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Looking for healthy desserts that are tasty

Any recommendations for healthy cookies,cakes..etc? I love sweets but have found "healthy" versions to be either not too tasty or not really healthy because they're often loaded with butter and/or sugar. My 2yr old and 7yr old won't eat the stuff I bring home.

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  1. Here's my fix... Fat free cottage cheese, mixed with splenda, cinnamon and vanilla, then mix in a little cooked brown rice or my preference, barley, and nuke it all in the micro til it gets a bit gooey. Instant rice/barley pudding.

    Granita or sorbet w/ sweetener. Using my juicer, I'll process through frozen fruits, and sweeten the puree if desired.

    Bake apples; involve the kids as you core out the middle and stuff w/ whatever you desire. Pears are good too.

    Grilled fruit can be fun too.

    I was on a kick for a while w/ plain yogurt sweetened w/ splenda and topped w/ cinnamon unsweetened applesauce.

    I take La Tortilla Factory whole wheat tortillas, sprinkle with water, then sprinkle with cinnamon and splenda blended; sometimes I bake them to crisp whole, or slice into chips to bake and crisp.

    Zen Bakery makes great cinnamon buns that I top with my own homemade FF cream cheese frosting (FF cream cheese, splenda, vanilla, and a little Smart Balance).

    You can also make pudding using tofu and unsweetened cocoa powder.

    I make crepes using egg whites only--just spread thin in a Pam-sprayed pan, let firm and flip. I fill them w/ sweetened FF cottage cheese, secure with toothpicks and reheat and brown in the pan; then I serve w/ sugar free or low sugar preserves from TJ's.

    One other thing I do is make pancakes from oatmeal and egg whites, and serve w/ sugar free maple syrup. A satisfying dessert or breakfast really.

    Pavlova can be done w/ artificial sweeteners if desired.

    Personally, I find it difficult to make cakes and cookies b/c the artificial sweeteners don't hold up well under baking. However, mashed bananas can be a great substitute for sweetness in muffins/cupcakes, and applesauce or prune puree makes a great sub for fat in similar recipes.

    Sorry for the incessant rambling!

    6 Replies
    1. re: Emme

      Great post. Here's a one alternative for the yogurt since I'm not a fan of artificial sweetenters and I'd be worried about using them for children that young. For the yogurt, instead mix in fruit-juice sweetened sugar-free jam. Or even better fresh fruit mixed in to plain yogurt. You could add a little sugar to their taste, at least it isn't overloaded with sugar like the flavored yogurts.

      I have been into making my own jello that is easier than the junk in the box and SO much better. Use any 100 percent juice ... I used a cherry apple mix recently ... 2 cups juice ... 1 package gelatin ... put one cup of juice in a heat-proof bowl and sprinkle with gelatin ... bring other cup to a boil ... add to gelatin mixture ... cool (about 2 hrs) ... serve.

      Nice to mix in fruit too. Strawberries are great ... canned peaches ... a can of crushed pineapple makes a mouth watering jello. If you use fruit, add it to liquid to be boiled..

      This can also be frozen for healthy popsicles ... and they taste good.

      1. re: Emme

        Thanks for these tis. I'm definitely going to try some of these. I have a few questions...

        What are the proportions for the cottage cheese and brown rice, 1:1 or a just a bit of brown rice?

        For the crepes, you use egg white mixed together with crepe flour or just the egg whites?

        1. re: Jacey

          For the pudding, I do a cup of FF cottage cheese, and then I add somewhere between 1/2 and 2/3 cup of barley or brown rice. It really depends when I'm eating it, and how much carbs I'm wanting/needing to digest. Honestly, for me, rice pudding is less about the actual rice than about the flavor of the goo, so a little rice/barley for textural contrast goes a long way.

          For the crepes, I literally just beat egg whites for twenty seconds til frothy, then pour a little in a Pam-sprayed pan, and tilt the pan to spread out. I let it set then flip to brown the other side briefly. I let them rest while I cook the others. Then, I mix up my filling, warm a little in the micro, fill the crepes, secure with toothpicks, return to pan to brown for a few, then serve w/ a little low-sugar jam.

          1. re: Emme

            Not to nitpick, but it seems like your "crepes" are actually omelettes. They're great (I eat them too), but they won't fulfill a crepe craving.

            1. re: piccola

              nitpick away, they fill my craving when pinned up in crepe shapes, made thin thin like crepes and stuffed with cottage cheese and/or ricotta sweetened...

              1. re: Emme

                than that's all that matters :)

      2. Try a Clif Bar. The Chocolate Chip variety is (almost) just like a regular chocolate chip cookie.

        And it's 70% organic, with no HFCS.


