Healthier Dessert Ideas Back »

There are many individuals who would say their favorite meal of the day is dessert. Some might eat dessert along with the main entrée, or even follow the old saying, “life is uncertain, eat dessert first!” Individuals who are highly dedicated to the idea of dessert might even agree that “happiness is knowing there’s a cake in the oven.”

Serving dessert at the end of a meal is a tradition in many U.S. households. The word dessert has been used since the 1600’s, but the concept of dessert has been around for much longer. Sugarcane is a tropical grass native to Asia. Methods for manufacturing sugar from sugarcane were developed in India about 400 BC and reached the Americas in early colonial times.

Like so many others, I battle a sweet tooth. It’s just so tempting to indulge in a sweet treat after dinner. One of the recommendations within the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans states that we should “limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake.” More specifically, we need to “consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from added sugars and less than 10 percent of calories per day from added saturated fats.”

Tips & Techniques

The following dessert options can be enjoyed without the worry of overloading on calories, fat, and sugar.

  • Make fruit the everyday dessert. Enjoy a piece of fruit or fruit salad.
  • Serve baked apples with cinnamon and a sprinkle of sugar, instead of apple pie.
  • Try a frozen 100 percent juice bar.
  • Enjoy a few pieces of dark chocolate.
  • Have a slice of angel food cake.
  • Blend a fresh fruit smoothie using fat-free milk.
  • Make a dessert parfait layering fruit and low-fat yogurt.
  • Eat a handful of frozen grapes.
  • Prepare pudding using fat-free milk.
  • Broil peach slices sprinkled with cinnamon and a little brown sugar.
  • Freeze pudding pops made with low-fat yogurt and granola.
  • Serve fresh berries topped with a tablespoon of light whipped topping.
  • Bake healthier. Use recipes with unsweetened applesauce instead of butter.
  • Make fruit kabobs and grill on low-heat until the fruit is warm and golden.
  • Chop up a banana, add a spoonful of peanut butter and a couple of dark chocolate chips.

Additional Information

For a healthier brownie, check out Michigan State University Extension’s Brownies: A Healthy Treat, which includes black beans as one of the main ingredients. The beans eliminate the need for oil, water and eggs that the recipe would normally call for and provide a moist brownie. Also, try Illinois University Extension’s Easy, Family-Friendly Recipes for Any Budget – Desserts & Beverages for some healthy dessert and beverage ideas.


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