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Fruit & Yogurt Parfait

This summer I’m on a quest to come up with figure friendly paletas.  My motivation behind this new goal is my 6’ 4” totally hot and in shape hubby who, in four(ish) months time, has gone from busting out of a size 36 to dropping 30 pounds and cinching his belts just to keep is 32s on.  He has worked so hard to achieve his goal to transform himself from couch potato into an Iron Man and I want to help him maintain his new found body.  

                          

With a new body comes new eating, sleeping and work out habbits.  Its been a total life style change, but one I can totally live with.  I’ve even lost 10ish lbs!  Not that I needed to loose weight, mind you, but I have never felt more fit in my life.  I have more energy and feel awesome in my bikini! 

With this new lifestyle we are more aware of what foods we do and don’t eat.  And of course, sweets are few and far between.  With the Fruit & Yogurt Parfait paleta I set out to come up with something to fill that void and satisfy my sweet tooth.  

I used strawberries at the peak of ripeness to insure the sweetest berries and used blueberries for a second dimension of flavor.  To really make these special, I used my tried and true homemade granola recipe with brown sugar and coconut.  The recipe makes 9 cups, but I only used about a tablespoon for each paleta.  Its just enough to sweeten each bit, but not overtake the paleta with calories.  I rounded off the parfait with an all natural, low-fat vanilla yogurt for a creamy tang to merry all the flavors together.  

So, when I ran the nutrition numbers for my newest paleta I was shocked… so ran them a second and even a third time.  I was expecting more.  At only 89 calories, 15 g. carbs. and 3 g. protein each I might just have two.  

Pistachio with Ricotta Cream

The heat of summer is here and along with the sun comes longs days at the pool.  In order to maintain your yellow polka-doted bikini body I’ve been enduring the heat of the kitchen to come up with a few figure friendly paletas.  At my house we spend a lot of our calorie intake on high protein/low carb foods like eggs, fish and shellfish, cheese, turkey, chicken, nuts and vegetables (-Except for corn, carrots and potatoes.  We only eat these sparingly because they’re loaded with starch and natural sugars.  See my post on Sweet Corn for more details.)  But based on these few ingredients I’ve mentioned above I was having a hard time coming up with appealing flavor ideas.  Because they can both be used in savory or sweet dishes I eventually narrowed down my ingredients list to cheese and nuts and so Pistachio with Ricotta Cream was born.

I’m not going to lie, on this one I used Sugar Free and Fat Free pistachio Jell-O as my base, but along with fat free milk, part-skim Ricotta cheese and freshly shelled pistachios I was able to keep the calorie and carb counts down.  You can be guilt free this summer while enjoying my Pistachio with Ricotta Cream paleta for only 116 calories, 9g. carbs and 6g. protein.    

Flavors of Fall

Apple Pecan Streusel and Pumpkin Custard with Gingersnaps.  The flavors of fall inspired by a four generation lunch with my mother, grandmother, my son and me.  While visiting my grandmother in Crossville, TN we hit up the the local Cracker Barrel, where I came across their display of seasonal flavors.   Fall is my favorite season, for the weather, the anticipation of the approaching holidays and, of course, the food.  I ordered my whole meal from the menu of Seasonal Offerings, a constant rotation of the most current flavors of each season.  

                           

My meal started with Apple Pecan Streusel french toast with Apple Cinnamon syrup, so good, and ended with a fabulous Pumpkin Custard with Ginger Snaps.  Amazing!

              

After our visit and the road trip home I spent two days researching recipes and developing the perfect paletas to mimic the amazing flavors from my seasonal lunch.

My first priority was the Pumpkin Custard with Gingersnaps.  I used my go to custard recipe, but tweaked the flavors just right so the the pumpkin was not the star of this particular flavor combination.  It allowed for the creamy flavor of custard and the crunch of gingersnaps coating the paleta to be in the spotlight.  

Then came the Apple Pecan Streusel.  This one was an interesting combination of fresh fruit and creamy custard.  Usually when I work with fruits I make paletas that are water based, but in this particular case I thought it more appropriate for them to be cream based.  They needed a rich texture to carry the spices and more importantly the pecans.  I treated the apples as if I were going to make a pie, cooking them over the stove top with butter and brown sugar until they were golden and tender.  

Instead of adding the nutmeg, cinnamon and other spices to the cooked apples I added them to the creamy base.  I let the custard cool first, allowing it to thicken, then I added the pecans and apples.  The cooled texture of the custard allowed for the pecans and apples to suspend in the mixture rather than sink to the bottom of the mold.  That would be no fun.   

          

After I created a dozen or so of these paletas I dropped them by Hanson Sports, Inc, my go to guys for taste testing.  I got constructive feedback and great complements.  A thank you to Alan C., for loving the Pumpkin Custard with Gingersnaps (He said it was the best paleta he’s ever had so far).

I had a great time discovering the inspiration and developing the recipes for these fabulous flavors of fall.  

Pumpkin Cheesecake

The most amazing and versatile flavor of fall, without a doubt, has to be Pumpkin.  Utilized for not only some of my favorite fall dishes, but for decoration as well.  Halloween wouldn’t be the same without a porch full of jack-o-lanterns carved with love and care.  Almost all of the pumpkin is edible, from the flesh to the seeds and even the flowers.  Cooking methods are as versatile and they come, roasting, baking, boiling and even steaming.  This gourd-like fruit has been holding our hands through the fall season for so long there is in fact no historical documentation of its first appearance in the culinary world.  

With all the flavor options for pumpkin, soups, bread, pies, desserts of all kinds,  I found it difficult to find my absolute favorite recipe to work with.  I decided to go with the most traditional and well known use, pumpkin pie.  

              

To get an authentic pumpkin pie flavor I used the spice ratio from my favorite pie recipe, the one I have been using for years at every Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday.  Every year I buy sugar pumpkins, perfect for baking.  I gut them first then cut them in half for more even roasting.  After spending some time in the oven I skin them and throw the tender flesh in the blender for a quick whirl for fresh pumpkin puree.  I will admit that now this year that did not happen.  I went to the grocery store and bought a can of the stuff, I am so ashamed.  Sorry.  

I wanted to give a second layer of flavor to this paleta and decided to add my other favorite dessert to the mix, cheesecake.  Having made a variety of cheesecake paletas in the past (New York Cheesecake, Blueberry Cheesecake, Chocolate Cheesecake) I simply borrowed and modified the recipe from them.  

So, not to toot my own horn too much, but my Pumpkin Cheesecake paleta is amazing!  I think I might even serve these for Christmas Eve dinner instead of a traditional pie.

                                    

-Don’t worry B, I will have something other than pumpkin for you.

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