Creative ways to use leftover cones

LOS ANGELES Ranging from 15 to 90 calories, cones are a wonderful way of offering a unique form of portion control.

Chefs Denise Vivaldo and Cindy Flannigan of Food Fanatics use cones as a plate or bowl-free way to dine.

"We've been writing an entertaining book, so we're able to use them for holders, party favors, and a different way to serve some hors d'oeuvres," Vivaldo said.

"I just know busy moms are always looking for ways to be able to feed their children in the car," Vivaldo said.

One idea she offered was oatmeal in an ice cream cone. Grab a cone, scoop in oatmeal and banana, and you have fun way to keep kids occupied on the road to school.

For controlled sweets, dieters might like this one: Fill fat-free pudding or mousse in a plastic bag, cut one bottom edge and squeeze into a cone, then top with fresh berries.

For road trips, pack a baggy of trail mix or popcorn, and scoop a portion into a cone for kids of all ages to eat without a big mess.

Flannigan had another idea if you're trying to control sugar and calories.

"If you puree small curd cottage cheese, you can get it to have a consistency that is almost like whip cream," she said.

Flannigan whips up low-fat cottage cheese and dollops it into a cone with fresh berries, topped with walnuts or melon balls with yogurt and shaved chocolate. She likes to put the cheese in a bowl and blend it until smooth, adding a bit of agave nectar or even sugar substitute to make it a bit sweeter if desired.

"I think they're the perfect way to make it feel like you're getting more without adding a lot of calories," Vivaldo said.

You can create a party appetizer filled with prosciutto, cream or gorgonzola cheese and a smattering of arugula. Or try a tuna salad cone, which will make a great sandwich that helps cut down on portion distortion.

When you get down to broken cone pieces, don't throw them out just yet.

Vivaldo says she sticks them in a zip lock bag with things like graham crackers or cookies and keeps it in the freezer.

When you need a dessert topping, simply smash the things in the bag and sprinkle.

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