7 Days, 7 Desserts

Friday, September 17, 2010 | 0 comments »

By Joe Wilkes

For a lot of you, fighting your sweet tooth is the hardest part of staying healthy. Sugary treats and drinks are so prevalent that it's a real challenge to kick the white stuff, not to mention the high fructose corn syrup stuff. However, that doesn't mean you should totally abandon your sweet tooth. After all, how could something that tastes so good be that bad for you? Your palate is conditioned to enjoy sweets because, in nature, this conditioning can attract you to some of the healthiest foods, like fruits and berries. The trick is in learning to enjoy sweet foods that are closer to their natural state, before all the vitamins and fiber are extracted and you're left with just diabetes and tooth decay. Here are some ideas for desserts that could actually be the healthiest part of a meal.

Note: All nutritional information is for one serving.

Sunday: Giant Fruit Salad

Sunday is a great day to make giant bowls of stuff you can eat all week. I like to make big pots of soup or other big entrées for healthy leftovers I can enjoy throughout the week. Fruit salad is super-easy to make; it's just a bit of a hassle to chop everything. However, I find it can be a nice Zen-like activity to do while I'm watching the Sunday news shows or sports. The best fruit salads contain fruits that are in season and have a variety of colors. It's not just that the colors make for a lovely presentation, but the more colors you have, the bigger range of antioxidants you have. By tossing the fruit in lemon juice, you can prevent the fruit from turning brown, so it'll still be appetizing later in the week. You can layer the fruit with yogurt for a delicious parfait or add some granola or nuts for a little crunch.
  • 1 red apple, unpeeled, cored, and diced
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, unpeeled, cored, and diced
  • 1 cup green grapes, seedless
  • 1 cup red grapes, seedless
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 2 cups cantaloupe, balled
  • 2 cups honeydew melon, balled
  • 2 cups pineapple, cut up
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • Lemon juice
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Toss with lemon juice until fruit is lightly coated. Serves 6.

Preparation Time: 15 to 20 minutes, but it depends how good a chopper you are!

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total
187 2 g 6 g 48 g < 1 g

Monday: Chocolate Avocado Mousse

Chocolate is full of great antioxidants and actually pretty healthy in its unadulterated state. It's when we add cream, butter, and sugar that it starts to get unhealthy. It may not sound intuitive to mix avocado with chocolate, but avocado provides a delicious creamy texture, without all the saturated fat of regular cream. An avocado's flavor is usually mild enough that you won't even taste it when you mix it with chocolate, and you get all those heart-smart unsaturated fats, plus the antioxidants in the chocolate.
  • 2 oz. dark unsweetened chocolate (70% to 85% cacao solids)
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp. agave nectar (or maple syrup)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Microwave chocolate in a large mixing bowl until it's melted. Add remaining ingredients and mix until smooth. For best results, use a hand mixer or food processor. Serves 2.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total
395 5 g 11 g 39 g 27 g

Tuesday: Apple Crisp

What's as American as apple pie? Well, obesity for starters. Apples are certainly healthy, and apple pie flavorings like cinnamon are also healthy. In fact, some studies have shown that cinnamon may help stabilize blood sugar levels and may even lower blood cholesterol levels. However, once you mix it all up in a shortening-laden crust with a cup or two of sugar, most health benefits go right out the window. Try this easy-to-make recipe for apple pie flavor without the fat. For extra fiber, don't peel the apples. You can also experiment with other favorite fruits like peaches or blueberries; use them as substitutes for or in addition to the apples.
  • 1. 4 cups apples, peeled and sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. flour, whole wheat (or soy flour)
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, organic grass-fed, if available
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium baking dish, combine apples, maple syrup, and 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon. In a separate mixing bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Top mixture in baking dish with mixture from bowl. Bake for about 30 minutes or until apples are soft. Serves 4.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total
200 3 g 3 g 31 g 6 g

