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Guilt-free goodies
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Just because you’re watching your diet doesn’t mean you have to pass up dessert. Making healthy treats is as easy as pie. You can revise many recipes to be healthier without sacrificing taste; just pick ingredients that will keep the fat and calories down and the flavor factor up.

Creative cooking

When cooking special treats, let your creativity flow. There are lots of healthy options for dessert recipes. Fruit adds a refreshing twist to sweet dishes. Serve fruit kabobs with powdered sugar or mix fruit with fat-free yogurt and serve in parfait glasses. Try filling filo dough with sliced mixed fruit to make roll-ups.

If you prefer more decadent creamy goodies but hate the extra pounds that come along with eating them, try using cocoa in place of chocolate for less fat and calories. Or, opt for pureed fruit or applesauce in place of fat in recipes for brownies, cookies and cakes.

The skinny on fat

Part of what makes desserts taste good is fat. Fat is a nutrient. You need some of it in your diet, but according to the American Heart Association, too much may increase your chances of getting heart disease or hardening of the arteries.

To cut down on fat and cholesterol in your recipes:

  • Use margarine instead of butter.
  • Substitute egg whites in recipes calling for whole eggs. Use two egg whites in place of one whole egg in muffins, cookies and puddings.
  • Try egg substitutes.
  • Opt for low-fat or 1 percent fat milk instead of whole.

Spicy solution

Using extra spices can also add more flavor to your healthy homemade treats. When cutting fat in recipes, use one and a half times the amount of spice called for.

Also, try cutting sugar by one third and increasing the use of cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. Or, add one and a half times as much citrus zest or almond extract as the recipe specifies to enhance taste.

Sweet seduction

Since sweets contain calories and few other nutrients, they should be eaten in moderation. You can also try some of these low-calorie sugar substitutes for a change of pace without sacrificing taste.

  • Sucralose, brand name Splenda, is the newest low-calorie sweetener around. Use it in recipes instead of sugar.
  • Saccharin, found in products such as Sweet ‘N Low, can be used in both hot and cold foods to make them sweeter. (Recent studies suggest it doesn’t cause cancer in humans.)
  • Aspartame, also known as NutraSweet, is a popular sweetener. Cooking with aspartame, however, can sometimes reduce its sweetness. (People who have phenylketonuria should not eat products with aspartame.)
  • Acesulfame potassium, also called Sweet One and acesulfame-K, can be used in all baking and cooking.