Dessert is one of my favorite meals, and it does not seem like supper unless I have had a sweet dose afterward. Yet it seems as though the after meal treat has a bad reputation at the moment. Friends are saying they are "simply giving up dessert because of the lack of health benefits" or "I quit dessert for the month; it's not worth the calories." What if I told you that a simple dessert could help to tackle nutrition issues? It is not what you eat but how you prepare it that matters!
It’s what you put in your dessert that matters
When making a batch of brownies, you often think that they are loaded with lots of trans fat and other harmful ingredients. The truth is you can eat a healthier, less processed brownie that has health benefits. When you read the recipe on health.com, you will notice what nutrients it has and what unhealthy ingredients it does not have. At 127 calories a serving, the brownie has low-fat cream cheese instead of full fat; a mix of sugar and a calorie-free sweetener; low-fat milk instead of cream; a mix of eggs and egg whites; and so on. You sometimes need to mix the good and the bad so you have the same taste but not all the harmful, full fat options.
Health benefits of omega-3
You can get the health benefits of omega-3 in your desserts. We often think of fish like salmon or bluefish as our go-to omega-3 foods, but the truth is we can also get it from different nuts and seeds. There are walnuts, flaxseed and flaxseed oil, canola oil and soybean oil. To incorporate omega-3, a heart-healthy fat, into your diet, you can just substitute it. Instead of butter or margarine, use canola oil. My friend and I make a crêpe cake and grind up walnuts for it. It really is easy to find these substitutes so you can enjoy your dessert again.
This is something many people are afraid to eat because instead of hearing heart healthy, they hear carbohydrates that make you fat. However, you can switch your all-purpose flour for organic whole-grain flour instead. Grains help to keep you full and are also high in fiber, which aids in keeping you regular. When making a cake where the recipe calls for all-purpose flour, use your organic whole-grain flour instead. You will probably notice a more potent taste or flavor from the grains, but it should not overpower the other ingredients. I always use organic whole grains when making muffins, cookies, pancakes and other foods that I would normally use flour in. The only downside is the cost. Eating healthy costs more, so it might set you back a bit, but your heart and waistline will be thanking you.
Incorporate anti-aging foods
Yes, desserts can be anti-aging. According to WebMD, fruit, wine and vegetables are fantastic options to incorporate into your desserts for their anti-aging properties.
Think of delicious strawberry shortcake, peach cobbler, apple pie and so much more. Berries are rich in antioxidants and can even boost your memory. With their antioxidants, they help reduce inflammation and help prevent certain diseases and cancer. I know these recipes sound high in fat, but Health.com has come up with guilt-free recipes, and one is for strawberry shortcake. At only 113 calories per serving, you are fighting aging and diseases and enjoying dessert. All you need are six simple ingredients: calorie-free sweetener, cornstarch, orange juice, vanilla or almond extract, strawberries and sponge cake shells. Mix the first five ingredients together and you have a strawberry shortcake that fights aging.
Wine is a great ingredient you can put into desserts. I have a recipe for an Italian orange cake that is super light and fluffy since it has white wine in it. The wine has an antioxidant in it called resveratrol that protects your arteries. Whether you have a glass of wine a day or a piece of this cake, you could be helping to protect your arteries. The cake is super easy to make: fresh orange juice, which is high in vitamin c, a low-calorie sweetener, whole-grain flour, applesauce rather than oil, and white wine. It's sweet and delicious — perfect for a summer day.
My favorite addition to dessert is vegetables. Yes, it does sound off, but vegetables are the same as fruit with their antioxidants and vitamins to fight aging and diseases. My aunt always adds a zucchini to her chocolate cake. It's an easy dose of vegetables and you can't even taste it. This is what you should be feeding your kids for dessert — just don't tell them — and it's an easy way to reach your five a day.
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