Monday, April 25, 2011

Good-for-You Mango Frozen Yogurt

If you are diabetic or have insulin resistance, as I do, you know the importance of limiting sugars in your diet. They're everywhere, sometimes out in the open as sugar, corn syrup or (ugh) high-fructose corn syrup, and sometimes hiding behind aliases like maltodextrine, dextrose, sucrose, malt syrup and cane juice. Sugar by any other name is, well, sugar.

It's a sign of the times that the number of products labeled "no sugar added" has grown exponentially over the last few years. But no sugar added doesn't mean unsweetened, and smart foodiegirls need to read labels carefully. For example, many of the NSA (no sugar added) products on the market, particularly frozen treats, are sweetened with sugar alcohols. No, they're not sugar and they're not alcohol. (Wiki told me so.) They are virtually calorie free and allegedly do not cause spikes in blood glucose levels. Sounds great, right? Not so fast, Virginia.

Sugar alcohols are easy to spot in an ingredient list; they always end with "ol", as in sorbitol, maltitol, xylitol and erythritol. Although they are all naturally derived they bring with them a rather unfortunate side effect. They cause gastrointestinal distress in a large portion of the population, yours truly included. Gastrointestinal distress. I'm talking about massive amounts of gas, bloating and even diarrhea. If you're going to eat any of these sweeteners in any quantity, make sure you clear your calendar first.

A few weeks ago I was craving ice cream, and couldn't find a single commercial brand that didn't contain one of the sugar alcohols. (By the way, of all the ones listed above, erythritol is allegedly least likely to cause "distress", i.e. embarrassing flatulence.) Even those labeled "sweetened with Splenda" also contained either maltitol or sorbitol.

So...what's an ice-cream-craving Fitfoodiegirl to do? Fire up the ice cream maker and make my own!

This weekend when I cleaned out the refrigerator, I uncovered (along with a few things that would have made Alexander Fleming proud) 2 unopened containers of Trader Joe's 0% Greek yogurt that were a day past their expiration. Perfect for frozen yogurt, but what to put in it? An archeological dig through my freezer unearthed a full bag of Trader Joe's frozen mango chunks (a staple in my kitchen). And here's how it went:

- One bag Trader Joe's frozen mango chunks
- One 16 oz. container Trader Joe's 0% Greek Yogurt
- One 6 oz. container Fage Total (full fat) yogurt OR 6 oz. (by volume) of Trader Joe's full fat greek yogurt (you'll want the fat to prevent iciness in the finished product)
- Stevia, agave nectar, splenda or the sweetener of your choice.

Set aside about 1/3 of the mango chunks.

In a blender puree the remaining chunks until smooth. Add both yogurts to the blender and process until well mixed. Taste and add sweetener to taste. (If using sugar, you'll want to keep aside a little of the puree and warm it in the microwave and add the sugar to that before adding it to the mixture.)

Cut the remaining mango chunks into pieces about half their original size and place in a small bowl.

Chill the yogurt mixture and the mango chunks for about an hour.

Processing in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions. Add the mango chunks in the last few minutes of processing or they will break down. (Another option is to leave these chunks frozen to keep them intact during processing.) When finished processing, remove the frozen yogurt to an airtight container and place in the freezer for an hour before serving.

I haven't figured out the nutritional information on this yet, but I know it's a powerhouse. Greek yogurt is loaded with protein and other than the natural sugar in the yogurt and the mangos, there are no carbs to speak of.

I served it alongside a lovely Coconut Lime sorbet that I whipped up right after the yogurt, made with a partial can of light coconut milk that I had to use up. But that's for another blog.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Springtime Dinner

Today was spectacular; warm, breezy and sunny. A perfect day for a long run followed by a great meal.

Stumbled upon two beautiful boneless duck breasts in my freezer yesterday and put them in the fridge to thaw over night. I spent most of my run today thinking about how I was going to prepare them. They're really so simple; seared on both sides in a smoking hot cast-iron skillet then finished in the oven, they are a wonderful canvas for any manner of sauce; sweet, savory, Asian, French...your imagination is the only limit when it comes to this versatile meat.

I was in an Asian mood, so I decided on a plum sauce made with fresh plums, plum wine and plum puree (made from canned plums) and shallots. Super simple. I added a few gratings of fresh horseradish right before I served it; it was a surprising flavor, but it worked.

For a side, I wanted a puree of root veggies, but was bored of parsnips and the usual suspects. I'm also bored of sweet potatoes. They are a staple of my diet but they can get a little dull on their own. So I did a combination of carrots and sweet potatoes, pureed in the food processor with a little light coconut milk and seasoned with Chinese five spice powder. I sometimes forget how much I adore this combination of spices and it was really well-suited to the puree. Definitely doing THAT again!

I roasted the asparagus with a little sesame oil and soy sauce. After I seared the duck breasts, I moved them to the oven and drained most of the duck fat from the pan (if I was really decadent, I'd fry tomorrow's breakfast potatoes in the reserved fat) and sauteed some shallots for a few minutes, then deglazed the pan with an ample amount of plum wine and the remaining syrup from the canned plums. I let this reduce and added just a touch of soy at the end. It was a nice drizzle over the duck.

Asian flavors can be challenging pairings for wine, but I've found that I love the Alsacian whites with this type of meal. The slightly sweeter flavors with just the right acidity make them a great balance for the sweet and salty Asian seasonings. One of my favorites is Alsace One by Pierre Sparr. It's a blend of Riesling, Gewurstraminer, pinot blanc, pinot gris and muscat. It was perfect!