Category Archives: Dessert

World’s laziest ice cream

Dear Ben, Jerry, DQ, Baskin Robbins, and Breyers,

You need to stop jamming delicious shit into ice creams. Like, really. Please don’t show me another commercial of a drippy, salted caramel confection piled high atop a fist-sized cone. You are the stuff of my fat-girl dreams, and you’re killing me this summer, guys.

With no love,
Kara


All right, let’s put it out there. I spent much of the first half of this summer eating ice cream. (Damn you to the bowels of hell, Ben & Jerry’s Everything But The….) So when July arrived, I knew I needed to find an alternative.

Enter a bunch of elderly bananas and a dollop of vanilla extract. Yep, that’s literally all you need to create banana “soft-serve” ice cream.

We’ve all pureed fruit into smoothies. We know the texture by heart—chunky, icy, and fruit-dense. It’s nothing like ice cream at all. But this is different. Really. It’s thick and creamy and lip-smacking and naughty tasting.

So, how do you turn bruised ‘nanners into ice cream nirvana? It’s so, so easy.

Step 1: Take two bananas, un-peel, slice, and freeze. They should be chilled for at least two hours, or up to two days.

Step 2: Place frozen banana chunks into food processor. Add 1 T.vanilla extract.

Step 3: Blend for five minutes. This one’s important. Don’t blend until combined, don’t blend until you get tired of it—blend for five whole minutes. For the first four, you’ll think, “This lady is full of shit. This is just pureed fruit.” And then during the last minute, the ingredients cream and fluff and become something wonderful.

That’s all she wrote, folks. Eat it all, or stick it in a bowl and re-freeze. I have eaten it topped with berries, chocolate drizzle, walnuts, and shaved coconut. All good. I mean, you can’t really go wrong, can you?

Summer ice cream season can now commence.

 

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Flourless chocolate cake

It’s high time we discussed this flourless chocolate cake.

There are a billion versions of healthy brownies out there and they all suck. There’s the one where you replace the oil with applesauce and produce a brownie with the consistency of crumby cornbread. And the black bean brownie, which–I’m sorry–tastes exactly like what is is.

When I saw a recipe for Greek-yogurt brownies a while back, I almost ignored it. I’m still not sure why I decided to give it a chance. Call it wide-eyed optimism. Or sweet-tooth desperation, perhaps. Regardless, I tried it. And what resulted was something so magnificent, so richly chocolatey, so utterly decadent, I can only chalk the entire affair up to fate.

Let’s get one thing straight off the bat: these are not brownies. The closest approximation is a flourless chocolate cake (hence my recipe name) or a chocolate souffle.  They’re thin, rich, and intensely chocolatey without being cloying or sugary (think dark chocolate–a little bit savory, a little bit sweet). The edges are cake-like while the interior is moist and fudgey.

And They. Are. Epic.

Oh, and did I mention–they also happen to be completely fat free and only 2 Points+ each? Yep, got your attention now.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats or quick oats
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1 pinch salt

Recipe
Combine all ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Pour into square baking pan lined with parchment paper or sprayed with Pam. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 12-16 minutes. (12 minutes will yield cake so moist it’s almost gelatinous–which I personally love; 16 minutes will give you a legit cake consistency.) Makes 9 servings.

Serving suggestions

  • Dust with cinnamon and serve with a scoop of Edy’s Slow-Churned Light Eggnog ice cream
  • Dust with cocoa powder and serve with a dollop of whipped cream and strawberries or raspberries
  • Top with a scoop of raspberry sorbet
  • Do nothing but eat them straight from the pan, because they’re freaking delicious

Apple-pie sundae


When the air turns cool and the trees grow heavy with Granny Smiths and Honeycrisps, I crave one thing: apple pie.

My go-to recipe was given to me by my grandmother. Thick, buttery crust heaped with mounds of sugary apples, finished with a brown sugar-walnut topping and baked to a golden brown. It has roughly 40 bajillion grams of fat and so much brown sugar it could put an otherwise healthy person into diabetic shock. And I luuurve it.

When the cravings get tough, the tough get kitchen-creative. The result in this case is a sweet little bowl full of apple pie love. It’s tart and sweet and nutty and fragrant. I didn’t even miss the crust–and I am a bonafide, through-and-through, incurable crust-aholic.

