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Christmas Brunch Menu Dilemma


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We gots a little problem at Chez Chas....

Every Christmas we go all out with a succulent brunch for Hubby's family - saute'd portabello mushrooms in puff pastery, homemade strawberry danish, egg strata, lyonaisse potato, etc. - you get the picture... rich, filling, holiday food.

Now, Hubby's family is all on low-sodium, low-fat, and low-sugar diets. (Probably thanks to us!)

What can I serve that's just extra special but isn't just pure sin on a plate?

I need help menu planning - please - and - don't forget - we got kids, too!

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thanks cc --

I know... that's the problem...

This is actually one of the times when I do like hanging out with my in-laws because I do all the cooking (they're the only Greeks I've ever met who cannot cook!) AND because I always make sure the food is a little delayed, which gives them a good excuse for an extra glass of Christmas cheer (read: they're better company once they're a little tipsy.)

However, since they're getting older and all on Lipitor, etc., they're now going to be boring, stuffy, and noisey. And I will be serving boring, bland food unless someone comes to the rescue!

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Both of these recipes come from: http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/ She has TONS of recipes, and other places she links to, so if these don't work for your family, maybe you can find some there that will.


2 oranges, peeled and chopped into small pieces

2 cups pineapple, fresh or canned, chopped

1/2 cup coconut flakes

Mix together and refrigerate overnight. Serves 4 (but I could eat this whole bowl myself)

Mini Crustless Tofu Quiches

(I would think you could leave out the salt in these and they would still taste great.)

olive oil spray

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 cup bell pepper

1 cup chopped mushrooms

1 tablespoon minced fresh chives (or one green onion)

1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary (or 1/2 tsp. dried, crushed)

black pepper to taste

1 12.3-ounce package lite firm silken tofu, drained of water

1/4 cup plain soymilk

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 tablespoon cornstarch (may sub another thickener such as arrowroot or potato starch)

1 teaspoon tahini (preferred) or cashew butter

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/2-3/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Spray 12 regular-sized muffin cups well with non-stick spray. (I used silicone cups like these.)

Lightly spray a non-stick skillet with olive oil and sauté the garlic, bell peppers, and mushrooms over medium heat until the mushrooms just begin to exude their juices. Stir in the chives, rosemary, and freshly ground black pepper, and remove from the heat.

Place the remaining ingredients into a food processor or blender. Process until completely smooth and silky. Add the tofu mixture to the vegetables and stir to combine. Spoon equally into the 12 muffin cups: it will fill regular muffin cups about halfway.

Put the muffin pan into the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 350 F. Bake until the tops are golden and a knife inserted into the middle of a quiche comes out clean--about 25-35 minutes depending on your oven and muffin cups (silicone will take longer than metal, so if you're using a metal pan, check it at 20 minutes). Remove from the oven and allow them to cool for about 10 minutes. Enjoy! They're light, so plan on making more of these—or serve hearty side dishes—if you're serving more than 3 people.

4 mini-quiches contain: 96 Calories (kcal); 3 g Total Fat; (23% calories from fat); 11 g Protein; 8 g Carbohydrate; 0 mg Cholesterol; 459 mg Sodium; 2 g Fiber

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THIS is my all time favorite recipe!!! I learned about it when I was on the SugarBusters! Diet. I still make it when I have to take something to a pot luck.

Agave comes from the agave plant (yes, the kind they make tequila from). It's a little bit thinner than honey and little sweeter, imo. It's low glycemic and safe for diabetics. An excellent sugar substitute and I like it better than Splenda and other substitutes cause it's not processed. You can get it from the health food store - just make sure you're getting AGAVE and not GUAVA - Usually you find it on the baking aisle - NOT the juice aisle. I used to order mine online in bulk when I cooked a lot - I used it for everything.

Anyway, this will win you lots of cheers and hugs and smiles.....


2 packages Philadelphia Brand 1/3 Less Fat Cream Cheese

1/2 cup agave syrup, (you can actually use 1-2tbl less)

3 eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp lemon juice

Spray a 7" cake pan with cooking spray. Cut a circular piece of parchment paper to fit in the bottom of the pan. Spray the top of the paper.

Bring cream cheese to room temperature in a medium size bowl. Cream with a mixer. Add the agave syrup and mix on low speed, just til blended. Add both the vanilla and lemon juice and blend in. Add one egg at a time, beating on low stpeed til mixed in before adding the next one.

Pour mixture into pan and put in a 325 degree preheated oven. Place cheesecake in oven and bake for approx 40 minutes, or until lightly browned on top and it looks set. Remove from oven and let cool for about 30-45 minutes. Place in fridge for at least 3 hours. I invert my cake over a plate and tap the bottom of the pan with a knife to get it to come out, nice and clean. Peel off the parchment paper and then turn it back the right way on a serving dish. You can also serve it right out of the pan, just don't eat the parchment paper!!! ENJOY!

NOTE: You could most likely use a small springform pan, like a 7 1/2" one if they have that size, but I don't have one at this time, so used what I had available, a small cake pan. I also put a pan of water on the rack underneath to help it from cracking, which it never did-not sure if this helped, or not.

