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Healthy Desserts That Won’t Break the Diet Bank

Everything in moderation.
People often stress that they ‘aren’t allowed’ to eat desserts or sweets on their diet plan. I’m personally a believer that if you tell yourself not to think about something, you’re going to think about it, and psychology has repeatedly shown this to be true. “Things we sweep under the rug fill our minds while we dream,” says Daniel Wegner, lead researcher and professor of psychology at Harvard University. No cupcakes = you want a cupcake… and end up eating a whole tray of them. So what I’m saying is, yes, you can have dessert even when you’re on a diet. But dessert doesn’t have to mean a 1,000-calorie something that is super rich or slathered in icing. You can have your cake and eat it too! We promise.

We’ve compiled some better dessert options that aren’t going to leave you feeling guilty but will still satisfy your sweet tooth, with the help of Dr. Tammy Wagner, PhD, RD, CSSD.

Fat Free Fruit Sorbet

Just in time for the warm weather, a sorbet is refreshing, light, and a great replacement for ice cream.  You can easily mix and match fruit combinations to create your signature dish, like mango and strawberries. Sorbet is a fantastic way to get another serving of fruit in your diet. “Since sorbet is typically sweetened with fruit juice rather than sugar, nutrients are added without the calories” says Dr. Wagner a registered dietitian.  To make your own, try the link provided (I suggest trying it without the added sugar).

Roughly 130 calories for 1 cup serving
From the Grocery: Cascadian Farm Tropical Sorbet (roughly 190 calories)
Chocolate Chip Chickpea Cookies
Before you skip this one, seriously, these are delicious. A girl from my university made them for our bake sale and they were the first item to sell out. The cookies taste just like regular chocolate chip cookies, but moister and more savory. Dr. Wagner agrees that not only are they delectable, they provide some nutrition benefits. “The chickpeas give the cookies a heartier flavor with complex carbohydrates and some protein. Additionally, they are a good alternative for diabetics because they are lower on the glycemic index compared to regular chocolate chip cookies.” If you are a fan of moist cookies, you have to try them!
169 calories for 1 large cookie

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a cookie sheet with baking spray.
Beat sugar and margarine until smooth.
Beat in egg whites and vanilla, then add chickpeas and chocolate chips. Add flour, oats, baking soda and salt.
Drop by tablespoonful onto baking sheet.
Bake 11 to 13 min, until golden brown.
Baked Apples and Brown Sugar and Cinnamon
Craving apple pie? Try this instead. Dr. Wagner notes that baked apples are “naturally tasty with cinnamon. Also, baking the product is a healthier cooking alternative than other methods.” Apples are a good source of fiber, as well as contain many vitamins and minerals. Because of the fiber, this dessert is also going to be more filling than others, which will keep you sated longer.
138 calories per apple
Mini Meringues
If you have a sweet tooth, meringues are definitely for you. Light and crisp, this dessert consists basically of egg whites, sugar, and air (and you can add food coloring to make them pink!). The egg whites, Dr. Wagner tells us, “are a good quality protein” and the dessert as a whole is low-fat.
13 calories per small meringue


Dr. Tammy Wagner PhD, RD, CSSD
Professor of nutrition, James Madison University
The Eating Well Difference, Eating Well Nutrition and Recipe Guidelines
Fat Free Fruit Sorbet

Chocolate Chip Chickpea Cookies

Baked Apples

Mini Meringues

Unwanted Thoughts, Psychology Today

Carlene Helble is a senior dietetics major and family studies minor at James Madison University. She is the '10-'11 President of JMU's student dietetics association and the school's student council liaison to the American Dietetics Association. Carlene is also the weekend food blogger for All Access Internships and writes for Balanced Health and Nutrition, the Elite Nutrition blog. Originally from Loudoun County, Virginia, she has a passion for cooking (especially French Macarons), entertaining, pilates, and enjoying the beautiful outdoors. Classic fashions are her favorite and she never goes anywhere without a monogram. After graduation Carlene hopes to obtain a spot in a dietetic internship to learn more about clinical dietetics, pediatrics, and continue writing about food.
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