1. Try healthy substitutes for dairy.
A lot of sweet treats, from ice cream to pudding, use a lot of dairy products like milk and cream. You don’t have to cut down completely on these—dairy too is good for you—but you can replace some portion of the dairy with a healthier alternative. Yoghurt is a good option. You can actually whip up a great parfait with it, some fresh fruit, and a few chopped nuts.
For something even more unusual, you can try kefir, which tastes much the same as yoghurt but may have even more health benefits. There are actually kefir recipes for making treats like cheesecake and ice cream. Who’s to say it can’t be used to make pudding too?
Both of them pack caloric energy, yes, but honey has more nutrients to go with its calories. It has proteins and amino acids, and is also known as an anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial substance. Replace sugar in dessert recipes with honey where possible. You can also drizzle it on whole wheat bread for a sweet snack or set aside a spoonful or two as a dip for crackers, fruit slices, or vegetable sticks. This way, you satisfy your sweet tooth while also answering (the equally-common) craving for crunch.
3. Spice things up with cinnamon.
Cinnamon is actually an excellent substitute for sugar in a lot of beverages. If you find yourself craving sweet coffee or tea in the morning, skip that sugar cube and throw a stick of cinnamon in the pot instead. Cinnamon also imparts a savory, gentle heat that many grow to love, besides being great at cutting bitterness. It also has myriad health benefits, from regulation of blood sugar to reducing IBS symptoms. If you still want to add a bit of sweetener, put a dollop of honey in there instead of sugar.
4. Go for healthier chocolate or healthier alternatives.
Different types of chocolate have different health benefits. Generally, you want to go with something that has more cacao in it and less sugar, so that you can take advantage of all the flavanols found in cacao: dark chocolates are best, especially those not made with the “dutching" method. Alternatively, you can try a chocolate substitute known as carob, which is naturally sweeter than chocolate. Not everyone likes it, mind you, but a lot of people do find it a suitable substitute for chocolate in many recipes.
Image: Some rights reserved by Jeanny Schmidt
Image: Some rights reserved by Bionicgrrrl