July 29, 2013

let's eat~ pretzel salad

When I became a vegetarian about five years ago, I was pretty bummed that I would no longer be able to partake in this delicious dessert.  Strawberry pretzel salad was a dish my Mom made (& probably still makes!) often.  With a crust of butter-laden salty pretzels, a filling of cream cheese/ cool whip, and topped with strawberries in strawberry jello, it makes an amazing melodic little dance in your mouth. 
You may be wondering why I had to give this up; it's not like it has bacon in, right?  In case you didn't know, jello, along with many other things, has gelatin in it.  Gelatin, according to dictionary.com, is "a nearly transparent, faintly yellow, odorless, and almost tasteless glutinous substance obtained by boiling in water the ligaments, bones, skin, etc., of animals, and forming the basis of jellies, glues, and the like."
So, I avoid it.  I still make mistakes every so often, and eat something completely not expecting it to have gelatin in it, only to find out after I've scarfed it down and browse the package.  Like yesterday, I was pretty hungry at work, so I decided to buy a strawberry pop tart out of the vending machine...bad idea.  Hungry as I was, I ate it right up, then it hit me...I read the package and sure enough, gelatin.  Dude!  I really just need to learn that if I quite eating garbage in the first place, I wouldn't have this problem; sigh.
Anyhoo, there are ways of making vegetarian jello, so I'm here today to share this recipe I got from my Mom, but slightly modified so I can eat it!
Pretzel Salad
1-8oz. package cream cheese
2 cups strawberry juice (I use different things every time, depending on what I can find...this time it was just strawberry-watermelon flavored water, but I used to use a sparkling strawberry soda)
2 teaspoons agar-agar (this is the gelatin substitute~ it's seaweed flakes; pretty pricey, but you don't use much)
2-10oz. packages of frozen strawberries
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter
2 cups coarsely crushed pretzels
scant cup sugar
4 1/2 oz. cool whip
Dissolve agar-agar in 2 cups boiling strawberry juice.  Add 1/2 cup cold water.  Stir in partially thawed strawberries.  Set aside. Cream 3 T sugar and butter.  Stir in pretzels.  Press in 9x13 pan.  Bake at 350 F for 10 minutes.  Cool completely.  Blend in a medium bowl cream cheese, scant cup sugar and cool whip.  Spread over cooled crust.  Top with strawberry mixture.  Refrigerate until set.

Are there things in your diet that you avoid, but find it hard and surprising to do so?  Let me know if you try this out, it's really delicious!


  1. Yum! Totally reminds me of childhood!

  2. This definitely reminds me of a lot of desserts I ate growing up in the Midwest. I bet it's super good! The one thing I cannot replicate vegetarian-style is red beans and rice. It is definitely not the same without pork. :(

    1. I've never had that dish, even when I did eat meat...I bet though, some things are definitely not the same!


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