When your sweet tooth tingles, you can still enjoy a delicious dessert without overindulging on calories. You can make many desserts healthier with a few simple recipe adjustments. Ending your meal with one of these delicious treats will satisfy your craving for sweets and boost your servings of fruits or whole grains.
Dessert is a perfect time to get an extra serving of fruit. Make baked apples or pears stuffed with raisins, honey and cinnamon. On a warm summer day, toss pineapple and peach kabobs on the grill. Dark chocolate provides antioxidants that protect against cell damage, so drizzle a little melted dark chocolate on your kabobs before serving them. For a healthy, no-bake cookie, try dried fruit balls. Toast almonds for 10 minutes in the oven. Toss the nuts in a food processor with dried apricots, raisins, cinnamon and allspice. Add a little honey and roll the mixture into balls. Store cookies in the refrigerator.
Whole grains add a hearty texture to your desserts and provide vitamins, minerals and fiber. Use whole-wheat flour to make pumpkin or apple bread. Serve it warm with low-fat whipped cream and chopped fresh fruit. Substitute brown rice in your rice pudding recipe and whole-grain bread in your bread pudding. For a sweet treat that doubles as breakfast the next day, try baked pumpkin oatmeal. Mix old-fashioned oats, a can of pumpkin, honey, egg, milk, cinnamon and nutmeg. Spread the oatmeal in a pan and bake until it is browned. To squeeze in a dairy serving, add a scoop of vanilla yogurt before serving the dish.
If you need a quick dessert, try an easy no-bake option. Add water to raspberry-flavored gelatin powder. Stir in Greek yogurt and frozen or fresh berries, and refrigerate the mixture in a bowl for a few hours before serving it. If you're a pudding fan, add almond extract to low-fat vanilla pudding and scoop it into individual ramekins. Top with chopped cherries, kiwis and mandarin oranges. On a hot summer day, make your own sorbet by freezing 100-percent fruit juices in a loaf pan. After the juice partially freezes, stir and refreeze it. Repeat this several times until you have a shaved-ice texture. Use it as a dessert topping or enjoy it on its own for a cool treat.
Make traditional dessert recipes healthier with a few easy changes. Decrease the sugar in your baked recipes by half. Use low-fat or fat-free cream cheese, sour cream and milk instead of full-fat versions. For low-fat desserts, substitute fruit puree, such as applesauce or canned pumpkin, for butter or oil in recipes. Fruit purees add a light, moist and airy texture to cakes and quick breads.
Jennifer Dlugos is a Boston-based writer with more than 10 years of experience in the health-care and wellness industries. She is also an award-winning filmmaker and screenwriter who teaches screenwriting and film production classes throughout New England. Dlugos holds a master's degree in dietetics.