Chef Jo Lusted’s ‘do over’ recipes for carrot cake cupcakes, nacho dip, poutine

By on April 7, 2014

Wikipedia photo
Wikipedia photo

Here are three recipes from Jo Lusted’s cookbook “Dish Do-Over: Swap in Greek Yogurt, Bake Your Bacon and Other Secrets to Delicious, Guilt-Free Cooking.”

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

To make these carrot cake cupcakes moist without a lot of fat, Lusted uses applesauce, buttermilk and lots of carrots for extra sweetness. She substitutes coconut oil for butter because it works well with the flavours of the cupcake and has health benefits. Greek yogurt keeps the calories in the icing low, and its tangy flavour complements the cupcakes.

Hands-on Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes plus 2 hours chilling time


250 ml (1 cup) unsweetened applesauce

250 ml (1 cup) organic sugar

175 ml (3/4 cup) coconut oil

125 ml (1/2 cup) 1 per cent buttermilk

50 ml (1/4 cup) egg whites (about 2 large)

1 large egg

5 ml (1 tsp) pure vanilla extract

500 ml (2 cups) whole-wheat pastry or spelt flour

10 ml (2 tsp) baking soda

5 ml (1 tsp) ground cinnamon

2 ml (1/2 tsp) ground ginger

2 ml (1/2 tsp) sea salt

1 l (4 cups) grated peeled carrots (about 3 large)

250 ml (1 cup) raisins

125 ml (1/2 cup) coarsely chopped walnuts


250 ml (1 cup) low-fat cream cheese, softened

125 ml (1/2 cup) non-fat plain Greek yogurt

75 ml (1/3 cup) organic icing sugar

5 ml (1 tsp) pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F).

Cupcakes: In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, combine applesauce, sugar, coconut oil, buttermilk, egg whites, egg and vanilla until fully incorporated and smooth, about 1 minute. Alternatively, use a large bowl and a whisk.

In a separate bowl, whisk together or sift flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt.

If using a stand mixer, switch to a paddle attachment, or using a spatula, add flour mixture, carrots, raisins and walnuts. Mix on low speed, or fold in, until just incorporated; do not overmix.

Line two 12-cup muffin pans with cupcake liners. Using an ice-cream scoop or two spoons, fill liners just over three-quarters full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in centre comes out almost clean. Let cool completely on wire racks.

Icing: While cupcakes are baking, in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, or in a food processor or in large bowl using a whisk, combine cream cheese, yogurt, icing sugar and vanilla until smooth. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a large round or star tip. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and ideally overnight. If you don’t have a piping bag, use a large resealable bag. Using a spatula, scoop icing into bag. Twist the bag just above the level of icing _ this will help push the icing through when you squeeze the bag. Snip off a small piece of the bottom corner when ready to use.

(Make-ahead: Prepare 24 hours in advance and refrigerate until needed. Cupcakes will keep for 3 to 4 days if un-iced until just before serving.)

Once cupcakes are completely cool, decorate tops with icing.

Enjoy immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Iced cupcakes will keep for up to 2 days.

Makes 2 dozen.


Before: 325 calories, 16 g total fat.

Dish Do-Over: 214 calories, 10.6 g total fat.

Nutritional information: 7.2 g saturated fat, 26.9 g carbohydrates, 2.6 g fibre, 15.9 g sugar, 3.9 g protein, 193 mg sodium, 14 mg cholesterol.


Layered Nacho Dip

“This is such a great party food. One of my favourite things, to be quite honest,” says Lusted. “I love the Mexican flavours, really, really love that.”

The original version of this dip is loaded with fat. Her lightened-up version uses non-fat Greek yogurt, low-fat cheeses and a non-fried bean puree.

Hands-on Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Olive Salsa

1/2 medium white onion, diced

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1/2 green bell pepper, diced

75 ml (1/3 cup) jarred pickled jalapeno slices, drained and chopped

250 ml (1 cup) jarred sliced green pimento-stuffed olives, drained

250 ml (1 cup) jarred sliced black olives, drained

50 ml (1/4 cup) fresh lime juice

Black Bean Dip

2 cans (each 540 ml/19 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed

125 ml (1/2 cup) coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

50 ml (1/4 cup) fresh lime juice

45 ml (3 tbsp) olive oil

45 ml (3 tbsp) water

15 ml (1 tbsp) ground cumin

10 ml (2 tsp) chili powder

2 ml (1/2 tsp) cayenne pepper or a few dashes hot sauce

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Greek Yogurt Puree

500 ml (2 cups) non-fat plain Greek yogurt

250 ml (1 cup) low-fat cream cheese, softened

Avocado Puree

2 ripe medium avocados, chopped

250 ml (1 cup) non-fat plain Greek yogurt

50 ml (1/4 cup) coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

45 ml (3 tbsp) fresh lime juice

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


1 l (4 cups) shredded low-fat aged cheddar and mozzarella cheese

1 l (4 cups) jarred all-natural salsa

2 l (8 cups) baked tortilla chips

Olive salsa: In a medium bowl, mix together onion, bell peppers, jalapeno, green and black olives and lime juice. Cover and set aside.

