Desserts - how to stay in control

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Friday, 07 September 2012.
Tagged: balanced diet, eating out, guides, healthy cooking, healthy eating, tips, weight loss

Desserts - how to stay in control

Do you have a sweet tooth? Love to check out the desserts on the menu before anything else? Rather than denying yourself (and binging later on), here's how you can indulge a little yet still eat light and not blow everything!

Start with fruit

With fruit as the basis of your desserts, you will always find it easy to make them low-fat. Fruit is naturally sweet, refreshes and cleanses the mouth, is full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and is low in fat. Something fruity works well after a heavy or spicy main such as a curry.

Try these:

  • Rockmelon or papaya topped with the pulp from a fresh passionfruit
  • Fruit yoghurt topped with sliced kiwi fruit or strawberries
  • Slices of oranges layered with a few cloves and topped with a splash of sweet dessert wine or orange liqueur
  • Sliced bananas baked with orange juice, cinnamon and honey
  • Pear halves poached in white wine, sugar and grated fresh ginger

    Grilled fruit

    Pineapple, nectarines, apricots and peaches all lend themselves to a super-quick dessert. It's dead simple - or I wouldn't be telling you about it! Prepare the fruit by cutting in half and removing the stone or peeling and cutting a whole pineapple. Sprinkle or coat in brown sugar and place under a preheated grill for 3-5 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Add a little ground nutmeg or fresh grated ginger before grilling if you fancy. It goes golden and yummy with a hint of caramelised sugar. Serve with low-fat ice cream or anything from the list below ....

    Low fat sides

    Swap cream or high fat premium ice cream sides with:

    • Thick vanilla yoghurt with a sprinkle of cinnamon
    • Low-fat custard
    • Greek yoghurt
    • Ricotta mixed with honey and grated lemon rind (add a spoonful or two of vanilla yoghurt if too thick)
    • Low-fat vanilla ice cream
    • Gelato - I love lemon best.

    And to finish it off, add a sponge finger biscuit, thin almond wafer or biscotti for flavour with minimum fat.

    Love pastry?

    If you crave a pastry, here are two ways to cut the kilojoules without cutting any of the satisfaction:

    1. For a fruit pie, only use one crust - the top or bottom. It not only halves the fat and kilojoules, it also saves you time.

    2. Use filo pastry (about 3g fat/100g) instead of high fat pastries, such as puff or shortcrust (about 40g fat/100g), to encase apples or apricots in crisp, paper-thin layers. Before baking lightly brush pastry with canola oil (or use a spray) or orange juice.

    You can't beat berries

    Berry-dessertBerries make the most sensational end to any meal and have one of the lowest kilojoule counts of all fruit. At around 250 kilojoules (60 Calories) for a 200g punnet, you can afford to have a big helping of blueberries, strawberries, raspberries or blackberries.

    And when they are out of season, simply buy them frozen from your supermarket.

    • Sprinkle berries with caster sugar and balsamic vinegar or soak in orange juice and sugar that has been warmed in the microwave.
    • For a fast and simple dessert, puree strawberries or raspberries with orange liqueur or orange juice, then pour puree over ½ cup berry or vanilla yoghurt. Sprinkle with a few whole berries to serve.

    Dessert control when dining out

    As a general guide, when you're eating out, follow these tips for dessert:

    • Have a small portion - three mouthfuls is enough to satisfy and give you a decent taste without overloading yourself.
    • Share a dessert between two people.
    • Eat half and ask for the leftover packed to take home with you. 
    • If you order a tart or slice, eat the fruity filling only, leaving the crumb base or pie crust.
    Catherine Saxelby

    About the Author

    Catherine Saxelby knows nutrition! She is an accredited nutritionist, food commentator, blogger and award-winning author. Her latest book Catherine Saxelby's Food and Nutrition Companion answers all those tricky questions on healthy eating, diets and supplements. It draws together a lifetime of advice and gives you all you need to know to eat right! It's a complete A to Z. A handy desk go-to reference.