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Simple Sides: A Better Sorbet

Image of Strawberry Sorbet

Children in this country consume an estimated 12 percent of their calories from fast food, and 20 percent of all American meals are eaten in the car! The consequences are predictably unhealthy. Competing schedules in the day-to-day lives of a busy modern family make it difficult to share a home-cooked meal together, but not impossible. In fact, with a bit of planning, cooking together can become a fun family event and learning opportunity. This feature will focus on providing a child or a group of children, working together under the supervision of an adult, with one uncomplicated, healthy, and delicious side dish recipe. The dishes will be centered on seasonal fresh produce items; the recipes will always contain tasks that will allow even the youngest kitchen helper to contribute to the family meal. Parents should always read through each recipe carefully to judge the division of labor based on age and ability and to identify where adult attention might be needed.

Image of kids in kitchen

Many of the recipes presented here will seem very basic; this is by design. We hope these simple preparations will provide the culinary foundation and confidence to inspire kids to try more challenging recipes as their experience and confidence in the kitchen develops. Melissa’s encourages parents to find the time to gather as a family unit at least once a week for a dinner that everyone pitches in to prepare. It’s a wonderful way to teach a child basic culinary skills, and, more importantly, cooking with your children will build memories in all your hearts forever. “No one is born a great cook, one learns by doing” – Julia Child.

As June’s temps begin to heat up, it is time to move away from a hot stove and oven for your kids’ culinary education. Try this countertop recipe with refreshingly practical applications on a hot summer day – a healthy, sorbet-like fresh pineapple frozen dessert! And just to make the preparation experience a bit more interesting (and sweeter) for your young helpers, use a pink pineapple!

The very concept of a pink pineapple evokes a knee-jerk smile, yet the brilliant colorization of the Pinkglow® pineapple will still exceed expectations. It is always great fun to watch someone cut into this fruit for the first time – so surprise the kids with this unusual fruit ingredient. Plus, there are health benefits— Pinkglow® pineapples contain lycopene, a natural pigment that gives some fruits a red color, like tomatoes and berries, and makes this fruit pink. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that has been proven to help protect cells from cancers. This variety is also much sweeter than the standard yellow pineapple. In fact, the Pinkglow® has an aroma reminiscent of cotton candy; one can smell this fruit’s sugar content!

Speaking of sugar content, this dish does not qualify as a true sorbet in the classic culinary definition of the term. According to several culinary dictionaries, a sorbet is a frozen mixture containing unsweetened fruit juices, fruit and sugar. It differs from ice cream in that sorbet does not contain milk. A quick recipe search on the ‘net confirmed that sorbet is really just sugared-water combined with puréed or juiced fruit. However, there is no reason to add sugar to fresh fruit, especially an already very sweet pink pineapple. Coconut milk is the only other ingredient needed, which lends both flavor and a creamy texture without the dairy fat.

The sugar in the strawberry sauce has also been removed. Every recipe that I found on the ‘net contained one-third cup to a full cup of granulated white sugar, depending on the amount of fresh berries in the recipe. The more health-oriented recipes only swapped out the processed sugar for agave or a diabetic-friendly sweetener instead! (If your fruit needs to be sweetened artificially, it is either not ripe yet, or someone has a serious sugar addiction!). The strawberry sauce in this recipe contains only a little lemon juice, which enhances the berries' natural flavor and provides the supervising adult with an opportunity to explain to your kitchen helpers just why:

On the tongue, salt and lemons work in a very similar way. The salty and sour taste receptors are relatively simple compared with their more complex sweet receptors. Tasting salty and sour flavors depend solely on the detection of one of two ions — sodium for salt and hydrogen for sour. However, tasting other flavors depends on more complicated receptors. Acidity, like salt or lemons, generates an increase in salivation. The saliva on the tongue is necessary for taste buds, and therefore the brain, to perceive flavor. So, a squeeze of lemon is as good as a dash of salt in bringing out the flavor of just about any food, including strawberries. No sugar need apply.

PREP NOTE: While this recipe calls for an overnight stay in the freezer, your kitchen crew’s patience needs not to be taxed by such a wait. Make this dish in the morning. That way, by the time the summer sun is high in the sky and the hot June afternoon seems to be barely crawling along, this frozen Pinkglow® pineapple delight will be the perfect refreshing pick-me-up. Enjoy!

Sugar-free Pineapple “Sorbet” with Strawberry Sauce
Serves 6
Image of strawberry sorbet ingredients
4 cups Pinkglow® Pineapple chunks, frozen
½ cup unsweetened coconut milk

For the sauce
2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced thickly
1 tablespoon lemon juice

What the supervising adult should do:
*This recipe requires freezing the pineapple, so plan ahead. Core the pineapple for your helpers, so all they need to do is cut the fruit into chunks and place it on the cookie sheet. A younger child can be involved by helping measure out the pineapple and strawberries and add the coconut milk to the food processor.

What the kids can do:
Image of fruit on a tray
Cut pineapple into chunks, place on a cookie sheet spaced well apart and freeze.

Image of fruit in blender
Combine the frozen pineapple and coconut milk in a food processor until the consistency is smooth and creamy with little to no visible pineapple chunks.
Image of fruit blended and spread in pan
Enjoy immediately as a “soft serve” treat or freeze to a sorbet-like texture. To freeze, transfer contents even into a 9x13 loaf pan. Freeze for at least several until it becomes solid enough to scoop.
Image of strawberries cooking in a pan
Sauce: Bring the strawberries and lemon juice to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat and let cool to thicken more.
Image of sorbet in bowl
Serve individually with the sauce on the side. Enjoy!

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