Curb that Sweet Tooth - Healthy Dessert Options
June is National Candy Month! While candy is certainly not the healthiest of snacks, studies show that depriving yourself of certain treats can lead to overeating and stronger cravings.
Finding the right portion size, as well as finding healthy alternatives that you actually WANT to eat is important to maintaining a healthy diet. As they say, everything in moderation.
We've pulled together a few of our favorite (almost healthy) treats. We kept an eye out for things that were anti-inflammatory and promoted healthy circulation (since that's all we think about here!).
Chocolate is one of those things that people always seem to be debating. Is it good for you or not? If you're eating dark chocolate, all studies show it has a lot of important nutrients and vitamins (yes, vitamins!).
So what's the deal? Dark chocolate is rich in something called flavanols. Flavanols have been proven to support healthy blood circulation, which lowers blood pressure and protects your heart. Dark chocolate also contains iron, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc (all great nutrients). Yes, dark chocolate has saturated fat and calories, but the good qualities outweigh these attributes when eaten in moderation.
How to eat it in moderation?
- Break off a few squares and eat it plain or with fruit and nuts.
- Melt it (easily done in the microwave) and drizzle it over fruit, yogurt, or popcorn.
- Put some peanut butter on it for a deconstructed peanut butter cup.
Yogurt & Fruit Popsicle
Sometimes a cold treat is all that we need! I found this amazing recipe for three-ingredient popsicles and it's been perfect for an after dinner treat. All you need is 2 Cups of your favorite fruit, 2 Tablespoons of honey (or agave), and 2 Cups of greek yogurt (extra protein!). See the full details of the recipe at Sally's Baking Addiction.
- Blend your fruit in a food processor or blender on high speed until nearly liquefied.
- Pour the fruit liquid into a large bowl. Stir in the 2 tablespoons of honey. Add the yogurt and very gently mix everything together. The mixture will be thick.
- Pour mixture evenly into each popsicle mold. If your popsicle mold has slots for sticks, you can insert them before freezing. If not, freeze for 2 hours, then put a wooden popsicle stick in the middle and then continue to freeze for an additional 4-6 hours or overnight.
- Run popsicle molds under warm water to easily remove.
Don't have a popsicle mold? No problem! You can make these in paper or plastic cups, empty yogurt cups, or even baking tins!
What fruits are best for this?
Blueberries, raspberries, and cherries are high in Anthocyanins. Anthocyanins not only act as antioxidants, but they have anti-inflammatory powers as well. These fruits are also high in Bioflavonoids, which can help protect your heart.
This is a Scott-approved dessert or snack! He actually brought it to work today, so I can vouch that he eats it. He learned how to make it from the Cookie & Kate blog (which has tons of delicious, health-conscious recipes).
Scott's Chia Recipe:
Add 1 Cup of Coconut Milk to 3 TB of Chia Seeds.
Divide into small tupperware containers for the week.
Add honey, berries, granola - whatever - on top just before I eat it!
There are tons of variations you can do with this - he recommends checking Kate's blog above for more ideas!
Why Chia? They're a powerhouse of nutrients including antioxidants, fiber, protein and phosphorous. Just want to include a fun fact about protein here. A high protein diet has been shown to decrease obsessive thoughts about food by 60% and reduce the desire for night time snacking by 50%.
Another easy frozen treat? Just throw your grapes (taken off the stem) in the freezer.
Grapes are packed with nutrients like Vitamin C, K and Potassium, and taste amazing out of the freezer.
Okay - hear me out on this! Protein bars used to be chewy, flavorless and gross, but new brands and innovations are making them more delicious and healthy! Craving chocolate and something with a candy bar consistency? Grab a healthy bar instead.
My personal favorites are Kind Bars because they are a great mix of chocolate, nuts, seeds, and sweetness. Most of the bars have less than 10 grams of sugar and are packed with fiber and protein. Fiber is especially good for circulatory system! Plus they're available in most grocery stores and Amazon, so it's something easy to keep on hand.
As we said from the start, moderation and good choices are key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. If you really need the crunch of delicious candy, choose from one of the following (not-THAT-bad-for-you) options:
My dad has long maintained these are a health food! While I still question that, they do have both protein and fiber (from the peanuts), so a small packet of these is a decent choice.
- 90 calories per "fun-size" pack, 5g fat, 2g saturated fat, 10.5g carbohydrate, 9g sugar, 1.5 g protein
Snickers Fun-Size Bar
Another good combo of fiber and protein (with the sugar you're craving).
- 80 calories per "fun-size" bar, 3.5g fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 11g carbohydrate, 9g sugar, 1g protein
Charm's Blow Pop
If you don't like chocolate, this might be the best option for you! It has less sugar than most of its fruity candy competitors, and it lasts a while which can be satisfying.
- 70 calories per pop, 0g fat, 0g saturated fat, 17g carbohydrate, 13g sugar, 0g protein