Traverse City Record-Eagle

May 3, 2010

Foodie with Family: A healthy dessert. Really.

By REBECCA LINDAMOOD
Local columnist

---- — The Evil Genius oftentimes has been asked, frequently in my presence, how he avoids weighing 500 pounds eating my cooking. His response has been to grab his belly, moan a little bit, and say "I could easily!" He slid a little into uncomfortable weight territory over the winter and thus has declared himself to be on a health kick. He's been riding his bike, playing more sports with the boys, watching his food intake and (gasp!) skipping dessert most nights.

All well and good, but the dessert thing I've found distressing. I am a baker. I am the sugarplum fairy, for crying out loud. Desserts are what I do. I have always been a little (read: a lot) snotty about healthy desserts. "You want a healthy dessert? Eat an apple!" But even more urgently, he had a birthday coming up soon. Birthdays equal mega-desserts. I didn't want to serve my husband a cup of granola for his birthday.

My dearly beloved's disturbing new edict left me with two options; pout or learn to make some spectacular and healthy desserts.

Healthy desserts it was.

In order to compensate for my lack of buttercream and caramel sauce, I went for big, bright fruit flavors and low carbs to accompany them.

I kicked off my healthy dessert experiment with blueberry frozen yogurt. And guess what? The guys couldn't tell that it was frozen yogurt instead of ice cream. (Sadly, yes, that is my benchmark of success for a healthy dessert. Does it taste healthy? If so, toss and start over.) The conversation went something like this:

Boys (in unison): "Mom, can I have more blueberry ice cream?"

Me: "It's frozen yogurt."

Boys (in unison): "No it isn't. It's blueberry ice cream. Can I please have some?"

Me: "Yes, you can have a lot. Because it is frozen yogurt."

Boys (in unison wearing "I-Know-Better-You-Trickster-You" facial expressions): "OK, can I have another scoop of the blueberry (air quotes) frozen yogurt (more air quotes) right now?"

Husband (hesitating after the first bite with spoon suspended over bowl): "Are you sure this is low calorie? It feels fattening. It tastes like your regular desserts. Should I be eating this?"

Well, score one for me. I guess that maybe this old dog can learn a few new tricks. And I sheepishly admit that perhaps, maybe, I was ever-so-slightly, just-a-wee-bit wrong about healthy desserts. But I reserve my right to bust out a cheesecake, custard or poundcake smothered in buttercream every now and again. On that, I will not bend.

Blueberry Frozen Yogurt is as creamy as ice cream thanks to thick Greek yogurt, but if blueberries aren't your thing, you can easily substitute with an equal amount of peaches, strawberries or raspberries. If you do, be sure to adjust the flavoring (vanilla, Crème de Cassis, Grand Marnier) to agree with whatever fruit you've used.

You have two options; you can strain the blended yogurt base to remove the blueberry seeds for a smooth and creamy frozen yogurt or you can go a little more rustic and leave them intact. Either way, it's delicious. If you have a one-quart ice cream maker, you can easily halve this recipe.

Blueberry Frozen Yogurt

3 c. Greek yogurt (whole or 2 percent)

1&½ c. sugar

6 c. frozen or fresh blueberries

1 T. Crème de Cassis, Grand Marnier or pure vanilla extract

Add yogurt, sugar and blueberries to your blender and blend until smooth. If you're using frozen berries, it may take a little coaxing to get them all blended. If it doesn't "want" to blend, shut off the blender and move the contents around a little with a wooden spoon or spatula. Remove the spoon, replace the lid and blend again.

If a smooth product is desired, pour and force the yogurt base through a stainless steel, fine mesh strainer. It will take a while, so be prepared! If you like a more rustic yogurt with bits of blueberry and seeds throughout, skip the straining. Either way, you need to refrigerate the base for 2-4 hours prior to freezing.

Pour the yogurt base into your ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer's instructions. (In my Cuisinart ice cream maker, it took 25 minutes and was ready to serve immediately.) Transfer to a freezer-safe container with a lid. This makes about two quarts.

If you have any yogurt left over, store it tightly packed in the freezer with a piece of plastic wrap laid directly on the surface of the frozen yogurt.

To serve as we did for The Evil Genius's birthday, lay a warm crepe (recipe below) on a plate. Add a scoop of blueberry frozen yogurt to the bottom left corner of the crepe. Fold the right half of the crepe left over the scoop of yogurt. Fold the top quarter down over the scoop. Top with a sprinkle of confectioners' sugar or a dollop of blueberry compote or blueberry sauce.

Crepes are culinary chameleons; they can be desserts, entrees, side dishes, sweet or savoury. They can be plain or jazzed up with herbs or chocolate. If you are going to use your crepes for dessert, you can add a touch of sugar — about a tablespoon — when mixing your batter.

Using room temperature eggs and milk enables the batter to blend up perfectly smooth. You can accomplish this by leaving the milk and eggs out of the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes but up to an hour before use.

Crepes

1 c. all-purpose flour

A pinch of salt

1&¼ c. whole milk (you can use a lower fat milk, but I think whole milk crepes are more supple), at room temperature

2 large eggs at room temperature

2 T. melted (but not hot) coconut oil, or melted and cooled to room temperature butter or canola oil

Additional canola oil or butter for cooking.

Add flour, salt and milk to the blender. Blend just until smooth but do not walk away while it's blending. If you over-blend, you'll end up with tough crepes. (Alternately, you can whisk this all together in a bowl.) Now add the eggs and oil and pulse (or whisk) just until combined. Place blender carafe (or bowl) in the refrigerator and chill for 1-2 hours before cooking.

Remove from the refrigerator and pulse four times (or whisk through thoroughly).

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. When it is very hot (a drop of water flung on the surface will dance across the pan before disappearing) brush the pan lightly with melted butter or canola oil. Add about 1 tablespoon or a little less of crepe batter to the center of the pan and quickly swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. If you have too much batter in the pan, the crepe will not set up. Pour out excess if necessary and add less on the next crepe.

In a little under a minute, when the top of the crepe looks dry, flip it carefully (I find that heat-safe chopsticks or a flexible spatula work well here) and cook the second side for about 15- 30 seconds. You do not want the crepe to become crispy, so don't overcook it. Transfer the crepe to a plate and repeat with the remaining crepe batter. Stack each crepe as it is cooked in a neat pile on a plate. Makes about 15 crepes.

Leftovers can be stored with a layer of waxed paper in between each crepe in a zip-top freezer bag.

For a heartier helping of Foodie With Family, go to www.foodiewithfamily.com or Rebecca's new blog, www.icouldeatthat.com. Write to Rebecca at rebecca@foodiewithfamily.com to share your adventures and favorite recipes. For more of Rebecca's Record-Eagle columns, log on to record-eagle.com/rebeccalindamood.