As my parents get older, I worry more and more about their future health. My family has never been a very active one. While my mom spends most of her days on her feet at her hospital job, my dad works in an office and has been sitting for a good portion of his life. Aside from my ballet dancing when I was younger, exercise was always an "Event" in our family rather than a daily routine--to exercise, my parents would drive us forty-five minutes to this reservoir to walk a mile or two. (Arguably not the most efficient way to exercise!) And, all of us in my nuclear family have a soft spot for ice cream. So... statistically speaking, this does not bode well for any of our health(s) in the future!
So this year, for my dad's birthday (and Father's Day), I decided to reinvent his favorite birthday dessert that I make him every year into something healthier. He adores maple nut ice cream, and so this time around, I came up with a maple nut frozen yogurt, accompanied by an apricot, plum, oat, and buckwheat crisp. The frozen yogurt is made with 2% fat Greek yogurt--still thick and creamy, but without the actual heavy cream, milk, and eggs. The only sugar in the frozen yogurt comes from the maple syrup, which is pretty much unavoidable when you're making maple nut ice cream. :-) As for the crisp, my family likes tart and not-too-sweet desserts, so the filling of apricots and plums really relies on natural sweetness in the fruit, with only a bit of sugar sprinkled in. The crisp topping is made with equal amounts of butter and thick yogurt to help cut down on the amount of butter needed--an idea that I 'borrowed' from 101 cookbooks. The topping is also made with no gluten--just oats and buckwheat flour, both of which add a natural nutty sweetness to the crisp.
Even though this dessert was waaaaaaay healthier than my dad's normal birthday fare, it worked out really deliciously. The slight tang of the yogurt went perfectly with the sweet maple syrup in the maple nut froyo, and the crisp was bursting with juicy goodness, which mixed so well with the melting nutty froyo scooped on top--all in all, I deem this Healthy Dessert Success.
Anyone have any favorite healthy dessert tips to share? I of course remain very much committed to heavy cream and butter, but it's always good to explore the options!
Read on for recipe...
Apricot Plum Crisp
inspired by 101 cookbooks
makes one 8 x 8" baking dish
1 1/2 - 2 lb. apricots and plums, combined, pitted and sliced
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
4 Tbspn corn starch
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. In a bowl, toss and combine all of the filling ingredients. Spoon into an 8x8" baking dish. Set aside and make the crisp topping.
for crisp topping:
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup + 2 Tbspn buckwheat flour
1/2 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1/2 tspn baking powder
3/4 tspn salt
1 tspn cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, cold and cut into small pieces
1/3 cup 2% Greek yogurt
1. Combine all of the ingredients except the butter and yogurt in a bowl.
2. Using a pastry cutter or fork, cut the butter and yogurt into the flour mixture until the butter is the size of small peas and evenly distributed throughout the mixture. Do not overmix.
3. Spoon the topping over the fruit in the baking dish, patting it down if you need to pile more on.
4. Bake for ~20-30 minutes, until the top is brown and the insides are bubbly. Remove and let cool briefly before serving.
Maple Nut Froyo
inspired by and very roughly adapted from David Lebovitz's Perfect Scoop
for stir-in walnuts:
1/2 cup + 1 Tbspn dark amber maple syrup
1 1/2 cup walnuts (~150 gr), toasted for 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven and then chopped coarsely
large pinch of salt
1. In a small saucepan, heat the maple syrup just until it comes to a boil.
2. Add the chopped walnuts and salt and return to a boil. Stir and cook for 10 seconds, then remove from heat and let cool completely.
for froyo base:
3 cups 2% Greek yogurt
3/4 cup dark amber maple syrup
1. Whisk together the yogurt and maple syrup. Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator.
2. Freeze according to your ice cream maker's directions. Fold in the prepared maple walnuts in the last few minutes of freezing.
3. If needed, put frozen yogurt in freezer to continue freezing until about the consistency of soft serve, about 1-2 hours. Serve with apricot-plum crisp.