Healthy-eating friends, let's have some straight talk about dessert: It's full of sugar, which means we can't have dessert every time we want it.
In my house, we eat (real) dessert only on weekends. During the week, I serve plain fruit or unsweetened yogurt, saving the sweeter treats for family meals where we linger around the table.
Even weekend desserts are not a free-for-all sugar- fest. I follow one simple guideline to keep my family's sugar consumption in check: I make all our desserts.
There are three major advantages to this rule. First, while sugar can wreak havoc on our health, weird chemicals - fake flavors, colors, preservatives - scare me more. If I make the food myself, I can skip the strange ingredients I can't pronounce, and that's a win for our health.
Second, having to cook my own treats (usually) stops me from mindlessly eating something I brought home from the store. Permission to eat anything that is homemade is simultaneously enough freedom to indulge our cravings sometimes and enough brakes to keep us from scarfing down a random box of cookies.
Lastly, if I make the desserts, then I have control over the recipe. Usually, I reduce sugar and simple carbohydrates and add protein and fiber, which all slow down the sugar rush.
For instance, this pear and dark chocolate crumble turns almond flour and oats into a tasty topping that isn't loaded with empty calories, and a tiny splash of almond extract brilliantly tricks the palate into thinking this dessert is sweeter than it is. Splurge on some high-quality dark chocolate chips (or chop up a bar) - you'll be amazed how satisfying a small bit of dark chocolate can be.
PEAR AND DARK CHOCOLATE CRUMBLE
Yield: 6 servings
For the filling: 2 tablespoons lemon juice 1/4 teaspoon almond extract 4 pears, peeled and diced 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced 1 tablespoon brown sugar 1 teaspoon corn starch
For the crumble topping: 1/3 cup almond flour 1/2 cup oats 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips (recommended: 63 percent cacao) 1 tablespoon brown sugar 1/4 teaspoon salt 3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small cubes
Preheat oven to 350. In large bowl, mix lemon juice and almond extract. Add fruit and toss to coat. Sprinkle sugar and corn starch on pears, and stir until mixed in.
Spoon fruit into 1.5- or 2-quart baking dish sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. In small food processor, place almond flour, oats, chocolate chips, sugar and salt. Pulse once or twice to mix.
Top with butter and pulse 8 or 9 times until mixture looks like wet sand. (Chocolate chips may still be quite large and that's perfect.)
Spread oat and almond mixture over fruit and gently press down into fruit. Spray top of crumble with a little nonstick spray. Bake until fruit is tender and bubbling, and topping is golden brown, about 40-45 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.
Note: One Granny Smith apple is used to add depth of flavor and texture, but another pear can be used instead.
Nutrition information per serving: 254 calories; 113 calories from fat; 13 g fat (6 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 13 mg cholesterol; 107 mg sodium; 37 g carbohydrate; 6 g fiber; 23 g sugar; 4 g protein.