One of our favorite summertime treats is shaved ice. The juicy flavor, combined with a melt-in-your-mouth texture, is the best way to cool down on a hot day. Unfortunately, most of the shaved ice we can buy from a street vendor is drenched in a syrupy flavor concentrate. In fact, an 8-oz. cup of shaved ice contains a whopping 49 grams of sugar – more than a 12-oz. can of Coke! Luckily, it’s simple to make your own shaved ice at home with natural ingredients.
What Is a Granita?
A granita is a semi-frozen dessert made from fresh fruit, sugar, and water. It’s similar to sorbet and Italian ice, but it has a coarser, more crystalline texture. The secret is freezing a granita until it’s icy, but not frozen, then scraping the surface with a fork. Freeze again, scrape, and repeat until you achieve a flaky, delightfully crunchy consistency. You can make a granita with virtually any combination of fruits. Watermelon makes a terrific granita, as do strawberries (when not on the 21-Day Clean Program) with fresh basil.
Natural Sugar Vs. Refined Sugar
All fruit contains sugar, and the cherries in this recipe are no exception. In fact, each serving of our Cherry Lime Granita contains 35 grams of sugar. But don’t panic! The sugar in fruit is completely natural. It doesn’t count towards the maximum amount of added sugars you should eat in a day (37.5 grams for men and 26 grams for women), as recommended by the American Heart Association.
According to Lara Felton, RDN, most Americans don’t get enough fruits and vegetables each day and that the recommendation is to eat more, not less. Felton goes on to say that fruits and vegetables are “nutrient-dense foods, full of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other good-for-you-stuff.”
The take home: unless you have a specific dietary restriction or illness, don’t worry too much about how much natural sugar is in a serving of fruit or vegetables. If blending fruit with water and a natural sweetener like coconut sugar will help you squeeze in your recommended servings each day, have at it. Just don’t overdo it!
Cherry Lime Granita
2 pounds cherries, pitted
1 lime, juice and zest
2 tablespoons coconut sugar
1 tablespoon water
Remove the stems from the cherries. Cut the cherries in half and remove the pits. Zest and juice the lime, and measure the coconut sugar.
Combine the lime juice, coconut sugar, and water in a small saucepan. Simmer over low heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is slightly thickened about 5 to 7 minutes.
Meanwhile, add the cherries to a blender.
Blend until completely smooth, about a minute.
Transfer the lime juice/sugar mixture to a small bowl to cool for a few minutes. Then add to the blender along with the lime zest and blitz for another 30 seconds.
Pour the blender contents into an 8 x 8-inch baking dish and carefully place it in the freezer.
After an hour, scrape the top of the granitas with a fork to incorporate air and prevent it from freezing solid. Check on the granitas every half hour after that, scraping it each time so it develops a nice, fluffy texture.
When ready to serve, use a scraping motion to scoop the granitas into serving bowls. Enjoy immediately.
Recipe and photos by Kate Kasbee
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