Archive for the Sweet Category

A couple of tropical fruits

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A few weeks ago, I was enjoying the warm weather of the Philippines and many of the sweet flavors of the tropics. There I was introduced to a new fruit – Chico

When I first tasted Chico, I was surprised by its slightly granular texture and wasn’t sure that I wanted to continue eating it. However, I took another bite and delighted in its unique flavor – a combination of ripe pear and brown sugar. I liked it so much that I encouraged my sister to try one!

I also had the opportunity to taste fresh Jackfruit for the first time. Any time I’ve eaten Jackfruit in New York, I’ve had it coated in syrup from a can or a jar. I always liked it, but I knew Jackfruit would even be better fresh. So when I saw the large fruit being sold at a roadside fruit stand, I bought a piece of it. When I got it to the hotel, my mom and my aunt helped to remove the yellow flesh from the seeds.

This Jackfruit had a slightly crisp texture with a flavor that some people describe as banana-like. I enjoyed the fresh fruit, but what I liked even more were Jackfruit chips! They were crunchy, light, sweet, and not at all oily. Here’s a link to the fruit chips that I tasted in the Philippines: 

 http://www.amazon.com/Mit-Say-Vinatural-Fruit-Chips/dp/B003UPOMRO/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=grocery&qid=1296053040&sr=1-3

They’re expensive to order on Amazon.com! One day, preferably when it’s not snowing, I’ll hunt for them in Chinatown so that I can taste them again and share them with friends.

Let’s talk about added sugar!

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There is no doubt that I enjoy sweets, but one must remember to enjoy sugary treats in moderation. Foods that have added sugar usually provide extra calories with little or no nutrients.  

In 2009, the American Heart Association recommended that: 

  • women should consume less than about 25 grams (100 calories) of added sugars per day
  • men should consume less than about 37.5 grams (150 calories) of added sugars  each day

The ingredients list can give you information about the type(s) of added sugar in a particular food. Nutrition labels can help you count the amount of sugar that you consume each day.

Added sugars include:

  • high fructose corn syrup
  • corn syrup or corn sweetener
  • brown sugar
  • fruit juice concentrate
  • sucrose
  • glucose
  • malt syrup
  • honey
  • agave

Consider decreasing your added sugar intake to lower your risk of:

  • obesity
  • high blood pressure
  • heart disease
  • stroke

As you decrease the amount of sugar in your diet, you can discover new, more natural flavors and better health. 

For more information visit http://www.newsroom.heart.org/index.php?s=43&item=800

Fruit and Nut Snack Bars

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I’ve been snacking on Larabars for a couple of years now. I like them because they are made with simple, tasty ingredients. For example, the Apple Pie Larabar is made of dates, almonds, unsweetened apples, walnuts, raisins and cinnamon. I buy the Apple Pie and the Cherry Pie flavors because they have less than 5 % daily value saturated fat.

Lately, I’ve discovered Pure Organic’s Chocolate Brownie bar. It’s amazing! The mixture of organic dates, walnuts, agave nectar, almonds, cashews, brown rice protein, and cocoa remind me of the Little Debbie brownies I ate as a young girl. It’s a healthy way to get your chocolate fix.

Read more healthful facts about these bars at:

http://www.larabar.com/food/larabar/apple-pie

http://www.larabar.com/food/larabar/cherry-pie

http://thepurebar.com/pure-products/our-6-flavors/chocolate/

Peach Cobbler Update

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In August, I posted a recipe for Peach Cobbler.  It was based on a recipe card that my mother had on file for many years.  I shared it with you because the recipe always yielded a good cobbler.  However, soon after publishing the recipe, I realized that the recipe was not completely a Delicious Discovery.  I thought the method was too fussy for a cobbler and I thought it could use a little more dough on top. 

So, for about a month, I’ve been working on the Peach Cobbler and have updated the August 24th, 2010 post with my own recipe.  Peaches still abound in the market, so try my recipe for a not-too-sweet Peach Cobbler with warm, soft fruit and a crunchy topping.

Concord Grape Pie

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Two summers ago was the first time I baked and tasted grape pie. 

I followed a recipe in the Sept. 2008 issue of Bonappetit  to make use of the Concord grapes that grow in my backyard.  

Click here for the recipe: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2008/09/grape_pie_with_lemon_verbena_ice_cream

I’m lucky to have my own supply of Concord grapes, since they aren’t so popular in supermarkets.  

Concord grapes ripening on the vine

Concord grape harvest

The pie recipe I use calls for seedless red grapes, but I suggest that you use Concord grapes.  I’ve spotted them in more markets lately.  I don’t want you to miss out on the amazing pie and the juice strained from the Concord grapes during the pie prep.  

Concord grape juice

The taste of fresh, unfiltered Concord grape juice is nothing like grape juice from a bottle.  It’s hard to describe, but my sister calls it “nature’s candy”.

