A carb overhaul means making your dessert indulgences tasty and healthy. It doesn’t mean less joy and satisfaction; it just means adopting new recipes and being creative with old ones. The Center For Science In the Public Interest (CSPI), a consumer advocacy organization whose mission is to conduct research as well as to advocate for the consumer, posted a wonderful document in their Nutrition Action Health Letter on what a typical day’s worth of food should contain in order to meet the body’s nutritional needs. If you care about having your body perform at its best and reward you with great energy, sleep, less inflammation, less gastrointestinal issues, fewer headaches, better blood pressure, better blood sugar and less artery clogging fats, then pay attention now.
A Day’s Worth of Food is based on the Omniheart study which examined three different dietary approaches to reduce heart disease. A day’s worth of food was a hybrid of two of the diets with emphasis on more protein and replacing saturated fats with more unsaturated fats. The following daily guidelines is what is recommended to lower coronary heart disease risk:
- 11 servings of fruits and vegetables (with more emphasis on the non-starchy veggies)
- 4 servings of grains
- 2 servings of dairy
- 2 servings of legumes and nuts
- 1 serving of meat, poultry or fish
- 2 servings of oil and fats
- 2 servings of desserts
Wow, you say, actually 2 servings of desserts. That means one dessert after lunch and one dessert after dinner. No problemo.
Well, look more carefully at the bottom and see what they describe as a portion of dessert: one small cookie or 1 teaspoon sugar. Ok, that means I could have sugar in my tea and one cookie or I could have 2 cookies and no sugar in my tea or I could have no cookie and 2 cups of tea with sugar. All sugars are about the same whether its honey, Agave, molasses, maple syrup or brown sugar – they all deliver about 4-5 gms of carbs per teaspoon.
You Do Not Have to Desert Desserts!!
I do not despair; I look at this as a challenge. I ask myself, how can I stay within the recommendations without compromising my taste buds? With the list including fruit, milk, eggs, nuts and whole grains, it’s a no brainer to find ways to incorporate these into the dessert. Fruit is a natural sweetener allowing the ability to cut back on sugar without compromising the taste. Using whole grain flour or oatmeal is just as good in things like crisps, coffee cakes and even cookies (think oatmeal cookies). Adding plain fat-free Greek yogurt to the batter does nothing to disturb flavor yet adds dairy and protein. Flax seed is a nice oil substitute and adds heart healthy fiber and some inflammation reducing omega 3’s. Using cinnamon, nutmeg and even lemon can hide the decreased amount of sugar.
Using oatmeal in a crisp topping is a nice way to get a whole grain and is as satisfying as a piece of pie made with white flour. Adding cinnamon and nutmeg has a way of enhancing sweetness while allowing less sugar to be put in the crisp. Making a topping of crisp with just 3 tbsp of butter blended with a pastry knife is just as tasty as a two pie crust made with a cup of shortening. My Blueberry Rhubarb Crisp is as good as any pie and is even better if it is made from blueberries grown in your own yard. Blueberries are so easy to grow and give such a high yield for months each season.
Want something warm and soft for dessert with just a bit of texture on a cold winter day? My quinoa custard really hits the spot, delivers nice protein from the eggs, dairy, Greek yogurt and quinoa, has nice fiber, and tastes sweet yet is low in sugar. It dissolves in your mouth if you are a custard kind of person.
Feel like a cake? Try my Apple Crumb Cake. This dessert is high in protein with the eggs, Greek yogurt, and whole grains, as well as high in fiber and the McCoun apples and cinnamon make up for the difference in less sugar than most cakes contain. You could also use this same cake batter and make a lemon blueberry cake. Omit the crumb topping and use blueberries and lemon juice instead of the apples. Use plain fat-free Greek yogurt instead of the vanilla yogurt. And once it comes out of the oven squirt the juice from one lemon over the cake and dust the top with confectioners sugar once it has cooled. Both are so healthy you can have them for breakfast and no you are starting the day in a healthy way!
Want something cold and creamy to hit that sweet spot? My Mango Frozen Yogurt dessert is high in protein, low in fat, delivers a serving of fruit and dairy while being low in sugar. Even a cup of this creamy dessert would keep you within the two teaspoons of sugar allowance a day. All you need is an electric ice cream maker that you can find for under $30. If you want you can pour this mixture in popsicle molds to savor the taste a little longer. You could substitute any fruit for the mango.
Delicious and Nutritious Desserts
That’s my goal. I take ideas from old recipes that aren’t as healthy and I find a way to make them healthier depending on whether or not I want crunchy, cakie, soft or warm or creamie sensations for dessert. I look at batter as a vehicle for delivering wholesome, healthy yumminess. I look at Greek yogurt as a way to augment my protein. I look at fruit as nature’s sweetener. It’s all in the perspective. It’s all in the attitude. It’s all in what’s important: choosing to give your demanding taste buds anything they want or carefully considering what surrounds them on the way to nourishing your body to keep it at peak performance.