Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Favorite Fake-outs...and a Halloween treat idea

I love to indulge - whether that means partaking in a rich, gourmet meal or digging into a big juicy hamburger with tater-tots. My taste definitely ranges from fine dining to real junk: I love it all! But about 90% of the time, I try to stick to a pretty healthy diet, eating as cleanly as possible, avoiding processed foods, and buying organic when it makes sense. When I find some middle ground where I can eat a healthy (or healthier) version of my favorite indulgences, I love it! That's why I love "fake-outs" so much - you get to eat something fun, while not doing too much damage to yourself. So I've accumulated a lot of these fake-out recipes and products and I would like to start sharing more of them with you.

Trader Joe's Soy Nuggets

With all the age-old rumors about chicken nuggets and the recent widespread circulation of this story about the pink goop that makes up McNuggets, it's nice to have a healthy alternative since I grew up on nuggets. These are great because not only are they extremely affordable, they are ready in the microwave within a couple minutes. They are meatless, but one of those great meatless items where you can't really tell. These lowfat nuggets are even breaded with stone-ground wheat flour, which I love, and they are artificial flavoring and preservative-free. Even if you hate meat substitute products, give these a try. One 4 nugget serving has only 120 calories and 2 grams of fat. I always have them in my freezer for a quick meal or fun snack. Find them in the freezer section at your local Trader Joe's.

Rustic Crust Ready Made Pizza Crusts in Ultimate Whole Grain

Pizza is one thing that I definitely have an incredible appetite for - I'm not proud to say that it wouldn't be that difficult for me to eat an entire pizza on my own. So while I definitely don't advocate doing that even with these delicious healthy crusts, you might still be tempted to do so. Rustic Crust has a line of all natural ready made pizza crusts and all natural pizza ingredients. Making your own pizza is the easiest way to make it healthier, because you can control what goes on it. That's one reason I love these. Just brush them with olive oil, top with your own sauce, cheese, and veggies, and pop in the oven - you will have a homemade all natural pizza about as fast as cooking a frozen one. I especially love the whole grain crust since I avoid bleached flour and mostly stick to whole wheat and grains. These can be found at your local Whole Foods and I've also seen them in the organics section of Jewel. You can also check them out online on their website.

No Pudge Fudge Brownie Mix

I've been making these for years and no one has ever noticed that they are not full fat because they are so fudgy and decadent. No Pudge brownie mix is fat free and made from all natural ingredients. Instead of adding eggs and oil to the powder mix, you simply add non-fat vanilla yogurt (I usually use Light and Fit or Trader Joe's nonfat organic). What results is a pan of delicious brownies, even better than some full fat mixes. The No-Pudge brand comes in a few different flavors, but I always stick to the original. The box even includes an easy single-serving recipe that you can make in the microwave if you don't want to make an entire batch. No Pudge is available at most grocery stores, as well as Trader Joe's and some specialty shops.

In honor of Halloween coming up this weekend, I used this favorite fake-out of mine to make super cute Halloween treats. Here is an easy and impressive looking idea:

Halloween Brownie Bites

Prepare No Pudge Fudge Brownie mix according to the instructions on the box. Take a cupcake tin and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Place a heaping tablespoon of batter into each cupcake well (batter makes enough for 12 brownies this way).

Bake according to the instructions for the mix, but the brownies will most likely take a few minutes less than the recipe inducates since the batter is divided up. Allow to cool before removing from the tin to decorate.

To create a spider web pattern on top of the brownies, use whatever type of white colored icing you prefer. I bought the Betty Crocker Brownie topper cream cheese frosting, which works great. Use the narrow tube or a pastry bag (or ziploc with a corner cut off) to make circles with the frosting in a target pattern on the top of the brownie. Then use a tooth pic or skewer, dragging from the center to the edge of the brownies in lines. This easy technique will look a lot more complicated than it actually is.

Check back soon for more of my favorite fake-outs. If you have suggestions, keep them coming! And thanks for all the comments :)


  1. That chicken nugget link needs more of a warning. Horrifying, vile shit. I really need to go to Trader Joe's sometime and shop around.

  2. Haha! I'm's been so viral that I figured more people had seen it. I know I was also horrified when I saw it as well as devastated since I love McNugs. Let's be honest...I will probably try my best to forget I ever saw that and still treat myself to them every so often

  3. Halloween shots are about as creative as I get cooking-wise for said holiday. On a different note, any ideas how to use the leeks sitting on my counter? I don't want to buy more than a few ingredients in order to use them. (Potato leek soup is out, I am too lazy.)

  4. Leeks are pretty tasty if you chop and sort of pan fry/sautee them so they get crispy, or you can achieve the same thing if you toss them in oil and roast. That's easy enough and can go pretty well with any protein, but especially well with delicate fish like tilapia, or scallops are also a popular leek pairing. On the cheap, chicken sounds good too