (although it’s followed by a parenthetical indicating that the peanuts are “as defatted peanut flour, peanut butter and natural peanut oils”). It smells like very peanutty peanut butter, with perhaps a slight unidentifiable twinge of something different. It has the consistency of peanut butter, if not slightly thinner.

Here’s the key thing, though: it tastes just as good---and maybe better---than normal peanut butter, and it’s 3 points less per serving. That’s right...two tablespoons of peanut butter will cost you 5 points, but you can have two tbsps of this stuff for 2.

I really don’t understand why this is happening to me, but the stuff is GOOD. It definitely tastes like something has been slightly adulterated (there is a sweet aftertaste (perhaps attributable to the tapioca syrup, rice syrup, or cane juice)), and it needs to be refrigerated after opening (so SOMETHING is going on), but this stuff is definitely worth it. I’d all but written peanut butter off (PB cookies notwithstanding...there are chickpeas in those!) but I’m thrilled I can eat it again without sacrificing crazy points.

EDIT (1/7/10): Discovered an unfortunate implication of the “needs refrigeration” thing when I packed this stuff with some apple slices. Without refrigeration, it nearly liquified and started to smell highly chemical, like a laboratory. This sounds bad, but honestly I think I prefer the taste of this stuff to PB2 (which I have since tried, but not reviewed). You just can’t leave it out, or plan to eat half an hour from the moment you pack it. Umm, yeah. I guess it’s not that dire, but still.

High Fiber Peanut Butter Cookies


Weight Watchers featured a recipe for high fiber peanut butter cookies (2 points per cookie) involving peanut butter and chickpeas. Yes, chickpeas. ...Stop looking at me like that. They up the fiber and the health value. You can’t taste them because of the strength of the peanut butter, so just eat the damn cookies.


PS: Chickpeas are SMELLY coming out of the can! Why is that?



Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup(s) canned chickpeas, not drained*
  • 1 cup(s) peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup(s) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup(s) packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg(s)
  • 1 cup(s) whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp table salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, or more to taste

Instructions


Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper (or coat with cooking spray); set aside.

Pour chickpeas into a 1-cup measuring cup and pour in enough chickpea liquid just to cover the beans; puree chickpeas and their liquid in a blender or mini food processor.


In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream peanut butter, butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and egg; mix well again. Add pureed chick peas; blend thoroughly with mixer. Add flour, salt, baking soda and red pepper flakes; mix again.


Shape rounded tablespoonfuls of cookie dough into small balls. Place dough on prepared cookie sheets, leaving at least 2-inches between cookies.


When a cookie sheet is filled, press each ball down with palm of your hand to flatten. Then flatten cookies even more by making cross-hatch marks with back of a fork.

Bake until cookies turn slightly golden, about 12 to 15 minutes depending on desired crispness. Let cool on cookie sheet for 1 to 2 minutes and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Yields 1 cookie per serving.
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