5 Steps Toward Healthy Sweets Success

“Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.”  — Erma Bombeck

Seizing every opportunity to dive into dessert isn’t always ideal, particularly if you struggle with poor body image, portion control, intense cravings or diabetes. But I value Bombeck’s point. Sugary sweets, while unnecessary from a nutritional standpoint, fit well within an overall healthy diet. And depriving ourselves can have serious negative consequences.

If you already have a super fabulous healthy relationship with food and your body, feel free to skip down to the chocolate cake recipe. If not, please hang with me as we explore healthy ways to satisfy our sweet teeth—strategies I consider delicious win-wins. 😉

Five Steps Toward Healthy SWEETS Success

1. Get rid of the guilt. Feeling guilty over indulging takes pleasure out of the experience and makes way for overeating, increased food cravings and weight gain—the very factors behind those shameful feelings. Allowing ourselves modest amounts of sweets, or other purely-for-pleasure food, can have the opposite effects. So have your cake and savor it, too. 😉

2. Eat more whole foods overall. Eating more whole foods, like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, fish and legumes, helps keep our nutritional wellness, overall health and appetites in check. You’ll hopefully feel less guilty when you do indulge and can rest assured that those treats are unlikely to cause harm.

3. Please your eye, not just your tummy. Which looks more appealing to you?

Mini fruity ice cream sundae

Over-sized ice cream a la cardboard

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4. Eat mindfully. We get the most taste and pleasure out of the first few bites, so take your time—with those especially. Sit down to eat in a pleasant atmosphere* with few distractions (yes, even your cell phone). Observe the colors, flavors, textures and aromas. And take…your…time. Mindful eating promotes improved digestion, moods and weight control. *If you struggle with overeating, purchase single-size portions.

5. Seek healthy ways to prepare your favorites. I seldom make desserts without nutritious ingredients, so many conventional sweets now seem dry, heavy or flavorless. Add fresh or frozen fruit to ice cream, brownies and pies, and dried fruit and oats to cookies. Replace eggs or butter in sweet breads and muffins with apple sauce, pureed pumpkin or mashed banana, then cut back on the sugar. You can also replace butter with canola or olive oil, and white flours with whole grain. Get creative! (I know y’all can. ;))

Via last week’s bodacious blogger post, the cake honoring Kourtney Heinz won hands down. As promised, here is the recipe.

Flourless Chocolate Cake
This decadent torte is scrumptious, filling, simple to make and lots healthier than typical flourless choco-creations. For a lighter batch, swap out the butter/oil for 1/2 cup mashed banana. For more fiber, replace butter/oil with 1/2 cup pureed avocado, and load on the berries.

Ingredients:
4 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate
3 eggs
3/4 cup honey or agave
1/2 cup butter with olive oil
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon or 1 tbsp espresso powder (optional)
Fresh berries and mint leaves (optional)

Directions:
Grease a round or square 8” pan with oil or butter. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Melt the baking chocolate and butter/oil on your stovetop over low to medium heat, stirring until smooth. Set it aside.

Combine remaining ingredients in a medium-size bowl, then add the melted chocolate. Whisk by hand or with an electric mixer until well-blended. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the center seems firm. After it cools, serve cake in small slices, topped with fresh berries. Add mint for a pretty, fresh-smelling garnish. Bon appetit!

Do you have a positive relationship with sweets? Or are they vicious villains, in your book? 😉 Any questions or tips to add? I LOVE hearing your thoughts.