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The "Make It Healthier" Challenge: Ladies & Gentleman, Start Your Engines.... Ready, Set, GO!

Posted Feb 16 2010 1:50pm
OK, I asked for a  challenge , & got two (!), courtesy of my friends, Neal  &  Steve .  So, now the challenge is officially ON!

The first one (from  Neal ) is to make a healthy version of General Tso's Chicken. This one's a real challenge in the true sense of the word, because I'll be revamping a "restaurant style" General Tso's chicken recipe, & not some lame imitation. :) No false advertising, please; I'll be revamping the real deal!
Well, at least the steamed broccoli looks healthy. LOL.

I'd like to recreate the same crunchy texture & taste, but without all the oil & the deep-frying.  I think it's achievable. Impossible without frying it, you say?!  Nothing is impossible.  I'm up for proving any potential nay-sayers wrong. :-D
The second challenge (from Steve , with some additional input from Andy ;) ) is to turn Panera's orange scones into a healthier treat.

Since I've never had Panera's orange scones before (& am not even sure if I've tried an orange-flavored scone before! The memory's a little hazy on that point), I'll first need to find a recipe which approximates the flavor & texture of the scones. I highly doubt that Panera will be giving away their orange scone recipe anytime soon, although surprisingly, they do have  three of their recipes  listed on their official website, but of course, none of them are scones! However, Steve & Andy have been providing me with background information about the scones, so hopefully that'll help me to pick a good recipe to work with that approximates the original.

Speaking of which, I just found a few copycat recipes & a photo of a Panera scone. (Please note that the above photo isn't a picture of Panera's orange scones; in fact, the only web photo of a Panera scone that I could locate was a tad bit blurry, & also, let's just be kind & say that the photo composition itself left a little bit to be desired. ;) )

What I will tell you is that the Panera scone has orange icing on top that's literally orange. To be honest, the intense orange color of the icing scares me just a bit. I'm hoping that they didn't use a ton of food dye to get it that color.  Makes me think of Halloween. ;)  I'm not really into cooking/baking with food dye, so let's hope I can make the scone taste like Panera's, even if it doesn't physically resemble it.

This endeavor is also going to be a real challenge, for several reasons: First of all, I'm not in the general habit of making or consuming scones (or pastries in general for that matter), so I obviously don't have a lot of experience making them.  Second, I'm not generally a huge baker in general, although that is starting to change more recently, especially now that I've been feeling the need ( feelin' the need... for speed!  Haha, sorry, couldn't resist!) to balance out this blog's selections with some more healthy dessert recipes. :)

Although I'm of British extraction, (heck, I was raised to drink my tea with milk --  a very  British  thing indeed!), apparently the pastries thing didn't transfer over into my gene pool. :)  I chalk it up to my upbringing, in part: My mother generally poo-poo-ed sweets & pastries, & heavily discouraged us from eating them.  Then again, she discouraged us from eating a whole host of things that we were probably a lot healthier for not eating. :) Truth be told, I didn't even try cotton candy until I was well over age 30, & then quickly deduced from that experience that I hadn't been missing much! It felt like I was eating nothing, but with a sugar aftertaste. ;)

This isn't to say that we weren't allowed to eat any sweets growing up, but rather, that it was heavily frowned upon.  As kids, we still ate ice cream & other sweets on occasion, but probably not as regularly as most other kids.... My dad's also an oral surgeon, so that might have had something to do with it as well.  I mean, what would you think if your dentist or oral surgeon's kids had cavities? ;) LOL.

All the same, the challenge of making tasty, low-fat, sugar-free scones does sound intriguing.

So here we go......

Once I finish creating & testing the recipes, which is most likely going to take a couple of days, then of course I'll post them here.  Wish me luck.....

-C


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