Wednesday: Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

You don't have to shell out the big bucks at Godiva® to make it a romantic evening with your sweetie. All you need is a microwave (or a double boiler), some dark chocolate (70% to 85% cacao solids), some strawberries, and some love. And if there's a better way to show your love than with these two great sources of antioxidants, I'd like to hear it. In fact, if you're single, this is a much better way to love yourself than with that pint of Ben & Jerry's® (4 servings . . . ha!).
  • 1 dark chocolate bar (3 oz.), 70% to 85% cacao solids
  • 1 pint large strawberries (about a dozen)
Microwave chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl or melt it in a double boiler on the stove. Holding the strawberry by the stem, dip it in the melted chocolate until it's lightly coated. Set the strawberry aside on a plate or wax paper to cool. The strawberries are ready to eat when the chocolate hardens (or if you can't wait, dip and eat and call it chocolate fondue!). Serves 2.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total
360 5 g 9 g 36 g 22 g

Thursday: Black Bean Brownies

Well, if you didn't stop reading this article after the Chocolate Avocado Mousse recipe, you may be adventurous enough to try this recipe. This is super-easy to make and very delicious. For Christmas one year, my mother found a box of brownie mix of indeterminate origin in her pantry, and we decided to experiment with something we saw on one of the morning shows. Basically, instead of adding eggs and oil to the mix as directed on the box, you food-process a can of black beans (unseasoned, of course) and 1/4 cup of water. Add the mix and bake according to the directions on the box, and voilà, delicious chewy brownies with more fiber than fat. In fact, we even served them to my finicky nephews, who declared them edible, until my mom revealed the secret ingredient and ruined Christmas.
  • 1 15-oz. can unseasoned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 package brownie mix (12 to 14 oz.—we recommend a healthy one with whole-grain ingredients)
Puree beans and water in food processor or blender. Add beans to brownie mix and bake according to package instructions. Don't add any other ingredients. Serves 16.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes plus baking time

Nutritional Information (per serving; varies depending on brownie mix used):
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total
80 5 g 2 g 8 g 3 g

Friday: Fruit Kabobs

As fans of Strangers with Candy know, nothing makes a party like hot fruit! Grilling or broiling fruit can make the fruit taste sweeter—without adding sugar. It's easy to prepare and makes for a dramatic presentation. You can experiment with different kinds of fruit, but the best ones are the ones that are a little firm and juicy, like pineapples, apples, and pears, or stone fruits, like peaches, nectarines, plums, and mangoes. You can serve the kabobs with a spiced yogurt dipping sauce or just a sprinkle of cinnamon.
  • 1/2 pineapple
  • 2 mangoes
  • 3 nectarines
  • 3 peaches
  • 3 pears
  • 2 apples
Cut all fruit into chunks and thread onto water-soaked bamboo skewers. On a hot grill or under the broiler, cook kabobs for about 5 to 7 minutes, turning them often and being careful not to burn them.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes (not counting chopping time)

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total
226 2 g 9 g 59 g < 1 g

Saturday: Chocolate Shakeology® Pie

So we've seen some pretty healthy desserts, but could dessert be the Healthiest Meal of the Day®? If it's made with Shakeology, it could be. The Team Beachbody® Message Boards are full of great recipe ideas. This one was found by juliefit, a Beachbody® Coach. No one knows where the original recipe came from, but it tastes delicious. And in addition to the more than 70 healthy ingredients in Shakeology, the tofu gives you a protein punch.
  • 1-1/2 scoops Chocolate Shakeology
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened peanut butter
  • 1 container silken tofu (12 oz.)
  • 2 Tbsp. soy milk
  • 2 Tbsp. agave nectar (or maple syrup)
  • 1 whole-grain graham cracker pie crust
Blend or food-process peanut butter, tofu, Shakeology, soy milk, and agave nectar until smooth and creamy, adding more soy milk if necessary. Pour into pie crust and refrigerate until firm (about 1 hour). Serves 6.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes, plus 60 minutes refrigeration time

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total
307 13 g 3 g 19 g 17 g

Of course, you should feel free to eat any of these desserts any day of the week. And repeat your favorites. Most of these can be integrated into your favorite Beachbody meal plan. If you missed parts one through four of the series, see the Related Articles section below. Bon appétit!