If Susan B. Walter’s kids are reading this, stop right now…otherwise you will discover that those scrumptious chocolate Black Bottom Cupcakes you’ve been scarfing down are made from Greek yogurt and pureed prunes.
Oh, wait a minute! You already saw your mom on Thursday’s Today show, where she divulged her secret just in time for Valentine’s Day.
Dietician Joy Bauer’s Too Good to Be Healthy competition featured sweet recipes that won’t make too big a dent in your waistline.
At 140 calories per cupcake, Susan’s creations brought smiles all around. She shared the top prize with two other bakers.
“I like to make food that’s good for you but still tastes good. Or else, why dirty the dishes?” Sue told MorristownGreen.com after the show.
The Seattle, Wash., native inherited a love for cooking from both of her grandmothers, and refined it during two years at odd jobs (including a bit part in a remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious) in Paris after she graduated from the University of Washington and Georgetown’s business school.
“I got into cooking because I love eating,” explained Sue, who shares recipes and cooking tips on her blog, Subee’s Kitchen. “I wanted to eat well every day, without going to restaurants.”
FROM SKITTLES TO PRUNES
Sue came to appreciate how the French enjoy creamy sauces and sugary pastries without the obesity problems that plague the United States.
“It’s all about balance and moderation,” she said. The French do a lot of walking. They lay off snacks and processed foods. Salads are important to them.
Sue gained an insider’s perspective of America’s collective sweet tooth during a decade of marketing for M&M Mars. Crispy M&Ms, blue M&Ms and Skittles were in her portfolio.
“I love my candy,” she conceded.
But now she searches for clever ways to trick the taste buds.
“We are genetically wired to like fat, sugar and salt, which aren’t so good for us,” said Sue, whose daughters Leah and Sophie attend the Thomas Jefferson School, where she is co-president of the Parent Teacher Organization.
Pureed prunes, Sue discovered, are a naturally sweet substitute for refined sugar. “Cupcakes with prunes taste even better,” she said. “They complement the chocolate flavor…and then you get your fiber.”
Sometimes, this requires tricking her toughest critics–her daughters and husband Keith.
“Normally, my husband wouldn’t go anywhere near a prune,” Sue said with a chuckle, admitting she is “not above being sneaky” about her ingredients. Keith is not keen on mushrooms, either, she said. Yet he likes her meatloaf, which incorporates pureed mushrooms.
One of the most popular recipes on her blog, “Almost Famous Turkey Burgers with Cilantro Lime Sauce,” sets out to overcome the twin maladies of turkey burgers: “dryness and blandness.” She writes:
If the mere mention of cilantro makes you gag, hear me out. I used to be one of you! However, thanks to this cilantro sauce epiphany, I now crave the herb and buy it at least once a week. (I also let it self-seed in the garden, and every spring I get a few weeks of harvest before the May heat waves come.) Cilantro has almost zero calories, yet is a good source of Thiamin, Zinc, Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Pantothenic Acid, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper and Manganese. (Source: USDA) ¡Viva cilantro!
‘KIND OF SURREAL’
It’s a pretty impressive journey, when you think about it. By gorging on Food Network programs, devouring every cookbook she can find, and experimenting on her unsuspecting brood, Sue landed a Today show appearance.
“The Today show was kind of surreal,” she said. NBC brought her into New York on Wednesday night for a rehearsal, then put her up in the Club Quarters, near Rockefeller Center. At 8:15 on Thursday morning, her hair and makeup were done by the show’s staff.
Kathie Lee Gifford popped into the green room; Motown mogul Berry Gordy and former Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn also were on the set.
“Producers were running around with their clipboards. It was all very smooth,” considering that one of the guest chefs fainted from excitement moments before air time, Sue said.
So where does Suebee go from here?
How about a sneaky line of healthy snacks that actually taste good. Maybe, Stealthy Healthy?
“I might have to think about that,” she said.