If you are going to double the recipe use a 9 1/2" springform pan as well as measuring the agave to 3/4 cup. If you want to keep it from cracking on the top, go to either of the sites below for directions on hot to do a WATERBATH.



I have made this numerous times with wonderful results as well as rave reviews!!!


Chocolate Almond Crust

2 1/2 cups ground almonds

2 tablespoons Splenda

4 tablespoons melted butter

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

Place nuts in bowl of a food processor; pulse until ground into a meal.

Add sugar substitute, butter and pulse to combine.

Transfer to a 9" springform pan. With your fingers, gently press nut mixture to form a crust on bottom of pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes; remove from oven and cool.

Other ideas:

Cinnamon Cocoa Granola

4 cup rolled oats

2/3 cup honey

1 cup bran flakes

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 cup wheat germ

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tbs cocoa

1/2 cup sesame seeds

Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker. Cook on low heat with lid

slightly ajar about 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Cool and store in

airtight jar. Use within 1 to 2 weeks. Makes 5 cups.


Recipe from: Cooking Light, May/2001, pg. 210

1/4 cup pineapple juice

2 TBS fresh lemon juice

4 (6 oz) salmon fillets

2 TBS brown sugar

4 tsp chili powder

2 tsp grated lemon rind

3/4 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cinnamon

Cooking spray

Lemon wedges (optional)

Combine first 3 ingredients in a ziploc plastic bag, seal and marinate in refrigerator 1 hour, turning occasionally.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Remove fish from bag; discard marinade. Combine sugar and next 5 ingredients in a bowl. Rub over fish. Place in an 11x7" baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400°F for 12 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serve with lemon, if desired. Serves 4

per serving: 314 calories, 14.7 g fat, 35.3 g protein, 9 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 111 mg cholesterol, 1.5 mg iron, 405 mg sodium, 30 mg calcium


1 egg

1/3c oil

1/2c honey

2 Tbl molasses

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1c shredded, lightly packed zucchini

1 1/2c WW flour

2 Tbl soy flour

2 TBL nonfat dry milk powder

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/2c combined sunflower seeds and chopped walnuts

Preheat over to 350F

Beat egg in large mixing bowl. Beat in oil, honey, molasses, cinnamon, and vanilla in that order. Stir in zucchini.

Combine remaining ingredients EXCEPT seeds and nuts and add to zucchini mixture, stirring. When mixture is smooth, stir in seeds and nuts. Turn into an oiled, floured 8inch loaf pan.

Bake for about 45-50 minutes, or until cake tests done. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan; transfer to a rack and cool completely.

MY NOTES: I used AGAVE NECTAR in place of the honey and molasses-same measurements. Also, when using agave, lower the oven temp to 325 and test for doneness after 40 minutes.

Whole Wheat Sponge Cake

6 eggs, separated

1 ts vanilla

1/2 c honey, warmed (use agave nectar in its place)

1 tb lemon juice

1 ts grated lemon rind

1 c SG whole wheat flour

Cut waxed paper to fit the bottom of a 9-inch tube pan. Butter the bottom of the pan; place waxed paper on the bottom, then butter the waxed paper. Do not grease the sides of the pan.

Place the egg whites and vanilla in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat until they are very stiff. Continue beating, and add the honey (agave) in a very slow, thin stream. Beat until the mixture is stiff and forms peaks.

Combine the lemon juice and rind and egg yolks in a medium bowl. Then fold one-fourth of the egg whites thoroughly into the yolks, using a wire whisk to stir, not beat, the eggs. Pour this mixture over the remaining egg whites and sprinkle the flour on top. Gently fold all the ingredients together, taking care to incorporate all the flour, yet not lose too much air from the egg whites.

Pour or spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake in a preheated 350 deg F oven for 20 to 30 minutes. When the cake is golden brown and springy to the touch, and the sides begin to pull away from the pan, invert the pan on a cooling rack immediately. Let cool for 10 minutes, then loosen the sides of the cake with a knife and remove the pan. Remove the waxed paper and set cake on rack until cool.

NOTES: I've had this 3 times now, and it is fabulous, at least it is to me! We used the agave nectar, (no need to heat it as you would if using honey) reduced the temp by 25 degrees and baked it the full 30 minutes. If you try to invert it, be careful, ours slipped right out (thank goodness I was there to catch it). On the 2nd try, I added some lemon extract in it. Though my Mother didn't think so, it does freeze well.

I figured out the nutrional values:

FOR ENTIRE CAKE: approx. 1205 calories, 29 grams of fat, 210 carbs, 55 protein & 8 fiber.

PORTIONS: if you made 10 out of this recipe, it would be 120 cal, 3 fat, 21 carbs and 5 1/2 protein-approx. OR by the ounce, each ounce would be approx. 65 calories, 1.5 fat, 11 carbs and 3 protein. PLEASE NOTE: I had originally made a mistake on the carbs per ounce and it has now been updated to reflect the correct amount

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Shanny Cakes

These are awesome!! Kids will love these and Kristopher might even be big enough to help make them.

