What Makes a Dessert Healthy?

What makes a dessert healthy? Can I have dessert when I'm trying to eat healthy? How can I make my favorite dessert healthier?

These are common questions I hear voiced by my patients during 1:1 Nutrition Counseling on their quest to look and feel better about their bodies and their health. The fact is, there are indeed some simple swaps we can make to desserts to improve their nutrient-density (more on that below!). 

But, the real truth is, the experience and pleasure that comes from eating a dessert also goes way beyond what macronutrients and micronutrients are included on the dessert dish. 

Here's how I help my patients evaluate whether or not a dessert is healthy:

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A healthy dessert is one that delivers the flavors, textures, and aromas you love.

Sweet and tart, warm and cozy, or rich and salty...what flavors do you crave when it comes to dessert? Do you prefer something smooth or liquid, something gooey, a bite that's crunchy, or a texture that's chewy? Does the aroma of the dessert satisfy you? A healthier dessert for you is one that delivers the flavors, textures, and aromas you love. If your dessert doesn't satisfy the needs of your senses, it's likely that you'll leave the eating experience unfulfilled.

A healthy dessert satisfies what you really want. 

Is the dessert at hand something that you really want? If so, it might be a healthy move for you to enjoy it. But if not, then it's best to skip. If what you're really looking for is stress relief, extra energy to curb feeling sleepy, or emotional coping to curb tension, then food may or may not provide what you're looking for. Are you feeling pushed to eat dessert since someone else made it or since it is free in the break room at work?  Consider the "why" behind your selection - are you eating dessert to fulfill your inner food desires or for other reasons?  That's not to say that you can never enjoy some ice cream after a stressful day -- it just means that you should consider and acknowledge what the intention really is. 

A healthy dessert is one that is savored. 

It's not eaten in a rapid fashion. It's not consumed mindlessly in front of the couch or quickly inside the car. For a dessert to fit the bill of "healthy" in my book, it's one that is eaten slowly, one where you pause to really taste the food, and one where you savor every delicious bite. 

A healthy dessert includes better-for-you ingredients.

Because "healthy" means healthy for the mind and spirit (all of that above, ya'll) AND healthy for the body, as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, I'd be remiss if I didn't address that a healthy dessert also includes nutrient-dense ingredients. It excites me to see desserts that are made with whole food ingredients like vegetables and fruits, when they use whole grains instead of refined flours, when they utilize fiber-rich foods like beans, when they feature nuts or seeds, when they offer healthier oils, and when they're free from artificial ingredients including artificial sweeteners, colors, and flavors. It also excites me when I see that added sugar is reduced and replaced with whole food alternatives (like from dates or other fruits). But it's also my hope that you're usual eating pattern predominately offers those options anyway, which does leave room for an extra treat here and there that may not be entirely nutrient-dense, if you wish.

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So should you choose the chocolate cookies made with avocados, black beans and quinoa flour, or should you select the fudge brownie made with some added sugar? Of course, that's for you to decide.  Eating dessert - like eating all foods - should be satisfying for a number of factors including your senses AND your health, so what defines a "healthy dessert" for you might be different than what defines a "healthy dessert" for someone else.

What makes the most sense for you?

Blackberry Chickpea Salad

Move over, boring salads! There's a new favorite in town: the Blackberry Chickpea Salad.

This healthy Blackberry Chickpea Salad boasts nearly 20 grams of plant-based protein, 13 grams of fiber, and total taste bud satisfaction.

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I especially love that this salad features blackberries -- a fruit that offers a very high level of antioxidants. In fact, a 2006 article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition ranked blackberries as the food highest in antioxidants per serving size when ranked among 50 other foods. (Source) Just another reason to eat up those blackberries, folks!

What's really awesome is that this salad goes from fridge to fork in under 5 minutes -- so for those busy lunches at home or evenings where there's no time to prep dinner, this salad saves the day.

While this recipe serves one, you could easily multiply the salad for more. Enjoy!

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Blackberry Chickpea Salad

Ingredients

  • 2-3 cups mixed greens
  • 1/2 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup blackberries
  • 1/2 cup cauliflower florets
  • 3 Tablespoons hemp seeds (like these)*
  • 2 Tablespoons Tessemae's Green Goddess Dressing (available here)*

Instructions

  • Over a bed of mixed greens, add chickpeas, blackberries, cauliflower florets and hemp seeds.
  • Drizzle over salad dressing.

 

Will you try out this Blackberry Chickpea Salad? If so, let me know when you do! Share your review with me in the comments below or over on Facebook @YESNutritionLLC.

* YES! Nutrition LLC is an Amazon Affiliate Associate. 

5-Minute, 5-Ingredient Easy Tuna Salad

Looking for easy lunch or a quick dinner recipe that's easy, quick, and nutritious? This 5-Minute, 5-Ingredient Easy Tuna Salad is your new, healthy go-to! 

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Fresh and light, this recipe uses skipjack tuna, which is packed with protein and delivers helpful omega-3 fatty acids - to not only help you feel fuller, longer, but to also provide nutrients that are helpful for your heart, brain, and eyes. Combined with everyday kitchen staples like hummus, mustard, lemon juice, and fresh black pepper, this recipe proves to be easy, time-saving, and flavorful, too.

When it comes to tuna, I prefer and recommend skipjack tuna as opposed to albacore, since skipjack tends to be lower in mercury content and safer to consume more regularly (1-2 times per week) (Source). I also prefer purchasing tuna - and all seafood - that's been MSC certified. This means that the fish come from fisheries that meet certain sustainability criteria...important as we consider the long-term health of our oceans.

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5-Minute, 5-Ingredient Easy Tuna Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 5-ounce can skipjack tuna, drained (like this*) 
  • 1 2-ounce single-serve pack of hummus (about 4 Tablespoons)
  • 1/2 heaping teaspoon of mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 lemon (optional) 
  • 1 serving (8-12) crackers of choice (like these* or these*) (optional)

Instructions

  • Combine all ingredients together.
  • Serve on a bed of lettuce with 1/4 lemon (squeeze overtop for extra flavor!) and your favorite whole grain or gluten-free crackers.

 

Give this healthy, quick recipe a try - and let me know what you think of it in the comments below! 

* YES! Nutrition LLC is an Amazon Affiliate Associate. 

Say "YES!" To A Healthier You in 2018

This morning, I woke up, I poured myself a cup of coffee, and I grabbed my fancy new 2018 Weekly Calendar. I had been looking forward to this moment for a while! 

To me, a New Year means reflecting upon what's worked well (and what hasn't) in the past, thinking about where I'd like to see things in the future, and putting a plan in place for what it is going to take to get there.

The thing is, dreams don't happen unless the work gets done. And while it can seem overwhelming -- there are so many wonderful things to say "YES!" to in the New Year -- moving forward begins with one simple step. For me AND you! 

That's why I'm so excited to announce the launch of my NEW video series to help you say "YES!" to living a more nutritious, balanced life!

Through quick videos shared on social media, I'll help you discover EASY, EXCITING, and ENJOYABLE ways to be more nourished. These videos will share SIMPLE tips and recipes that you can take into your homes to complete or create -- all so that YOU can reach your goals in a fun, fresh, and sustainable way!  

Join me and say "YES!" to a healthier you through a variety of ways in 2018:

  • Say "YES!" to the new YES! Nutrition video series! Subscribe here on YouTube so you never miss an episode! 
  • Say "YES!" to 1:1 Nutrition Counseling to work with me. We'll put together a plan to help you reach your health and nutrition goals!
  • Say "YES!" to Private Speaking Events for your business or organization.

I hope you'll join me! Have a happy and healthy New Year!