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Healthy Dessert Alternatives

June 11th, 2013 Healthy Living

Rather than deprive yourself of a sweet treat post-dinner, substitute high calorie desserts with these healthy alternatives.

The simplest replacement for sweets is fruit. Fruits that are high in sugar can help to satisfy the sweet craving that leads you to eat empty calories, while eating fruits helps you to get extra nutrients that benefit weight loss. Plums, apples, tangerines, pineapples and strawberries all contain a moderate amount of fructose. If fruit doesn't cut it, try adding slices to low-fat ice cream. You can also coat half of a peach with a thin layer of canola oil and brown sugar before grilling or frying in a saucepan. Strawberries can be dipped in dark chocolate (which is high in antioxidants and is healthy in small amounts) or sprinkled lightly with powdered sugar.

Yogurt (either frozen, non-fat or Greek) is a healthy alternative to ice cream and puddings that are high in fat. It's also versatile in the sense that it can be blended to make a milkshake, served with strawberries, bananas or peaches, and made into a parfait. Take a cup of Greek yogurt and either top it with cherries or mix in pecans and smashed peaches, strawberries or cherries. Feel free to try it frozen by sticking the mixture in the freezer an hour before you plan to eat it.

To make a yogurt milkshake, blend 6 ounces of non-fat yogurt with a quarter-cup of skim or soy milk and your frozen berries of choice. If you have leftovers, store them in the freezer and re-blend the mixture when you're ready to serve. For extra nutrients, add protein powder. This supplement is available in vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and a variety of other flavors, and is a great way to add sweetness without empty calories. It's mostly beneficial before or after an intense workout but can also be a nutritional substitute after a low-protein meal. 

Use yogurt, granola, cereal, bran and fruit to create a parfait. Layer your preferred ingredients on top of one another in a glass for a single serving, or in a larger glass bowl to serve multiple people. This can also make a nutritious breakfast!

​To appease a chocolate lover, buy a packet of low-fat pudding powder. Mixes are available in chocolate, vanilla and butterscotch, all of which can be combined for a unique flavor. Be sure to use skim milk for the recipe and top with low-fat whipped topping. Keep the pudding in a refrigerator or freezer to make it last longer. 

Sorbet is a great substitute for ice cream and is easy to make at home. Pick out 1 pound of your favorite berries (best when in season and freshly picked) or cut watermelon, then gather 1 cup of water, 1 cup of sugar and a pinch of salt. Make a syrup by putting the water, sugar and salt over heat until it boils and the salt and sugar have melted, then let cool in the fridge. Rinse off the berries or watermelon before blending it into a mush. Blend in small amounts of the syrup, tasting after each addition to make sure it doesn't get too sweet. The amount of syrup you use will depend on the fruit you've chosen and your personal preferences. Once you've reached a flavor that you like, add it to small plastic cups with popsicle sticks to make popsicles, or put your mixture in a sealed container. Place your creation in the freezer and let it sit until frozen.

Opting for a healthy alternative to dessert will help you to change your eating habits for the better - for good!