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Balancing recipes with, without nutritional info

Low-fat brownie recipes like this one are typically made using unsweetened applesauce to replace the fat and still provide a moist dessert.
Low-fat brownie recipes like this one are typically made using unsweetened applesauce to replace the fat and still provide a moist dessert.

Last week I received an email from a reader who was concerned that I did not offer enough nutritional information along with recipes I put in the food section.

She noted that she had hoped to find out the various counts in a hummus recipe. I did some research and can now tell her that a basic recipe with a 3-tablespoon serving has 64 calories, 10 grams carbohydrates, 10 mg cholesterol, 2 grams fat, 2.5 grams protein and 370 mg sodium.

I explained that it is not always possible to get nutritional information, but I do understand her concerns as she said she has diabetes. I will continue to be sensitive to the needs of readers who have special diets, but also believe you’ve got to have some room for fun with food. Sometimes you can have both (recipes and nutritional information) and sometimes you can’t.

Plus, in this digital age, anyone with concerns about calorie/fat/carbohydrate/cholesterol counts needs to do some self-education. There are hundreds of thousands of online help sites that offer information instantly to help people manage their diets.

For example, I would strongly suggest that anyone with diabetes check out the excellent recipes online from the American Diabetes Association at www.diabetes.org/mfa-recipes/recipes. You will also find vegetarian and gluten-free recipes there. Here is a recipe from that site:

Chicken Nacho Casserole

Cooking spray

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces

1 (-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes

1 cup no-salt added black beans, drained and rinsed

2 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2/3 cup reduced-fat Cheddar cheese, shredded

1.5 ounces (or about 24) baked tortilla chips, crushed

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 2 1/2-quart baking dish with cooking spray.

Season the chicken with black pepper. Spray a large sauté pan with cooking spray and heat over medium-high. Add the chicken and cook for 8 minutes.

Add the diced tomatoes, black beans, chili powder, cumin and garlic powder to the pan. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.

Pour the chicken mixture into the baking dish. Sprinkle cheese on top and then top with the crushed tortilla chips. Bake 12 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

Serves 6, each with 210 calories, 17 grams carbohydrates, 50 mg cholesterol, 23 grams protein, 6 grams fat, 3 grams sugar, 3 grams fiber, 360 mg sodium. Choices/exchanges: 1 starch, 3 lean protein.

LOW-FAT DESSERT: When you need that chocolate fix, these little low-fat brownies will hit the spot. The recipe is from lowfatcooking.about.com.

Although not as dense as full-fat brownies, they're still chocolatey and delicious, with no odd aftertaste, which some low-fat brownies seem to have. Note that the portions are small: 16 brownies out of an 8-by-8 pan.

Low-Fat Brownies

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup Dutch Process Cocoa

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons canola oil

4 ounces unsweetened applesauce

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 egg whites

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8-inch by 8-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

Whisk flour, cocoa, baking powder, sugar and salt in a small bowl.

In a medium bowl, combine oil, applesauce, vanilla, egg and egg whites.

Gradually stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients until well combined. Pour into baking pan and bake 20 minutes, until sides pull away from edge of pan. Cool in pan and cut into 16 squares.

Each brownie has 74 calories, 2 grams fat, 13 mg cholesterol, 45 mg sodium, 12 carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 2 grams protein.

Contact me at sboyle@bnd.com, 618-239-2664 or follow me on Twitter @BoyleSuzanne. Write to 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427.

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