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Spring into fresh, healthy desserts

POSTED: March 21, 2014 11:33 a.m.
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Strawberries can be whipped into any number of nutritious desserts.

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Despite a few cold spells, clouds and the occasional gloomy skies and rainy days, spring has sprung here in the Coastal Empire. The birds are chirping, the flowers and trees are blooming and budding, and when the sun shines down, we have had some nice, warm days.
With Easter approaching, it’s time to start planning some fabulously healthy spring desserts. Since many people give up sweets and junk food for Lent, the Easter Sunday feast often features sinful, high-fat, sugary desserts and treats that folks have been craving for weeks.
In my youth, nothing could have been truer in our house. Since my mother was a baker and pastry chef, we always had plenty of cookies, chocolates, cakes and other decadent desserts. I remember one year, as a child, I skimped on dinner to gorge on chocolate-covered cherries and peanut-butter balls. Ah, memories.
These days, if I don’t want my backside to jiggle for weeks after Easter Sunday, I can’t indulge in sweets like I did as a kid. As I was thinking of ways to improve a classic Italian dessert — tiramisu — it dawned on me on how to make this delightful treat into a light, spring-time favorite.
Keeping the creamy texture, I lowered the fat content in this recipe by using fat-free cream cheese. Strawberry lemonade always has been a favorite of mine, and spring is when we start seeing fresh seasonal berries in stores and produce stands. Using a natural-sugar substitute will keep the dish’s calorie count low maintaining a sweet taste. Just remember to keep the servings at a reasonable size, and only use one or two ladyfingers per serving since each one added will increase fat, sugar and carbs.
To add an optional burst of flavor, add a shot or two of lemon liqueur or even fine rum to the syrup while cooking. The alcohol should cook off, but it will leave behind a strong flavor and give the recipe a fun kick.
To keep this dish light and fresh, use all-natural and organic ingredients whenever possible.

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