Monday, November 21, 2011

Makeover Monday: Cranberry Walnut Jell-O Salad

The week of Thanksgiving is upon us!  After a two year hiatus, I am finally returning to my parents' house to have Thanksgiving with my family and I could not be more excited. As the big day quickly approaches, I find myself thinking about my favorite dishes that my mom has been making every year for as long as I can remember.  While I love them all, perhaps the one I get the most excited about every year is this Cranberry Walnut Jell-O salad.  I know that Jell-O salads aren't usually the star of the show, but for some reason I can never get enough of this stuff.  It is sweet, tart, crunchy, and just plain good.  With cranberries, apples, oranges, and walnuts, it is a perfect dish for this time of the year.

As with many of the recipes I have requested from my mom over the years, I was a little surprised when I saw that this seemingly healthy side dish was deceptively unhealthy.  It had a cup of sugar!  I've eaten desserts with less sugar than that.  And that is on top of the 73 grams of sugar in the package of Jell-O.  Ouch!  But I loved this recipe too much to just forget about it.  I was going to make it myself.  I was going to enjoy it without feeling guilty.  And I was definitely going to eat it more than once a year.

If you've been reading my Makeover Mondays, I think you know how this is going to go.  As usual, making this recipe low calorie wasn't hard.  Splenda and sugar free Jell-O to the rescue!  Using 1 cup of Splenda instead of sugar cuts out about 630 calories.  Now, since I am cheap, I never actually buy Jell-O brand gelatin.  I opt for the generic "gelatin dessert."  My mom's recipe calls for lemon Jell-O, but I have never been able to find sugar free lemon gelatin.  I have found almost every other flavor of sugar free gelatin, but apparently lemon doesn't exist.  So for this recipe I have used lime, orange, and even cranberry.  To be honest, I don't think I could ever tell the difference so use whatever strikes your fancy.  But whatever kind you use, you can feel good about the fact that by using sugar free gelatin you are saving almost 400 calories.  So just by making these two easy changes, you can save a total of about 1,000 calories.  And as someone who could probably sit down and eat a whole dish of this tasty salad, I appreciate that!

If you have a food processor, this salad is really easy to make.  If you don't have a food processor, get one.  All you do is grind up cranberries, apples, an orange, and orange rind (yes, the rind!).  Here are a few before and after pictures.  I swear food processors are magic. 
Orange rind before
Orange rind after

Orange before

Orange after.  This just takes a few pulses!

Apples before

Apples after

Walnuts before

Walnuts after
Okay.  That's enough of that.  Now let the fruit stand in the Splenda for about a half hour.  Do stir it though.
Dissolve the "gelatin dessert" in hot water.
Then stir the fruit, gelatin, and chopped walnuts together.
And pour it all into a dish until firm.  Inevitably, some of my salad gets eaten before this point.  It can't be helped.
So please, do yourself a favor and make this salad for Thanksgiving this year.  Mom, I hope you're reading this!

Cranberry Walnut Jell-O Salad
1 bag (12 oz) fresh cranberries
2 small apples
1 orange and 1/2 of its rind
1 cup Splenda
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 box (0.3 oz) sugar free lemon Jell-O
1 cup hot water
Wash and grind fruit and orange rind in a food processor.  Mix ground fruit with Splenda and let stand for a half hour.
Stir Jell-O with hot water to dissolve.  Mix fruit, nuts, and Jell-O to combine; pour into 9x13" baking dish and refrigerate until firm.

1 comment:

  1. This is SO GOOD!! You fixed it last year at our house and I think I ate most of the leftover salad myself. It's better than pie!!