Zero-Calorie* Creamy Vegetable Soup

OK – technically speaking, this soup has 96.5 calories per serving (still a bargain), but since you can burn 100 calories by cooking for 34 minutes, this soup nets you zero calories. That’s my kind of math! (Similar to “subscribe and save 80% off the newsstand price” or “buy 2 pairs of shoes, get the 3rd pair free”; how can you go wrong?)

(Calorie information is from sparkpeople.com. I was excited to learn that you can also burn 100 calories by rearranging furniture for 14 minutes – finally justification for one of my favorite pastimes!)

Besides having “zero” calories, this soup 1) tastes rich and complex, 2) is gluten and dairy-free, and 3) contains four types of vegetables but no one will ever know. (We have some vegetable-phobes in our house.) And – like any pureed soup, it can also be dressed up for Halloween with a sour cream spider web.  This will up the calorie count a little, but will keep the attention away from the exact contents of the soup. (I called it Mystery Soup.)

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After-ghoul Snack

I promised my husband I wouldn’t get carried away with the Halloween blog posting, but the kids still need a healthy after-school snack, don’t they?

Orange bell peppers make festive (and edible) dip vessels, and are a lot easier to carve than pumpkins.

Cut off the tops like you would for a jack-o-lantern, then use a grapefruit knife (what do you mean you don’t have one?) or your hands to remove the inner membranes. Rinse out any seeds.

Carve a simple jack-o-lantern face. My nose and mouth were a little too low; try to keep the “face” on the flat part of the pepper, before it curves under. This will keep the filling from oozing out too much.

Fill with a dark-colored dip, such as black bean or a 50/50 mixture of hummus and olive tapenade. (The stuff Peyton Manning keeps talking about in his DirectTV commercials.) I used about 1/2 cup of store-bought hummus and 1/2 cup of store-bought kalamata tapenade.

For a better presentation (since I messed up the face), I elevated the pepper jack-o-lantern with an upside-down custard cup.

Serve after school (or at a Halloween party) with carrots and breadsticks. And don’t forget to eat the pepper afterwards, unless you’re wary of double-dippers. . .

 

Warning: 31 Days of Crazy Ahead

There’s a whole spectrum of crazy when it comes to Halloween enthusiasm, ranging from “Appropriately Spirited” to “Get Out the Commitment Papers.” I like to think I fall somewhere in the middle – you know, having fun but keeping it real. Some of my nearest and dearest, however, think I’m a few slices short of a loaf. . .

In case you can’t tell, I’m a Ghoul Scout.

With 31 days to go until All Hallows’ Eve and the festive spirit building daily, I thought this year we’d try a Countdown Calendar Tree:

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