How to make healthier desserts

Tips to prepare healthier desserts by adding more nutrients to your favorite treats.

As a kid, I remember dessert being a highlight of my day. Just one bite of an ice cream sandwich could make me forget all about the mass amounts of vegetables I had to eat for dinner. In my house, dessert was an occasional after dinner treat. I remember begging my mom for dessert and throwing tantrums on the nights she said no. This battle between the parent and the child is exhausting and annoying. But is there an easy solution that will make both parties happy? Can dessert be healthy, without us even realizing it?

The easiest way to make your dessert healthier is to incorporate fruit. By adding fruit you add more nutrients to the dessert which makes it healthier and since fruit has natural sugar in it, it has a sweet taste just like dessert normally does.

A few tips to help incorporate fruit into your desserts are:

  • Cut up a bowl of different fruit and add a little squirt of whipped cream on top.
  • Chop up a banana, add a spoonful of peanut butter and a couple chocolate chips. Try using dark chocolate for extra nutrients and less sugar.
  • Make fruit kabobs: grill on low-heat until the fruit is warm and golden
  • Cut up a variety of fruit, and add a little low-fat yogurt and a handful of nuts
  • Try this rice and fruit desert from the USDA. This recipe uses whole grains, low-fat yogurt and fruit!
  • Try this Strawberry Yogurt Popsicle recipe or make your own variations.
  • Add an assortment of fruit to ice cream, try and replace half the amount of ice cream you normally scoop with diced fruit.

Another way to make healthier dessert is to add vegetables to baked goods to add extra nutrients. Trust us, the kids will not even notice!

  • Black bean brownies from the Cooking Matters program are delicious and nutritious!
  • Chocolate chip cookies. Every house normally has a standard chocolate chip cookie recipe that they rely on. Can that recipe be made healthier? Can you use whole-wheat flour instead of white? Can you use applesauce or mashed beans in place of butter? Can you cut out some of the added sugar while still making the cookie taste good? Check out this article for more variations you can make to your cookies, and have the kids help make them for a fun experiment!

A key point to remember is that dessert is still an occasional treat. As healthy as we try and make it, sugary desserts should be eaten in moderation. Michigan State University Extension offers nutrition education classes in your area that teach you tricks and tips for eating healthy on a budget.

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