Tag Archives: low fat

Sour Cherry & Ricotta Strudel

We are lucky enough to live around the corner from Paesanella, which is just the most delicious cheese shop.  One of my favourites from there is their fresh ricotta – I can’t tell you how scrumptious it is.  You can buy it in 1kg lots, but I prefer the 2kg tub as it makes me think of new and interesting ways of using it up.  Of course, one of my ultimate favourites is just spreading it, straight from the tub, on fresh sourdough bread, perhaps adding a few slices of fresh tomato and some freshly cracked black pepper….delish and very YUM!!

So the other night I had some ricotta in the fridge, also a packet of opened filo pastry and some morello cherries in the pantry.  I started to think that that sounded like a good combination and strudel came to mind.  I googled to get an idea of some similar recipes but couldn’t find anything that grabbed my attention, rather just some ideas for quantities and how not to do the strudel!

So I improvised, and this is what I came up with….

Sour cherry and ricotta strudel

Serves 8

  • 250g ricotta
  • 1 large egg
  • 50g honey
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 sheets filo pastry
  • 20g melted butter or oil
  • 1 tablespoon breadcrumbs
  • 2/3 of a 670g bottle of morello cherries, drained

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.  Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper

Mix together ricotta, egg, honey and cinnamon until mixture is smooth

Lay out 2 sheets of filo pastry on top of each other with the long end facing you. Brush with a little of the melted butter or oil and sprinkle with ½ tablespoon of breadcrumbs.  Place another 2 sheets on top and repeat with butter/oil and breadcrumbs.  Place the remaining two sheets on top.

Cover half of the filo pastry closest to you with the ricotta mix, leaving about 2 cm free on the sides.  Cover the top of the ricotta with the morello cherries. Starting from the long side facing you, fold the pastry over the ricotta, tucking the ends in slightly and then proceed to roll the strudel up. 

When fully rolled, transfer the strudel to the baking tray and bake in the hot oven for 18-20 minutes until golden brown.

Serve warm, preferably

Note: instead of using cinnamon, next time I may try a little lemon or orange zest mixed in with the ricotta :)

Per serve 148 calories/620kJ

or using low fat ricotta 141 calories/592 kJ

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Lemon Blueberry and Polenta Cakes

This morning I bought a new cake tin and was bursting to use it.  It’s a mini bundt cake pan (how cute!)

These lemon cakes were the first idea I came up with to use my new pan for 2 reasons –  1. we have a pile of lemons to use and 2. I saw this recipe only last week on  Cooking Light which really took my fancy! (Mind you I didn’t make the exact recipe, I played around with it just a little – first I only did 1/2 the quantity, I used wholemeal self raising flour, I cut the sugar down to 1/3 rather than 1/2 cup (all American recipes are too sweet) and of course added some frozen blueberries (YUM!))

One of the things I love about low fat cakes is the simple muffin style way of making them.  Two bowls are needed, one for wet and one for dry ingredients.  The fat most often used is liquid, either oil or melted butter.  Once the wet and dry ingredients have been mixed together separately, the two are combined and gently folded together until only just mixed through.  Over-mixing can develop the gluten in the flour (that’s why you knead dough) which will develop a tough, rough textured muffin or cake in this case!

Although that sounds long and complicated, this type of cake is actually really quick and easy to make.  Much faster than a traditional beat butter and sugar, add eggs one at a time, blah blah…. full fat cake, and a lot less mess (well, in my kitchen there is!)

These cakes apart from looking really cute are rather delicious, especially with the polenta which gives them that slight textured crunch which I really like.  I fancied putting a glaze on them to get that lovely drizzled effect running down the bumpy edges, however they don’t need it and are just as delicous naked :)

In summer a few fresh blueberries could be added to the centre hole and on the top to really lift presentation.  I tried with a few de-frosted frozen blueberries but they looked a little deflated!

