With the new calendar on the wall and auld lang syne fading in our ears comes the inevitable horde of sudden gym-rats packing the recreation centres and workout facilities. These "resolutioners", as we "regulars" call them, range between those who show a clear dedication to making their health and wellness a long-term commitment and those who are hitting the treadmills hard for a month or two, hoping for a quick fix. Obviously, the second group is long gone by mid-February, but everyone who remains on their own fitness paths deserves major kudos for their work.
My issue with all the diet resolutions is that they tend to focus on "cutting out" - no carbs, no red meat, no fat, no sugar... and it is then that the respectable goals become unsustainable. As someone who hasn't been able to have a real birthday cake (or shortbread cookie) in over 10 years due to a limiting medical condition, I can tell you wholeheartedly that without something indulgent-tasting each day, I would be driven insane by my otherwise spartan diet. A treat a day, however small, means that it is truly appreciated and makes the rest of any "restricted diet" livable.
Of course, just because something tastes decadent and sinful doesn't mean it has to be weighty in calories and fat! One of my favourite treats when I was heavy and beginning my weight loss journey was the meringue. Containing little more than egg whites and sugar, even the largest of these light cloud cookies were mere pittances in terms of calories and fat. The best part was that they lasted forever in the pantry, and when dropped onto a mug of cocoa or hot mocha turned into almost a marshmallowy-style topping - delicious, especially when it was flavoured with caramel or orange extract!
With so many egg whites left over from our shortbreads this year, I decided to whip up a batch of meringue "flying saucers" with two different flavours. First, a bright orange-flavoured ring made empty frames on the cookie sheet, which I then filled with dollops of dark chocolatey meringue for a bulls-eye effect. If you're a fan of the chocolate oranges that are prevalent this time of year, you'll love these - and you'll adore them even more when you realize that each of them is under 15 calories while tasting like a million - and gluten free to boot!
Shared with Gluten Free Fridays
Chocolate Orange Meringues
Makes 8 large cookies
4 large egg whites
¼ tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp meringue powder
¾ cup sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp orange extract
2 tbsp cocoa powder
- Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat to 180°F convection (200°F regular). Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Combine egg whites, cream of tartar and meringue powder and beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until soft peaks form.
- Slowly add sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time, until all the sugar has been added.
- Continue beating until the whites are stiff and glossy. Add vanilla and beat for 30 seconds more.
- Divide meringue into two bowls. Quickly fold orange extract into one bowl and cocoa into the other.
- Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large closed star tip (or any large tip) with the orange meringue and pipe “rings” of the meringue onto the parchment paper.
- Fill a large zip-top bag with the “cocoa” meringue with the meringue. Snip off one corner of the bag with scissors, making a ¾-inch-wide opening.
- Pipe the cocoa mixture into the centre of each orange ring, filling completely.
- Bake the cookies until dry and crisp throughout, about 2 hours. Turn off the oven and cool inside.
Total Fat: 0.2 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 29.0 mg
Total Carbs: 1.4 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.4 g
Protein: 2.2 g