Are you struggling to find a healthy, yet crowd-pleasing summer dessert?
I faced this struggle several summers ago when I was hosting a fancy dinner in my home; this was when I was already avoiding a long list of foods because of sensitivities – this included common dessert ingredients like wheat, oats, eggs, dairy, as well as sugar. For this dinner event, my challenging goals were to:
· avoid my trigger foods
· satisfy my guests’ taste buds
· prepare one dessert dish for all to enjoy
At first, I despaired that it just wouldn’t be possible!
Then I found my inspiration in a recipe for pears grilled on the barbecue – this fruit is tolerated by most people, so this was a good starting point; since it would be grilled on the barbecue, I also wouldn’t have to turn on my oven in the summer. While the original recipe suggested a set of garnishes for the pears, I built on the idea and imagined each person creating their own personalized dessert as they chose from an array of toppings and seasonings to suit their needs and tastes. And for me, tired of being the odd one out, the power of choice helped me to blend in with the crowd, even if my specific ingredient selections were more conservative.
The dessert experience was a huge hit, both because of the surprising flavours, and the fun adventure of making your own cooking choices. I shared this dessert inspiration at numerous gatherings that summer, and now it’s a regular request from family and friends.
Another great feature is that this dessert has the power to be a relatively healthy dessert option, assuming you choose garnishes that minimize the addition of sugar and fat. Pears with light sprinklings of nuts and shaved dark chocolate, for example, are a great whole food option – which is important because diets rich in whole foods (compared to highly processed foods) have been linked to better health. By the same token, you can give your guests the choice to indulge if you know they’re not restricting their food choices for any reason… as long as you keep two things in mind. First, know your goals and your pitfalls – if you are trying to eat whole foods but have a hard time resisting milk chocolate or marshmallows (both during dessert, and from the stash of left-over ingredients), don’t offer them as a topping option! Second, if you or one of your guests has a severe allergy, don’t offer that allergy-inducing ingredient – keep everyone safe and healthy!
To create a similar dessert experience, see my method below. If you’re looking for other healthy meal or dessert options to meet your specific needs, please call! Let’s explore new food possibilities and see what exciting solutions we can find to support your good health!
You Don’t Have to Journey Alone!
Personalized Grilled Pears
Ingredients and equipment:
1 pear per person – peeled, halved, and cored. See best pear varieties for grilling/baking
set out topping options in little bowls – find suggestions below preparation instructions
1 square of tin foil per person – approximately 30 × 30 cm (12 × 12 in.)
Pre-heat barbecue to at least 230˚C (450˚F).
Distribute one square of foil to each person, and place two pear halves on top of each foil square. Allow each person to garnish their pear halves with toppings according to individual taste. Fold the foil to create a closed packet (Tip: use a marker to label each packet). Place pears on the hot barbecue grill, and allow to cook for 20-30 min; pears are done when fork-tender.
Enjoy while still warm.
whole food toppings: berries (fresh or thawed from frozen), banana slices, chopped dark chocolate*, chopped nuts*
seasonings: cinnamon, nutmeg, cocoa powder, black pepper (this was suggested in the original recipe, and offers a delightfully surprising zing)
more indulgent toppings: chopped milk chocolate*, marshmallows, brown sugar, jam, chocolate-hazelnut paste; serve over ice cream or with cream
*add only as much chocolate and nuts as will stay on top of the fruit – when these ingredients collect on the foil, they tend to burn during grilling