These little cakes could even do as a really light, portion controlled dessert – at only around 130 calories each, I think that is a pretty light dessert option.  Enjoy :)

Lemon and blueberry polenta cakes

  • 2/3 cup (100g) wholemeal self raising flour
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal/ polenta
  • 1/3 cup  sugar
  • 1/3 cup frozen blueberries
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1  large egg
  • 1/3  cup  low fat buttermilk (I used ½ low fat milk, ½ low fat natural yoghurt)
  • 30ml (1 ½ tablespoons) olive oil

Preheat oven to 170 degrees.  Spray or brush 8 holes of a 12 hole mini bundt tin with a small amount of oil (alternately use a regular muffin pan, but they will take a little longer to cook)

Combine sifted flour, polenta, sugar, blueberries and lemon zest in a medium sized bowl, mix well to combine ingredients and coat blueberries with flour. Make a well in centre of mixture.

In a smaller bowl, whisk egg, then add buttermilk and oil, whisking well. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture, stirring gently until completely combined. Carefully spoon batter into the 8 prepared pans and smooth top. Bake at 170° for 12-14 minutes or until firm to touch. 

Allow to cool in tin for 2-3 minutes before loosening each cake gently around edges with your fingers, then flip tray onto a cooling rack allowing the cakes to pop out of the tin.  Allow to cool almost completely before drizzling with the glaze mixture, or enjoy just as they are!

Optional Icing glaze

  • 2 tablespoons icing sugar
  • 3-4 teaspoons lemon juice

Mix together to desired consistency.  Using a teaspoon, drizzle over cooled cakes

Makes 8 cakes @ 52g each

543kJ/129 calories

4g fat, 0.7g saturated fat

18g carbohydrate, 1.8g fibre

With icing glaze

589kJ/140 calories each

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Filed under Cakes, Cupcakes, Muffins

My 4 ingredient Quick & Easy Creamy Pumpkin Soup

As much as I love to cook, and cook from scratch, I do appreciate a good tasty recipe with not too many ingredients and no fussing about!  A recipe where for only a few minutes of chopping and blending a good amount of delicious food is produced.  This pumpkin soup is a staple recipe of mine that I make often as it fits in this category – it is soooo incredibly quick and easy and it is very yummy.

Pumpkins are one of my favorite vegetables when cooking as they go in virtually anything, sweet or savoury – muffins, cupcakes, casseroles, curries….and who doesn’t like pumpkin soup!  I love butternut pumpkin as the flesh is not too hard so it is easy to cut and most of the time you don’t need to take the skin off which saves time and adds extra fibre (doesn’t a dietitian love that!).  Pumpkins are in season right now which is why the price has come right down.  My butternut pumpkin (weighing nearly 2kg) cost only a little over $1 which makes for a very cheap soup :)

This would be a great snack for kids after school at this time of year as not only will it help to warm them up, it is a great way of getting extra vegetable serves into them!  Of course a larger serve makes a great lunch with some wholegrain or sourdough toast topped with a lean protein like chicken, tuna, salmon or low fat cheese.  This is what we had for lunch today and it was delicious.  Enjoy :)

Creamy Pumpkin Soup

Makes 10 snack sized servings (320g per serve = 1 1/3 cups approx)

  • 1.75kg butternut pumpkin (= 1.6kg pumpkin after discarding seeds etc)
  • 2 medium sized brown onions
  • 1.2 litres stock or water + 1 heaped Tablespoon Massel stock powder (vegetable or chicken)
  • 1 cup evaporated milk – the light and creamy one

Cut pumpkin in half just above the bottom bulb shaped bit

Cut off the hard top bit that was attached to the plant, then without taking the skin off, roughly chop this section of the pumpkin.  The smaller you cut it will cut down on the cooking time.

Cut the very bottom off the bottom bit that has the seeds in it, then chop it in half lengthways, then in half again (so it is now in quarters).  Using a spoon you can now easily scoop the seeds out.  Again without skinning it, chop all four sections roughly.  Add all of the pumpkin to a reasonable sized pot = one that can easily hold approx 3 1/2 litres of soup.

