Having A Ball With Fruit And Nuts

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - March 21, 2007
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Mililani resident Nikki Lau has a wonderful time at her job. Nikki has been manager of Welcome to the Islands at the diamondhead end of Ward Centre for the past two years. The specialty store sells an array of island-inspired home décor, gourmet food, and island bath and body care products, all of which are designed in Hawaii.

Nikki has been in the retail field for 22 years, is a graduate of Punahou, and was a classmate of Barack Obama (then known as Barry). She loves to read when she has free time.

Her husband, Derrick, also a Punahou 1979 graduate, is a supervisor at HPC Foods and likes to cook in his spare time.

Nikki and Derrick are proud of their son Christopher, 14, a freshman at Mililani High School, who excels at computer skills.

This is dedicated to the Lau family.

Holidays are family time, and this is a yummy treat to serve friends and family, as well as an easy dish to bring to potlucks. Serve with a variety of crackers, vegetables or fruit.

I use light cream cheese with wonderful results, and it cuts down on the fat. The combination of fruit and nuts makes for a palate-pleaser, and even the keiki will eat their veggies when dipped into this cheese ball.

Cheese is a dairy product obtained from the coagulation and draining of milk or cream, or a combination of both. In general, it takes about 11 pounds of milk to make one pound of cheese.

While the exact origins of cheese are unknown, archeological evidence suggests that cheese making dates back about 10,000 years. Milk and cheese were the food of the gods and heroes in mythology, and cheeses were common fare in ancient Rome. A number of firm cheeses, such as Parmesan and Pecorino, were developed by the Romans.

There are more than 1,000 varieties of cheese in the world, with France alone producing more than 350 varieties.

Cream cheese comes in many styles including whipped, fat free, low fat, and flavored. Mixing the light cream cheese with fat-free cream cheese creates a cheese ball that is lower in calories and fat, but still retains a lot of the flavor.


* 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
* 3/4 cup finely chopped pecans

Place cream cheese in a mixing bowl and mix until softened. Mix in dates, strawberries, crushed pineapple, and almonds. Place mixture onto plastic wrap and form into ball. Refrigerate wrapped ball for about 4 hours or until set. Just before serving, roll in chopped pecans.

Makes about 24 1-tablespoon servings.

Approximate Nutrition Information Per Serving:

Calories: 120

Fat: 5 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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