Secrets to Making Yummy (Healthy!) Sweets

  • healthy sweet treats slideshow

    Delicious and Nutritious

    Yes, you CAN eat sweets or desserts and still be healthy. The trick?

    • Only eat sweets sometimes
    • Make sure you don't eat too much at once
    • Swap out unhealthy ingredients for better ones

    It's easy. We've got some secret recipes for you.

  • healthy sweet treats slideshow

    Chocolaty Whole-Grain Pretzels

    Craving salty, sweet, and crunchy? Melt 1 cup of dark chocolate chips for 30 seconds in the microwave. Stir. Repeat until melted. Dip one edge of whole-grain pretzels in the chocolate. Cool on wax paper.

    Why it's better: Whole grains are healthier and more filling than refined or processed "white grains."

    Tasty tip: Check your portions so you're not eating too much. One serving is about 15 small pretzels.

  • healthy sweet treats slideshow

    Better Brownies

    This may sound weird, but trust us. Make yummy, moist brownies with this secret ingredient -- black beans! 

    Drain a 15-ounce can of beans. Puree them in a blender with 1/4 cup water. Mix the beans with a boxed brownie mix. Don't add anything else (eggs, water, or oil) and then bake as the box directs.

    Why it's better: These brownies still taste sweet, but the beans cut calories and replace unhealthy saturated fats. Bonus: fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

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    Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

    Fresh fruit meets a touch of chocolate. 

    To make: Wash and dry the berries. Melt 1 cup of dark chocolate chips in the microwave. Dip the tip of berries in just a little chocolate. Put them on wax paper to dry. Store in the fridge.

    Why it's good: This sweet treat is loaded with nutrients. Strawberries have fiber, minerals, and vitamin C. The touch of dark chocolate has antioxidants.

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    Cupcakes -- Make 'Em Mini

    Cupcakes are awesome. But some are HUGE. (Can anyone really take a bite that big?) So use a mini muffin pan to make cute, smaller ones. One or two of them is the perfect portion.

    Why it's better: A smaller portion is just as delicious but has half the calories and fat of those jumbo versions.

    Bonus tip: Use applesauce instead of oil in your recipe. It keeps your cupcakes moist without unhealthy saturated oils and fats.

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    Fruit Kebabs for Dessert

    Grab your favorite bite-size fruits (berries or fruit chunks). Carefully put them on wooden skewers to make kabobs.

    Why it's good: Fruits are naturally sweet. Plus, they have a lot of fiber, water, and vitamins -- definitely more than you'd get from most other desserts. 

    Bonus: These colorful, hand-held desserts look great on your plate.

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    Icing on the Cake

    Making a cake or cupcakes? Top them with icing that’s lighter and just as tasty. Mix 1 cup of plain, low- or nonfat Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Then spread it on.

    Why it is better: It has more protein and less fat and calories than regular frosting.

    Tasty tip: Not an icing fan? Top cakes with berries or a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

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    A Perfect Pink Smoothie

    To make this sweet smooth drink, pop frozen strawberries, raspberries, and a banana in the blender. If your fruit isn't frozen, add a little crushed ice. Blend.

    Why it's better: Smoothies have less sugar and less unhealthy saturated fat than milkshakes. Pour in an 8-ounce glass for the perfect portion.

    Tasty tip: Add a splash of low-fat milk or a spoon of low-fat plain yogurt. It's good for your bones and will make your smoothie creamier.

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    Make Some Muffins

    Muffins can be better for you than cupcakes -- if you use a mini muffin pan and the right ingredients. Look for cranberry, carrot, zucchini, or oat bran recipes. Using boxed muffin mix? Blueberry, bran, or banana are better-for-you flavors.

    No matter the recipe, use mashed banana instead of oil. Then add 1/4 cup of quick-cooking oats for more fiber to make them more satisfying.

    Healthy hint: Two to three mini muffins make a healthy portion.

  • healthy sweet treats slideshow

    Oatmeal Cookies

    Not all cookie flavors are equal. Try oatmeal raisin. The raisins are sweet but have fiber and vitamins that chocolate chips don't.

    Tasty tip: Keep cookies simple. Don't add chocolate and peanut butter and nuts. It adds calories.

    And make your cookies small. A perfectly portioned cookie is no bigger than the palm of your hand.

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    Chocolaty Chocolate Chip

    Have to have chocolate? Use half the chocolate chips. Then mix in a tablespoon of cocoa powder.

    Why it's better: Cutting the chips in half cuts unhealthy saturated fats and sugar. Cocoa powder pumps up the chocolate flavor.

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    Fruit and Yogurt

    Craving ice cream? Give smooth, tangy Greek yogurt a shot. It’s great for breakfast, a snack, or dessert.

    Scoop out 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt. Low- or nonfat is best. Then add your favorite berries or sliced fruit. Want a little more sweetness? Try a drizzle of honey.

    Why it's better: Greek yogurt has twice the muscle-building protein of regular or low-fat plain yogurt. And a lot less sugar than most flavored yogurts.

  • healthy sweet treats slideshow

    Bee's Knees Crunchy Granola

    This sweet granola snack is better than a candy bar. The fruit and whole grain oats will give you nutrients andkeep you satisfied longer.

    Mix together:

    • 8 cups quick cooking-oats
    • 1 cup chopped nuts (try almonds or walnuts)
    • 1 cup dried fruit (try unsweetened raisins, cherries, cranberries, or apricots)
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/2 cup olive or canola oil
    • 1 cup honey
    • 1/4 cup flaxseeds

    Put parchment paper or foil on a pan. Spread on the granola. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Carefully stir every 10 minutes.

    Tasty tip: Dish out 1/4 cup servings into in small bags for the perfect-sized snack.

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