Sweet somethings can be as easy as a store-bought angel food cake dressed up with fresh berries and whipped topping. Not only is it quick to prepare, it is low in fat.
Take a hint from Susan Zies, Ohio State University home extension agent for Lucas County. She makes a dazzling Lemon Cake using a store-bought angel food cake sliced in half and then layered and frosted with low-fat lemon pudding mixture. Mrs. Zies uses a pastry bag to make a fancy finish with the filling and then garnishes the dessert with fresh raspberries, strawberries, kiwi, or lemon slices.
Note that angel food cake is fat free, but high in carbohydrate. Therefore, desserts made with angel food cake should be cut into small servings. Angel food cake should be sliced with a serrated knife, using a light sawing motion. Cutting with a regular knife or pressing down the cake makes an unattractive serving.
Read labels on recipe ingredients that are convenience products such as sugar-free pudding and frozen whipped topping. If you are counting calories or carbohydrates for weight loss or follow the exchange system or count carbs for diabetes control, sugar-free instant pudding must be counted as part of the carbohydrate in the recipe because it is made with cornstarch and milk. Sugar-free gelatin is a free food. Flavored yogurt can be high in carbohydrate because of added sugar. Look for no-sugar-added or artificially sweetened yogurt to cut down on carbohydrate.
Frozen nondairy whipped topping is made with tropical oil containing highly saturated fat. It is recommended for occasional use, but is not to be used daily, according to West Virginia University Extension Service, which is the source of recipe that Mrs. Zies adapted.
In fact, there are other culinary options for those interested in healthy eating.
For example, in July, 2003, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that scientific evidence suggests - but doesn't prove - that eating 1.5 ounces of most nuts, such as pistachios, may help reduce risk of heart disease when eaten with a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol. A one-ounce serving of pistachios is 49 nuts. Portion control is the key. Store 49 pistachios in individual bags for grab-and-go snacks. Pistachios, are high in fiber, vitamin B-6, thiamin, phosphorous, and copper, and contain mainly monounsaturated fat.
Bone loss can be slowed with high-calcium foods if combined with a regular exercise program. In The High-Calcium Low-Calorie Cookbook (Surrey Books, $19.95), Betty Marks' recipes are low in fat, sodium, and calories and are made without sugar. They also emphasize calcium-rich foods, with recipes such as Cheddar Bread, Mocha Filling, and Apricot Mousse.
Whether you are on a low-carb or low-calorie diet to lose weight or you follow the exchange system or count carbs to control diabetes, Valentine's Day can still be delicious. Diabetes Snacks, Treats & Easy Eats by Barbara Grunes (Surrey Books, $12.95) offers recipes such as Key Lime Chiffon Pie and Fudge Cake.