Low-Fat Desserts & Skinny Cocktails

Tina Ruggiero
Tossing to a skinny cocktail

As most of you know, I spent the past week onboard Holland America’s MS Ryndam where I was the featured “Celebrity nutritionist and author”.

I had the pleasure of giving demonstrations and lectures in the ship’s Culinary Arts Center presented by Food & Wine. As you can see from the virtual tour, the state-of-the-art kitchen is the ultimate venue to teach gourmet cooking or, in my case, share secrets to making the best low-cal desserts and drinks!


Passengers packed the facility to watch me shake and blend, strain, and sample 14 low-cal drinks, and the response was terrific. I hosted my own version of “Cocktail Jeopardy” between drink-making, and guests had fun answering trivia about everything from Absinthe to Zinfandel.


The low-cal dessert class was also popular, and my Apricot-Orange Cake was received with lots of “mmmms” and “ahhhhhs” Passengers asked all types of nutrition questions during and after the demo, and it was hard to close the curtain with everyone lined up at the counter!


My team aboard the ship, including David the Beverage Director, Tappan, a Pinnacle Grill Chef, Kristi, the master Party Planner, and Johnson, my bartending assistant, were amazing, just like the rest of the crew. I don’t believe there’s anything the Holland America staff can’t do; every effort is given to provide each guest with the very best in service and comfort.

Hopefully, I’ll have the privilege of joining Holland America for an encore. In the meantime, I thought you’d enjoy my Apricot-Orange Cake recipes. Happy, healthy cooking!


Apricot-Orange Pound Cake

Makes 16 servings
170 calories per serving

Preparation Time : 20 minutes
Cook Time : 1 hour, 5 minutes


  • 2 T Cointreau liqueur, divided
  • 1/3 c dried apricots, diced
  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ t baking powder
  • ¼ t baking soda
  • ¼ t salt
  • ½ c margarine
  • 1 c sugar
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 ½ t vanilla extract
  • ¾ c buttermilk


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray 9×5-inch loaf pan with nonstick vegetable spray.
  3. Combine one tablespoon of the liqueur and diced apricots in a small bowl and set aside.
  4. In a medium-size bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  5. In a larger mixing bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar until smooth. Add the egg whites, vanilla and remaining liqueur, and blend with a hand mixer until creamy.
  6. Alternately add the flour and buttermilk to the margarine mixture, blending well after each addition.
  7. Add the marinated, diced apricots to the batter and mix only to blend.
  8. Pour the batter into the pan and bake until a tester inserted into the thickest part of the cake comes out clean, about 65 minutes.
  9. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
  10. Invert cake onto wire rack and let cool until room temperature before serving.

Serve with a ½-cup scoop of non-fat vanilla frozen yogurt and a wedge of dark chocolate, or a dollop of non-fat whipped topping and your favorite berries.

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