Yes, that is what I did this weekend. Usually you would expect it to be too hot to do any baking during the month of July, but this year has proved otherwise. The weather this summer has been unusually below average in temperature and it doesn’t look like that trend is going to change any time soon. We have been saving money on our electricity bill this summer by not having to run the air conditioning very much. I have also taken advantage of the cool weather by baking and cooking like crazy the past couple of weeks. Over the July 4th holiday long weekend, I cooked 4 dinners with plenty of left overs so for the next few weeks dinner is as simple as picking out what to have and heating it up.
As part of my weight maintenance program I like to have healthy snacks with me at work so I don’t indulge in something I shouldn’t. For my birthday recently, I ask for and received some baking mixes and muffin top pans from Vitalicious (Thanks Colleen!). I had also re-arranged some things in the kitchen cupboards and discovered some muffin mixes I had for a long time and never used. Normally these mixes call for whole milk, oil and eggs. By substituting skim milk, apple sauce for the oil, and Egg Beaters egg substitute for the eggs I cut out all of the added fat the instructions normally call for. To add a bit of fiber to the mixes without adding a lot of calories I added oatmeal to one of the mixes and crushed Fiber One cereal (original flavor) to another. This didn’t effect the consistency of the mix or baking time at all.
In addition to the muffin tops I also tried a new brand of fat free brownie mix called Krusteaz I found at Wegmans. Charlie prefers “real brownies” over the chocolate Vitalicious Muffin Tops, but I refuse to make a full-fat variety. The Krusteaz brownies are a big hit. These brownies came out very fudgy with a great consistency. I tried the No Pudge Fat Free brownie mix previously. While very tasty, they are so gooey that they are almost impossible to cut into squares.
Baking is usually thought of as a winter activity, but I enjoyed being able to do some in the middle of July! Now I have a good stock of muffin tops and brownies to last for quite a few weeks. That way if Summer does come back I won’t have to worry about heating up the house when we are trying to cool it down with the air conditioning.