Low Carb Kitchen
Carb Solution: Romantic Dessert for Two
By Dennis Linden
Over half of the U.S. adult population, some 154 million, qualify as being overweight or obese. Another 29 million of us have Diabetes, many as a direct result of being overweight. Then there are the 23.9 million overweight children who are dutifully following the example of their XXL adult role models. Diabetes and these extra pounds cost this country billions annually in both medical and economic resources; not to mention the affect these weight-related maladies have on a person’s overall mental well-being and happiness. However, both diabetes and being overweight are very manageable, even preventable, with a few lifestyle tweaks. By maintaining a sensible diet in conjunction with some consistent exercise, no matter how minimal, we can all be in total control of our own weight. One easy way to start taking that control is to make decisions about the foods we eat based on the glycemic index [GI] and glycemic load [GL].
Simply put, our bodies convert all foods into sugar calories that provide energy to the body via the blood stream. The Glycemic Index assigns a score of 1 to 100 to all foods based how speedy the body converts that food into sugar. Foods that break down slowly enable the body to assimilate theses calories of energy more efficiently without overwhelming the body with more sugar than it can process. While this is especially important for diabetics who process sugars much slower than others, everyone can benefit from eating foods that have low glycemic scores since they also reduce appetite and encourage the metabolism to burn body fat. Conversely, a diet of foods high on the glycemic charts have been proven to actually increase appetite and impede effective fat oxidation.
A QUICKIE GLYCEMIC PRIMER:
The glycemic index of a food compares its effect on blood sugar level to that of pure glucose, which has a score of 100. White breads, which are made of processed white flour, are at the top of this scale, scoring a “perfect” 100 on the glycemic index. For perspective, a score of 55 or below denotes a low-glycemic-index food; 70 or above is considered very high. Serving size is not a consideration in arriving at a food’s Glycemic Index number.
The glycemic load, on the other hand, focuses on how much digestible carbohydrates (sugars) a food contains in a typical single serving, which is defined as approximately 3.5 ounces. For glycemic load, a score of 20 or more is high, while 10 or less is low.
Both the Index and Load scores should be checked to determine how a food affects the metabolism. A parsnip, for instance, has a very high glycemic index (97) but the fiber in a parsnip slows the conversion of its starch to glucose, so its glycemic load score is a very “digestible” 10.
For those who have to measure carb intake, a box of Valentine chocolates is a thing of the past. I did an internet search of “popular Valentine’s Day desserts” and my blood sugar elevated just reading all those sugar-starch laden ingredient lists. So be careful all you carb counting Valentiners -- while a romantic dinner for two with a finale of over-the-top decadent dessert may be on the menu to set the mood for the rest of the evening, that last dish needs to get your heart racing, not your blood sugar!
This creamy low carb mousse is made with sweet mascarpone cheese and whipped cream. Topped with roasted strawberries steeped in brandy—it’s an easy, yet elegant dessert. Each serving has a total of about 7.5g NET CARBS. O.k., so the calories are a bit high at 500, but this is a special dessert for a special occasion! I guess one could cut the brandy out to help on the calorie count; though I think that is like saying that cutting the candles off a birthday candle eliminates the fire hazard. Sometimes the occasion should trump everything – so long as it does not become the norm, of course.
While that same ‘net search also produced this tasty recipe, I did have to tweak it a little to suit personal taste and culinary beliefs. That is, the one incredulous ingredient that I cut out completely was a couple of tablespoons of a powdered sugar substitute to the fresh strawberries before roasting. Instead, I did add one tablespoon of Melissa’s agave to the berries, but not as a sweetener but as a thickener for the sweet juices that the roasting would produce in order to create a syrupy texture. For the life of me, I do not understand why a sweetener of any kind – glycemic friendly or otherwise - is necessary on fresh fruit! I have railed against this bad habit in past blogs. This tendency is the reason why this half country’s population is browsing in XL racks!
While this is a very simple recipe to prepare, the timing of a romantic meal is everything. The challenge of cooking a dinner for two for the person who is also one of the “two” is to perform seamless service. That is, not being in the kitchen longer than it takes to clear and bring out the next course. Long interludes of prep during the meal is a real mood breaker. For a smooth evening, I would suggest preparing and pouring the mascarpone mixture into the glasses ahead of time and refrigerate for at least several hours to give this mixture a firmer texture. Refrigerating the berries after roasting changes their color to a dull, muddled red – so don’t. Conversely, pouring hot berries over cold mascarpone will sink the whole dish, literally! Instead prepare the berries for roasting and time the cook so that the berries finish just as the main entrée is served. Add the brandy and let the berries cool to room temperature while enjoying the rest of the meal. It will take no time at all to then top the two glasses of refrigerated mascarpone with cooled strawberries, which are still sparkling with a glossy finish from the roasting. The presentation will dazzle your partner--especially under candlight. The measures in this recipe will produce four servings…after all, the true definition of decadence is having seconds! Or save for later…romantic midnight carb-free snack perhaps?
Roasted & Drunk Strawberries over Mascarpone Mousse
2 cups fresh strawberries, quartered
1 TBS vanilla extract
1 TBS Melissa’s Organic Blue Weber Agave Syrup
3 oz. brandy of choice
8 ounces mascarpone cheese, softened room temp.
4 ounces cream cheese, softened room temp
6 TBS powdered sugar substitute, divided
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup whipping cream
Gently toss the berries in a mixing bowl with vanilla extract and agave, then transfer to a glass baking pan. Bake at 375° for 20 - 25 minutes, until soft and much of the juice has released. Transfer contents of pan, including the juice, back into the mixing bowl, add brandy and toss gently, let cool to room temperature before topping.
In a large bowl, beat mascarpone, cream cheese, 4 TBS of sweetener and remaining vanilla together until well combined. In another bowl, beat cream cheese with remaining 2 TBS sweetener until it holds stiff peaks. Fold the whipped cream into mascarpone mixture until thoroughly combined.
Pipe mascarpone mixture into 2 large margarita glasses. Top with the roasted berries and serve.