Chop top and bottom off onions and cut into quarters.  This is the easiest way to peel them.  Place peeled onions in pot.

Add stock or water and stock powder to the pot, place lid on pot and over a high heat bring to the boil.  Once at boil, turn heat down to a simmer and with the lid still on, continue to cook for 15-30 minutes depending on size of pumpkin (larger sized pumpkin pieces will require longer cooking)

Blend either in food processor or with hand blender.  When smooth, add evaporated milk and stir thorough.  Taste and add a little salt or pepper according to your requirements.  Some fresh chopped herbs like parsley or coriander can also be sprinkled on top.

   Per serving  –  103 Calories    6g Protein   

1g Fat   0.8g Saturated Fat    16g Carbohydrate   3g Fibre   

120mg Calcium (that’s more than 10% of the daily requirements for most of us!)

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Filed under Soups, Uncategorized

Spelt Carrot Muffins

After trying to find snacks for my clients following a low FODMAP diet and not coming up with much, I decided to create a low FODMAP muffin.  The low FODMAP diet is essentially an elimination diet which is useful for reducing symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome such as abdominal bloating, excessive wind, abdominal pain and changes in bowel habits (ie. constipation or diarrhoea).  I see a lot of people with varying degrees of these symptoms which apart from being uncomfortable and annoying, can often be life-limiting.

Many foods we commonly eat contain FODMAPs so it can be quite difficult to access foods for this diet, especially if you stay on it for some time as boredom may set in!

There are a few considerations when making low FODMAP muffins – you can’t use wheat flour, many fruit like apples or pears, dried fruit, honey or large amounts of milk or yoghurt.  All of these ingredients are usually featured in my normal muffin recipes.

Spelt flour is low FODMAP and can be used instead of regular wheat flour (which is high FODMAP).  Spelt is an ‘ancient’ variety of wheat, so it still contains gluten and is often tolerated by those who think they may be gluten-sensitive.   You can find spelt flour on the supermarket shelf now it is that popular!  It comes in white or wholemeal like regular flour, however you will need to add your own baking powder for a self raising form.  I used an organic wholemeal Australian produced spelt flour (which is the preferred choice for the diet).  Instead of raisins or sultanas I used a combination of walnuts with sunflower and pumpkin seeds for extra crunch and carrots are low FODMAP.  All up I think I produced a pretty good muffin.  For those of you with IBS, hopefully you can enjoy pain-free! :)

Spelt Carrot Muffins   –  Low FODMAP

  • 1 ½ cups wholemeal spelt flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon sunflower seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon pumpkin seeds
  • 2 carrots (150g), grated
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 Tablespoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • ¼ cup lactose-free milk
  • ¼ cup low fat natural yoghurt

Preheat oven to 180 degrees and line 14 muffin-tray holes with paper cases.

Sift together flour, baking powder and cinnamon.  Stir in nuts, seeds and carrot.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs.  Add oil, vanilla, milk and yoghurt and whisk until well combined.

Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients bowl and mix until just combined. 

Spoon into muffin trays.  Bake for 15 minutes, approx or until they are firm to touch (spring back)

Delicious while still warm!

Makes 14 Serves

Per Serving (42g  Muffin)  –   Calories 130      Protein 4g    Fat 7g   Sat fat 1g   Carbohydrate 12g    Fibre 2g

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Fig Date and Walnut Loaf

Last night while we were at the roller derby (yes, roller derby! which actually was fun) a friend of ours asked if I had any suitable cake recipes for someone with Type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol and I immediately thought of this one.