Note:  I cool the grape pie for at least 1.5 hours before serving. 

 

Peach Cobbler

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Peaches have been plentiful, so I’ve mostly been eating whole peaches as a snack.  However, I’ve also topped my pancakes with them, stirred them into my vanilla yogurt, mixed them into my pesto pasta salads, and added them to my turkey burgers!  Now, here’s my recipe for a not-too-sweet Peach Cobbler.  It’s a great warm dessert made even more special with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.  

Peach Cobbler

Peaches:

2 lbs. & 4 oz. peaches, sliced  

1/3 cup sugar

½ tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. nutmeg

2 Tbsp. cornstarch

1 Tbsp. water

Topping:

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar plus more for sprinkling

¾ tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. salt

1 large egg, beaten

2 Tbsp. canola oil

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.  In a large bowl, add the peaches, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  In a small bowl, mix together cornstarch and water, add mixture to the peaches, and toss gently to coat fruit evenly.     

2. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  In a small bowl, mix the egg and oil.  Using a rubber spatula, stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until all moistened.     

3. Pour peaches into a 9 inch pie plate and spread batter over the fruit.  If desired, sprinkle top with some sugar.  Bake cobbler until topping is light brown and a toothpick inserted into the topping comes out clean, about 40 minutes.  Allow cobbler to cool slightly on a wire-rack before serving.  Enjoy!

A Taste of Christmas in July

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Every Christmas, I look forward to my Aunt Natalie’s cucciddata, which are Sicilian fig-filled cookies.  This month, I jumped at the opportunity to use up the fig preserves that my family had saved from last summer.  I decided to develop a gluten-free fig treat that retains the traditional flavors (almond, honey, orange, and fig) of cucciddata that the whole family can enjoy.  Instead of wheat flour, I used almond meal which gives my Almond Fig Bars a surprisingly cakey texture.

Almond Fig Bars  (makes 15)

3½ c. almond meal

½ tsp. salt

½ c. sugar

¼ c. honey

½ tsp. grated orange zest

6 Tbsp. tub margarine, such as Smart Balance Heart Right Light

5 large eggs

1 c. fig preserves

Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

1. Preheat the oven at 350°F.  Lightly oil a 12 x 17 in. rimmed baking sheet and line with parchment paper fitted for the baking sheet (corners cut out).

2. In a food processor, grind together the almond meal, salt, sugar, honey, zest, margarine, and eggs until fully blended.  Pour batter into the prepared baking sheet and level out as much as possible.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until the top is golden and the edges are light brown.  Allow the almond “cake” to cool to room temperature.

3. Transfer the “cake” to a cutting board and slice in half widthwise. Evenly spread the fig preserves on one half and top with the other half.  Trim the edges to form a 7½  x 5 ½ in. rectangle and cut into bars about 1½  x 1¾  in.  Dust with confectioner’s sugar just before serving.  Store bars in an air-tight container with parchment paper between the layers

Notes on ingredients:

  • If you can’t purchase almond meal at your local market, you can pulse raw almonds in a food processor until the largest pieces are the size of couscous.
  • Fig preserves are available in some supermarkets or through websites like amazon.com.
  • After reading “Covering the Spreads” by Hurley and Liebman (Nutrition Action Healthletter, Sept. 2009), I decided to substitute tub margarine for butter in some of my cooking.  Many tub margarines are no longer made with partially hydrogenated oil and are lower in calories, saturated fat, and trans fat than stick butter.

Sour Cherry Almond Pie

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I highly recommend that you get your hands on some sour cherries!  Look for them at this time in farmers’ markets or make friends with someone with a sour cherry tree.  If you can’t find them, you can simply substitute sour cherries with sweet cherries or try lemon juice and sweet cherries (3 tbsp. for 2 lbs. cherries).

Sour Cherry Almond Pie

Filling:

2 lbs. sour cherries, pitted

1 c. sugar

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

½ tsp. almond extract

 9 inch frozen pie shell

Topping:

½ c. old-fashioned oats

¼ c. brown sugar

¼ c. chopped almonds

¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

Pinch of Kosher salt

1. Preheat the oven at 400°F. 

2. In a saucepan, mix together the cherries (including any juices), sugar, flour, and almond extract.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Boil for 1 minute, stirring.  Cool to room temperature. 

3.  In a medium bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, almonds, cinnamon, and salt. 

4.  Pour the cooled cherry filling into the frozen pie shell and top with the oat mixture.

5. Bake the pie on a baking sheet in the center of the oven for 35 minutes or until the crust is well browned.  It’s tempting to taste this pie as soon it comes out of the oven, but allow it to cool before serving!  Believe me, it’s better this way.

I can’t wait to make this treat again next year, since my sour cherry source has already been exhausted.  This pie was a hit with everyone who got to taste it!  My aunt liked it so much that she rationed her slice to last 3 days.  It’s really easy to make, so I hope you try it!