If you or your kids crave something sweet after dinner, go ahead and have something sweet.
Of course, you might be thinking, “Wait a minute. Sweets aren’t good for me or my kids. Desserts aren’t healthy. How can you even use the word “healthy” to describe desserts. The two simply don’t go together.”
But they can.
In fact, in my house, healthy desserts are the mainstay at our table. I only bake on special occasions. And I have made it a rule not to buy sugary desserts and bring them into our house. A couple of times a year, we might go to a favorite doughnut shop or frozen yogurt place. But that’s about it.
I tend to have the long view in mind when it comes to my kids. I want to teach them patterns of behavior that will serve them well when they become adults. Healthy eating is part of that plan. I would much rather introduce them to healthy desserts now, then wait and watch them suffer the consequences of years spent eating unhealthy sweets. So I teach them how to eat desserts in a healthy way.
It truly is ok to eat desserts regularly. Just keep added sugar off the menu. It will be great training for you as well as your children, as you continue to make choices for a healthier lifestyle.
The following are some of the foods that I substitute for sugar-filled desserts.
My children are much more apt to eat fruit, if I slice it for them. If you don’t have time for this much work, but you do have a little extra cash to spend, look to the produce aisle of your favorite grocery store. They will likely have cut (and even peeled) fruit for sale in to-go containers.
Raisins, prunes, and dried fruit with no sugar added
Dried fruit is concentrated sweetness. I like to eat them slowly, one at a time, to savor the goodness and limit the amount I eat. There’s more energy packed into a raisin than a grape. A little goes a long way.
Homemade Trail Mix
I recommend homemade, so you can control what goes into your trail mix. But if time is an issue, buy them at the store. (Just avoid the ones with chocolate candies in them.) Trail mixes provide a combination of tastes for those who like salty/sweet desserts. I use cashews, peanuts, walnuts, hazel nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, and raisins. Sometimes I use raw, sometimes roasted.
Be sure to buy the type with no sugar added. And try different varieties. Some have fruit juices mixed in. Others use different apples for a different taste.
I can’t say enough about frozen fruit. I used to buy it only to make smoothies. Then I noticed my kids reaching into the bags while I was running the blender. That’s when I realized that I could cut down on my work by simply opening a bag of frozen fruit and letting them have at it! My kids especially love frozen raspberries. They say it’s like eating sour candy!
Frozen Fruit Mixed into Plain Yogurt
Just before dinner starts, I scoop some yogurt into a dish and top it with whatever frozen berries I have on hand. Then I place it in the fridge. The fruit thaws just a bit, and I have a delightful chilled dessert after dinner. If plain yogurt is not your thing, try this using vanilla yogurt.
- Yogurt topped with granola.
- Kefir, which comes in a number of different flavors.
- Popsicles made entirely of fruit juice, either homemade or bought at the store.
- Greek yogurt with honey stirred in. It tastes (and feels) a lot like eating ice cream.
Once you start looking for ways to experience sweet desserts without high fructose corn syrup or added sugar, without artificial flavors or colors made from dyes, you will discover even more possibilities than I have listed here.
The best part about it is that you can feel good about eating these kinds of desserts, and it will feel even better to see your kids enjoy them, too.
Desserts made with your health in mind, what could be sweeter?