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Fourth of July Dessert, Simple and Healthy

Fourth of July dessert good as fireworks

Two things are almost certainties: people love fireworks on the Fourth of July, and just about everyone loves dessert. So while you're waiting for the fireworks to start, why not dig into a red, white, and blue dessert that's simple to make and fun to eat.

How to make a 4th of July dessert

The ingredients are simple and readily available this time of year:

  • 1 graham cracker crust--no baking required. If you want to make your own crust, the recipe is below
  • 3 cups of nonfat or low-fat vanilla soy yogurt
  • 1/2 pint or more of blueberries, the more you love blueberries the more you can use!
  • 12 to 15 large strawberries, washed and cut in halves

To make your own graham cracker crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (you can use reduced fat graham crackers for fewer calories)
  • 3 Tbs canola oil (or 2 Tbs oil and 1 Tbs water to reduce calories)
  • 3 Tbs pure maple syrup
  • Dash of salt

Pulverize the graham crackers in a food processor and then combine all the ingredients in bowl. Press into a 9-inch pie dish and refrigerate.

Now for the pie. Toss about two dozen blueberries into the yogurt, stir gently, and then place in the pie crust.Freeze for several hours. Decorate the top of the pie with the remaining blueberries and the strawberries. Be creative! You can put all the blueberries in the middle and then use the strawberries to line the outside, or make stripes with the strawberries and fill in the spaces with the blueberries. If there is any pie left after the crowd digs in, cover with waxed paper or plastic wrap and put in freezer.

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What's healthy about this pie?
Blueberries have been studied extensively, and researchers have uncovered a wealth of apparent health benefits associated with these small berries and their many phytonutrients, including anthocyanins, flavonols, and tannins, among others. In fact, a new study just reported how blueberries can help lower cholesterol.

Research also suggests blueberries have a role in reducing breast cancer growth, may help with weight loss efforts, and even protect against colitis and some types of cancer. A study from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School also reported that women who eat lots of blueberries and strawberries can help slow cognitive decline.

Strawberries, blueberries, and other berries have shown evidence of promoting brain health and preventing memory loss, while one study showed that people who drank a strawberry beverage experienced a significant reduction in chronic inflammation, which is linked to heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and many other serious health problems.

Strawberries have even been named as possibly helping reduce the risk of esophageal cancer. Both strawberries and blueberries are also low in calories, high in vitamins, fiber, and phytonutrients, and taste great.

Vanilla soy yogurt is a great alternative to dairy yogurt, especially if you are lactose intolerant. Depending on which brand of soy yogurt you buy, you can expect to enjoy about 5 to 6 grams of protein per serving, along with about 50 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin C, 30 percent of your daily calcium and vitamin D, and 0 to 3 grams of unsaturated fat.

Put it all together in a graham cracker crust (okay, not super healthful but it is a holiday after all!) and you have a Fourth of July dessert that is simple and healthy and nearly as good as the fireworks.

Image: PhotosPublicDomain