“It’s time to get off the sugar train!” I exclaimed to my hubby Monday morning.
To my surprise, he said he was ready to disembark, too.
As I write this, 96 hours have passed since deciding to cut out refined sugar and carbs (for one month, that is, in order to push the reset button). . .
How’s it going, you ask? Rough! The first few days were the hardest, and there were moments I could have eaten a roof shingle to satisfy my desire to chew something carb-y. And my husband, with his well-honed sweet-tooth, has been having an especially hard time.
Thankfully, it’s strawberry season in Florida and we’re surrounded by beautiful berries.
I love them by themselves, but sometimes it’s nice to pair them with a little something extra, like a tasty mascarpone.
Mascarpone (Italian cream cheese) is richer and creamier than cream cheese and, as I recently learned, has fewer carbs than cream cheese. I tried many mix-ins, including orange zest/juice, lime zest, fresh mint/basil, vanilla, etc., all attempts to bring sweetness and flavor to the mixture, while avoiding sugar. But they all fell flat. My final attempt was cinnamon, toasted walnuts and a little bit of honey. The natural sweetness of cinnamon goes great with mascarpone. The nuts give a nice crunch against the creaminess of the cheese and the juiciness of the berries. And while honey is a sugar, at least it’s not refined sugar! I guess I feel like when you’re trying to be good, a wee bit of honey isn’t the end of the world, especially if you divide it amongst a dozen strawberries 🙂
There are many recipes for ‘stuffed strawberries’ — folks scoop out the center of the berries, pipe in gobs of something delicious, then top with lovely decorations or dip in chocolate. I tried the stuffing method and it was basically a hot mess. So I just cut the berries in half and topped each with mascarpone mixture and toasted walnuts. My only indulgence was putting the mixture into a pastry bag to achieve a little more structure on the berries, but if you don’t have a pastry bag, I noted some easy alternatives in the recipe.
However you get the mascarpone onto the berries, I think you’ll find that these little treats satisfy sweet cravings, and they’ll get you through to the next day in your journey toward reduced carbs and sugar 🙂
Strawberries with Cinnamon Mascarpone
- 12 Strawberries, halved
- 1/2 cup Mascarpone cheese, room temperature
- 1/4 tsp. Ground cinnamon
- 1/2-3/4 tsp. Honey (add more if you'd like it sweeter)
- 2-3 Tb. Minced/toasted walnuts or almonds
- 1 Pinch Kosher or flaky sea salt (optional)
- Add nuts to a small pan and toast over low heat approx. 5 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and mince finely. Cool for a few minutes.
- Rinse strawberries, pat dry and slice in half (keep the green tops on for garnish).
- In a small bowl, add Mascarpone, cinnamon & honey; mix well with a spoon.
- Transfer cheese mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a tip large enough to dispense the cheese in a pretty fashion OR transfer mixture to a small ziplock bag and cut off one corner to squeeze out the mixture OR simply use a small spoon to top each berry with a bit of mixture.
- Sprinkle each dab of mascarpone with toasted nuts (and a bit of salt, if using) and serve immediately. NOTE: you can also refrigerate them once they're topped with mascarpone, but for best results, be sure to bring them up to room temperature before serving.
Now if you can make this as easy and accessible as a bag of Peeps at the 7-11 it’s a perfect sugar substitute! That said, this looks like it’s worth the effort.
Peeps, chocolate bunnies, Reese’s peanut butter eggs. . .this time of year is torture! Hopefully these little berries will help 🙂
Love this idea. It’s really hard to go without sweets and this recipe really helps. Going without treats is a real sacrifice and this makes the daily routine so much easier.
It’s a little treat to get you through the day 🙂