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Kristen Dearborn makes blueberry dark chocolate pancakes using whole grain pancake mix. Kristen Dearborn, special to Record-Journal

HEALTHY LIVING: 5 tips for making healthier dessert choices

HEALTHY LIVING: 5 tips for making healthier dessert choices

HEALTHY LIVING: 5 tips for making healthier dessert choices

Foregoing sweet treats altogether when trying to make progress towards a fitness goal is unrealistic. However, foods that are high in carbs, fats, and sugars should be consumed in moderation.

Often times, our desire to eat sweet foods can be satiated with small portions. Desserts can also be made more nutritionally dense by swapping processed sugary foods for options filled with vital nutrients.

1. Eat slowly

Instead of eating less of your dinner to fit more dessert in, eat your meal until you are satisfied. After you finish your dinner, wait at least a half hour before diving into dessert.

Once time has passed, allowing your stomach to signal to your brain that you are becoming full, you will feel less desire to overeat dessert foods.

This method also allows you to practice portion control by paying attention to your body’s satiety cues which let you know it’s time to stop eating.

2. Incorporate protein

Protein is very filling and helps to reduce the hunger-hormone, ghrelin.

Incorporate protein-rich dairy into your dessert by choosing cottage cheese or yogurt over pastries.

Swapping traditional baking powders for whole grain options is another way to enhance the nutrient value of sweet treats.

The food brand Kodiak Cakes uses whole grains in their baking mixes. These mixes are also high in protein and can be used to bake pancakes, waffles, brownies, and other delicious desserts.

3. High fiber fruits

Fruits are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

There is evidence to support that fiber slows the rate at which sugar is released in the body, thus lowering insulin and blood sugar levels.

While fruits contain a fair amount of sugar, their high-fiber content aids in digestive processes and makes you feel fuller.

Guava, mango, raspberries, and apples are all high-fiber fruits that can be added to yogurt or consumed alone to satisfy your sweet tooth.

4. Milk substitutes

Milk substitutes can be used to make tasty desserts. Almond, oat, soy, and macadamia milks are popular dairy-free options for cereals and smoothies.

Not all of these options are created equally. Macadamia and oat milks are typically higher in carbohydrates than almond and soy milks.

However, their higher carb and fat ratios make them thicker and more filling. Adding a dash of cocoa powder or cinnamon can turn these flavorful drinks into nutrient fortified desserts.

Be sure to inspect the nutrition labels and ingredient lists of the milk substitutes that you choose for added sugar and artificial ingredients.

5. Chocolates

Dark chocolate is known for its deliciously bitter-sweet taste and its numerous health benefits.

Unlike milk chocolate, dark chocolate does not contain dairy. It also has more cocoa than its milk chocolate counterpart.

White chocolate, which is made from cocoa butter, milk, and sugar, does not possess the same benefits as dark chocolate because it lacks the cocoa solids that give dark chocolate its deep brown coloring and rich taste.

Dark chocolate is full of free radical fighting antioxidants and may even help to improve blood flow throughout the body.

Although the health benefits of dark chocolate are well-known, it should only be consumed in moderation in order to help support a healthy lifestyle.