This next year will be a transformative one for me. In just over three weeks, I am expecting my first child, and with it many life-changing experiences! As I look forward to that moment, I am also reflecting back at the journey my body and I took this last 9 months. I have tried to nurture a healthy child by improving my diet and following the nutritional guidelines of the midwifery that will deliver the baby. That has meant learning to cut out processed foods, including flours, rice and sugars, that fill our plates and bodies with artificial substances and empty calories.
The “diet,” as I’ll call it for lack of better words, is really an eating lifestyle that everyone should follow — not just pregnant women. I subscribed to a CSA last spring and have been filling my body with mostly fresh, local and seasonal fruits and vegetables, complimented by whole grains and vegetarian fed eggs and meats. I credit the shift for helping me maintain a good level of energy throughout the pregnancy and ensuring that my body has the vitamins and minerals needed without the use of vitamin pills. I’ve had a healthy journey, and though I can’t say with certainty it was due to my food intake, I know that what I put in my body certainly didn’t hurt.
Now, I barely ever post about desserts on this blog, partly because I don’t have a strong sweet tooth and prefer cooking to baking. But in the final weeks of the pregnancy, I have been craving sweet and cold foods that will cool off my body. (I’m running hot even in the middle of the winter!) Today, I decided to satisfy that need in a healthy way, and thus this granita parfait was born.
Granita is a really easy Italian dessert to make, as long as you’re planning to be around the freezer for several hours to periodically shake up the ice crystals. Basically you freeze a liquid, such as a juice or syrupy reduction, in a shallow pan. But instead of letting it freeze solid into a block of ice, you run a fork through the liquid every 30 minutes to break up the crystals. After about 4 hours of this, all the liquid should be completely frozen in a light, airy form that is as satisfying as a cool snow cone in summer. Think of Italian ice or other such treats to get an idea of the consistency.
Here’s how I made mine:
Stir together 1/2 cup each of pomegranate and orange juices, 1/4 cup of mango puree (available canned in most Ethnic stores and aisles), and the juice of 1 lime. Pour the mix into an 8×8 inch baking pan and freeze.
Every 30 minutes for about 4 hours, pull out the pan and break up the mixture with a fork. Store frozen granita in an airtight container in the freezer for up to a week.
To make the parfait, layer several tablespoons each of granita and greek yogurt in a glass. Drizzle with mango puree and garnish with a few fresh pomegranate seeds. Top with a lime wedge, and serve immediately.
How’s that for a New Year’s Eve treat that will neither leave you hungover nor break any weight-related resolutions? Enjoy all year!
Note: Freshly whipped heavy cream with a little bit of sugar would go well in the place of the greek yogurt, especially if you were serving this as a dessert to guests.