Since starting my nutrition training I have been trying to create alternative healthy desserts, that are more nutritious than your traditional biscuit or slice of cake. I also want them to contain less sugar, fat and calories and be a good source of micronutrients.
At the start of my course I looked at eating behaviour, namely, why do we eat the way we do and looked at the typical habits that lead to weight gain. One of the most reoccurring habits that my clients have is that they always have a sweet “dessert” after their main evening meal, as it was the norm as a child.
Interestingly most of our eating behaviour stems from our childhood and what we saw our parents do.
If you were one of the many children that would be rewarded with a dessert after clearing your plate, then you more than likely have two habits that have followed you into adult life:
- You always crave a sweet after your main meal
- You always clear your plate regardless how hungry you are
These are two habits that I have myself, which I am trying to get out the habit of. I am doing this by serving myself smaller portions keeping within the recommendation of the British Nutrition Foundation, so when I do clear my plate I am in fact eating less and I am only having a dessert when I still feel hungry rather than every day because it is the norm!
This also the advice I would give my clients as well as other specific pointers depending on the reasons and triggers of their habits.
To help those of you who are looking for alternative healthier desserts I have selected my top 5 to provide you with a selection to choose from. Remember before you have one of these desserts stop and think, “Am I hungry?”. Try to get into the habit of eating only when you’re hungry rather than when you are bored, stressed or simply following a routine.
1. Banana Bread
This a favourite of mine, perfect as a pre or post workout snack and a slice also makes for a healthy dessert. This recipe is refined sugar-free using the sweetener stevia as a replacement, which is lower in calories and much sweeter than sugar so you don’t need to use much in recipes. The full recipe can be found here.
2. Strawberry Crumble
By making individual crumbles in ramekins you remove the temptation to eat more than one serving, as you would more than likely eat a lot more if you made a larger one that is meant to be shared. Another behaviour we are all guilty of is the phrase eyes bigger than belly, this is when due to the sensory cues of food (taste, texture, appearance, sound etc) you are tempted to eat more than you would otherwise need to satisfy your hunger. This is one of the reasons that supermarkets release the smell of freshly baked bread at the entrance of shops as it makes the consumer buy more, subconsciously they are already being tempted by the smell of food. For a similar reason you should never shop on an empty stomach as all your cues will be heightened because you feel hungry you will believe you can eat more and everything will be more appealing. The full recipe can be found here.
3. Peanut Butter Cocoa Milkshake
Inspired by my fiancé’s love of peanut butter based milkshakes from Shakeaway and my fondness of smoothies! This even has cocoa powder in it for the chocoholics out there trying to lead a more nutritious healthier lifestyle without giving up chocolate. Again as with most of my recipes, this popped into my head and I simply had to try it. I am sure you will be happy I did, the full recipe can be found here.
4. Strawberry Brownies
This recipe came about from my valentines menu, as this year I decided instead of going out I would prepare James a three-course meal of his favourite foods. Chocolate brownies happen to be one of his favourite desserts and he doesn’t love strawberries. Although annoyingly they seem to put the price of strawberries up over valentines. These brownies are really tasty and he couldn’t even tell the difference! If you aren’t a fan of strawberries don’t worry I have also tried this recipe with orange segments and raspberries and they both worked just as well. The full recipe can be found here. Below I have pictured the raspberry variation, simply substitute the 150g of strawberries for raspberries keeping the rest of the recipe the same.
5. Chocolate Chip Muffins
The recipe is from my original e-book, as you may have realised by now I am an absolute lover of all things chocolate! These muffins contain no refined sugar and are ideal individual portion size. Another thing I have come to learn is that over time individual portion sizes of something as ‘innocent’ as a muffin has almost doubled in size, greatly contributing to the growing western obesity rates. My muffins are an appropriate snack size and prevent you from eating more calories, fat, sugar and salt than you thought. Some muffins from high street cafes have been shown to contain anything from 300-600 calories despite being marketed as healthy using whole grain flours and fruit, but what they fail to mention is that they are loaded with sugar and often more surprisingly sodium. These muffins contain approximately 88 calories depending on the brand of dairy-free milk and chocolate chips used. The full recipe can be found here.