Bid farewell to deprivation diets and say hello to lightened up versions of favorite comfort food desserts. With these delicious recipes in your arsenal, you'll be able to enjoy the occasional indulgence with a clean conscience.
EatSmarter! makes use of simple swaps such as these to make better-for-you updates of popular comfort foods. You can use the same approach to make healthier versions of your own favorite dessert recipes, too.
|SWAP THIS||WITH THAT|
|butter||neutral-tasting oils (canola or safflower), olive oil or nut oils (walnut or hazelnut)|
|oil||applesauce, canned pumpkin or mashed banana (usually in combination with yogurt or buttermilk)|
|white flour||whole-wheat flour, spelt flour, oat flour, nut flours (almond or hazelnut) or a combination|
|white sugar||brown sugar, molasses, maple syrup or honey|
|heavy cream||milk or non-dairy creamers|
|sour cream or creme fraiche||yogurt or buttermilk|
|milk chocolate||dark chocolate|
EatSmarter! Top 10 Comfort Food Dessert Updates
1. Chocolate Chip Cookies
Dark chocolate brings less sugar and more antioxidants than semi-sweet chocolate chips, while whole-wheat pastry flour has more fiber and nutrients than white flour. Brown sugar replaces some of the white sugar, too.
Replace butter with unsweetened applesauce, almond milk and coconut oil and white sugar with maple syrup for better-for-you brownies. These also happen to be vegan, but you could swap in dark-chocolate chips for the vegan chips if desired.
3. Chocolate Pudding
Use dark chocolate (the darker the better) and low-fat or even skim milk; a single egg provides enough richness for the whole batch.
4. Cheesecake Bars
The filling for these rich and creamy bars is lightened with reduced-fat sour cream, which replaces some of the cream cheese (use reduced-fat cream cheese to shave off even more fat and calories). The simple crust is made with whole-meal cookies and no added sugar, unlike in classic recipes.
5. Apple Pie
This version of apple pie has a yeasted dough base that puffs up around the apples in the oven (no rolling required!). The dough has far less butter than traditional pie doughs and soaks up the juices from the apples for a luscious result. Best served warm from the oven, with a drizzle of your favorite creamer.
6. Fig Muffins
These wholesome treats have zero white flour, sugar or butter. Instead, they are made with whole-wheat flour, almond flour and toasted wheat germ, sunflower oil, and honey. Grated carrots and chopped figs add more sweetness and moistness, while buttermilk makes them wonderfully tender (and moist). Opt for plain low-fat yogurt for the topping and these are healthy enough for breakfast or an afternoon snack, or even a no-guilt dessert.
7. Strawberry Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Think of these as strawberries and cream in cupcake form. The tender cupcakes are sweetened with brown sugar and made moist with buttermilk and vegetable oil. Fresh strawberries also are pureed and mixed into the batter, for flavor as well as added moistness. The classic cream-cheese frosting uses just 1 tablespoon of sugar for the whole batch.
8. Rice Pudding
While usually heartily sweetened and enriched with butter, this lightened rice pudding has a mere 1/2 teaspoon butter and just 2 tablespoons brown sugar (a better option than white sugar) in four servings. Use low-fat or skim milk instead of whole milk and you can enjoy this comforting bowl of goodness any time of day.
9. Carrot Cake
Whole-wheat flour, brown sugar, and olive oil combine in a healthier version of carrot cake, which of course also includes plenty of nutritious carrots and nuts. This recipe skips the usual frosting, but you could dollop each slice with yogurt or creme fraiche for creamy contrast.
10. Ice Cream Sandwiches
Making these yourself means you can make the cookies extra-healthy, and these oatmeal-raisin cookies fit the bill. Steel-cut oats and whole-wheat flour are combined with brown sugar and chopped hazelnuts in the dough, and the cookies bake up chewy and delicious. They're great on their own, but even better sandwiched with frozen yogurt.