At our house, we’ve been on diets lately. Oh, not the kind where you eat grapefruit or apples all day, but sensible diets that only zap your FAVORITE foods from your meals. After a few days of this, you suddenly loose it -- you collect all your favorite foods together for a lip-smacking PIG-OUT, stuff yourself as fast as you can, and then you say, “I wish I wouldn’t have done that.”
We're trying to change our habits slowly but surely, substituting better tasting low calorie foods where we once ate high calorie starches.
This No-Sugar Blueberry Topping Spread is one area we've had success. In recent years, Fred has made his own high nutrition breakfast pancakes almost everyday for his breakfast. The problem is, he smothers them with close to ½ cup of strawberry preserves! I told him he might just as well pour the sugar bowl on his pancakes – honest, I looked it up – just one tablespoon of sugar is 45 calories; a tablespoon of strawberry preserves is 50 calories!
That means the one-half cup preserves he's been eating is 400 calories -- all carbohydrates. You see where this is going, don’t you?
No more preserves on the pancakes?
But he’s not a quitter! Recently, he brought home a 5-pound bag of frozen blueberries. “I’m going to make a sugarless jam,” he announced. "I want some sweetener, but I don’t want to add any sugar,” he said. "What can I use?"
“Well, there’s honey, but it’s even higher than sugar in calories. We also have stevia and Sweet‘N Low® on hand,” I suggested.
I heard clattering kettles, bang bang, whir whir, then silence from the kitchen. Then another question: “Is there a way to thicken cooked blueberries to spread like jam?” he asked?
“Well, you could try unflavored gelatin. There’s Knox® in the cupboard – look for a box with some orange coloring on it.”
So began a series of trials, all edible, but not exactly like he wanted. I chimed in to help, and together we came up with the recipe below with only 6 calories per tablespoon, or 48 in one-half cup! To top it off, blueberries are like little beads of antioxidants – they have one of the highest antioxidant ratings among all fruits and vegetables.
Eat your heart out, dear Husband.
Fred’s No Sugar Blueberry Topping Sauce
Makes 3 ½ C. topping;
Time required to make: about 20 minutes, plus chilling overnight
4 C. frozen blueberries (1 pound 2 oz)
1 C. water + ½ C. more water set aside for softening gelatin (room temperature is fine)
1 envelope Knox® unflavored gelatin
2 tsp. dry type Sweet and Low® sweetener (zero calories) or sweeten to taste with your preferred sweetener measured to equal ¼ to 1/3 Cup sugar)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
1) For accuracy, measure whole blueberries while frozen, or weigh on a kitchen scale
|4 Cups frozen blueberries, or 1 pound 2 ounces by weight|
2) After measuring, thaw the blueberries in the microwave
3) Place berries in a food processor for a few short spurts to chop coarsely.
4) Place 1 C. water in a large kettle. Add the blueberries and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 7 minutes to cook berries, stirring occasionally.
5) In a small wide bowl, such as a cereal bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the 1/2 C. water. Allow gelatin to set and soften without stirring.
7) Slowly add the softened gelatin to the berries, continuing to stir to mix well
8) Pour cooked sauce into containers. Cool to room temperature.
9) Refrigerate 12 or more hours to set the gel.
10) Before serving, it's a good idea to stir to bottom of jar to evenly distribute berries that may have settled.
Topping keeps 3 or more weeks in refrigerator -- I can't say exactly how long because we eat a double batch in only three weeks!
CAVEATS: In developing this recipe, we learned that the gel set may vary slightly due to any of the following:
- Inaccurate measurements of blueberries or water
- The gelatin does not soften completely due to lumps or timing
- The gel packet may have leaked or was inaccurately filled in the factory
- Liquid evaporated during simmering because the lid was off
CALORIES in 1 Tablespoon: 6; in 1/2 cup: 48
CARBOHYDRATES in 1 Tablespoon: 1.5 g.; in 1/2 cup: 12
BONUS IDEAS :
1) Great topping for ice cream.
2) Blueberry yogurt: Stir 1/3 C. topping into 16 ounces of plain yogurt. Add sweetener to taste.
COMMENTS? Would you like more posts of this type?
WHAT DO YOU THINK? Try this recipe and send us your diet food rating (in comments) of from one to five stars: One star – the worst; Five stars – Great.