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Desserts: Naughty or Nice

(As published on TheTownDish.com, May 13, 2013)

When trying to cut back, it seems like dessert is always the first thing to go. Slowly but surely, you find yourself sneaking to the kitchen in search of sugar and devouring that piece of chocolate cake you had turned away earlier in the day. An occasional indulgence or small sweet treat each day is likely help you stay on track rather than ridding desserts from your life for good.


Tips for enjoying the good stuff...
When satisfying your sweet tooth, select healthier ingredients as the main player. In the mood for something decadent? Try a sliced banana drizzled with melted chocolate and peanut butter. What about a refreshing parfait with chunks of mango and sweetened coconut on top of yogurt? Mixing in fruit will provide a healthy base for your sugary fix.

Portion control is key when it comes to enjoying desserts. Wouldn't you love life a little more if you could treat yourself to something small each day? A few bites should be all you need to satisfy your craving. Balance is another thing to keep in mind. If you're getting ready for a meal out, and you know you're having a gigantic restaurant-sized dessert, opt for a healthier, lighter entrée rather than a heavier choice with tons of calories.

A few ideas to get you started...
When you walk through the grocery store in search of something sweet, you'll find "light" and "diet" options and think they're a gift from above when you see that slim calorie count. Beware of these labels, because not all are as innocent as they seem - be on the lookout for our next post about artificial sweeteners. Anything you can make at home allows you to control the sugar content, so pull out some old recipes and see how you can make healthier substitutions on your own.

If you're craving something cold, check out some fruit sorbet recipes. They tend to be higher in sugar than ice cream but lower in fat. Though there is the nutritional trade-off, sorbets are easy to make at home, so you can control the ingredients.

If you haven't caught on to the mug cake craze, you must not frequent Pinterest. These single-serving delicacies come in all forms you can make yourself - deep dish chocolate cookie, chocolate fudge, cinnamon roll and more. Do a quick Google search, and you'll find more recipes than you'll ever need that can be made in a ceramic dish in the microwave. A good thing, for our purposes, is the single-serving aspect of these recipes. While the ingredients aren't typically any better for you than what goes into a whole cake, you only make a small portion. Check out this mocha chocolate cake version.

Savor it! Don't punish yourself for having dessert. Chances are, the harder you try to push the craving away, the stronger it will push back. Having a good balance will help you make better choices. Look forward to your treat and really enjoy it - this allows you to appreciate the portion you've set aside and won't have you running back for more. Speaking of running, it doesn't hurt to get moving, either. Enjoying a regular cardio routine will help to combat the calories from your dessert-loving tendencies.

See, desserts aren't always bad. Know how to balance your sugary intake and look forward to a small treat after dinner. Let's face it - desserts are downright delicious and are meant to be enjoyed - in moderation, of course.

Last Updated: 5/14/2013