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Making the Most of Our Dessert Calories
Alice Henneman, MS, RD, Extension Educator & Dietitian, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Some of us grew up hearing, "If you don't clean your plate, you can't have any dessert." Now we know if portions are too large, we may be wise to save some for another meal. So where does that leave dessert?
A dessert typically is defined as a dish or course served at the end of a meal. Many definitions say it is usually, although not always, a sweet dish. With the 2010 Dietary Guideline's recommendation to "Enjoy your food, but eat less," can we have our dessert and eat it, too?
Let's explore some ways to combine the Dietary Guidelines recommendations for 3 of the food groups with the recommendation to prepare foods and beverages with little added sugars (caloric sweeteners) in serving up delicious desserts.
Here are Dietary Guideline recommendations for the 3 food groups featured in the dessert ideas in this article: fruit, calcium-rich foods, grains.(Source and for more information: Finding Your Way to a Healthier You PDF brochure based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans)
1. Focus on Fruits. Eat a variety of fruits -- whether frozen, canned, or dried -- rather than fruit juice for most of your fruit choices. For a 2,000 calorie diet, you will need 2 cups of fruit each day (for example, 1 small banana, 1 large orange, and 1/4 cup of dried apricots or peaches.)
2. Get your calcium-rich foods. Get 3 cups of low-fat or fat-free milk -- or an equivalent amount of low-fat yogurt and/or low-fat cheese (1-1/2 ounces of cheese equals 1 cup of milk) -- every day. For kids aged 2 to 8, it's 2 cups of milk. If you don't or can't consume
milk, choose lactose-free milk, products and/or calcium-fortified foods and beverages.
Photo source: National Dairy Council®
3. Make half your grains whole. Eat at least 3 ounces of whole-grain cereals, breads, crackers, rice
or pasta every day. One ounce is about 1 slice of bread, 1 cup of breakfast cereal, or 1/2 cup of cooked rice or pasta. Look to see that grains such as wheat, rice, oats, or corn are referred to as "whole" in the list of ingredients.
In planning desserts with few added sugars, make the "Nutrition Facts" label, found on most packaged foods, required reading. The Guidelines recommend:
4. Don't sugarcoat it. Since sugars contribute calories with few, if any nutrients, look for foods and beverages low in added sugars. Read the ingredient list and make sure that added sugars are not one of the first few ingredients. Some names for added sugars (caloric sweeteners) include sucrose, glucose, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, maple syrup, and fructose. SEE related article on the Nutrition Facts Label and The Difference Between Naturally Occurring vs. Added Sugars
Baseball legend Yogi Berra is noted for saying, "When you come to a fork in the road, take it." So, when you're at that fork in the road regarding desserts, grab your fork - or spoon - and try some of these recipes!
Makes 4 servings
1-1/2 fruit servings
1/4 dairy serving
Sugar varies, depending on sweetener chosen
- 3 cups frozen fruit (such as frozen strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or melon)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup fat-free milk or nonfat plain yogurt
- Sweetener as needed: about 1-3 tablespoons sugar or the equivalent in artificial sweetener
DIRECTIONS: Blend first three ingredients until smooth. Sweeten to taste.
Source: Courtesy of the National Cancer Institute
- This is a great recipe for using up odds and ends of frozen fruit. The slush in the picture includes raspberries, strawberries and blueberries.
- It may be difficult to blend very large frozen strawberries in some blenders. You may be more successful if you thaw the strawberries slightly until you can cut them into smaller pieces.
- This slush is best if served immediately. It makes a great dessert and can be quickly assembled just before serving.
Makes 2 DESSERT servings
Drink your dessert! Just divide your favorite smoothie in half and serve in a fancy glass!
Per serving (1/2 of recipe):
1-1/2 fruit servings
1/4 dairy serving
Sugar varies, depending on how yogurt was sweetened
- 1 cup UN-sweetened, frozen raspberries
- 3/4 cup 100% orange juice (if you use frozen juice, don't forget to dilute first)
- 1/2 cup fruit-flavored, low-fat yogurt (try peach)
DIRECTIONS: Blend all ingredients well in blender and drink!
- Frozen strawberries, blueberries, mixed berries, mango, or peaches
- Pineapple juice, orange-tangerine juice, and other 100 percent juice blends
- Different yogurt flavors
Source: Courtesy of the National Cancer Institute'
ALICE'S TIP: Using frozen fruits helps thicken the smoothie. To freeze fresh berries, wash them thoroughly under running tap water, pat dry with clean paper towels and freeze in a single layer on a rimmed cookie sheet. Transfer to a freezer bag when frozen. Pour out as needed.