Friday, January 27, 2006
Sugar Free Friday #15
When Sam from the venerable Becks & Posh announced that this month's Sugar High Friday would be a challenge in making sweets without the calories/fat, I was thrilled. Do you remember the TV commercial for Nutrigrain bars where a woman's butt consisted of two giant cinnamon rolls? Well, that is how I felt after the holidays and I vowed to lose a few pounds...which isn't easy when you're in the food blog universe. However, I knew it had to be done and challenged myself to the South Beach Diet, which I've been on for exactly 4 1/2 days. The first two weeks are the most difficult - no carbs which means no flour, sugar and grains. And let me tell you- I am a bread girl. I went shopping last Sunday and stocked up on various lite cheeses, lean meats, veggies and a few backups like some sugar free Jello cups and South Beach Diet frozen meals in case I got lazy.
The last 4 1/2 days have actually been pretty easy- the key is to make everything yourself. I had one of the frozen meals for lunch but realized that homemade low-carb is SO much better, and you can eat more volume for the same amount of calories as a boxed meal. Mashed cauliflower is a favorite I've been making for awhile now- it honestly fills that need for carbs! I made a big batch of it over the weekend and ate it throughout the week along with some chicken marsala and green beans, baked chicken coated in almond meal/parmesan (instead of bread crumbs) or baked salmon with peppers and onions. All of it was delicious. But a girl can't live without dessert right? Now for the results of the Sugar (not) Free Friday challenge...
Normally, I wouldn't just substitute Splenda or Equal to make a light dessert, but since I am on the low-carb diet I have to stay away from all sources of sugar- including honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, etc. I didn't want my creation to simply taste like an overly-fake-sweet version of the real deal so I was cautious with the amount of Splenda that I used. Using any sort of flour at this stage of the diet is also a no-no so any baked goods were out of the question. I decided to make panna cotta and used low-carb vanilla yogurt, fat free half & half, a few packets (not cups, packets!) of Splenda and half of a vanilla bean. I wasn't sure if the lack of fat content would make it watery. I dissolved the gelatin, combined the ingredients, poured the mixture into ramekins and waited.
The next day I eagerly took one of the ramekins out, unmolded it and topped it with a fruit compote (frozen berries + 1 packet of Splenda) for the photo's sake (I can't have fruit either but hey- what's the harm of one bite?). Took the photos, and then tasted. Wow. I have to say- it was delicious! Creamy and smooth with an undeniable vanilla taste. It was not overly sweet and had a pleasant yogurt undertone. The main thing was the texture- it was so satisfyingly creamy. It reminded me of eating melted ice cream, and at under 80 calories per serving, it was a treat I could live with! The aftertaste of Splenda was faint at best, although I am probably used to it from having in my coffee every morning.
I have to thank Sam for the challenge- it resulted in a light dessert that I actually look forward to making again. I suppose you could use any flavored low-carb yogurt but the vanilla flavor mixed with both vanilla extract and vanilla bean is one of the high points of this dessert.
Note: I was in a bit of a hurry so I didn't cool the fruit compote before putting it on the panna cotta, which resulted in the panna cotta cracking a bit under the heat!
Vanila Bean Yogurt Panna Cotta
(makes 6 servings)
2 TBS water
1 1/2 teaspoons unfavored gelatin
2 cups fat free half & half
1 1/4 cups low-carb or sugar free lite vanilla yogurt (I used Dannon's Lite & Fit)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean
4 packets of Splenda
Pour the water over the gelatin to dissolve (about 12 minutes). In a large bowl mix one cup of the half & half, all of the yogurt and vanilla extract. Scrape the vanilla beans out of the pod and add them to the remaining half & half along with the Splenda and heat mixture in a small saucepan. Pour mixture over the yogurt mixture and stir to combine. Pour into 6, 4 ounce ramekins and refrigirate until set (overnight is best).
To unmold, set each ramekin in a shallow bowl of warm water for a few seconds, place plate over the ramekin and flip over. Top with any fruit compote or preserves you like.
Nutritional info per serving (without fruit):
Fat: 1.25 g
Carbs: 9.2 g
Weight Watchers Points per serving: 1.5
Tagged with: SHF # 15 + Low Sugar