4 Egg Whites - I use ½ cup egg beaters

1/4C Cottage Cheese - I use low fat

1/2C dry measure Oatmeal

Cinnamon - 1tsp or more to taste

Splenda - 4 packets or to taste

(optional) 1 cap of Vanilla Extract

Place all ingredients into a blender for 20-30 seconds. This makes a very thin watery batter. Preheat a non-stick pan on low to medium low. Spray with cooking spray and pour in the batter. I make 1 large pancake but you can make several smaller ones. The pancake is ready to flip when small bubbles appear on the top of the batter.



Omit the cinnamon, splenda and the vanilla. Add some Italian seasoning, spicy salt and garlic to the batter before it cooks and then after it is cooked I top half of it with fresh spinach, diced fresh tomatoes and salsa. Then fold over the half like an omelet and Voila!

Pumpkin Pie

add 1/2 c. pumpkin puree, more cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and serve with sf maple syrup (yum- pumpkin pie!)

Spinach Quiche

Leave out the cinnamon,splenda and vanilla, but add 1 cup spinach, 1/4c. fat free cheddar or mozarella, and some garlic seasoning to the blender. Pour it into the pan and sprinkle 1 tablespoon meatless bacon bits on top. Sort of spinach quiche.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Desperation

Add 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder to the basic recipe. Top with 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter.

Apple Upside Down Cake

Finely dice 1 small apple. Pour batter into srayed pan, and sprinkle apple on top. Flip it, cook through and serve with sf syrup.

( any fruit works as long as it's not really wet)

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Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh...the diabetic holiday meals...

Use Splenda to replace sugar (replacement values usually on package), carob to replace chocolate, yogurt to replace butter/mayo/salad dressing (plain yogurt is great when properly spiced...try it for making ranch dressing...mmmm!), al dente veggies for noodles, etc.

I LOVE dilled carrots...but to get the dill weed to stick to them I thought I had to use butter/margarine...but a touch of olive oil will do the trick.

Another fave dish of mine is southern green beans...you know them...lots of bacon, butter, onions and almond slices. Replace the bacon with bacon bits (they are strongly flavored and don't cook well...so add them in the serving bowl and not too many!) and replace the butter with a dash or two of herbed olive oil. The almond slices are fine...but don't overdo.

Most health food stores that have a deli will have some very yummy tofu dishes that you would never know were tofu. I usually buy a couple of teaspoonfuls just to get the package for the ingredient list...then make my own at home.

Most of the problems with meals lie in sauces/dressings, breads/starches and desserts. Sauces and dressings are most often used for flavor. The flavor can come from herbs and spices as a way to reduce calories/fat. Reducing portion sizes on the breads and replacing ground flour with whole grain flour types of breads will do the trick. Other starches (taters, noodles, etc.) can easily be replaced with veggies. I love using egg plant and italian squash (the long, green squash that is also called that word starting with 'z' that I can't spell lol) for noodles. Although baby pumpkin squash (the little white pumpkins...don't want them yellow or orange because then they are woody) are a starch, they are a great tater replacement for awesome mashed taters! Just boil the heck out of them whole and they almost mash up themselves...which is how you know they're done. :) See above for some dessert alternatives.

To find some of the most awesome low fat, low sodium, low carb, low calorie recipes I suggest doing a search for diabetic recipes.

Have fun! The creative cook in ourselves shines brightly when faced with such challenges. IMO. :)

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  • 3 weeks later...

This all worked out nicely, by the way...

Here's what I served:

a fruit salad (with no dressing or sweetner) (strawberries, kiwi fruit and oranges)

a crustless quiche (it was dee-lish!)

a meat pie (pork pie - no salt)

stuffed clams - the stuffing had almost no bread - it was all meat/seafood based and presented nicely on half shells.

shrimp cocktail

bacon (not a great choice, but I had no choice because the grocery store was out of almost every meat!)

a sugarfree coffee cake (i hated the after-taste of this but others loved it - or so they said - HA! :blink: )

coffee, juice, diet soda, etc.

and my mother made a huge plate of cookies, fudges, etc - that were all sugarfree - and those were as a gift to my in-laws! (It was very nice!)

All in all, I felt it came out okay. There were some things that weren't on the money for the diet for them, but they could choose alternatives, if they wanted to. I wasn't too thrilled with some of the choices I watched some of them make because I felt there were pretty good alternatives available for them to pick from. For example, I watched one diabetic aunt put white sugar on the fruit salad - but she's in her mid-70's - I wasn't about to tell her "NO!"... :nono5: I will get better at this - it's not easy to serve up a nice spread for everyone when diets can be so different and menu planning was challenging.

There wasn't much in way of leftovers - I made a ton of food. Those people can EAT!

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Chas - For future spreads of this nature, try "Stevia"

I have lots of friends that use this - its apparently a powder made from a plant and it is a LOT sweeter than sugar. You might need to look up how to use it as a substitute (I'll even Google is and then try to get back to you.)

PS- I got it here - Stevia

Edited by doojable
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