Dessert Demos

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Everyone likes desserts. The trick is to make them appealing while getting some nutrition into the best course of the meal.

Make a “nutrition sundae.” Have clients build sundaes using sorbets, ice milk, frozen yogurt or frozen soy ice cream and offer toppings such as chopped canned fruit (mandarin oranges, peaches, apricots, plums, pineapple), dried fruit (dates, raisins, cranberries, cherries, etc.), frozen or fresh berries, sliced bananas, chopped nuts (walnuts, almonds, pistachios, etc.), crumbled low fat granola bars and low sugar fruit preserves to create a fun and nutritious dessert.

Iron-containing foods are sometimes difficult for clients to include in their diets. Fruit stews are easy to make (see recipe below) and are an easy way to use dried and fresh fruit. Needing very little sugar, they can stand on their own as a warm or chilled dessert or can serve as a low-fat dessert sauce or accompaniment. Have clients bring in their favorite dried fruit and create a fruit stew while you are having a discussion about nutritious desserts.

Dessert pizzas are an easy demo in which to involve clients. Use graham crackers, whole grain crackers or whole wheat toast as the “crust.” Fruit-flavored yogurt, pureed tofu mixed with fruit preserves or peanut butter can serve as the sauce. Toppings can include chopped nuts, shredded coconut, fresh or frozen strawberries or blueberries and chopped and canned pineapple or peaches. Garnishes can include chocolate or peanut butter chips, fruit or chocolate syrups or sprinkles.

Tofu cream pies are a fast demo and a good method to introduce soy products to clients. Use a few ground, lowfat cookies, such as ginger snaps for the crust. Blend silken or soft tofu with canned pumpkin, sugar, and spices. Fill shells and allow to cool for at least an hour before serving. Blended tofu can also be used with pudding mixes to create a vanilla, butterscotch or chocolate “cream” pie.

Here are a few of my favorite dessert demo recipes:

Cocoa Banarama

This smooth, cool chocolate-banana mixture is a great change from pudding or custard and a great way to use over-ripe bananas.

3 pounds mashed ripe banana

1 cup silken tofu

1 ounce unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 Tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon orange zest

Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Portion into individual dishes and chill for at least one hour. Garnish with banana slices, diced canned or fresh peaches or chocolate shavings.

Note: mixture can be poured into baked pie shells, graham cracker crusts or individual tart shells and then refrigerated. Adapted from Vegan in Volume, 2000, Vegetarian Resource Group. Serves 10. Each serving: 156 calories, 1.5 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 11 mg sodium, 35 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 3.5 g protein.

Fruit Stew

This is a one pot dessert, simple to prepare and very versatile. Once cooked, it will last for up to seven days in the refrigerator. Serve on its own, over ice milk or frozen yogurt, slices of angel food cake or with graham crackers. It can also be used as a side dish with poultry, as a fruit sauce. In the morning, mix it into hot or cold cereal or serve over yogurt and granola.

12 ounces dried fruit mixture (e.g. peaches, apples, raisins, dried plums, cranberries and/or apricots)

1/8 cup grated carrots

1/2 cup peeled and diced green apple

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp lemon zest

2 Tbsp apple juice concentrate

Place all ingredients in a medium pot and add two inches of cold water. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until apples and carrots are soft (about 30-40 minutes). Serve hot or refrigerate until ready to use. Serves 10. Each serving: 100 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 4 mg sodium, 26 g carbohydrate, 2.5 g fiber, 1 g protein.

Sophisticated Poached Pears

8 ounces white grape juice

2 Tbsp strawberry jam

2 Tbsp orange juice

1 tsp orange zest

2 cinnamon sticks

5 whole cloves

1/2 tsp ground ginger

4 whole, peeled and cored pears

In a large pot, combine juice, jam, zests and spices. Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.

Place pears in liquid. If not covered 3/4 of the way, add water or orange juice to cover. Allow to simmer until pears are just soft. Remove pears and place in individual serving dishes. Allow to cool. Strain poaching liquid. If a hot sauce is desired, return liquid to pot and allow to reduce over low heat until slightly thickened. If a cold sauce is desired, place in a glass or stainless steel dish and allow to freeze until liquid forms a slush. Pour sauce over pears and serve immediately.

Serves 4. Each serving: 142 calories, .5 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 4 mg sodium, 35 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 1 g protein.

By Nancy Berkoff, RD, EdD, CCE

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