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Jelled Ricotta Pudding: A Reader Shares a South Beach Diet Phase One Dessert!

Jelled Ricotta PuddingI’m aware that many people read my blog who aren’t dieters, but I do get a fair amount of e-mail from readers using the South Beach Diet to lose some weight. Back in October I heard from Janet, a garden writer and photographer from Toronto who told me that she and her husband had recently started South Beach. Janet said they did miss having something a little sweet after dinner, so she’d been experimenting with phase one desserts. She’d been surprised like I was how good the sugar-free Jello tasted, and she’d also tried the phase one ricotta creme desserts in the original South Beach Diet Book too. Combining those ideas, she mixed low-fat ricotta cheese with sugar-free jello and came up with a dessert she thought was pretty good.

When I tried Janet’s creation, I was surprised how good it tasted for a completely sugar-free, phase one dessert, even with the slightly gritty texture of the ricotta cheese. You can use any flavor of Jello that appeals to you, but I made her layered pudding using raspberry Jello in the photo above. I’ve now decided the only hard part of this dessert is finding the different flavors of sugar-free Jello to try it with, since my store only seems to carry two flavors. Janet said she wouldn’t mind if I posted the recipe, and I thought this might be a welcome treat in January when lots of people are doing phase one.

Jelled Ricotta Pudding
(Makes 4 servings, recipe shared by Janet Davis and tested by Kalyn.)

1 pkg sugar-free Jello, any flavor that appeals to you
(this recipe is for 4-serving size package, double it for larger box of Jello.)
1 cup boiling water
2/3 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup cold water


Put ricotta cheese into bowl and stir with fork or whisk until it’s slightly softened. Have four glass dishes (slightly over 1/2 cup each) ready on counter to pour the hot Jello mixture into.

Put powdered Jello from package into large glass measuring cup, pour in boiling water and whisk for 1-2 minutes, until all Jello is dissolved in the water. Stir in ricotta, then cold water and mix together. Pour into glass bowls and place in refrigerator to set. I waited about 2 hours until the mixture was partly firm, then covered it with cling wrap.

Serve cold, from individual dishes.

Printer Friendly Recipe

South Beach Suggestions:

This dessert with sugar-free Jello and low-fat ricotta cheese is great for any phase of the South Beach Diet. Janet reports she has since gone on to more sugar-free Jello experiments, including replacing the ricotta with low-fat plain yogurt and adding fruit for a layered phase two dessert.

More Recipes with Jello or Knox Gelatin:
(You can use sugar-free Jello in any recipe which uses Jello. Recipes from other Blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly, check ingredients. )
Double Berry Jello Salad
Jelly (Jello) with Quark from One Weigh or Another (Quark is a fat free soft cheese.)
Pomegranate Gelee from Christine Cooks
Refreshing Pomegranate Gelatin from Baking and Books
Cubed Coffee from Delicious Days
Grandma’s Sunshine Salad from Simply Recipes
Jello Jigglers from Dine and Dish
Broken Glass Jello from ‘Ono Kine Grindz
Blackberry and Prosecco Gelatina from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody
Congrealed Apple and Cheese Salad from Retro Food

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45 comments on “Jelled Ricotta Pudding: A Reader Shares a South Beach Diet Phase One Dessert!”

  1. I know this is an old post because I have been making it on and off for years now, but just wanted to thank you so much for offering low or no-sugar desserts. This one is a lifesaver. I recently tried it with sugar-free lemon jello and think this is my favorite flavor of all.

  2. It was really good!!! looks like it floated to the top (because of my changes) a teeny tiny bit instead of sinking, but i barely even noticed it only by color rather then from just eating it! I was wondering if you could do the same concept using different liquids, like teas or coffee with flavors like raspberry, etc…seems like i will be doing a lot of experimentation when i get the time!

  3. Amanda, that about sums up what I thought too!

  4. I just made this with raspberry jello and it's certainly the most flavorful of the 20 or so phase one desserts I've tried. The ricotta fell to the bottom, like another poster stated, but I just stirred it up and called it a day. I'll be making this again with the orange flavor. Thanks for the recipe!

  5. NKL, That sounds delicious!

  6. I tried this tonight with marscapone cheese (Italian cream cheese). Not low fat this way, but low carb and delicious. My husband was skeptical while I was making it but agreed it was good once he ate it.

  7. I tried orange sf Jello tonight with this, and wish I'd read the great comments on this recipe first. The ricotta-layer texture is not pleasant for me… I'm only staring my second week of Phase 1 and haven't tried any of the plain ricotta desserts yet. It looks like my food processor will help. Thanks!

