Nutritious dessert ideas Credits: Getty Images
Reducing your refined sugar consumption (sugary desserts, we're looking at you) is a good practice for better health. That said, you don't need to cut out all of your sweet treats. Incorporating healthful desserts can actually make your diet more realistic and sustainable. "If you occasionally add your favourite foods into your meal plan, you're more likely to stay on track the rest of the time," says Stefanie Senior, a Toronto registered dietitian. Her best recommendation? When you eat sweet, choose desserts that are nutritious and filling (lots of protein and fibre), then fit them into your daily calorie budget.
Here are seven healthful and filling desserts to satisfy your sweet cravings.
1. Almond butter brownies
These brownies from Chocolate Covered Katie are nutritious, and there are lots of recipe variations to choose from. For the chocolate lover, whip up the version made with oats, maple syrup, almond butter and cocoa powder. "The almond butter provides you with protein and the oats have fibre," says Senior. Protein and fibre help keep you full so you won't need to eat the whole pan.
2. Banana ice cream
This dessert could not be easier: Take some frozen bananas and a bit of avocado, whirl them in your blender and you're done. To make a single serving, cut half a banana and half an avocado into chunks, freeze and then blend (the avocado will make the texture creamier). If you want a chocolate flavour, Senior suggests adding one tbsp of cocoa powder to the mix. Bananas are packed with fibre and they also contain potassium, which has been linked to reducing the risk of stroke.
3. Energy balls
Energy balls are similar to energy bars, but in a different shape and better for you. They're easy to make from scratch—just mix up your favourite energy bar ingredients and roll into balls. A great recipe from the blog house344 combines 1 cup (250 ml) oatmeal, 1/2 cup (125 ml) peanut butter or almond butter, 1/3 (75 ml) cup honey, 1 cup (250 ml) shredded coconut, 1/2 cup (125 ml) ground flax seed, 1/2 cup dark mini chocolate chips and 1 tsp vanilla. (Dark chocolate is a more healthful option than milk chocolate because it has a lower sugar content.)
4. Chocolate pudding
This Martha Stewart recipe combines three avocados, approximately six tablespoons of cocoa powder and 1/4 cup (50ml) raw honey. Avocados are a natural fat, which can help lower cholesterol levels, and they're also packed with fibre. Adjust your measurements depending on how sweet you like your pudding. And, although it's true that honey is a form of sugar, it's more natural and, therefore, more healthful than white refined table sugar.
5. Baked apples
After coring your desired number of apples, put a bit of cinnamon and brown sugar in the middle of each apple. Then, wrap each apple in tin foil and put them on the barbecue or in the oven at 350 F (180 C) for about 15 minutes. Cinnamon is high in antioxidants, which may help prevent cell damage caused by free radicals. (Senior notes that free radicals are produced naturally, but they are also produced from exposure to pollution, cigarette smoke and UV rays.) Serve your baked apples with Greek yogurt or a scoop of vanilla ice cream and top with homemade candied pecans or walnuts.
6. Chocolate mug cake
This single-serving cake recipe is a perfect way to control your portions. Combine one banana, one egg and two tablespoons of cocoa powder in a mug and microwave for one minute. "This mug cake doesn't have any added sugar," says Senior, "and you get a nice combination of carbohydrates from the banana and protein from the egg."
7. Fruity ice pops
Ice pops are refreshing treats that are incredibly easy to make! All you need is popsicle moulds, your favourite fruit, honey and water. Purée your favourite fruit with a bit of honey and some water, pour into moulds and pop into the freezer until set. Canadian Living's cantaloupe ice pops are a delicious option, and they're packed with Vitamin C!
Source: Canadian Living, http://www.canadianliving.com/health/nutrition/article/stay-healthy-with-these-seven-nutritious-dessert-ideas