Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Temptation Tuesday: Let Us Eat Cake (or at least adecent brownie)

Lynne Marshall explores the temptation of cake against the reality of writer's bottom!

As the years tick by, and my writing career expands, so do my hips. Yes, I’ve been fighting the same battle that many of you face - middle-aged spread - and I’m here to tell you I’m hanging on for dear life!

The facts tell us, according to “Calories for Dummies,” that for each year after age thirty we women burn off seven fewer calories a day. It doesn’t sound like much, but twenty years down the line that process speeds up even more. This is where our double chins and wingspan develop, and our dress size modulates up the chart, if we’re not careful.

Here’s the kicker, we still want to eat like we’re twenty-five, but if we do we sure as heck don’t look like we did at twenty-five. If we ate 2000 calories a day and maintained our weight back then, we’d have to settle for 1800 calories a day now, plus exercise to tip the scale back anywhere near the good old days.

Why, you may ask, do I bring this topic up on Temptation Tuesday? Because I want my cake and to eat it too! And I figure if I want to enjoy something that soothes my sweet tooth but doesn’t come out of one of those dang 100 calorie snack-sized bags that pretends to be dessert, so might you.

And because I love each and every one of you, I’ve gone out on the limb to find lower calorie, yet “real” tasting desserts that will fulfill that deep desire that dwells in all women – to consume chocolate and carbs! And, as an experiment, I have baked each of the recipes to make sure they are worth eating and sharing with friends. In other words, I’ve sacrificed my expanding waist to discover an almost guilt-free dessert that tastes like dessert and doesn’t blow the diet all to H – ee – double toothpicks!

As long as we accept that gone are the days when we can eat half a pan of brownies, or six chocolate chip cookies, warm out of the oven, with a glass of whole milk,
we have a fighting chance to enjoy a dessert every now and then and not have to kill ourselves at the gym for a month afterwards. My goal in writing this blog was to find a dessert that was less than 300 calories and lower in fat content, but not in taste.
I’ve chosen double chocolate cake, chocolate caramel brownies, and chocolate chip cookies. Do you see a theme here? After baking all of them, my favorite, the one that tastes the most like the “real” thing, rich and comforting, was … THE BROWNIES! Each serving is 2 x1 inch and has 141 calories (so you can have two and still be under that 300 cal goal! YAY) and only 25% of those calories are from fat, which is great.

Here’s some bad news: The cake recipe was terrible! And the “healthy” cookies were worse. I wouldn’t feed them to an enemy. There is just no way to compete with Toll House cookies, you know? Though I did make a different batch with the left over chocolate chips, using the regular Toll House recipe with a bit of doctoring up (see how cleverly I’ve slipped Medical Romance into this blog?) on the fat and calorie content by using fake egg liquid and Smart Balance spread instead of butter to make decent tasting diet pleasing cookies. I’d feed those to my mother.

I don’t want to take up unnecessary space on this blog, but if any of you are interested in the chocolate caramel brownie recipe, you can contact me via my website and I will gladly pass it along.

And because I’m a nurse and I write for the Medical Romance line, I feel it is my duty to inform you about the average piece of chocolate cake per serving (106g-wt.): 440 calories (300 calories from fat), 34g total fat, 16g saturated fat, 155mg cholesterol. My suggestion is to use egg substitute, and scout out those newer boxed mixes that are made with 50% sugar reduction by including Splenda. If you prefer your favorite tried and true cake recipe, you can cut the calories in half with smaller servings, which are better than no servings at all, right?

What have I learned from my weekend of baking? Something I already knew before I started – All good things must be doled out in moderation. Dang it!

Come on then, repeat that annoying mantra with me – all things in moderation, and please pass the brownies!

Lynne Marshall writes Medical Romance for Harlequin Mills and Boon. Her current UK release is Temporary Doctor, Surprise Father 6/09, and she looks forward to her North American release of Assignment: Baby in July 2009.


  1. Hi Lynne... this is pretty exciting...I might be the first comment!
    You mentioned the magic word, CHOCOLATE, and my little ears pricked up!
    I'd just like to say thank you for that marvellous research on our behalf.
    So hold the cake and cookies and just pass me the brownies too please! I'm ready right now, cup of tea in hand!

  2. Sharon, I was so depressed after spending so much time and effort to make those other "low fat" desserts, when they tasted so ordinary, that I wanted to cry.
    Then, I tasted the brownies! yeah!