  8. Thanks for all the tips; I love cottage cheese so I bet I'd like it with that.

  9. You can make this – or your yogurt version – with any sugar-free jello and the nonfat greek yogurt, the ricotta cheese, or cottage cheese, low fat. I puree the cottage cheese of that's what I have on hand.

    Yogurt is the creamiest option, I've found, but it's not the least expensive and I'm always on a budget.

    Whichever dairy/protien I use, I always dissolve the jello in a cup of boiling hot water before I add the yogurt or pureed cottage cheese or pureed ricotta. I've seen and tried the versions that just use the dried powder, but I can never lose that 'gritty' texture that way.

    It seems to make the end result smoother (imo) if I disolve the powder first and then add and mix in the yogurt or cheese. After that, it's a snap to pour it into individual dessert cups or a pie plate like you've mentioned elsewhere. Easy, yummy, and a great source of protein that my kids even love. 🙂

  10. Anonymous, I suspect that will work well. Let us know what you think.

  11. I'm going to try this next week using Greek yogurt instead of ricotta.

  12. Crystal, sorry but I don't have any other ideas for a phase one dessert. I don't mind the taste of Splenda, but I don't use it that much (I'm not really that much of a dessert eater.) I don't think agave nectar is phase one, since it's fructose (the type of sugar found in fruit, and fruit isn't phase one.)

  13. I am on phase 1 of the south beach diet and have been experimenting with some deserts that will help satisfy my evening craving for a snack. Every recipe I have tried with Splenda has been too sweet or had too much of the artificial flavor. I generally do not mind this flavor in coffee or teas, but for some reason it seems exagerated in baking. Any ideas? I thought about Agave nectar, but haven't been able to get it at my grocery store other than in a powder form.

  14. It sounds like I definitely need to try the ricotta blended in the food processor. The creamsicle one sounds really good to me!

  15. I gave the ricotta a whirl in the food processor with steel blade. It turned it absolutely creamy! No grit at all. Tried this recipe with many flavors of sugar free jello and it is very good. I add a whole cup of ricotta. The orange tastes like a creamsicle! Thanks for the great idea.

  16. I have texture issues with ricotta also. My food processor is one of my favorite South Beach friends. It (pretty much) completely smooths out the cheese for either this recipe or to make a SB friendly cream sauce or (as hubby calls it) fruited cheesecake-like substance. Good luck. Les

  17. Thanks to the people who are sharing their versions of this idea, very fun to get some more ideas to try!

  18. My mother made a variation of this recipe — one of my childhood comfort memories. She used jello plus all sorts of “smoothie additions (whatever was on hand): cottage cheese, ricotta, cream cheese, yogurt, silken tofu, whipped cream or even mayo. They all work fine, depending on your dietary preference. Mom always added a tsp of lemon/lime juice to bring out flavour and to hide any lingering artificial taste.

    She waited till the jello cooled and was syrupy before adding the “smoothie” ingredient. She then whipped it well with an egg beater to add air and make it fluffy (almost like a mousse). An immersion blender/full blender is fine, but you have to be careful not to overwhip or the jello heats up and starts to melt.

    You can add fruit after this step, if you like.

    If you substitute the liquid with diet pop, it’s a nice light change with the bubbles in it. I like lime jello with diet ginger ale.

    If you make this one layer at a time and let it set before adding the next layers, you can end up with a multi-coloured festive result. My father-in-law loves it when I bring this to the Christmas family dinner – usually a plain layer (red), a middle green layer using diet ginger all, topped with a mousse-y, pink layer using diet fruit yogurt and red jello.

    My favourite is peach jello, yogurt, a touch of lime plus mango puree. Wonderful after a Indian meal!

    If you can’t find a good selection of diet Jello flavours, you can use Crystal Light with plain gelatin instead of Jello. Or even unsweetened Koolaid plus the sweetener of your choice and plain gelatin.


  19. I tried this with several flavors of sugar free jello last week (well, off-brand gelatin, anyway.) After I put together the first batch, I got the idea to use nonfat sugar-free vanilla yogurt in place of the ricotta. I made some that way, too. The yogurt version doesn’t separate quite as dramatically into layers as the ricotta, but the texture is much smoother. I have been on SBD for nearly 5 months now and have lost nearly 50 pounds. Thanks for all your time and effort with this blog. It’s been a great resource!

  20. I just tried this with sugar-free orange Jell-o and it tasted like a Creamsicle!

    Thanks for the recipes!

  21. Maya, glad you like the blog. Sorry, but I have no idea why the layers didn’t separate for you. I’ve made it a couple of times and it always separated. Maybe the ricotta wasn’t cold enough or you mixed it too much, no idea.

