“Cut-the-Crap” Whipped Topping

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We’ve been trying to Get Real here at my house.  I think I’ve mentioned before that I have high blood pressure and that heart disease and stroke runs in my family.  Well, I’ve recently gotten re-motivated to make over our eating and health habits, this time for good!

You probably know that the conventional medical answer to high blood pressure is to eat a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet and if that doesn’t work, you take medications.  I tried the low-fat, low-cholesterol thing and even lost 35 pounds a few years ago, with no effect on my BP whatsoever.  So I’ve been taking medications for several years.  They even had to change my medications a couple of times to higher dosages, and multiple medications.

And, even ON those multiple, high dosage medications, my blood pressure was still above the recommended numbers (under 120/80 is considered normal.  Anything 120/80 and higher is bad).

Enter – Real Food and Yoga.

For the last couple of months, I have nearly completely eliminated processed foods from my diet.  I say nearly because, as you might expect, I’m nowhere near perfect.  I do eat out at restaurants and we do buy a few processed snacks and things.  But for the most part, I’ve been cooking everything from scratch with whole ingredients – I’ve even mostly stopped using canned goods like tomatoes and beans, instead using fresh tomatoes and dried beans that I’ve cooked myself, in an effort to get as much processed sodium products out of my diet as possible.

In addition, I started doing yoga.  I’ve been doing it almost daily for about 6 weeks now.

Guess what?  My blood pressure dropped like a stone.  It dropped so low that I stopped taking meds because I was getting light-headed from *low* blood pressure.  This from the person whose BP wouldn’t budge for years with conventionally recommended diet, exercise and medications.  Neat, huh?

Now, I’m no doctor, so if you have high blood pressure too, don’t go throwing your meds in the trash on account of what I have to say.  Always be sure to check with your doctor and make sure what you plan to do *works* before you take any rash actions.   I don’t know how much of my health improvement is due to the diet, and how much is due to the yoga, and frankly I don’t care.  This is my path going forward.  I’m hooked!

“Cut-The-Crap” Whipped Topping

You may be wondering what *any* of this has to do with whipped topping?

Well, I’ll tell you.

Not really surprisingly, if you think about it, after changing my diet and doing daily yoga, I started to drop a few pounds without even really trying.  Which, of course, motivated me to actually try and see how well I could do.  I’ve just been tracking calories and trying to reduce portions and such – nothing too drastic, but some additional weight loss would definitely help my blood pressure issues and just make me feel better about myself in general.

When it came time to make these adorable Individual Warm Chocolate Cakes, I didn’t want to totally blow my weight loss trend, y’know?  Instead of serving these little cakes with a big, delicious (but fattening) scoop of vanilla ice cream, I decided to try this “Cut the Crap” Whipped Topping I found in the Biggest Loser Dessert Cookbook.

However, there was one problem.  The original recipe called for 3/4 cup of light agave syrup.  From what I can see, agave syrup is about as healthy as high fructose corn syrup.  Yes, it’s made from a natural source (but so is HFCS) and apparently doesn’t spike your blood sugar, but it’s about as processed as processed can get.

So I decided to try it with raw honey instead.  Turns out, I could use even less honey than the recipe called for and it worked just fine (may use even less next time).  It gives the topping a lovely, floral honey flavor that we really enjoyed at my house.  Next time, I think I will try it with maple syrup – I bet that will be good, too.

The advantages of this whipped topping recipe over, say, whipped cream, is that it keeps really well in the fridge without losing its fluffiness.  And, you can even freeze it, according to the book (haven’t tried that yet).  And, on top of it all, it’s healthier.  A whole half cup of this topping is only 69 calories (obviously loaded with sugars, though, so if you’re diabetic or watching your sugar, please take note).   We didn’t use anywhere near a half cup – a couple of tablespoons is more like it.

Anyway, with that long, involved introduction, here’s my version of this yummy whipped topping that I can use without feeling guilty:

Swedish Lemon Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • Baking spray or butter and flour for the pan
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon baking emulsion or extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • Lemon zest or slices for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with the rack in the center of the oven. Spray 9-inch cast-iron skillet or cake pan with baking spray.
  2. Measure the sugar into a medium bowl, add the zest and rub them together with your fingers, until sugar is moist and aromatic and the zest is well-distributed.
  3. Whisk in the eggs one at a time, then the salt and extracts. Whisk until well blended.
  4. Switch to a rubber spatula and stir in the flour.
  5. Add the melted butter and mix with spatula, just until well-incorporated. Batter should look homogenous and shiny. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle sugar evenly over the top of the cake. If you’re using a cake or pie pan, place the pan on a baking sheet.
  6. Bake the cake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until it is golden and a little crisp on the outside; the inside will remain moist. Remove the pan from the oven and let the cake cool for 5 minutes, then run a thin knife around the sides and bottom of the cake to loosen it. You can serve the cake warm or cooled, directly from the skillet or turned out onto a serving plate.
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