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Make a mess with fresh strawberries

Satisfy your sweet tooth for just 140 calories

I love dessert. Trying to eat healthier hasn't changed that basic principle – as the joke goes, sweets definitely are one of the basic food groups.

The discovery of Strawberry Meringue Mess just happened to coincide with a trip to Janesville, Wis., to Hazeltine Strawberries. The farm offers pick-your-own and prepicked berries that arrive in your hands, one way or the other, red and delicious.

Before getting to the work of cooking, the recipe had a note about the origins of the dish: "This recipe pays a light tribute to Eton Mess, a dessert that originated at Eton College, one of Britain's most famous public schools. It's a delicious mess of strawberries, whipped cream, and meringue cookies mixed together. In-season, juicy berries are key."

Something else also is key – meringue cookies. I went to two stores to find these and failed miserably. Trapped in the short time period the strawberries would be just right, I settled for Nilla Wafers. It worked, but the meringue cookies would be preferred. I plan to track some down when I have more time. I had expected more sweetness, which I think the meringue would have supplied.

I'm starting to sense a trend that I should get ingredients and then match recipes to them. Nevertheless, here's what to do:

Combine strawberries and sugar in a medium bowl. Let stand 10 minutes or until syrup forms, stirring occasionally.

Reserve 1/2 cup strawberry-syrup mixture. Gently fold whipped topping into remaining strawberry-syrup mixture; carefully fold in crushed meringue cookies. Spoon meringue mixture into dessert dishes, and top with reserved strawberry-syrup mixture. Serve immediately.

After finishing, I didn't have the amount of syrup left over the recipe said I would, but I had enough. Don't be surprised if you're a little short on it. In all, the mess was very refreshing and a good use of fresh strawberries.

Strawberry Meringue Mess

2 cups chopped strawberries (about 20 berries)

1 tablespoon sugar

1 1/2 cups frozen reduced-calorie whipped topping, partially thawed

6 fat-free vanilla meringue cookies, coarsely crushed

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 cup meringue mixture and 2 tablespoons strawberry-syrup mixture)

Nutritional information: 140 calories, 3.2 grams fat, 0.9 grams protein, 28.6 grams carbohydrates, 1.7 grams fiber, 0.3 milligrams iron, 8 milligrams sodium, 13 milligrams calcium, WeightWatchers PointsPlus 4.

– From "WeightWatchers Four Ingredient 10 Minute Recipes"

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