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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Sweets get svelte!

Often, one of the first things to get axed when you're trying to lose weight is dessert. Most typical desserts are loaded with sugar, calories and fat. A modest piece of cheesecake comes in around 500 calories at the least! That's enough to sabotage any attempt at cutting calories and fat. And of course when I try to give something up for the sake of watching my weight, it's always what I crave the most. Sound familiar?

Don't despair! Quick, easy, and impressive enough for a dinner party, these svelte desserts will satisfy your sweet tooth without the guilt. Even better, I bet you have most of the ingredients in your house already! We're just going to re-purpose them.

1. Grilled fruit. I know it doesn't sound all that exciting, but wait until you try it! I find that peaches or nectarines, pears (not overly ripe) and pineapple work wonderfully for this. You could certainly grill your fruit on an outdoor grill, but I like to use something that catches the wonderful juices that are released from the fruit. A ridged grill pan on the stove top or even the bottom plate of my panini press are great. Simply heat the grill pan and place slices of fruit around the pan. In a couple minutes, the natural sugars in the fruit will be released and start to caramelize, leaving gorgeous grill marks on each slice. You should only have to flip them once. This process turns ordinary fruit into a sweet, gourmet treat. The grilled fruit is great by itself, or served over vanilla lowfat frozen yogurt. Use the released juice to drizzle over the top. Delicious, fancy and svelte!

2. The Svelte Gourmet Parfait. I'm calling this a parfait because the word means "perfect" -- and to me, this dessert is! It takes a bit of planning, since the bananas need to be frozen, but it is so simple, beautiful and yummy. First, slice one banana. Lay the slices in a single layer on a piece of waxed paper and freeze them for several hours or several days. The ones I used had been in the freezer for weeks, and they were great -- so if you have bananas in the house now (especially ones that are ripening too quickly), slice them up and throw them in the freezer for future use! After they're frozen, you can transfer them to a freezer bag for easier storage.

This recipe serves 2. Once the banana is frozen, simply puree it in a blender with 2 tablespoons of dark chocolate chips (or chunks of a bar) and 1/2 cup skim milk. Serve immediately. The result is a rich, thick, delicious parfait with less than 150 calories per serving! For a twist, add 1 tablespoon of peanut butter (only about 45 calories more per serving). Enjoy!

3. Honey yogurt. As you know, I use a lot of plain yogurt in my recipes. It's a great substitute for mayonnaise and sour cream. However, it can also be a sweet treat -- and without the artificial sweeteners of the store-bought low cal varieties! Drizzle plain yogurt with a couple teaspoons of honey, and add some fresh berries if you like. Yum! Even better, make your own yogurt! I've used the method described in Vintage Savoir Faire, and it works wonderfully. Try it!

4. Dessert panini! This will work with a variety of fillings, but one of my favorites is a twist on peanut butter and jelly. Simply spread a small amount of peanut butter on thin slices of whole wheat bread, layer it with slices of fresh strawberries, mist the outsides of each sandwich with cooking spray, and grill on the panini press. When it's done, sprinkle the top with a little powdered sugar to make it even prettier. Grilling the sandwich will turn your ho-hum PB&J into a sweet, gooey masterpiece. Substitute Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread) for peanut butter for something different. Just remember, go easy on either the peanut butter or Nutella -- you only need a teaspoon! Fantastic!

5. Baked apples with oat crisp. This dessert will totally satisfy your craving for apple pie or apple crisp, without the guilt! Stay tuned for the recipe in a future blog entry...

6. Frozen grapes. If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times. Freeze some grapes! Just take them off the stems, put them in freezer bags, and throw them in the freezer overnight or up to several weeks. A cup of frozen grapes only has about 65 calories, will satisfy your sweet tooth, and takes a long time to eat...trust me, eating these fast will only result in a major ice cream headache!

I hope I've given you some new ideas for svelte desserts that won't sabotage your diet. What tricks do you have for healthy sweet treats? Please share with us!

The Svelte Gourmet: A Month of Main Courses cookbook is available at www.thesveltegourmet.com/products.html. Enjoy!


Valen said...

I eat most of these things mentioned. I love frozen bananas, magic!

The Svelte Gourmet said...

I agree, they're great! In this parfait recipe, the frozen bananas take the place of ice, so you don't end up with that watery/icy texture. This would also make a very healthy breakfast or lunch! Thanks for reading!

Unknown said...

Frozen bananas are perfect to make an all natural ice cream. It's delicious!