Ingredients
1 Granny Smith apple, medium to large
12g brown sugar (I weigh versus measuring my food–it probably amounts to about a tablespoon)
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup water
Cinnamon, to taste
Pumpkin pie spice, to taste
10g chopped walnuts
Ice cream

Recipe
To make the compote: peel, core, and chop the apple into chunks. Add to a small saucepan with sugar, lemon juice, water, and seasonings. Cook on medium-low at a slow simmer for about 15 minutes, until mixture is syrupy and water is reduced.

Add compote to ice cream of your choice–1/2 cup, or one serving. I used Breyer’s Fat-Free Vanilla. Crumble walnuts on top.

Do the fall happy dance. This is guilt-free apple pie, people. Go ahead and celebrate.

Welcome back, old friend


Ahh, peanut butter—you evil blond temptress.

For years (decades, really), I’ve had a love affair with the stuff. Extra crunchy Jif was my main squeeze, but I’d take it any way it came: spreadably smooth, natural, or chock full o’ nuts.

In my starving-grad-student days (and my even leaner post-grad-first-job years), I bought institutional-size drums of peanut butter and strawberry jam. I rationed bread by having “PBJS” dinners—that’s peanut butter and jelly on a spoon. Grab both containers and a tablespoon, head to couch, alternate PB and J spoonfuls, wash it down with a huge glass of milk. Commence carb coma.

Weight Watchers prides itself on being a program that allows everything in moderation. I find that to be both true and awesome. By choosing smaller portions or substituting ingredients, I’ve made peace with many of my former junk food staples.

There are, however, a handful of foods I haven’t been able to adapt to the WW plan. Mac and cheese, for instance (did you know that there are more than TWO servings in a box of Kraft Mac and cheese? That shit ain’t right.) And, of course—peanut butter. Two tablespoons = 5 Points+. Five. FIVE. That’s a seventh of my daily Points, in two measly tablespoons of the stuff. And by the way, have you seen a tablespoon lately? My PBJ sandwiches of yore were heaped and slathered with mountains of peanut butter—certainly not lightly frosted with two measly #@$!*% tablespoons worth.

Since January, my Jif jar has been sitting untouched, mournful and alone, in my pantry. I have done my best to ignore my salty-sweet spreadable peanut cravings. But no more! Friends: meet PB2.

Okay, what the hell is PB2 and why is it so amazing?
Let me give you the scoop (pun intended). The official dealio, according to the Bell Plantation website: “PB2 reduces fat through a chemical-free process. PB2 is all natural, preservative free, and contains no artificial sweeteners. And that makes it a sweet alternative for active lifestyles, dieters, and moms who want healthy snacks for their kids.”

PB2 isn’t your typical peanut butter experience. It’s powdered and packed in freeze-dried foil bags like coffee. You can mix with water to make traditional peanut butter, or create peanut-flavored novelties by adding to smoothies, cake or brownie mixes, bran muffins, Cool Whip—the options are endless.

How does it taste?
PB2 is pretty delicious—but if you’re expecting an exact replica of peanut butter you’ll be disappointed.

The reason it’s so much lower in calories and fat is because much if its oil has been removed. That reflects in its taste and consistency. Have you ever drained the oil from a jar of natural peanut butter? Think of a smoother version of that. It looks and smells like the real deal, and spreads fairly easily, but it feels drier and slightly less creamy in your mouth. It’s also not as sweet as I was accustomed to—think crushed roasted nuts, not a sweetened spread. As a true peanut lover, I find this to be a plus.

So, is it good for you?
Naturalist foodies will be happy to know that the company’s “preservative free” claim is true; there are just three ingredients: peanuts, sugar, and salt.

As for WW, it is much lower in Points. Two tablespoons of PB2 = 1 PP versus 5 in traditional peanut butter. I ate four tablespoons today (FOUR!!!) slathered on rice cakes and topped with chopped walnuts and sliced banana for a hearty, filling, satisfying breakfast.


I even licked the knife, just like old times. Welcome back, old friend!

Let them eat (virtually Point-free) cake

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Greatest dessert find EVER, and the honors go to my bestie/master cake creator, Scott.

The summer fruit salad is so played, I yawn just thinking about it. And yet, the health conscious among us need a fresh fruit option at picnics and parties to help us maneuver those chips, creamy salads, grilled meats, and s’mores. (Mmmm, s’mores…). Scott found this idea for a fruit “cake,” and it’s sheer brilliance.