The requirements for someone with both conditions is to choose food that is low GI, low in saturated fat and high in soluble fibre.  This cake is all of those things – low GI, low in saturated fat and a good source of soluble fibre.  The other thing to consider of course is the serving size.  Keeping to around 15g of carbohydrate for a snack serve is a good guide (which is roughly equivalent to a medium sized piece of fruit)

This is a high fibre chewy style of cake that is rather delicious straight out of the oven and can be spread with low fat cream cheese or ricotta for a few extra calories.  It is very filling and keeps suprisingly well, but I can only guarantee 4 days as in my house it is all gone by then!

Enjoy :)

Fig Date and Walnut Loaf or Muffins

Makes 18 muffins or 1 loaf cut into 18 slices

  • ½ cup dried figs, chopped
  • ½ cup dried dates, chopped
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 50g margarine (or butter if you don’t have high cholesterol)
  • 125ml water
  • 1 teaspoon bicarb soda
  • ½ cup wholemeal plain flour
  • 1 cup wholemeal self raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 small banana, over-ripe and mashed
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Place figs, dates, sugar, butter or margarine and water in a small saucepan and cook for 3 minutes.  Remove from stove, add soda, stir through well, then allow to cool.

 Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 160 degrees and grease and line the base of a loaf tin or paper line muffin trays.

 Sift together flours, ginger and cinnamon.  Add walnuts.  Mix together banana, egg and vanilla.  Add to date mixture, then fold in dry ingredients.

Spoon mixture into loaf tin or muffin tins and bake for 40 minutes/15 minutes approximately, until a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean.  Remove from tins and cool on wire rack

Per serve

122 calories

17g carbohydrate (approx 1 carbohydrate serve/exchange)

0.6g saturated fat

3g fibre

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Filed under Cakes, Muffins

Zucchini Corn & Basil Soup

Just back from a few days away for Easter, I had some zucchinis in the fridge looking a little tired, just begging to be rescued.  With little else available, not much time on my hands and as I hate throwing food away, soup seemed like the easiest and best option for them. 

Green vegetables are an important part of any healthy eating plan and are of course best eaten soon after buying them to make sure they retain all of their wonderful nutrients.  Zucchinis typically are an excellent source of manganese (an important trace mineral) and vitamin C (antioxidant, immune system) and a very good source of magnesium (nerve & muscle function),  beta-carotene (precursor for Vitamin A – eyes & immune system), fibre (healthy bowel function), potassium (blood pressure), folate (red blood cell production & cardiovascular health), copper (trace mineral that works along with iron), riboflavin (vitamin B2 – important role in energy production) and phosphorus (mineral required for good bone and cell health). Wow!

I always have frozen corn on hand as it is so handy, although I will admit fresh corn does always taste better.  Corn, a  low GI starchy vegetable is a good source of many nutrients including thiamin (vitamin B1 – nerve, muscle & heart function), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5 – lots of roles including energy production), folate, dietary fibre, vitamin C, phosphorus and manganese.

Fresh herbs are a great addition to any dish adding a wonderful fresh flavour as well as extra nutrients.  Basil is one of my favourite herbs as it is so versatile (goes well with Asian, Italian or Greek food) and very easy to grow here in Sydney. Adding milk to the soup gives it a little creaminess but also adds calcium (for bone strength) which most of us don’t get enough of every day.

This is a really quick and yummy soup which makes a very healthy snack.  A larger serve could also be a great lunch along with some crusty sourdough bread topped with a lean protein source (turkey, tuna or even a little cheese for extra calcium!).

I think this is one of those staples you will make again and again….Enjoy :)

 

Zucchini Corn and Basil Soup

Makes 4 serves

  • 2 large zucchinis
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons Massel vegetable stock powder
  • 1/2 cup low fat milk
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh basil, shredded (or you could use chives, parsley, coriander…)
  • pepper

Place zucchini, corn and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer over gentle heat for 10 minutes or until zucchini is soft. Remove from heat and puree in a blender or with a hand held blender until smooth. Stir through stock powder, milk and basil. Add pepper to taste.

