A Heart-Healthy Berry Meringue Dessert

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ROBBINSVILLE—A healthy diet is one of the best weapons in the fight against cardiovascular disease, the nation’s No. 1 leading cause of death.

Food choices (and the amount) can affect controllable risk factors such as cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes and weight. Nutrient-rich foods — which have vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients—are lower in calories over nutrient-poor foods. A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole-grain and high-fiber foods, fish, lean protein and fat-free or low-fat dairy products is the key to maintaining a heart-healthy diet.

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The American Heart Association recommends 8 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables each day for adults.  One serving is equivalent to a medium-size piece of fruit, a half cup of fruit juice or a half to one cup of cooked raw vegetables.  Fruits and vegetables provide vitamins, minerals and fiber with few calories. They are also low in fat and sodium and do not contain cholesterol.

The summer is an opportune time to take advantage of fresh produce and begin incorporating fruits and vegetables in meals, snacks and even desserts.  The American Heart Association offers a recipe for a tasty, heart-healthy summer berry meringue dessert.

Berry-Topped Pudding Pie in Meringue-Nut Crust
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown

Serves 8; 1 slice per serving

Ingredients
Canola or corn oil for pie pan
2 large egg whites
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ cup sugar
¾ cup walnuts or pecans, finely chopped
1 small package fat-free, sugar-free instant lemon or vanilla pudding mix, prepared with 2 cups cold fat-free milk
12 ounces fresh berries or other fruit, sliced if needed
½ cup fat-free frozen whipped topping, thawed (optional)

Directions
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Pour a small amount of oil onto a paper towel and lightly wipe the bottom and side of an 8- or 9-inch pie pan.

In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites, vanilla, cream of tartar, and salt on medium speed until foamy. With the mixer still running, gradually add the sugar in a slow steady stream, until stiff peaks form. (The peaks shouldn’t fold over when the beater is lifted.)  Very gently fold in ½ cup of the nuts.

Using a flexible spatula or rubber scraper, spread the meringue over the bottom and up the side of the pie pan and onto the lip of the pan, but not over the edge of the pan.  Sprinkle the bottom the pan with the remaining nuts.

Bake for 50 minutes or until the meringue is firm and lightly browned. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely, at least 2 hours.

Using the package directions, prepare the pudding.  Spread over the cooled crust. Arrange the fruit decoratively over the pudding. Top with the whipped topping.

Note: In warm weather, meringues will get gummy after a few days, so it’s best to serve this dessert within 24 hours.

Nutrition analysis (per serving): 169 calories, 6.5g fat, 0.5g saturated fat, 4.5g polyunsaturated fat, 1.0 g monounsaturated fat, 0.0g trans fat, 1 mg cholesterol, 223 mg sodium,  25 g carbohydrates, 18g sugar, 3 g fiber, 5 g protein.

This recipe is brought to you by the American Heart Association’s Face The Fats program. Recipe copyright © 2007 by the American Heart Association. Look for other delicious recipes in American Heart Association cookbooks, available from booksellers everywhere.


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