Thursday, March 31, 2011

Fruit Dip Gone Healthy

"Can we have dessert?"

I hear that every day, sometimes a dozen times a day. I'm not joking. Our kids love dessert.

And who doesn't? Are any of us really so mature that we don't eyeball the candy racks, bakery shelves, and cookie aisles once in awhile?

Curbing the sugar craving, however, is a skill that is already difficult for grown ups, let alone a hopping toddler or preschooler whose tastebuds are hardwired for sweet. And the seasons don't help matters one bit, either. Shortly after the Christmas sugar rush is the allure of Valentine's chocolates, then minty St. patties, then Easter egg-shaped sugar-bombs, then a full Summer of any sweetened milk, yogurt, juice, fudge that can be frozen. Tummy ache, yet? And I haven't even started in on Halloween candy and bountiful Thanksgiving baking.

So, knowing what I know about my children, they like fruit enough to eat it as a snack or as part of their lunch but for dessert? That's a little trickier so I have to either cut it all up into a fruit salad or bake it into something that can be topped off with ice cream. That kind of defeats the purpose of sugar reduction, though. So what solution did I come up with?

Enter Agave. "Agave nectar or syrup is the juice of the agave plant, which is filtered and heated (raw agave syrup is heated only to 118 degrees F) to create a syrup of a consistency slightly thinner than honey. Agave syrup contains some nutrients including iron and calcium. Unlike white sugar, no animal products are used in filtering. Agave syrup is mainly fructose and glucose though ratios vary from 56% to 92% fructose depending on the agave variety. Because of the high fructose content, agave nectar doesn't raise your blood sugar as much as most other sweeteners."

So, turning fruit into a presentable dessert is actually very easy:

Agave Fruit Dip

1 8 oz pkg low fat cream cheese, or neufchatel cheese, softened
1/2 cup agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Place all ingredients in a deep bowl and blend with handmixer until smooth. Chill until ready to serve with apple wedges, banana slices, whole strawberries, or other crunchy fruit.

"Yes, we can have dessert!"



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