It’s that time of year again – crisp mornings, cool nights, leaves changing and the holidays looming. But, before you bust out the pecan pie a la mode, let’s take this opportunity to uncover some ways for having your pie and eating it too. First, even that slice of pie has a place as part of a balanced diet – it’s about being aware of when you’re indulging and compensating elsewhere. Second, don’t forget portion control. This really is your fail safe from over-doing it. Having said that, let’s get with the good stuff: guiltless desserts for now!
Fall offers us many naturally sweet treats like apples, citrus fruits, and pears that can be a dessert by themselves. Doing a little hokus-pokus in the kitchen can transform these into decadent but guiltless desserts. Full disclosure – I’m not one for measuring or using fancy gadgets in the kitchen. So make sure you taste as you go and add your own twist to my favorite fall delights.
By themselves, apples live up to the hype of an all around healthy treat, coming in under 100 calories and packed with nutrients and fiber. Transform these fall favorites with dried fruit and heart healthy nuts for the ultimate apple indulgence:
Here’s how: Start with 4 apples, cores removed. I prefer the tart Granny Smith variety but use your favorite, keeping in mind they need to stand up to the oven heat. Mix ¼ cup of chopped dried fruit with ¼ cup chopped walnuts and a dash of cinnamon. Use whatever dried fruits you like, but I think dried cranberries pair perfectly to round out the fall flavors. Place the apples in a banking pan and stuff the core with the fruit and nut mixture. Pour over top 1 cup (half orange juice and half apple juice) and then drizzle with maple syrup. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until the apples are soft and the juices have thickened. These are best served warm with some frozen yogurt on the side.
It is true these are not coming from a fresh market or the produce aisles of your local grocery store, but even these campfire favorites have a place in the guiltless arena. Why? Because these are portion controlled. One s’more will only set you back about 100 calories and offers enough sweet to satisfy a craving. Since we don’t always have a campfire at the ready, I use the next best thing: My oven.
How: Split one graham cracker sheet in half. Place one half on a baking sheet. Layer 1 square of dark chocolate and 1 marshmallow. Place under the broiler until the marshmallow begins to brown. Remove them and place the other half graham cracker on top and enjoy immediately.
I’m a huge crème brulee fan and always searching for something with that crunchy texture as part of a guiltless dessert. The grapefruit version is surprisingly satisfying and can even double as a breakfast – so you don’t have to wait to enjoy it!
It’s easy: Cut in half a pink or white grapefruit. Take out the seeds and loosen the segments with a pairing knife. Sprinkle the top with 1 tablespoon coarse sugar. Put the grapefruit halves under the broiler or if you’ve got one, use the blow-torch. Once the sugar starts to sizzle – you’re done and can enjoy the brulee crunch.
Guest blogger Hillary Monroe, MS RD is a Registered Dietitian in Boston, MA and writer for Everyday Health Calorie Counter.