        1. Sugar is not inherently unhealthy. A little sugar isn't going to hurt your kids -- it's the overconsumption of sugary foods (and foods with HFCS) that's "unhealthy" plus eating "fake" foods with artificial ingredients and additives.

          When I was a kid dessert was not a regular part of our dinner menu. Most nights, the answer to "what's for dessert" was "have a piece of fruit."

          If you're family is dead set on dessert, try something like a yogurt parfait: good quality (no additives) low fat or fat free yogurt swirled with some jam/preserves/fruit spread or honey and layered with fresh or frozen fruit.

          Frozen yogurt is another option. I've recently become addicted to Dreyer's Slow Churned Frozen Yogurt blends -- the chocolate and vanilla swirl. Not as pure as I'd like, but nothing awful in it, either.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            I second Ruth's suggestions. Fruit is the best healthy dessert, and it goes really well with yogurt. But a little cake or a cookie or two now and again won't hurt anyone. The vast majority of the cakes eaten in our house are those I make myself. At least that way, I know what's in them. The trick is to eat reasonably and not overindulge every day.

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              Good idea, but for kids 2 and 7, assuming no weight issues, I would personally serve a full-fat yoghurt. I think for babies under 2 all dairy is supposed to be at least 4% fat. Still a lot less fat than a cookie.

            2. Grilled pineapple is great - with a little smidge of nutella or other chocolate sauce on a special occasion!

              Many quickbreads can be made healthy by using applesauce instead of oil - you could make pumpkin bread, banana bread, or carrot cake like that.

              As far as store-bought (or homemade) cookies, maybe merengues? They are sugary, sure, but very low in fat and a little goes a long way. I also like low-fat vanilla wafers, but then I am 27, not 7. I probably would have found them a little disappointing 20 years ago.

              1. Not too sure on the cookies - they usually need the butter for texture. But there are other options...

                I like to doctor up ww bread dough. You can use it to make cinnamon rolls (use cooking spray, cinnamon and sugar/Splenda for the filling); sweet empanadas (fill with sweetened ff cottage cheese, or ff cream cheese and all-fruit apple butter, then bake); fruit focaccia (add raisins and nuts, top with coarse sugar).

                One of my fave healthy desserts is sliced fruit dunked in "chocolate pudding" - Fage 0% mixed with cocoa powder and Splenda.

                1. I make regular desserts using a few basic substitutions. For instance, I made banana bread recently with whole wheat pastry flour, oil as the fat, and 75% of the recommended sugar. But here's the key: IT STILL CONTAINS FAT AND SUGAR. So it tastes delicious. And it's also full of things that are good for you. It's still dessert though, so we just eat it occasionally in small portions.

                  Not to start a fight, but I don't believe that removing fat and sugar automatically makes things healthier, particularly when you replace them with gums, stabilizers, and other lab foods. In fact, I think the opposite is true.

                  1. I have a terrible sweet tooth too, and find a lot of the reduced fat/faux sweetener options unappealing. One thing I've been working on is portion control. I've been buying things like ice cream bites -- Dove and some other companies make them. My willpower is not great if confronted with a tub of ice cream, but I can eat just one fudgsicle, or just one 90 calorie ice cream Snickers bar (boy are those good).

                    On the homemade front, what about cornstarch pudding made with skim milk? Yes it has sugar (at least you can control the amount) and some recipes have a little butter, but it's pretty healthy.

                    1. As some others have already said, if you want to go in a truly healthy direction with your kids' desserts, then you should be thinking outside of the box--the cookie box, that is.

                      In my opinion, it would be hard to come up with a healthier dessert than a dish of blueberries topped with a bit of yogurt. If necessary, the yogurt could be sweetened with a bit of sugar, or honey, or Splenda (generally considered to be as safe as an artificial sweetener can be, but this is still a controversial topic!). In fact, you might want to use some Stonyfield Non-fat or Low-fat Vanilla Yogurt as a topping. It tastes really great, and Stonyfield is an excellent brand.

                      For a good source of the berries, Costco has frozen Maine blueberries that are much cheaper than fresh ones, and sometimes they have a frozen mixed-berry blend also.

                      Berries topped with yogurt would have to be the healthiest dessert possible, IMHO.

                      1. If you are willing to use artificial sweetener, I'm finding Jello No Fat/No Sugar instant pudding to be my best friend. You can mix it with two cans of no-sugar-added fruit cocktail (*with* their juice, don't drain), cut up bananas and apples, and some chopped nuts for a creamy fruit salad.

                        Or line a pan with ground graham crackers, mix vanilla pudding mix, 2 c milk (beat for about 2 minutes), fold in 1 small container coolwhip (low fat, ff, or no sugar), and 1 t vanilla, top crumb crust with pudding mix, put on another layer of crumb crust and drizzle top with chocolate syrup. Voila - eclairs.

