Strawberry Pretzel Salad

There are certain recipes that just take you back to a very specific memory or feeling. This recipe is one of those, with a little bittersweet memory attached to it.

See, my Nana used to always make this in the summer time. Somewhere between Memorial Day, Father’s Day and the 4th of July, I could count on having this treat. Eating outside enjoying the warm weather So Cal brings.

But I still remember the last time she made it. Something was different. Something was very wrong. The normally triple layered dessert only had 2 layers.

What went wrong? How?

If any of you have a loved one who has had Alzheimer’s or Dementia, you understand those moments better in hindsight.

Still, this dessert always brings back the fondest memories of my Nana, and the laugh we all had unaware of the implications of her mistake.

Needless to say, this recipe has been on my mind for a while… especially as this time of year approached. One of the main reasons it remains such a fun dessert is it’s the perfect balance of sweet + salty, with all the textures. 🤤

But I wanted to see if I could tweak the recipe to make a healthier version. Or at least some healthy swaps.

What You’ll Need:

2 c. Pretzels, crushed

3/4 c. Melted Butter [you may want a smidge more to keep the crust together, but no more than 1 c. is necessary 😉]

2 TB. Sugar

___________

8 oz. Cream Cheese, room temp*

1 c. Greek Yogurt*

1 c. Sugar [says Nana, but you can cut down to 3/4 cup]

* Kite Hill makes a great plant based alternative for cream cheese and yogurt if you want a dairy free swap!

___________

1 Large Strawberry Jello

2 c. Boiling water

20 oz. Strawberries, thawed and mashed

1 TB. Chia Seeds [or more, if you prefer]

___________

Take frozen strawberries out of freezer and put in large bowl. Set aside.

Crush pretzels. I used rolling pin, as pictured. Be advised. You just don’t want to throw it in the food processor. Shouldn’t be that finely crushed. 👍🏼

Mix melted butter, sugar and crushed pretzels together. Pat in bottom of 9×13 pan. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes. To cool crust before next layer, you can leave out while you work or refrigerate.

Cream sugar and cream cheese together. Add Greek yogurt and mix until smooth. Spread over cooled crust. Refrigerate.

Whisk boiling water and jello mix until dissolved. Take bowl with frozen strawberries, now thawed, and smash with potato masher. Add jello mixture to bowl. Cool. Add chia seeds. Stir into mixture, now cooled off, and pour over cream cheese layer. Cover & refrigerate.

Perfect to make the day ahead, so the jello has time to set.

Pro Tips:

– Pretzel crust won’t come out clean, but it’s so good, no one cares what it looks like. 😉🙃

– Leave in pan until serving. If you try to plate it, the jello layer may start to slide off the cream cheese layer a tad. Again, no one cares because it tastes so dang good!!

– While it’s perfect for a BBQ, remember there’s a middle layer that won’t appreciate being left in the heat. 😜

– Perfect way to sneak in health benefits of chia seeds because the texture blends in well with the jello.

– You can swap strawberry jello & strawberries for raspberry & it tastes just as amazing!!!! 😋😋

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