It may be a typical Wednesday night scene for many self-proclaimed foodies: A small group of friends gather, each bringing something to contribute to the potluck meal, and watch the latest episode of the reality cooking TV show, Top Chef. Although my friends and I have no formal culinary training, we enjoy trying new things, sharing recipes – and critiquing the actual chefs on television. In my opinion, the combination of food and laughter can be an excellent pick-me-up half way through the week.
And we have themes! One night was colors-of-the-rainbow night at which each person was assigned a color (I got orange and made a citrus-based fruit salad with mango and melon). Another theme was “miniature” night (I brought traditional pot-luck fare: mini pigs-in-blankets). There has also been Italian night (One word: Meatballs!), Greek night (strawberry feta salad!), Anything-That-Goes-With-Mojitos night (guacamole!), and countless others, thanks to my friends’ creativity when it comes to the themes.
I’m telling you this because last night’s theme served as a reminder to stick to any New Year’s Resolutions we may have set two weeks ago: “Given that the holidays are over (and all the rich and yummy food associated with them), this week’s theme is Under 150 Calories. Please bring an item that is under 150 calories per serving.”
While I usually pay more attention to carbs than calories for the sake of insulin dosing, I decided it couldn’t hurt to pay attention to calorie counts as well. I went straight to my cookbooks and found a delightful treat from a previous blog guest Amy Riolo. Her book, The Mediterranean Diabetes Cookbook, has a recipe for almond macaroons. Light, delicate, gluten-free*, and only 115 calories (and 10 grams of carb) per serving of two cookies, I knew these were what I wanted to bring.
These were so easy to make, they made my entire kitchen smell wonderful, and when it came to girls night they made a great follow up to the polenta squares, honeyed carrots and oranges, chicken muffins (yup, told you we’re a little daring), and sweet potato coconut fritters (sweet potatoes are a diabetes superfood!). It was a great night with great food and friends and we’ve already started with the theme for next time: Something to represent our hometown (guess I’ll have to try Fried Green Tomatoes for that).
Whether you need a light treat to bring to a gathering, or you just want to try something different, here’s the simple and delicious recipe for almond macaroons to get you started:
* It is my understanding that to ensure this recipe is gluten-free, you need to use pure extracts, careful of imitation extracts or ones with several additives.
Almond Macaroons (also known as Amaretti)
1 ½ cups blanched almonds
½ cup sugar
2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 egg whites
1/8 tsp salt
- Grind half the almonds to dust in a food processor. Transfer ground almonds to a bowl.
- Grind the rest of the almonds to dust, and transfer to the bowl. Add sugar and extracts. Mix well, and set aside.
- Place egg whites in a bowl fitted to a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk egg whites on low speed, and gradually increase the speed on high. Add salt. Beat for 5 minutes or until whites are stiff.
- With a rubber spatula, gradually fold nut mixture into egg-white mixture as gently as possible until fully incorporated (no egg white is showing).
- Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. Spoon teaspoonfuls of mixture about 1 ½ inches apart on cookie sheets. Let stand for 15 minutes, and preheat the oven to 300F. Bake on the center rack of the oven for 15-20 minutes or until light golden. Cool cookies on a wire rack, and store in an airtight container for up to a month.