Finding Healthy Dessert Alternatives

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Did you know that you don't have to give up dessert when you're eating healthy? And it's even possible to incorporate dessert into a diet or weight-loss plan? Granted, if you "incorporate" too much dessert into your weight-loss plan, it may (well, it will) have a counter-productive effect.

You see, deprivation is never the road to a healthy diet because the time will always come when your desire to eat desserts or sweets will outweigh your desire to stick to a diet. So, what's a girl to do?

Well, the best thing to do is to choose fruit as often as possible when you find yourself craving sweets. But when fruit isn't gonna cut it (and it happens to the best of us), find healthy alternatives to your favorite desserts and reach for them (in moderation) whenever needed.

There are two ways you can go about incorporating desserts into your healthy diet:

First, if you have the time and desire, there are low-calorie/low-fat alternatives to just about every dessert recipe known to man (it's as easy as a Google search).

Here are a few ways to make your favorite dessert recipes a little healthier.

1. Replace sugar with 1/2 Splenda and 1/2 sugar blend (this is what I use when I make my pumpkin cheese cake recipe from Kalyn's Kitchen).

2. Use turbinado sugar. It's a healthier alternative to white, refined sugar. And since turbinado sugar isn't processed as much as white sugar, it's naturally healthier for your body.

3. Stevia is another sugar alternative that can help make your dessert recipes healthier.

4. Avoid whole milk and cream. Instead opt for low-fat and non-fat milk.

5. If a recipe calls for cream cheese (such as a cheesecake), use low-fat cream cheese.

6. Use whole wheat flour in place of white flour. Here are some Tips for Baking with Whole Wheat:

  • When changing a recipe from all-purpose to wheat flour, start with replacing just half of the regular flour with whole wheat. If it works pretty well, you can then try a ratio of 2/3 to 1/3.
  • Add more liquid since whole wheat flour tends to absorb more, making the baked goods dry. What I do is keep in mind what the batter usually looks like. I imagine my regular muffin or pancake batter and add a little extra liquid to get it close to that. Sometimes it’s 3 tbsp more liquid, other times it’s 1/3 cup more.
  • Try using white whole wheat flour. It has the same nutrition as regular whole wheat, but is lighter with a milder flavor.

Secondly, if you're less inclined to take the time to bake healthy desserts from scratch, there are many alternatives you can keep on-hand in a pinch. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Find a low-fat and low-sugar version of your favorite flavor of ice cream.
  • If you like chocolate, low calorie fudgesicles might hit the spot.
  • In the summer, ice-pops are a cool choice. They're low in calories and available in no-sugar varieties.
  • There are so many brands of low-fat and low-calorie frozen treats, just remember to read the labels carefully and eat them in moderation.
  • If you're craving something sweet and creamy, try (sugar-free) instant pudding and make it with non-fat milk. I actually have my own easy to make banana cream pie recipe, and anyone can come up with their own "cream pie" recipe using their favorite flavor of instant pudding.
  • For a really healthy dessert, try your favorite fruits layered into low-fat yogurt, and top it with a dollop of whipped cream.

At the end of the day, even the most decadent desserts can be enjoyed by someone eating a healthy diet ... as long as it's done in moderation. If you're out to dinner and really want to have one of those fancy desserts, try splitting it with someone. If you're craving chocolate chip cookies, have one (just not a dozen). Have a sliver of birthday cake rather than a giant slice. Even the most fattening desserts aren't so bad when you eat them in moderation.

What do you think? Is it possible for you to stick to a diet and still indulge in dessert? Do you have any healthy dessert favorites? Do you have any tips for making a fattening dessert into a healthy version? Let us know in comments.

Contributing Editor Catherine Morgan
Also at Catherine-Morgan.com

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