Cut the fat, but keep the flavor Desserts: You can have your diet and tiramisu, too, with recipes from new cookbook.

March 05, 1997|By Kim Pierce | Kim Pierce,UNIVERSAL PRESS SYNDICATE

Evelyn Tribole, celebrity dietitian and drumbeater for healthy living, is unapologetic: "I do love to eat," says the former "Good Morning America" nutritionist, "and I have a tremendous sweet tooth."

But traditional light desserts -- "air food," she calls them -- have never quenched her desire. "It feels like you haven't eaten anything," she says.

So the former marathon runner arrived at a compromise: lightening recipes without ruining them.

The result is "Healthy Home-style Desserts" (Viking, $24.95). Peppered with color photographs, the cookbook trims some of the fat and calories from 150 sweet treats while retaining their essential character.

"My aim was not to take all the fat out," says the Shape magazine "Recipe Makeover" columnist. "The taste was always the end point for me."

In the book, she has re-created such classics as tiramisu, chocolate mousse, key lime pie, apple crisp and sweet potato pie. None has more than 350 calories a serving, and most are in the 150 to 300 range.

In tiramisu she whittled away fat and calories by replacing some of the mascarpone with fat-free ricotta, using light nondairy whipped topping in place of whipped cream and substituting fat-free sponge cake for the ladyfingers. Calories dropped from 412 a serving to 212; fat, from 34 grams to 10.

Not every dessert is so lavish; they run the gamut from candy to quick breads, cakes to tarts. Among the pages are easy truffles, fat-free apple turnovers, almond amaretto cheesecake and glazed lemon nut bread.

More than a cookbook, "Healthy Homestyle Desserts" is a lesson in lighter, more healthful cooking, from techniques to substitutions.

"It's kind of a teaching tool," Tribole says.

To achieve the right shape and texture for baked doughnuts, she uses mini-Bundt pans. Fat-free apple turnovers have a phyllo crust.

Each recipe also explains how she achieves the fat and calorie reductions. In tart pastry, for instance, she tosses out the lard, using instead a combination of buttermilk, canola oil, finely chopped nuts and lemon zest.

"Before" and "after" nutrition information is listed in a "nutrition scorecard" with each recipe. The tart pastry, for instance, drops from 145 to 98 calories a serving and from 9 grams of fat to 3.

Tribole takes one extra step: Where it won't hurt the taste and texture, she adds healthful foods into recipes. Like substituting whole-wheat flour for some of the white -- something that adds texture and crunch. And that ricotta cheese in the tiramisu? It's a better source of calcium than milk, she notes.

So the message is to go ahead and enjoy these great desserts. Although they aren't guilt-free, they do give the health-driven a satisfying alternative to unfettered indulgence or dutiful denial.

Easy tiramisu

Makes 12 servings

8 ounces mascarpone cheese

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

1/2 cup fat-free ricotta cheese

3/4 cup thawed frozen light nondairy whipped topping

3/4 cup freshly brewed espresso or other strong coffee

1/4 cup coffee liqueur

1 (14-ounce) loaf fat-free golden cake

2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder

In a large bowl, beat together the mascarpone and sugar with an electric mixer on low speed until just blended. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the fat-free ricotta. Fold in the whipped topping.

In a cup or small bowl, combine espresso and liqueur.

Using a long serrated knife, cut the loaf cake into 8 thin slices. (Don't worry if there's breakage; you can easily piece crumbs and remnants into this dessert.)

Arrange half the sliced cake pieces in a 10-by-10-inch pan, covering entire bottom. Using a pastry brush, drizzle half of the coffee mixture evenly over the cake layer. Gently add a layer of the mascarpone cheese mixture, using half. Repeat layering with cake, coffee mixture and mascarpone mixture. Sprinkle or sift the cocoa powder over the top. Cover and chill at least 2 hours.

Per serving: calories: 212; fat: 10 g; cholesterol: 24 mg; sodium: 193 mg; percent calories from fat: 44 percent.

Pub Date: 3/05/97

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