Friday, May 15, 2009

Brownies with Black Beans


I kept hearing people talk about brownies with black beans. Unfortunately, no ome could give me a recipe or had actually tasted them! So I started looking around for ideas or recipes. I came across a funny conversation on a Weight Watcher discussion page and came up with a simple idea to try.

I liked the results a lot. I got a really moist brownie that was really chocolaty. I decided to take them to a party (they were a huge hit) but I dressed them up a little bit. Here's what I did:

CHOCOLATE BLACK BEAN BROWNIES

1 box brownie mix
1 15 oz can black beans (NOT drained)
3 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant coffee

Blend the beans (and the liquid), instant coffee, and cocoa in a blender until smooth.
Empty the contents of your mix into a bowl.
Add the bean mixture and mix by hand until smooth.
Bake as directed on the package.

Mine, cut into 24 pieces, were 1 point each. This will vary depending on the mix you use and the beans. You'll have to do the math.



To dress them up for a party I did this (this is going to add about 1 to 1/2 point per brwonie):

Mint Brownie Topping

Icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon butter or stick margarine, softened
1 tablespoon crème de menthe or 1/4 teaspoon mint extract

Glaze:
1 ounce semisweet chocolate
1 tablespoon butter or stick margarine

To prepare icing, combine powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon butter, and liqueur. Beat with a mixer (or with a whisk) at medium speed until smooth. Spread the icing evenly over brownie layer; refrigerate 30 minutes or until icing is set.

To prepare glaze, place chocolate in a small microwave-safe dish. Microwave at high for 45 seconds; stir in 1 tablespoon butter. Microwave at high for 20 seconds. Stir until smooth. Drizzle the glaze over icing; refrigerate for 30 minutes or until the glaze is set.

Metabolism - What is it?

I hear Weight Watcher members talk about metabolism a lot! The problem is we usually talk about it without really understanding what it is and how much control we have over it. Here is some information from Weight Watchers that can clear up some of those things we might believe (or not).

METABOLISM...is the number of calories the body burns:
♦ At rest
♦ By digesting and absorbing food
♦ During physical activity

What is TRUE about Metabolism?

1. If I have a slow metabolism I have to just work with that.
Increasing physical activity, especially strength / resistance training to minimize loss of lean muscle mass will increase your metabolism.
Eating a well balanced diet (vitamins & some minerals are required for metabolism)and smaller more frequent meals will increase your metabolism.


2. We can’t stop the slowing of our metabolism due to age.
Aging lowers metabolism only because people tend to be less active and may not maintain their muscle mass.

3. The body goes into ‘starvation mode’, when you eat too little” and you stop losing.
Because the body becomes more efficient at burning fewer calories over time your metabolism can slow, but not shut down, meaning weight loss slows.
That’s why it’s critical that you set realistic expectations for your weight loss.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Good Carb - Bad Carb

These are the truth about carbs that we discussed last week at Weight Watcher meetings. Below is a potato soup full of good carbs - ENJOY!

MYTH # 1: All carbohydrates are created equal.

There are two main types of carbohydrates: simple and complex.

Simple carbohydrates (simple sugars) include:
• table sugar (sucrose), which is plentiful in soda and candy
• fructose and lactose, which are found in healthier foods such as fruit and milk, which supply other nutrients

Complex carbohydrates, "starches":
• are found in foods like breads, legumes, rice, pasta, fruits,
and vegetables such as potatoes.
• take longer to digest and can help you feel more satisfied.
• contain many more nutrients than simple carbohydrates.
As with simple carbohydrates, some complex carbs are healthier
than others.

∗ Whole grain versions of complex carbohydrates include
oatmeal, bulgur, brown rice, whole cornmeal, quinoa, spelt,
foods made with whole wheat, etc. Opt for whole
grains as often as possible.

∗ Refined grains such as the white flour and regular rice,
are processed, which removes the outer layer of the
grain, along with fiber, vitamins and minerals.


MYTH # 2: Carbohydrates are the main cause of weight gain.

∗ Consuming too many calories — regardless of whether they come from carbs, protein, fat, or anything else — is the main cause of weight gain. In fact, many studies have shown that switching to a complex carbohydrate, low-fat eating style can lead to weight loss, not weight gain.

∗ Recent research also indicates that an eating plan rich in complex carbohydrates is recommended for overweight individuals.


MYTH # 3: Carbs are empty calories. (Well, no and yes.)

∗ Complex carbohydrates contain naturally occurring nutrients, like fiber, vitamins, minerals and iron, rather than added nutrients like those found in fiber pills and liquid fiber supplements.
∗ Simple carbohydrates with added table sugars, such as soda, on the other hand, add calories and very few nutrients or physical satisfaction.

∗ To help avoid empty calories with carbs, do the following:
• Choose Filling Foods.
• Include whole grains and fruits & vegetables & limit sugars.


MYTH # 4: Carbs eaten after 7 p.m. turn to sugar.

Regardless of the time of the day, all carbohydrates turn into glucose, which is blood sugar. It is then a form of energy, which is used to perform essential functions in the body.


MYTH #5: You need to eat more protein than carbs before exercising.

For regular exercise, “a relatively high-carbohydrate, moderate protein, low-fat meal is best,” says Suzette Kroll, registered dietitian.
“People often underestimate the importance of the carb part of the equation when fueling up for exercise, especially strength training. Protein is important for muscle building and repair, but in order to lift those weights you need carbohydrates for energy.”

Easy Potato Soup

4 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed and diced
2 large leeks, cleaned and sliced
1 onion, diced
Salt and Pepper to taste
6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
cooking spray

  1. Heat a 4 quart stockpot or dutch oven over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray and add the leeks and onions.
  2. When onion softens (about 4 minutes) add the potatoes to heat through.
  3. Add the broth, salt and pepper and bring to a simmer.
  4. Cook 30 minutes or until the potatoes are completely tender.
  5. Puree the soup in batches in a blender or food processor.
  6. Adjust the seasonings to taste.

Each one cup serving is only 1 point.
You may want to garnish with chives or scallions and a dollop of plain yogurt.