I know a few parents who do not give their children dessert after meals. The reason for this is quite obvious: most of American children get too much sugar, if you count all the treats and snacks they get at parties, play dates, field games and grandparents’ houses. Besides, it is very difficult to avoid sugar in packaged foods, even the savory ones like bread and pasta sauces.
So if you forgo desserts, I am not going to encourage you to change your habits. But if you are like me, with a sweet tooth that demands satisfaction, you may be pleased to learn that there are many healthier and nutritious options with very little or no aded sugar. These “healthier deserts” can replace the traditional choices like cookies and ice cream and still provide a satisfying ending to your meal.
Here are 5 easy to prepare desserts that are not only delicious but also nutritious!
1. Fresh fruit. To make fruit more appealing, cut it in fun shapes and use your imagination making fun fruit creations with your kids.
2. Yogurt. Plain yogurt is a better choice because it does not have the added sugar, colors and additives like some flavored yogurts. It is also a great way to help your children learn to like the rich and slightly tangy flavor of unsweetened yogurt. But even if you have to mix in a teaspoon of sugar in it to make it taste like a dessert, it will still provide less than half the amount of sugar in a typical commercially sweetened yogurt.
If your children insist on flavored yogurts, choose the ones without artificial colors, flavors or preservatives and try mixing them with an unsweetened variety gradually increasing the amount of plain yogurt to “wean” the kids’ palates off the sugary taste. To make a stunning yogurt parfait, just layer yogurt, fruit or berries and granola in a clear cup. Your kids will love making this healthy dessert for the whole family.
3. Wholegrain bread with chocolate almond butter. This filling dessert will provide you with additional fiber from the bread and super-healthy fatty acids from the almonds.
I know that for many of us “chocolate spread” is a synonym for “Nutella”, but this spread does nor fare very well nutritionally. Here is the list of ingredients in Nutella: Sugar, Palm Oil, Hazelnuts, Cocoa, Skim Milk, Reduced Minerals Whey (Milk), Lecithin As Emulsifier (Soy), Vanillin: An Artificial Flavor. And it has 21 g of sugar per serving which more than 5 teaspoons! This is hardly surprising since sugar is the first ingredient on the list.
The ingredient list on the Chocolate Almond butter, on the other hand, is much shorter and more wholesome: Dry Roasted Almonds, Organic Evaporated Cane Sugar, Organic Cocoa, Organic Cocoa Butter, Organic Pal Fruit oil, Vanilla, Sea Salt. And it has only a third of the sugar Nutella has – 7 grams per serving!
4. A square of dark chocolate. Or even better, a dark chocolate taste test! Dark chocolate is lower in sugar than milk chocolate and has more disease fighting antioxidants. Serve a variety of dark chocolate bars in bite-size pieces and let your family members vote for their favorite. My kids’ first choice was dark chocolate with with sea salt and the second prize went to dark chocolate with dry raspberries.
5. Which brings us to …Raspberries filled with chocolate. A very simple and elegant dessert that can be prepared with dark or white chocolate, or both. Place chocolate chips inside raspberries and enjoy! Sometimes I pack chocolate-filled raspberries in my kids’ lunchboxes for a light and delicious ending to a meal.
Tell me, what is your favorite healthy dessert?