Chocolate pudding Dietitian Approved Sweet Treats
Dietitian Approved Sweet Treats

Does eating dessert have to make you feel guilty?

Of course not. Contrary to popular belief, dietitians like myself don't skip dessert and we don't restrict ourselves to sugar-free Jello to sate our sweet tooth. We do, however, follow some rules.

Keep your portions small (restaurants are starting to offer mini deserts and who hasn't fallen in love with the mini cupcakes). If baking at home, substitute skim milk or low fat evaporated milk instead of cream. Don't neglect seasonal fruit--top with homemade whip cream, and when dining out--order one desert and forks for everyone.

For years, I have been recommending healthier desserts that still manage to taste great. Here is a list of the best:

Angel food cake with fresh fruit

Angel food cake is so easy to make -- the recipe calls for six ingredients. Buying angel food cake from the supermarket is generally acceptable because, unlike most store-bought desserts, it doesn't contain any additional fats or trans fats. A slice has roughly 120 calories, no cholesterol, no saturated fat, and little to no total fat. Offer a slice of cake with bowls of toppings to choose from: whipped cream, fresh fruit, dried fruit, crushed nuts, crushed dark chocolate, etc.

Dark Chocolate Fondue

I've never met a person who doesn't like to dip fruit in chocolate. Using a 70 percent dark chocolate cures your chocolate craving and gives the added benefit of antioxidants (antioxidants help prevent cell damage due to oxidation). Dip with bananas, strawberries or even dried fruits (apricots are my favorite). To control portions, cut up one fruit and only melt a small serving of chocolate. Kids love this dessert; it's a great way to sneak additional fruit into their diet.

Baked apples

The sweetness of baked apples makes them a great dessert. And they look impressive at a dinner party despite being simple to make. Core an apple and stuff with fixings of your choice. I mix up a dash of brown sugar, cinnamon, raisins or currents, and walnuts. This dessert offers up a healthy dose of antioxidants (in both the fresh and dried fruit and even cinnamon) and omega-3 fatty acids (in the nuts). Top with a dot of butter (1/2 teaspoon). Bake in the oven at 375 degrees for about 35-40 minutes, or until soft but not mushy.

Low-fat Chocolate Pudding

If you're a chocoholic like myself, you'll love this dessert (recipe below). It's low in fat (about 3 1/2 grams per serving), low in total calories (about 200 per serving) and homemade. It's easy to make and will hold in the fridge for the week. You control the ingredients and portions, two very important factors in a healthy dessert.

Almond Biscotti

This Italian cookie (recipe below) comes in at less than 100 calories each and only one gram of fat. Almonds offer a heaping dose of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant associated with preventing heart disease, certain cancers and strokes. They also contain a respectable amount of calcium. They're great to dip in your after-dinner coffee.

Dietitian Approved Chocolate Pudding Recipe

Serves 2

8 tablespoons sugar, divided

3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder

1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 large egg

1 cup skim or 1 percent milk

2-inch piece vanilla bean or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped

1. Put 5 tablespoons of the sugar, the cocoa powder and the cornstarch in a mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Add the egg and whisk to mix. Put the milk, the vanilla bean and the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil, whisk often to keep the milk from scorching. (If you are using vanilla extract, wait until step 3 to add.)

2. Add the scalding milk to the egg mixture in a thin stream, whisking steadily. Return the mixture to the saucepan and bring to a boil, whisking steadily. Reduce the heat so that the mixture bubbles gently and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes.

3. Off the heat, stir in the chopped chocolate. (If you are using vanilla extract, add it now.) Let the pudding cool to room temperature and refrigerate until serving. Remove the vanilla bean. To serve, spoon the pudding into glass bowls or martini or wine glasses.

Per serving: 329 calories, 9 grams protein, 9 grams fat, 61 grams carbohydrates, 89 mg sodium, 96 mg cholesterol

Dietitian Approved Almond Biscotti Recipe

2 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 egg whites, lightly beaten

1/4 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon almond extract

finely grated zest of 1 lemon

finely grated zest of 1 orange

1/4 to 1/2 cup dry white wine

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and whisk to mix. In another large bowl, combine the egg whites, oil, almond extract, zests, and 1/4 cup of wine. Whisk to mix.

2. Gradually stir the flour mixture into the wine mixture, adding wine as necessary to obtain a soft, pliable dough. Divide the dough in two and roll each half between your hands into a 12-inch log. Place the logs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, leaving 5 inches between them. Gently flatten the logs with your fingertips to form a half-inch thick rectangle.

3. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the tops are firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and let cool for 3 minutes.

4. Using a serrated knife, cut each log on the diagonal into half-inch slices. Place the slices, cut side down on the baking sheet and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Turn the biscotti and bake for 10 to 15 minutes more.

5. Completely cool the biscotti on a wire rack and store in an airtight container.

72 calories per biscotto, 1 gram protein, 1 gram fat, 13 gram carbohydrate, 34 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol

(Betsy Klein, RD., is a registered dietician based in Miami, Florida.


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© Betsy Klein