Did you know that the average person consumes over 70 grams, or about a third of a cup, of sugar per day? To put that into perspective, 70 grams of sugar is 2-3 times the recommended limit, depending on your age and gender.
Most of us could stand to cut back on our consumption of added sugars, but who wants to go through life without a dessert every now and then?
The good news is, you don’t have to! It’s all about making positive changes to your habits. By making healthier desserts, you can have your after-dinner treat guilt-free, knowing you’re making a positive choice for your body and your health.
To learn a few tips for making desserts that are not only good but good for you, just keep reading.
1. Make Your Desserts Yourself
One of the best things you can do to make your desserts healthier is to make them yourself. Packaged desserts and those that can be made from a boxed mix contain all sorts of additives and are often much higher in calories than a homemade treat would be.
By making your desserts yourself, you know exactly what’s going into them, and therefore into your body. You can also make adjustments to the recipe, such as adding less sugar or butter and substituting with a healthier option.
So next time you’re craving a brownie, break out the baking ingredients and make some yourself rather than buying a package of snack cakes from the grocery store. You’ll not only be improving your diet but practicing a new skill as well!
2. Switch to Dark Chocolate
There’s nothing quite as good as chocolate. It makes a great addition to nearly every dessert and is the preferred sweet treat of many.
You might have heard that there are certain health benefits associated with chocolate, and there’s some truth to this. But the whole truth is, neither milk nor white chocolate provides these benefits. To get the iron, magnesium, calcium, and antioxidants in chocolate, you have to go dark.
When you reach for a chocolate bar, it should be 70% cacao or higher. This is where the nutrients lie, and the benefits of dark chocolate truly are something worth taking advantage of!
Dark chocolate can help to lower blood pressure, improve brain function, reduce bad cholesterol, and lower your risk of heart disease. And those are just a few of the many health benefits of this bittersweet treat.
3. Ditch the White Sugar
Refined white sugar is one of the worst things you can put into your body. It has no nutritional value and only works against your body in terms of functioning at an optimal level.
Luckily, there are many alternatives that you can use whether you’re baking healthy cookies or making a birthday cake. The first options to consider when making healthy desserts are unrefined brown sugar and cane sugar. Now, these should still be enjoyed in moderation, but because they’re unrefined, they retain some of the vitamins and minerals of the sugar cane.
You can also use honey, maple syrup, agave syrup, or cereal syrups. These include rice, malt, corn, and wheat syrups, which have a lower glycemic index and provide some of the nutrients of the unrefined grains from which they’re made. Syrups are also sweeter than traditional sugar, meaning you can use less and still achieve the desired flavor.
4. Use Veggie Alternatives
This might sound like an odd suggestion, but we promise, if you’ve never used veggies in your desserts before, you’re missing out! Even if you aren’t focusing on eating vegan desserts, many vegetables, such as spinach and celery, can be mixed into things like smoothies and shakes and you won’t even know that they’re there.
On top of that, you can greatly reduce the number of calories in a given dessert by swapping cow’s milk for one of the many plant-based varieties of milk. Thanks to the growing popularity of plant-based diets, these types of milk can now be found in any grocery store, so there’s no hunting through organic or diet stores involved.
And there are virtually endless options. You have almond milk, cashew milk, and rice milk. Then there’s oat, soybean, quinoa, hazelnut, and chestnut milk. Not to mention, within all those varieties are more options. For example, you can buy chocolate almond milk!
5. Give Fruit a Chance
Fruit is nature’s candy, but for many of us, fruit doesn’t pack the same punch as a dessert like cake or cookies. This is because our taste buds have adjusted to the new, unnatural level of sweetness, making things that should taste very sweet, such as bananas and cantaloupe, taste bland in comparison.
But if you can resist the temptation to eat processed sweets for even a week, you’ll find that fruit suddenly tastes much sweeter than you remember. When this happens, you’ll be able to do things like make ice cream from bananas and eat a fruit and yogurt parfait for dessert and completely satisfy your sweet tooth.
Start Making Healthier Desserts Today
Attempting an all-or-nothing approach to dieting is almost always the wrong choice. It takes all the enjoyment out of the process and often makes it even more difficult to reach your goals.
There’s nothing wrong with a treat every now and then, even if it’s in no way the healthy option. That said, by making healthier desserts, you can enjoy the sweet treats you love more often without derailing your progress in your health journey.
Looking for more health and fitness tips? Be sure to check out our blog!