Food Friday: Cold Desserts

Raspberry granita with berries and mint in glass cups, selective focus.jpg

It’s hot and fruit is in season. Here’s a little history of your favorite summer desserts and some tips on how to modify them to make them healthier. 

 

 

 

  • Frappes- ice, milk of some sort, flavorings, blended as a drink, originated in Greece  in the 1950s, named with the French word for shake or strike. 
  • Smoothies-a thick beverage made of  ice, milk of some sort, yogurt, fruit, blended as a drink. Some include vegetables, nut butters or protein powder. Recipes originated in Brasil, and were popularized with the invention of the blender. These became popular in the US in the 1960s. 
  • Ice cream - In the US defined as having 10 % butterfat or more, frozen, with lots of air whipped in. Frozen dairy desserts date back many centuries to many countries. The English first published recipes for ice cream in the 1700s. 
  • Gelato- Italian ice cream; must be at least 3.5 % butterfat; comes from Sicily since Sicily is near both mountains with ice and orchards with fruit. 
  • Sherbet- frozen blend of milk and fruit flavors about 1-2 % butterfat, An lower fat American version of ice cream.
  • Frozen yogurt - yogurt with flavoring like fruit, frozen and whipped. Originated in the Us in the 1980s during the fitness revolution. 
  • Granita- water, large ice crystals, sugar and flavorings like fruit juice or coffee; also hails from Sicily. 
  • Sorbet - dense frozen confection of water, sugar, flavoring, frozen and blended smooth; folklore dates it back to the Roman emperor Nero. 
  • Popsicle- originally was frozen flavored ice on a stick. Patented in Oakland California in the 1920s. Modern versions may contain other ingredients like fruit. 

 

You can find recipes for these in many places. My favorite sources are :

epicurious.com

Food.com

Foodnetwork.com

 Pinterest

 

Here are some general principles which will help you create desserts that people will enjoy. 

Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book
$7.01
By Ben Cohen, Jerry Greenfield, Nancy Stevens
  • Get a good electric ice cream machine. 
  • Get a good blender, preferably a Vitamix. 
  • Get some popsicle forms and make your own healthy versions. Make icy or dairy versions; consider adding fruit slices. 
  • You may use a simple metal pan placed in the freezer, combined with periodic stirring. Granitas work especially well this way. 
  • Use sweet ripe fruit if you are omitting or reducing sugar. Consider adding half a banana or a few sweet grapes to certain desserts to sweeten. Those who like stevia may try that, though be sparing. The point is to taste the natural flavors. 
  • Choose coconut milk if you are dairy intolerant. 
  • Choose dark chocolate flavoring. 
  • Choose decaf coffee for flavoring. 


It is a fun summer family activity to make healthy cold desserts. However, you have to have a good attitude if you are going to take conventional recipes and modify them to make them more healthy. You can’t expect them to taste exactly like store brands, and that’s just fine.