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Yes, Desserts CAN be Healthy!
By: Claire Clarkson
If you are trying to live a healthy lifestyle and are watching what you put into your body, you’ve probably become accustomed to saying ‘no, thank you’ when you’re asked if you want dessert when you’re at a dinner party or out at a restaurant. Desserts have a bit of a bad reputation and are widely considered to be unhealthy. After all, have you ever looked at the calories on some popular restaurant desserts? A brownie sundae and a slice of rich chocolate cake can rack up more than 1000 calories each! That’s roughly half of the recommended calorie allowance for adults! What many people don’t know is that the right desserts really can be healthy, and they can be tremendously good for you. It’s all about making the right decisions and cutting down on sugar, fat, and calories. For example, a simple frozen yogurt recipe contains just one tablespoon of sugar, and homemade frozen fruit pops really are as healthy as a piece of fruit!
Opt for Fruity Desserts
The first trick to making or choosing a healthy dessert is to stay away from those that are chocolate, caramel, or toffee-based. Yes, these are mouthwateringly delicious, but they’re also incredibly bad for you. The high calories can encourage weight gain which has detrimental effects on health, including promoting the development of type II diabetes, and the added sugar content can ruin your teeth, leaving you with painful toothache. The problem is that what many people look for in a dessert is that sickly sweet side that balances out the savory main course. Well, did you know that fruits contain naturally occurring sugars that give that same sweetness we crave, without the negative effects? Fructose is one of the main sugars found naturally in fruits, and, unlike other types of sugar, fructose has little effect on blood sugar levels, so you can happily enjoy a juicy peach or creamy banana without experiencing that sugar high and subsequent crash and burn. Try to incorporate more fruits into your desserts, such as with a yummy german apple pancake or with easy and delicious yogurt-berry parfaits.
Choose Organic Ingredients
Now that you've seen how fruits can be incorporated to make delicious yet healthy desserts, it’s time to start thinking about the types of fruits you buy. Obviously, buying any sort of fruit is going to be better for your health than buying sweets and candies, for example, but if you’re really wanting to look after your body, you should consider buying organic produce, either from your local grocery store or directly from farmers' markets. According to Licensed Prescriptions, organic fruits are typically considered to be ‘higher in beneficial vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants’ as there are restrictions in place that limit the types of products that can be used on an organic farm. Organic fruits are grown without the addition of any pesticides or other chemicals, which is of great concern with non-organic fruits. These chemicals can really affect our health and our bodies, and are even thought to contribute to some types of cancer!
Use Healthy Alternatives
Go and grab one of your cookbooks from the kitchen and flick through the dessert recipes. You’ll see page after page listing sugar, cream, and butter, guaranteed! You may think that these are all the things that make desserts really tasty, but they’re not. It’s components and traits of these ingredients that make desserts delicious, not the specific foods. In using alternative ingredients with the same attributes, you can drastically cut down on the sugars and calories in all your favorite recipes. Rather than using sugar for sweetness in a recipe, use applesauce! It maintains the sweetness, but achieves this with natural fructose rather than synthetic or artificial sugar. You could also use honey instead of sugar, too. Honey is packed with anti-oxidants which help fight off disease. Cream and butter are both typically used to achieve a thick, glossy, creamy consistency, but there’s other ingredients that do the same job. Instead of cream, use yogurt, and instead of butter, used a mashed banana. Try these substitutions out in your favorite cake recipe and see if you can tell the difference! I bet you can't!
Sweet dishes can be healthy, they can be nutritious, and they can be delicious, so say YES to desserts!