Each serve (just over 1 cup/250ml) has 81 calories, 4g protein, 1 g total fat, 0.3g saturated fat, 3g of fibre (approx 10% of daily fibre requirements) and 67mg calcium (roughly 7% of your daily calcium requirement)

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Figs with Greek Yoghurt & Honey

I love this time of year, not only as the weather is milder, but there is so much wonderful fruit around

One of those wonderful fruit, which has a very short season so you have to grab them quickly, is figs

Figs are high in fibre, which is important for regular bowel function and a good source of potassium which can help normalise blood pressure.  Regardless, they are yummy.  They have a soft, smooth skin, slightly chewy flesh and who can resist those crunchy seeds (those crunchy seeds initially put me off wanting to try them – but that was many many years ago!)

They are delicious on their own, but also team well with both sweet & savoury dishes.  In fact, one of my favorite salads is a simple rocket, fresh fig and goats cheese salad with a balsamic vinegar & olive oil dressing, which teams well with steak, chicken or fish – yum :)  

Figs are also fabulous on a cheese platter as they go so well with any cheese, including thinly shaved parmessan and either fresh or baked low fat ricotta.  However, this is one of my absolute favorite ways of eating them, which makes a great snack, that is both quick and delicious and there is no cooking required!!  It is also high in calcium, which is important for everyone for strong healthy bones, low fat and very low GI (and moreish!)

Enjoy :)

Fresh Figs with Low fat Greek Yoghurt & Honey

Serves 1 (note – picture shows 2 serves)

Simply grab a fresh fig, take off the very top of the stem and cut it into quarters

Place 3 tablespoons of a delicious low fat Greek style yoghurt (I recommend Jalna or Black Swan) in a bowl

Place figs around edge of yoghurt and drizzle with 1 1/2 teaspoons of a really good honey (we are currently using one from a Farmers Market in Mudgee which is deeelicious!)

This divine snack has a tiny 95 calories and 160mg of calcium

(47mg sodium & 285mg potassium)

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Beetroot Dip

 

Many commercially available dips can be high in fat, high in calories and contain fillers like breadcrumbs as well as undesirable  preservatives, acidity regulators, extra salt and even sugar.

Dips are really easy to make yourself, especially if you have a food processor, and beetroot dip is one of the easiest as it has only 3 ingredients.  It is also one of the cheapest if you use homebrand beetroot (75c per tin in Woolworths and a product of Australia) and this beetroot dip is low in fat, especially saturated fat.

When eating dips, one of the traps can be what you serve them with.  Many savoury style biscuits are very high in fat and so is the trendier dipping choice, lavoche.  I prefer to use vegetable sticks (VERY low in calories!) or pita crisps which are quick and easy to make yourself (watch for upcoming post).  Just dry bake sliced pita breads in a moderately hot oven for about 20 minutes.

I encourage you to give this a go as it is deeelicious.  Enjoy :)

Beetroot Dip

Serves 8

  • 1 x 425g tin sliced beetroot, drained
  • 2 Tablespoons tahini
  • 1 teaspoon horseradish cream

Place beetroot, tahini and horseradish cream in food processor and process until smooth.  That’s it!!

Per serve 55g = approx 3 tablespoons = 56 calories :)

Served with 1/4 large lebanese bread = approx 120 calories

 

 

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Cornbread…yum!!!

It may be hard to believe considering my track record of posting many, many sweet recipes, but I actually prefer savoury foods over sweet.  One of those savoury foods which has always intrigued me is cornbread.  For some reason I have been on a mission to try to find a great cornbread recipe (during which time I have found many terrible ones)…and I think I finally have found it :)

Cornbread is very common in American cuisine, more specifically south or southwestern cuisine where it is often served with barbecued meats or chilli con carne.   Cornbread can be baked, steamed or fried.  These different cooking techniques will dramatically change both the taste and texture of the finished product.  Sometimes it can be so sloppy it is eaten with a spoon!  However I prefer the baked style which is also known as a quick bread = a bread which is quickly made since it doesn’t contain yeast. 

