Dieting used to mean giving up sugar, fats and all those delicious ingredients that make dessert the reason you clean off your plate. That doesn’t have to be true. There are many delicious and nutritious ways to enjoy a healthy dessert that will satisfy your sweet tooth without destroying your weight loss efforts. Here are ten ways to make dessert a healthy part of your weight loss diets.
Choose Smaller Portions
You don’t need a huge slab of apple pie to satisfy your sweet tooth. Instead of wolfing down a 4 oz. piece of apple pie (1/6 of an 8-inch pie) at nearly 300 calories, cut that slice in half and enjoy it at just 139 calories.
Eat Fresh Fruit
Instead of a piece of cake or ice cream, have sliced, fresh berries. A cup of sliced strawberries has only 53 calories, and provides you with a healthy boost of vitamin C, vitamin A and some lovely minerals your body craves. Add a tablespoon of light whipped cream at 15 calories and you still have a lightweight and delicious dessert for about a quarter of the calories of a typical strawberry shortcake dessert.
Eat Low-Cal Desserts
Many popular diet plans on the market have dessert choices that are almost sinfully delicious and weight in at about 1/6th your daily calorie intake. You’ll also find that many major snack companies, keenly aware of consumer health preferences, have begun marketing 100-calorie snack and dessert packs. It may cost a few cents more to buy your cookies in individually wrapped 100-calorie packs, but it’s an easy way to control your portions while still enjoying your favorite foods.
Adapt Your Recipes
Have some favorite dessert recipes that you hate to give up? You’ll find many ways to reduce the fat and sugar in your favorite desserts without compromising (too much) on flavor. For example, plain yogurt will give your recipes the tangy bite that sour cream delivers with fewer than half the calories.
Substitute Lower Calorie Choices
Love ice cream and don’t want to give it up? Switch out your full-fat vanilla ice cream for a ½ cup of vanilla frozen yogurt and save 50 calories. Check the menu at your favorite restaurant. Many of them are now including calorie counts for favorite dishes, or will provide them if you ask. It makes it far easier to keep track of your daily calories.
Share Your Dessert
Don’t skip dessert when you’re out having dinner with your sweetheart or best friend. Instead, suggest that you split a dessert between you. The waitress will be happy to bring an extra plate so you can slice that heavenly chocolate mud pie or piece of cheesecake in half.
Make Bite-Size Desserts
Instead of baking a pie or a cake, make elegant little dessert bites that will please your eye as much as they do your palate. A slice of Mrs. Smith’s Chocolate Cream Pie weighs in at a whopping 390 calories – and really, can you just eat one bite of a slice of pie sitting on your plate? Instead of a chocolate cream pie, make up a batch of Chocolate Cream Pie Dessert Bites and enjoy the taste with 10% of the calories.
Make Gelato or Sorbet
Missing your frozen treats? Skip the ice cream and make your own gelato or sorbet. Neither of them requires special equipment like an ice cream freezer or churn. All you need are flat ice cube trays or baking pans. Puree your favorite fruits, add in some spices and freeze in a flat tray, scraping and stirring the mixture every couple of hours. You control the calorie count by choosing the right ingredients – and are guaranteed that you won’t be tucking away high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners and artificial preservatives along with your dessert.
Get to Know Gelatin
Jell-O is synonymous with dessert, but you don’t have to put away those artificial colors and lots of sugar with your gelatin. Knox Unflavored Gelatin has only 25 calories per envelope – that translates to about 6 calories in a ½ cup prepared serving of gelled liquid. Stir gelatin into 1 cup chilled fruit juice. Add 1 cup of boiling water. Stir until gelatin is completely dissolved, then chill until set. There are a few fruits that won’t gel – pineapple, pears and kiwi fruits are the best known of these – but for the most part, you can make your own gelatin in any flavor you please. Want something fancier? Try this recipe for an elegant espresso gelatin parfait.