8 Guilt-Free Desserts to Try ...

Dieting is difficult enough without having to give up desserts in all their tasty, tempting forms… but you don’t want to blow your calorie count for an entire day on one chocolate volcano brownie, and most low-fat, guilt-free desserts are bland and boring… so what’s a girl to do? How about indulging in a guilt-free dessert that’s low in calories but loaded with flavor? I’ve scoured my magazine clippings for the diet-friendly, guilt-free desserts I like best, and here they are… enjoy!

1. Strawberries and Dark Chocolate

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Calories: 133
Satisfy your craving for chocolate with this antioxidant-packed, guilt-free dessert! It’s simple to prepare and is ideal for summer, when strawberries are in season and at their sweetest.

Ingredients:
12 -14 strawberries
2 ounces of dark chocolate

Directions:
• Melt the chocolate in a double-boiler, stirring until melted.
• Wash the strawberries and allow them to dry, then dip them in the melted chocolate and enjoy!

2. Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

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Calories: 360
I know what you’re thinking — that’s a lot of calories for a guilt-free dessert! But most of the calories come from GOOD things, like fiber and protein and natural sugar. This smoothie is particularly good for you if you’re something of an athlete, since it’s loaded with so many marvelous things — potassium to ease muscle cramps and protein for building lean muscles.

Ingredients:
1 large frozen banana, peeled and sliced
2/3 cup skim or 2% milk
2 tablespoons of unsweetened peanut butter
½ teaspoon of honey
½ teaspoon of vanilla

Directions:
• Add all of the ingredients to a blender, and blend until smooth and creamy. Easy peasy!

3. Frozen Raspberry Mousse

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Calories: 168
If you’re craving a sweet summertime treat, but don’t want the calories in traditional ice creams and sorbets, this is the guilt-free berry-licious dessert for you!

Ingredients:
6 cups fresh raspberries, or two 12-ounce packages unsweetened frozen raspberries, thawed
¼ cup of confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons of orange juice
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
8 teaspoons dried egg whites, reconstituted in 1/2 cup warm water according to package directions (equivalent to 4 egg whites)
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup whipping cream
2 cups fresh raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and/or strawberries for garnish

Directions:
• Place a small mixing bowl in the freezer to chill for Step 5.
• Puree raspberries in a food processor until smooth. Pass through a fine sieve set over a large bowl; discard seeds. Measure out 1 cup raspberry puree, whisk in confectioners' sugar, cover and set aside in the refrigerator for sauce.

• Place orange juice in a small saucepan. Sprinkle in gelatin. Let soften for 1 minute. Place over low heat and stir until the gelatin has completely dissolved. Let stand for 5 minutes.

• Meanwhile, beat reconstituted egg whites in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating until the meringue is stiff and glossy.
• Beat cream in the chilled bowl until soft peaks form.
• Add the melted gelatin to the remaining raspberry puree and whisk until blended. Set the bowl over a bowl of ice water and stir just until the mixture starts to thicken slightly, 5 to 10 minutes. Add one-fourth of the meringue to the raspberry puree and whisk until blended. Using a whisk, fold in the remaining meringue. With a rubber spatula, fold in the whipped cream. Scrape the mousse into a 6-cup metal bowl (or other decorative mold) or a 9-by-5-inch metal loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and foil and freeze until firm, at least 6 hours.

• To serve, fill a bowl or basin (large enough to hold the mold comfortably) with very hot water. Run a knife around the edges of the mold. Quickly dip the mold in hot water, then invert a serving platter over the top. Grasping the mold and platter, jerk downward several times. If the mousse does not release, dip in hot water again and repeat. Cut the mousse into wedges or slices. Serve with the reserved raspberry sauce and garnish each serving with a scattering of berries.

4. Greek Yoghurt with Oranges and Mint

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Calories: 200
I’m a big fan of Greek yoghurt — it’s got more protein and less lactose than traditional yoghurt, and the texture and flavor are richer, too. That’s why it’s an ideal ingredient in this guilt-free dessert. The mint adds a little kick, perfect for summer.

Ingredients:
6 tablespoons of fat-free Greek yoghurt
1 ½ teaspoons of honey
1 large orange, peeled, quartered and sliced crosswise
4 fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced

Directions:
• Mix together the yoghurt and honey.
• Pour the yoghurt mixture over the oranges, and garnish with the mint.

