Having A Ball On New Year’s Eve

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - December 26, 2007
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If you love cheesecake, but can’t handle the fat and calories, there is a great alternative - yogurt cheesecake!

William Zheng of Ocean Rich LLC bakes this light and delicious cheesecake under the Yummy Land bakery name.

William came to Hawaii more than 20 years ago from mainland China, and has worked as a baker for Safeway, a mixer at Napoleon Bakery and a bakery manager at Ranch 99. He tells me that his customers loved cheesecakes, but when he told them the ingredients, a great deal of them said they could-n’t eat diets rich in fat and cholesterol.

He experimented with different ideas and perfected his cheesecake made with nonfat yogurt, which contains important live yogurt cultures for ease of digestion. The cheesecake is so popular he has been making it for more than two years! William also will accommodate special orders, such as blueberry cheesecake. Char siu manapua, made with very lean pork, is another specialty and a favorite of local folks, who bring them frozen to family and friends on Neighbor Islands.

In addition to these, he bakes more than 50 different varieties of cookies, and a lower-fat sweet roll. His products are sold at Times Supermarkets, Longs Drugs and Don Quijote, and he is expanding his line to whole grain breads in 2008.

This column is dedicated to William for his devotion to bringing great-tasting lower-fat alternatives to us.

New Year’s Eve is a time for getting together with friends and family. Whether you are entertaining or need a great potluck dish, try this lower-fat cheese ball. A great make-ahead for a New Year’s Eve buffet or just for snacking, this is a treat even the keiki will love. Serve with a variety of crackers, vegetables or fruit.

The high sugar content of dates makes them a very wholesome food. Dried dates are very high in potassium and are a good source of iron, magnesium, copper, pantothenic acid, vita-min B6 and niacin.

A Heart-y wish for a happy and healthy New Year!


FRUIT AND NUT CREAM CHEESE BALL

* 2 (8-ounce) packages light cream cheese plus 1 (8-ounce) package fat-free cream cheese
* 3/4 cup finely chopped dates
* 1/2 cup diced strawberries
* 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
* 1 cup finely chopped pecans


Place cream cheese in a mixing bowl. Mix until cream cheese is softened. Mix in dates, strawberries, crushed pineapple and almonds. Place mixture onto plastic wrap and form into ball.

Refrigerate wrapped ball for about four hours or until set. Just before serving, roll in chopped pecans.

Makes about 24 1-tablespoon servings.

Approximate Nutrition information per serving:

Calories: 100 Fat: 6.3 grams Cholesterol: 31milligrams Sodium: 98 milligrams

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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