    Thanks for breaking the ice. = >

  3. Love the blog, Lynne. Everything's okay in moderation--that's exactly what I teach the kids in my healthy cooking class. Once I made healthy cupcakes with applesauce, maple syrup, and creamcheese and they were so nasty. Chocolate-covered strawberries are a much better choice. Fruit group! LOL

  4. Gotta love brownies! Thanks for all your hard work on our behalf, Lynne - we owe you!!!


  5. Oh Suzi, I am with you. I was on a low carb diet, and when I'd reached my goal (that time - ha ha) I got to have chocolate dipped strawberries made from 1 ounce semisweet chocolate,1/2 tablespoon of whipping cream, and a dash of almond extract. I only got to dip 8 strawberries and one serving was four of them, (This is the South Beach Diet's idea of dessert!!!!) but my husband and I had a wonderful time feeding each other the gloriously dipped berries while they lasted. : ) And they were amazingly satisfying!

  6. Hey Christine! I am currently serving an appetizer made from that humongous zuchinni you gave me today after our bike ride. I've thinky sliced it, topped it lightly with olive oil spray, sprinkled it with garlic powder and grated parmesan cheese. Mmm mm
    can you tell it's dinner time here in California?

  7. Hi Lynne. Wow, I'm always impressed by how you go above and beyond to ensure your fellow writers/readers look after their health. It's a tough job I know but it sounds like you're more than up to the job :-)

    I know you wouldn't know it looking at me but I'm not such a huge chocloate fan. Yes I like it but I dont ever feel compelled to buy it or crave it. I'd have a mango over chocolate and I'd probably kill for caramel...

    And I'm sorry to crash this blog with comments on the previous blog but have also just read the Male on Monday and can I say that Anne has excellent taste. Life is one of my fav shows and Damian Lewis can feed me mangoes and caramel any day :-)

  8. Ooh, Amy, mangoes and caramel, and Male on Monday! Sounds like a perfect moment!

    Calling Damian - Amy has the fruit and chewy stuff...

    And good for you for not being a chocoholic! It's a burden many of us must bear.

  9. Hi Lynne,
    I'm on WW and have some great tips about desserts. There's so many yummy things out there. For one WW makes 1 pt (I'm on 20 pts daily) little cakes like Hostess Cupcakes and Twinkies. I have one every day. I eat Jolly Time high fiber popcorn ,,, very filling and 1 pt. I'm really not having trouble getting my sweets in. There's so many more! But you're right. Every decade I've gained poundage and it's like glue, doesn't want to come off without vigorous exercise... which I am now doing!!

    Charlene Sands

  10. Hi Charlene! Weight Watchers does seem to be very helpful, and I have noticed their desserts in the frozen food section at the market. But honestly, Charlene, does anything taste like REAL chocolate cake? There's just something so special about it.

    Lynne - looking longingly into the distance and dreaming about a proper dessert...

  11. Oh my gosh.....I'm SO hungry after reading that :). I found a way to have a snack and but not overeat. I buy the bag of small Peppermint Patties and put it in the freezer. It's like having a teeny tiny ice cream sammich :)!

  12. One way of avoiding cakes is to be gluten intolerant... although they make great alternatives which can be hard to resist. I do go to the gym just so I can indulge. 30 minutes running = 300ish cals free to spend!

  13. Oooh, Lynne, you mentioned CAKE!

    A lot of the so-called "low cal" cakes taste vile. So I'd rather have a small portion of the real thing.

    In my WW days (I'm one of their failures!!) they used to recommend a meringue nest filled with raspberries or strawberries and plain yoghurt. Or you could squish it all together to make a low-fat, low-cal Eton Mess...

  14. Hey Classy, that's a great idea, especially since I love peppermint patties! (they're covered in choclate - mm mmm)

    thanks for stopping by!

  15. Biddy, you've got the right idea. Work off the calories in advance, then you can truly have a guilt-free indulgence!

    thanks for visiting the blog!

  16. Hi Kate! That meringue and fruit idea is tasty, but where's the chocolate!

    Yeah, I discovered how vile the low fat recipe cake tasted. Spent time and effort to bake it, had a small slice, took a bit, through the whole thing in the trash. It's like messing with Mother Nature or something! ha ha

    Oh, speaking of meringue, Angel Food cake is a great lowfat way to indulge. Love it with fresh strawberries.

  17. Okay - for the real thing in cake and low in fat just because it is... Angel Food Cake.

    1/8 of a slice of REAL store bought Angel Food cake is 108 calories, add some berries with Stevia or Splenda, drizzle a little chocolate sauce over the whole thing and top with some low fat or non fat cool whip. Yumm and still under 300 calories. Although I'd avoid Elderberries because 1 cup is about 105 calories compared to 1 cup of strawberries' 45 calories. 3 Tablespoons of chocolate sauce is about 55 calories but check your chocolate sauce. It can be much higher for less sauce. Non fat cool whip 2 Tablespoons is 15 calories.

    You can use any fruit and a cup of mango is 107 calories....

    I have been on a food watching plan way, way too long!

  18. Mia, you definitely sound like a lady who knows what she's talking about! And I like your suggestions, especially the drizzling of chocolate sauce.

    Agreed - Angel food cake is heavenly...

    Thanks for chiming in.