Some cornbread recipes I have tried in the past have been quite dry as the cornmeal or polenta used in it has a dry and gritty texture, but this also helps to provide cornbread with the lovely crunch.  With this recipe I added zucchini and used buttermilk (1/2 yoghurt, 1/2 milk)  to provide a little extra moisture.  I also added some fresh red capsicum as I think it teams really well with corn.  Roasted capsicum could be used instead.  Other ideas for more flavours to add are cold roasted pumpkin, crumbled fetta and/or fresh basil.  I think I will try all of those next time and make them into individual sized muffins.  They would be a great picnic food.

This recipe made 1 x 8 inch (20cm) square tin.  It is very easy to slice so can be slice quite thinly (or thickly of course).  It lends itself to spreading butter on it, but try to resist the urge as it is not necessary and will only add many extra unnecessary calories and saturated fat.  It is lovely warm straight out of the oven on its own, and I can imagine serving it with some delicious homemade tomato & basil or pumpkin soup….mmm. Enjoy :)

Cornbread with zucchini and capsicum

  • ½ cup wholemeal self raising flour
  • ½ cup white self raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 2 Tablespoons castor sugar
  • 1 medium zucchini (150g) grated
  • ½ cup diced red capsicum
  • 1 cup buttermilk (I used half yoghurt, half milk)
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 egg

 Line a 20cm square tin with baking paper.  Preheat oven to 170 degrees.

Into a large bowl, sift flours and baking powder, add salt, polenta, sugar, zucchini and capsicum.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together egg, buttermilk and olive oil, pour into dry ingredients and stir through until well mixed. 

Pour into prepared tin and bake for 30 mins approximately, until firm to touch on top. 

Leave to cool in tin for 5 minutes, then place on rack to cool.

Would easily slice into 24 pieces with each piece having:

312kJ = 74 calories

2g protein, 10g carbohydrate, 2.5g fat with only 0.5g saturated fat and 0.7g fibre

Oops, I forgot to add that it is a little odd putting sugar in a savoury bread, however I have tried it with and without and it definitely has a better texture WITH the sugar.  The end result is in no way sweet.

I also do not usually add salt when cooking but this is another time when it makes such a difference in bringing out all the lovely flavours of the bread.  It is only a small amount after all and would be a lot less than what is in regular bread :)

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Zucchini, Walnut & Cranberry Loaf

I fully embrace any way in which you can increase your vegetable intake so this sounded like a good recipe to try – plus I got a heap of cheap zucchinis recently so was looking for something to do with them other than make soup!

This cake in many ways is similar to a carrot cake (so I may try it with carrots next and will let you know how that goes).  Zucchinis make a good base for a cake as they are pretty tasteless, however they add plenty of moisture.  Walnuts add a great crunch as well as being a good source of the essential omega 3 alpha linolenic acid and dried cranberries add a nice tartness (even though they are covered in sugar!)

This cake is very moist so it keeps quite well and is not too sweet.  I urge you to try it.  Enjoy :)

Zucchini Walnut and Cranberry Loaf

Makes 14 serves

  • ¾ cup wholemeal plain flour
  • ¾ cup white self raising flour
  • ½ teaspoon bicarb soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • A pinch of nutmeg
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • 1 ½ cups (200g) grated zucchini
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup brown sugar

Line a loaf pan with baking paper.  Preheat oven to 180 degrees.  Sift together flours, soda, cinnamon and nutmeg into a medium sized bowl.  Add walnuts and cranberries and stir to coat with flour mix.  Add zucchini and set aside.  In another smaller bowl, whisk eggs and vanilla.  Add oil and sugar and whisk well. Pour egg mix into flour bowl and fold through until thoroughly combined.  Plop into prepared pan and smooth top.

Bake in oven for 30-35 mins until firm to touch.  Note that this cake doesn’t rise very much when cooking.  Wait until cool before cutting. 

This mix can also be used to make individual cakes or muffins

Makes 14 yummy slices at 150 calories each

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