                        Do the above, but with chocolate ff/sf pudding mix for a chocolate pie. Or layer chocolate over vanilla for Boston Cream Pie.

                        Or line a pan with crushed vanilla wafer crumbs. Top with strawberries sprinkled with sweetener, mix cheesecake flavor pudding mix with 24oz (1-1/2 containers) non-fat sour cream, 1/3 cup confectioners sugar or Splenda, and 1/4 c mlk. Pour over strawberries. Instant "fake" cheesecake pie.

                        And on and on. Most recipes for instant pudding mix also involve cool whip.

                        1. I think that for 2 & 7 year olds, the gelatin and pudding folks are probably on the right track. If you don't like the artificial colors of Jell-O brand, you can always just buy some high-grade gelatin at the market, and mix it with an unsweetened or lightly sweetened juice (If you have a Trader Joes handy, they have many). Serve with slice fruit and lightly sweetened whipped cream (make this yourself, so you can control the amount of sugar).

                          As your kids get a bit older, I would suggest strawberries / bananas / papaya / pineapple / whatever dipped in melted high-quality bittersweet chocolate, berries in cream, Figs w/ honey (and marscarpone, for a splurge!), cups of hot chocolate (not cocoa, but chocolate) with madeleins for cold days, and... best of all... anything your children are willing to bake for you and themselves from scratch (no boxes or mixes). Make sure they do the work and the clean-up, and the effort involved will let them have basically anything they want, but not often enough to be a problem... and will gift them with the skill of baking from an early age.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Booklegger451

                            Fat Free Vanilla Frozen Yogurt (Publix Premium brand tastes better than some ice creams i've had) with cut up banannas and strawberries

                            1. re: fabreeze

                              Try this website for the "world's healthiest foods."

                              I've made the apple tart and the blueberry and peach crisp. Both were sweetened with dates and apple juice, and were wonderful.


                          2. I'm trying to get my kids (in their teens) to eat healthier too. I've been using the Southaven Farm baking mixes for muffins and pancakes but some of their products can be made into cakes too. You can use sugar or art. sweetener but there is no fat in them. You might want to take a look: www.southavenfarm.com Even though they're "healthy" (whole grain), my kids are really enjoying them. I add some Sunspire chocolate chips to anything, and they're happy! Hope that helps with another option.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: chaddick

                              Thanks for the link, Chaddick... I'm going to check them out!

                            2. Hi dianes50,

                              One of my favorites from the South Beach Boards is to blend low fat ricotta until it's creamy and add either splenda and cocoa, or any of the sugar free jello mixes with ice cubes and you get an amazing "milk shake" that doesn't taste sugar free or low fat. And if you toss it in the freezer you have some great "ice cream" in about an hour!

                              1. Some great ideas here, but I confess I'm always looking for desserts that are similar to what I love (like a banana cream pie, cheesecake, etc.), only downsized in the fat & calories. I've been watching Ellie Krieger's Healthy Appetites on Food Network and she has lots of healthier versions of comfort desserts that are easy to make and quite delicious. Lots of fruity, chocolate, muffin, & pudding desserts. I can vouch for the banana cream pie & raspberry ricotta cheesecake. She takes many tradional desserts and lightens them up. Plus she's a nutritionist, so she tells you what healthy vitamins, etc., are in the recipes. I find all of her recipes to be quite tasty and full of flavor. To quickly find recipes, go to foodnetwork.com, search ellie krieger dessert recipes and about 20 of them will pop up.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: bosloft

                                  Puddings are really easy to lighten up: you just use lower-fat milk (or skim) and thicken with corn starch and/or egg whites. For chocolate, use cocoa powder (or instant hot choc mix for extra calcium). You can use sugar substitutes if you want, too, but it's not necessary.

                                2. Dou hua, aka tofu flower - essentially a very delicate bean curd/tofu, typically served in a syrup that is sometimes flavoured with ginger.

                                  1. A little butter or oil is not unhealthy but moderation is key and I always use good oils, mainly olive oil. I would also make sure not to use artificial sweeteners and other such things especially while your kids are so young. I understand that you don't want your kids jumping off the walls from a sugar high, but perhaps you could look into using agave nectar? It's a natural sweetener that is absorbed slower into your blood stream, making it suitable for people with diabetes. Agave Nectar actually tastes really great, sort of like a combination of honey and maple syrup and it's sweeter than sugar so you use less.

                                    I have been using this website for good, healthy treats that use whole grain flours. I often substitute agave nectar for honey and they have turned out great.


                                    Hope this helps!