Spring is upon us, so can summer be far behind? Then it isn't too soon to start shedding some of the extra pounds we put on over the winter. But losing weight doesn't have to mean weeks of deprivation.
Experts agree that the best way to lose weight -- and keep it off -- is to modify your lifestyle by adding exercise to your daily routine and consistently choosing to eat reasonable portions of healthful foods such as vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, lean meat, poultry and fish.Treating yourself to a sweet every now and then also is part of a healthy lifestyle, particularly if you choose carefully and select something that is not packed with calories. Several such desserts have been adapted by The Culinary Institute of America from its updated book, "The Professional Chef's Techniques of Healthy Cooking."
The Lemon Tart features a flavorful sweet and sour lemon curd filling in a cookielike crust that is quick to prepare. For a special presentation, the tart can be garnished with lemon twists and sprigs of mint or topped with a mixture of half whipped cream, half nonfat vanilla yogurt.
Chocolate lovers will find the low-fat Chocolate Yogurt Mousse rich and satisfying. Start the recipe early in the day or a day ahead because the yogurt will need to drain for at least five hours. Serve the mousse with a selection of crisp cookies.
1 cup self-rising flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon canola oil
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon powdered gelatin
1 1/2 cups fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
To make the crust, whisk together the flour and baking powder in one bowl. In another bowl whisk together the sugar, egg, vanilla and lemon zest until the sugar dissolves; add the oil and whisk to combine. Sprinkle in the flour mixture and mix just until combined. It should resemble a thick batter rather than dough. Cover the batter with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425 F. With nonstick spray, coat a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Flour your hands lightly and press the chilled batter into the pan and up the sides. Prick the bottom with a fork. Spray a sheet of foil with nonstick spray and place it sprayed side down against the batter. Fill the foil with pie weights or dried beans.
Bake the crust for 8 minutes. Remove the foil and pie weights. Continue to bake until golden-brown, about 4 minutes more. Remove the pan from the oven, place on a rack, and cool completely.
For the lemon curd, measure the water into a small glass bowl, sprinkle in the gelatin and let stand for at least 5 minutes. Meanwhile, beat the eggs in a bowl until well combined. In a small saucepan, combine the lemon juice, sugar and lemon zest. Bring the mixture to a simmer and remove from the heat. With a whisk, combine about 1/2 cup of the hot lemon mixture with the eggs and stir. Pour the egg mixture into the remaining lemon mixture. Return the pan to the heat, and cook, whisking constantly, until the lemon curd starts to simmer very gently and begins to thicken. Remove the pan from the heat.
Microwave the gelatin on MEDIUM for 10-second intervals until it is melted. Strain the lemon curd through a fine sieve, then stir in the vanilla and gelatin. Cool to room temperature, then pour the curd into the crust. Cover the tart with plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours, or overnight. Cut into slices and serve. Makes one 9-inch tart to serve 8.
Nutritional facts per serving: 304 cal, 6g protein, 5g fat , 60g carb, 252mg sodium, 133mg chol, 1g fiber.
CHOCOLATE YOGURT MOUSSE
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons plain nonfat yogurt
1 1/2 ounces dark semisweet baking chocolate
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch cocoa powder
4 egg whites
1/3 cup sugar
Drain the yogurt by spooning it into a paper coffee filter or sieve lined with cheesecloth and place over a bowl. Refrigerate, covered, at least 5 hours or overnight. Discard the liquid that has collected in the bowl.
Place the chocolate in a glass bowl and microwave it on HIGH for 30-second intervals until the chocolate is melted. Stir in enough yogurt just to cool the chocolate slightly and to make it easier to mix into the yogurt. Add the chocolate mixture to the remaining yogurt and mix until combined.
Fill a saucepan two-thirds full of water and bring to a simmer. Sift the cocoa powder twice, fold it into the yogurt mixture and warm over the simmering water until glossy.
In a stainless steel bowl, combine egg whites and sugar. Place the bowl over the simmering water and gently whisk until the egg whites are foamy and reach 135 F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove the bowl from the heat and beat the egg whites until medium peaks form, about 2 minutes. Fold the egg whites into the yogurt mixture and spoon the mousse into champagne or parfait glasses. Chill until the mousse is firm, about 4 hours. Makes 6 servings.
Nutritional facts per serving: 118 cal, 6g protein, 2.5g fat , 19g carbo, 79mg sodium, 2mg chol.