Carve a watermelon into a rectangle or square, removing all pieces of rind. Cover in Cool Whip Light or Free. Decorate and adorn with fresh fruit: Scott dotted the top with raspberries and blackberries, lined the base with strawberries, and coated the sides with champagne grapes. Heavenly cool, sweet, summery perfection.

Even better? It’s virtually free of Weight Watchers points–just 1 or 2, depending on the amount of Cool Whip.

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This is one cake I didn’t feel guilty about. I ate a heaping piece, and–in the true spirit of a friendly summer barbecue–fought my friends for the leftovers. They never stood a chance.

Zero-Point cones: this changes everything

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Keebler brand ice cream comes. ZERO PointsPlus. #GameChanger

Frosty whoopie pies, skinnified

Here’s an idea so simple, so low-Point, so delicious, I wonder why it never occurred to me. I mean, there are a lot of things in life that I don’t know. But finding creative ways to mow down on cookies and whipped cream? THAT I know.

One of my coworkers is a fellow Weight Watcher—lifetime goal achieved, maintaining, and looking amazing. She passed this one on to me today, and I didn’t even wait until my next grocery trip. I did not pass Go, I did not collect $200; I drove straight to the grocery for grahams and whipped cream.

The idea is simple: light Cool-Whip sandwiched between two graham cracker squares and frozen. Voila—WW-friendly whoopie pie/ice cream sandwich. I used 2 tbsp of whipped topping per sandwich for a total of 2 PointsPlus each. So worth it.

I made three variations, stirring ingredients into the whipped cream before assembling the cookies:

  • Fresh-squeezed lemon juice and a bit of zest. Bright, sweet, and a touch tart; this was my favorite of the three.
  • 1 fresh sweet strawberry, minced. Like a frozen little strawberry shortcake. Yumz.
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder. Rich and chocolately, this was the most decadent tasting of the trio.

It’s frozen, it’s sweet and light, it’s perfect for nibbling. What else can I say? Summer desserts don’t get much better than this.

Chewy choco-banana cookies


All the chocoholics, put your hands up. You know those times when you would go full-on Van Gogh and cut off your left ear for a chocolate cookie? That was me tonight. My brain knew that I had eaten and my hunger was satiated, but the choco demon within was like, “MOAR FOODZ RAWRRR.”

Here’s what I liked about tonight’s creation:
1. They have an ooey-gooey chocolate center that is somewhat reminiscent of a molten lava cake.
2. They are crazy-low in Points (just ONE PointPlus each).
3. They went from idea to edible in under ten minutes.

Here’s what I didn’t like:
Nothing. Because what’s not to like about warm, soft, delicious chocolate cookies?

Ingredients
2 bananas, very ripe
3/4 cup uncooked oats
1 package sugar-free chocolate mousse mix (I used Sans Sucre brand; pudding mix would probably work as well)

Recipe
Mash bananas and add oats and mousse. Let sit ten minutes. Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheet with parchment. Spoon mixture onto pan and bake for about 7 minutes. Cookies will be soft in the center.

Makes 12 cookies. And they’re big, people. Nothing worse than getting psyched about 1-Point cookies only to have them come out the size of a thimble. Hell to the no!

Banana split

A wise person once said, “Don’t deprive yourself. Eat some chocolate, goddammit.” (Okay, it was me. But still.)

IceCream

Ingredients

  • 1 banana
  • 1 tbsp walnut pieces
  • 1 Hershey’s Bliss dark chocolate square
  • 1/4 cup chocolate frozen yogurt or Greek yogurt

Recipe
Split the banana. Top with ice cream and walnuts. Melt the dark chocolate in the micro and drizzle on top.

Yields one serving and 4 PointsPlus.

And THAT is how you do a Weight Watchers-friendly banana split. Bam.

Banana-bite cookies

cookies

Just what I needed on this cold February afternoon—moist, oatmealy, nutty “cookies.” (Let’s be honest, they’re too fucking small and non-sugary to be considered real cookies—but they are yummy.)

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 cup oatmeal (quick oats)
  • 1/4 cup walnut pieces
  • 2 tbsp dark chocolate chips (optional, but you’re crazy if you leave them out)

Recipe
Mash bananas. Add remaining ingredients. Drop by small spoonfulls onto parchment paper-covered cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Voila—cookies!

Makes 22 bite-sized cookies, 1 PointsPlus each.