There’s something about summertime that just makes desserts somehow more appealing. At least for me. No barbeque or lovely summer day seems complete without some sort of sweet treat. But, having just finished my no-added-sugar challenge (!), and talking with clients regularly about their excessive sugar intake, I know how important it is to be mindful of those empty calories. Not only is sugar not at all nutritious, often taking the place of where more nutrient-dense foods could have gone, consistently high blood sugar levels stress the body, increase inflammation, and increase the risk for a number of chronic diseases, from obesity and heart disease, to diabetes and even cancer.
So, what’s a sweets-loving person to do? Below are a few of my favorite simple, moderately healthy, sweet treats and some tips to satisfying those cravings without depriving your body of the nutrition it needs. Remember, food is for the body and the soul!
1) Fruit. Fresh fruit in the summer is so, so refreshing and delicious! Try freshly cut, chilled watermelon, a fresh berry mix with some homemade whipped cream (lightly sweetened as needed with maple syrup), or juicy peaches when the late summer season arrives. For best quality and taste, try to buy local, as the fruits are more likely to be “in season” and at their peak.
2) Single Servings. One of the hardest parts of desserts, is portion control. Below are two of my favorite single-serving desserts – a fruit cobbler and cookies!
3) Healthified classics. Put a healthy spin on a traditional favorite, like chocolate avocado pudding or banana soft-serve!
4) Simple Smoothies. Smoothies are a great way to pack in a ton of nutrition and certainly don’t need to be reserved for breakfast! The vanilla one listed below can easily be made into a chocolate or even strawberry treat, and it’s “special” ingredient (avocado!) boosts the nutrition and makes it rich and creamy, reminiscent of a milkshake!
5) Use the grill. Or broiler if you don’t have a grill! Fruit can be made into a decadent dessert with a little flame-time. Try peaches or sliced pineapple for a truly juicy, sweet, and perfectly summer treat!
6) Indulge…out. Instead of keeping a pint of ice cream in your freezer and being responsible for avoiding it or limiting your portion size yourself, if you want ice cream, go get it! But get it out, as a single serving, so you’re not tempted to keep going back to the freezer for seconds (or thirds!).
Summertime doesn’t have to mean derailing your good nutrition. Make your sweet tooth work for you and use it as an opportunity to squeeze in even more nutrition!
Aubrey MS RDN LDN