Black bean dip: In a food processor, puree black beans, cilantro, lime juice, oil, water, cumin, chili powder and cayenne until smooth, adding more water 15 ml (1 tbsp) at a time if needed. Season with salt and pepper, transfer to a bowl and cover.

Greek yogurt puree: Clean food processor, then add yogurt and cream cheese and puree until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and cover.

Avocado puree: In food processor, pulse avocados, yogurt, cilantro and lime juice until combined but still a bit chunky. Season with salt and pepper, transfer to a bowl and cover.

To build dip, set aside 125 ml (1/2 cup) each shredded cheese mixture and olive salsa. Spread half of the yogurt puree into bottom of a large glass bowl or a 33-by-23-cm (13-by-9-inch) baking dish and smooth with a spatula. Using a slotted spoon to drain any liquid, top with half of the olive salsa. Dollop half of the jarred salsa on top of olives, then sprinkle with half of the shredded cheeses. Dollop half of the avocado puree on top, smoothing with a spatula into a thin layer. Top with half of the black bean dip, smoothing with spatula. Repeat layers using remaining dip and purees. Top with reserved shredded cheese and olive salsa. Serve immediately with chips on the side, or cover and refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

Makes 16 servings.


Before: 490 calories, 36 g total fat

Dish Do-Over: 333 calories, 15.2 g total fat

Nutritional information: 5.1 g saturated fat, 32.8 g carbohydrates, 8.1 g fibre, 4.9 g sugar, 19.3 g protein, 1128 mg sodium, 22 mg cholesterol.



“Poutine snobs may balk at my do-over of their beloved late-night snack, but we all know that this delicious Quebec favourite is an artery-clogging hot mess,” Lusted writes.

She uses baked french fries, vegetarian gravy and low-fat cheese instead of the traditional full-fat curds.

Hands-on Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes plus 30 minutes soaking time

French Fries

3 medium russet potatoes

2 ml (1/2 tsp) sea salt


45 ml (3 tbsp) unsalted butter

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, smashed

250 ml (1 cup) thinly sliced cremini mushrooms

1 small carrot, peeled and diced

1 celery rib, diced

3 sprigs fresh thyme

30 ml (2 tbsp) tomato paste

45 ml (3 tbsp) whole-wheat or brown rice flour

250 ml (1 cup) dry red wine

2 bay leaves

1 l (4 cups) low-sodium vegetable stock

15 ml (1 tbsp) fresh lemon juice

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

250 g (8 oz) low-fat medium white cheddar cheese

Slice potatoes into 5-mm (1/4-inch) thick fries and place in a large bowl. Cover fries with hot tap water by 2.5 cm (1 inch) and let soak for at least 30 minutes.

Gravy: Meanwhile, in a large, high-sided non-stick skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic and mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes, until onion is translucent and mushrooms are softened. Add carrot, celery and thyme and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, until dark and richly caramelized, about 15 minutes.

Add flour to pan and cook, stirring constantly, until brown and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Deglaze pan with red wine, stirring and scraping up any brown bits from bottom of pan with a wooden spoon. Add bay leaves and stir in stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes, until reduced and thickened. (You may wish to start making the fries while the gravy reduces.) Strain through a fine-mesh sieve, pushing out all liquid with the bottom of a ladle. Stir in lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Set aside; reheat before serving, if needed.

French fries: Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat oven to 245 C (475 F). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Drain fries well in a colander and spread out in a single layer on clean, dry kitchen towels. Pat dry with more kitchen towels. Return fries to clean and dried bowl. Mist fries with cooking spray, tossing and spraying again to coat well. Toss with salt to season.

Arrange fries in a single layer on prepared baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and, using a spatula, flip fries over. Bake for another 10 minutes, until golden brown and crispy. Season with salt.

Break cheese into irregular-shaped 5-mm (1/4-inch) to 1-cm (1/2-inch) pieces. Place hot fries in a large bowl and top with half the cheese, all the gravy, then remaining cheese. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings and about 625 ml (2 1/2 cups) gravy.


Before: 710 calories, 38 g total fat

Dish Do-Over: 400 calories, 14.5 g total fat

Nutritional information: 8.1 g saturated fat, 45.4 g carbohydrates, 2.9 g fibre, 6.8 g sugar, 19.9 g protein, 718 mg sodium, 35 mg cholesterol.

Source: “Dish Do-Over: Swap in Greek Yogurt, Bake Your Bacon and Other Secrets to Delicious, Guilt-Free Cooking” by Jo Lusted (HarperCollins).