5. Brownies

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Calories: 111
There’s something about brownies that screams “comfort food,” but while most comfort foods are high in calories (especially from fat), these brownies are low in calories, low in fat, and yet somehow still high in deliciousness and joy.

Ingredients:
4 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
½ cup cold water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup mini semisweet chocolate pieces
2 teaspoons powdered sugar

Directions:
• Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
• Coat the bottom of a 9-x-9-inch baking pan with nonstick spray.
• In a medium saucepan, melt butter; remove from heat. Stir in sugar, water, and vanilla. Mix in flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder until combined. Add chocolate pieces.

• Pour batter into pan; bake for 15 to 18 minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar… then enjoy!

6. Caramel Popcorn

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Calories: 250
I love the crunch and the sweetness of caramel popcorn, but Cracker Jack and Fiddle Faddle aren’t anything even close to a guilt-free dessert, loaded with high fructose corn syrup and ingredients I can’t even pronounce, let alone figure out how they ended up in food! This home-made version is tastier and healthier… and perfect for movie night!

Ingredients:
½ cup unpopped popcorn kernels
5 tablespoons peanut oil
1 ¾ cups light brown sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup honey
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

Directions:
• In a stockpot or an extra-large saucepan, heat popcorn kernels in 3 tablespoons of oil. Stir to coat all kernels. Cover and cook over medium heat, 5 to 7 minutes, or until kernels are fully popped (shaking pot after 3 minutes).

• Lightly coat 2 large baking pans with cooking spray. Pour popcorn into pans and preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

• In a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter, honey, remaining oil, and salt. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden or silicone spoon, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in baking soda until smooth.

• Evenly drizzle over popcorn; stir to coat. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. I like to serve warm, but it’s also good if you wait for it to cool a bit… yum!

7. Spiced Red Wine Poached Pears

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Calories: 115
Finally a grown-up version of a guilt-free dessert! The red wine gives you a dose of heart-healthy antioxidants, while the pear is loaded with fiber… together they make one delicious, rich treat. I love serving this during the holidays!

Ingredients:
2 cups dry red wine, such as Cabernet or Merlot
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
Juice of one orange
1x3-inch strip orange zest
1 stick cinnamon
2 cloves
4 firm, ripe pears (I use red pears)

Directions:
• In a 4-quart saucepan, combine wine, sugar, orange juice, zest, cinnamon stick, and cloves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.

• While liquid is simmering, peel pears, leaving stems intact. Slice ½ inch off the base of pears to create a flat bottom. Gently place pears in liquid, cover, and simmer, turning every 5 minutes, until pears are cooked but still firm, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from saucepan and set aside.

• Turn the heat up to medium-high and cook the liquid until it is thickened and slightly syrupy, about 15 minutes. Pour sauce over pears and chill at least 3 hours before serving.

8. Lemon Poppyseed Cake

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Calories: 215
I make this for my book club meetings, and everyone loves it… it’s so good on fall nights with a little coffee or tea!

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup poppy seeds, toasted
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1/ 4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
¼ cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 large eggs, at room temperature (see Tip)
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 ¼ cups sugar
¾ cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon water

Directions:
• Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 12-cup Bundt pan, preferably nonstick, with cooking spray and dust with flour (or use cooking spray with flour).

• Whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Combine buttermilk, oil, vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice in a glass measuring cup.

• Beat eggs, egg whites and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until thickened and pale, about 5 minutes.

• Fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture with a rubber spatula, a third at a time, alternating with 2 additions of the buttermilk mixture. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, spreading evenly.

• Bake the cake until the top springs back when touched lightly and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

• To prepare glaze: Sift 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar into a small bowl; mix with lemon juice and water to create a thin glaze. Poke 1-inch-deep holes all over the cake with a skewer. Coat the warm cake with the glaze using a pastry brush. Let cool completely. To serve, set the cake on a serving plate and dust with confectioners' sugar. Impressive to look at, and absolutely delicious to eat!

Don’t all of these sound delicious? It’s hard to believe these are all guilt-free desserts, perfectly acceptable in almost any weight loss plan. Which of these desserts will you choose first? Or do you have another recipe for a guilt-free dessert to share?

Sources: eatingwell.com, nytimes.com, fitnessmagazine.com, fitnessmagazine.com, fitnessmagazine.com, fitnessmagazine.com, fitnessmagazine.com, fitnessmagazine.com

Top Image Source: jedroot.com

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