Exotic Hot Chocolate
Active time: 15 minutes Total time: 15 minutes
- 2 cups 1 percent milk
- 6 packets Truvia™ natural sweetener (1/8 cup & 1 tablespoon)
- 2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2 of a vanilla bean
- 1/3 cup unsweetened chocolate, chopped
- 3 star anise (available in the spice isle of the supermarket)
- Pinch of salt
- 2 cinnamon sticks, optional for garnish
In a small pot, combine the Truvia™ natural sweetener, cocoa powder, cinnamon, star anise, salt, and cayenne. Cut the vanilla bean in half length wise, scrape the black seeds out of the pod using the back of a knife, and add it into the pot. Whisk in the milk.
Place the pot on the stove over medium heat. Whisk frequently so that nothing settles to the bottom of the pot and burns. Once the mixture comes to a boil, remove the pot from the heat. Add in the chopped chocolate and whisk until melted.
Pour the hot chocolate into two mugs. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and serve immediately.
*This hot chocolate can also be made several days in advance, refrigerated, and reheated before serving.
Nuts About Banana Cream Pie
Serves 12, depending upon the size of the slice
Active Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours
9" deep dish pie crust, store bought
- 8 ounces reduced fat cream cheese, room temperature
- 14 packets Truvia™ natural sweetener
- 1/2 cup chunky, natural peanut butter, salted
- 1/2 cup fat free evaporated milk, divided into two portions 1/4 cup each
- 1 teaspoon powdered gelatin
- 2 medium size ripe bananas, about 2 cups
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup unsweetened toasted coconut, reserve 1/8 cup for garnish
- 1/8 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, as garnish
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Prick the bottom of the pie shell a dozen times with a fork. Bake in the oven, on the center rack, for 25 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. Allow the crust to cool completely before filling, about 30 minutes. The crust can also be baked the day before and stored at room temperature, until ready to fill. If you could not find pre-toasted coconut, you can also place your coconut into the oven, and bake for 5 minutes, or until golden brown.
Place 1/4 cup of the evaporated milk into a small pot. Whisk in the gelatin and allow to sit for 3 minutes to soften. Place the pot on the stove over medium heat and cook, while whisking, until hot and the gelatin has melted. Do not bring the mixture to a boil. Transfer the hot milk to a mixing bowl, add in the other 1/4 cup of evaporated milk. Place this into the freezer for 10 minutes to chill before beating.
In the meantime, combine the cream cheese and peanut butter in a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for one minute to incorporate. Add in the Truvia™ natural sweetener, and salt. Beat for an additional minute. Set aside.
After 10 minutes, remove the evaporated milk from the freezer. The edges of the milk should be starting to set. If they are not setting and the milk is not cold, place back in the freezer for an additional 5 minutes. Beat the chilled milk for 4-5 minutes with an electric mixer on high speed. It should now resemble whipped cream.
Spoon the peanut mixture into the evaporated milk and mix on medium speed for 1 minute to incorporate. Add half of the toasted coconut, 1/8 cup, into the pie filling, and mix until combined.
Spoon a third of the mixture into the baked pie crust, and smooth out, to cover the bottom of the crust. Peel and slice the bananas into 1/4" thick slices. Top the peanut mixture with all of the bananas. Cover the bananas with the rest of the peanut cream. To garnish, top with the remaining toasted coconut and peanuts.
Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour, or up to overnight, before serving.
Low-fat cooking tips:
-When shopping for your favorite indulgent foods such as ice creams, juices, and other sweets, choose diet or low-calorie versions.
-When buying foods and ingredients, read labels at the grocery store to know what exactly you are eating.
-Move more during the day to get your heart pumping.
-Use the stairs at work instead of the elevator. Take a break during the day to walk around your office building. Do simple lunges at your desk.
-Variety is the key to life both in food and fitness.
-Don't get in the rut of eating the same foods over and over or your boredom may lead to dropping your goals. Same for fitness, a more varied workout will keep you more interested in getting in shape.
-When sweetening foods or cooking and baking from scratch at home, try using natural sweetener like Truvia.
About Marisa Churchill:
Marisa is a San Francisco native. Her love of cooking began early in life. As a young girl she cooked in the kitchen with her Greek grandmother. By her grandmother's side Marisa learned how to cure her own olives, make homemade breads and pastas, and how to make a wide variety of authentic Greek dishes. In 1999 Marisa decided to turn her life-long passion for cooking into a career. She graduated from the California Culinary Academy, and later continued her culinary education in savory cooking and advanced pastry skills at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone. Marisa has worked at such notable restaurants as Tra Vigne, Rubicon, The Slanted Door, LuLu, Ame, and Yoshi's. She's currently the head of recipe development for the Mezzetta product line, and is the consulting pastry chef for several Bay Area restaurants.
Marisa's work and particularly her low-fat desserts have been featured in the San Francisco Chronicle, Food and Wine, and Bon Appetit. In 2007 she was chosen as one of the top 40 pastry chefs in the country by Food Arts magazine. Marisa has appeared on Bravo's Top Chef, NBC, Comcast, Tokyo tv, Plum tv, and The Food Network! In addition to her culinary accomplishments, Marisa is also an accomplished athlete. She's received numerous swimming awards. With her athletic physique, good looks, and warm personality Marisa has become a popular spokesperson in the areas of health, food and fitness. Her laidback and tomboyish personality makes her a hit with the guys, and her healthy approach to food and fitness makes her an excellent role model for young women. When she isn't cooking or playing sports Marisa spends time giving back to the community. As a volunteer she created a cooking program for the children's wing of the Cal Pacific Hospital, and she's also an active member of CHEFS (Conquering Homelessness through Employment in Food Service) in San Francisco.