  22. Hi Kalyn,
    I’ve just discovered your blog and I cannot tell you how excited I am about all of these recipes!!
    I have tried this desert but the layers didn’t separate…like shown on youer photo. any clues why?

  23. Mansi, thanks.

    Terra, brilliant idea to make it with lemon jello! I’m definitely going to try that if I can find the lemon sugar-free jello around here.

  24. Just made this, with lemon jello. It was tasty, kind of like lemon meringue.

  25. jellos are by far the best desserts for dieters:) the red color is inviting!:)

  26. Arularia, so happy that the blog will be useful for you. Notes like this just make my day.

    Christine, try it and I bet you’ll like it. And make your own jello, you go girl!

  27. Very clever idea! I know what it’s like to crave something sweet after dinner and something like this would fit the bill nicely. I would probably make my own “jello” as I’m not terribly fond of the food colorings in the Jello brand stuff.
    Thanks for the link, Kalyn!

  28. I’ve just discovered your blog and I cannot tell you how excited I am about all of these recipes. I was recently diagnosed with the first signs of insulin-resistance and my doctor wanted me to try South Beach or a similar diet. I was feeling pretty depressed and hopeless with all the things I was going to have to cut out of my diet and thinking “what’s left?” but after looking through your archives, I have hope! Thank you!!

  29. Meeta, me too. My mom always made Jello with cottage cheese mixed in when I was a kid. I didn’t like it then but now I love cottage cheese.

    Sher, it’s much better than you’d think with the ricotta.

    Kevin, I thought so too.

    Tanna, I think this combo has all kinds of possibilities. Healthy too.

  30. Pretty, pretty. And it would seem to be wonderful as a treat! I have enjoyed the sugar free jello and ricotta, well that sounds like double pleasure.

  31. Using ricotta cheese in a jello pudding sounds really interesting!

  32. It looks beautiful–and to tell you the truth, I would probably prefer the ricotta to the Jell-O. We ate so much Jell-O when I was a kid during the period my dad was in the Air Force. It was cheap, so my mom made it all the time. I still have problems eating it!

  33. Debs. thanks for letting me know about your post. Janet was a brand new South Beach dieter when she came up with this, so I don’t think she saw your post. (Great minds think like in this case I believe.) But it does look like your ideas were very similar. When I get home from work, I’ll edit this post and add a link to your recipe too.

  34. Kalyn, I posted about this back in October over on One Weigh or Another ( I don’t know if that’s where Janet got the idea or if we both thought of it!).
    Good to see someone else is bringing this recipe to the world 🙂

  35. I would never have thought of mixing jello and ricotta. But it does sound interesting. I also like the idea with the cottage cheese.

  36. Dev, I think both sound good. With the jello and cream cheese, wouldn’t it taste kind of like a flavored cheesecake. I’m not that much of a dessert eater, but this is giving me all kinds of ideas.

  37. Youch ~ I meant cottage cheese, not cream cheese.

  38. Dev, sounds interesting with the cream cheese. With reduced fat cream cheese that would be pretty SB friendly too.

    Pooja, thanks. I loved the color.

    Sir Jorge, not sure what you mean? If you mean the dishes of pudding are a larger size than the recipe, that’s true. (I only had 3 of these glasses so each is more than 1/2 cup.) I didn’t think about that, maybe I should clarify?

    The doaker, I know what you mean about “there will always be a next time.” I like the idea of jello with cottage cheese too, so many creative dessert ideas with jello.

  39. I just discovered your blog a few days ago and have been enjoying looking through your archives. I have done phase one of the SB diet a few times and sugar free jello with cottage cheese has always helped me to make it through. I think it is really good and it makes the jello seem a lot more like “dessert” to me. (I am a BIG dessert person.) I will have to try some of these other variations next time I am on phase one — there will always be a next time! ; )

    Thanks for the great blog!

  40. this looks cool, but the picture is somewhat deceptive.

  41. that really looks great wit hthe fresh color of it! I just loved it kalyn.
    thanks for sharing..

  42. I do a variation of this, but I mix the jello with cream cheese and then mix it in the blender. It’s smooth, has a great texture, and is delicious!

  43. Katy, that sounds interesting, and if you use low-fat cottage cheese that would definitely be South Beach Diet friendly. BTW, I did think the addition of the Jello in this recipe made the ricotta more appealing and smoothed out the texture a bit; I never liked the plain ricotta desserts that much. Hmmm, I’ll have to try your cottage cheese version.

  44. yes! the grittiness of the ricotta gets to me — I can’t eat it. one thing i do, which is not a south beach diet thing but just something i like to eat, is mix vanilla extract, splenda and cottage cheese — it’s similar to the south beach diet ricotta recipe but in my mind, a lot better. maybe i’ll add jello next time! 🙂

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