Chia pudding, ice cream sundaes, gingerbread men: healthy but impressive desserts for Christmas according to our resident dietitian, Melissa Meier.
As a dietitian with a self-confessed ice cream obsession, I understand the struggles of wanting to satisfy a sweet tooth craving without ingesting the mountain of added sugar and saturated fat traditional desserts provide.
Of course, there’s a time and a place for the real deal, but it can pay to make a healthier choice sometimes – especially in the silly season when festive fodder is on steroids and around every corner.
o, if you’ve got a Christmas catch up with your health-conscious pals coming up soon, here are my top picks for a healthy sweet course – because we all know a boring fruit salad just doesn’t cut it.
1. Chia puddings
Bursting with heart-healthy fats and gut-loving fibre, chia seeds are an excellent staple to have in your pantry. For a healthy dessert, combine chia seeds with milk, vanilla and a little maple syrup if you wish, pour the mixture into individual serving jars and leave in the fridge for a couple of hours to allow the seeds to absorb the liquid (note: remember to stir the mixture occasionally). When it’s time to serve, top the chia puds with fresh fruit and nuts for a bit of crunch. Delish.
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2 .‘Nice cream’ sundaes
Who would’ve ever thought that blending a bunch of frozen bananas with a little vanilla would result in a luxuriously thick and creamy mixture reminiscent of an indulgent ice cream?! Paired with fresh berries and mixed chopped nuts, this lighter take on a classic is a real crowd-pleaser. You can use the banana mixture straight from the food processor if you wish, but for extra points, re-freeze it after blending so it’s scoop-able.
3. Black bean brownies
I know, brownies aren’t exactly synonymous with good health… but with the addition of black beans, their nutrition rating really piques up. Why? Beans are a top-notch source of plant-based protein, low-GI carbs and hunger-busting fibre. Interested? A quick google search will give you tonnes of recipe ideas (see: here and here and here). Trust me, you won’t even know the beans are there.
4. Gingerbread cookies
Swapping butter for olive oil, sugar for mashed ripe bananas and white flour for oats and wholemeal flour can turn a typical batch of cookies into a much more nutritious bite to eat. With these additions to any basic cookie recipe, along with a dash of ginger and cinnamon, you’re in for a far healthier gingerbread biscuit than you’d find in your office biscuit jar.
5. Peppermint bliss balls
For a healthier take on an after-dinner mint, combine raw nuts, pitted dates, coconut and honey in a food processor along with cocoa powder and a dash of peppermint extract.
Then, roll one tablespoon of mixture at a time into a ball and coat with more coconut. These tasty little morsels are packed with fibre and they go down perfectly with an after dinner cuppa.
Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based accredited practising dietitian. You can connect with her on Instagram @honest_nutrition.