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    July 2, 2018

    Party Perfect this 4th of July

    The 4th of July is right around the corner, and for most Americans, that means big family gatherings with an abundance of food, drinks, and desserts…lots of desserts. Cakes, pies, cookies, ice cream, oh my! And while red, white and blue desserts and boozy, sugar-filled punch bowls are the prized treats anticipated all year, it is possible to enjoy dessert without compromising health. So, while we celebrate our Independence with all of the ‘free’ indulgences this holiday, be strong and brave and boldly do what many can’t: resist the urge to splurge! And if you’re the one making the desserts, then read further for some tips on how to make your dishes a little healthier.

    By learning how to make a few recipe substitutions, reducing the quantity of one or two ingredients or just making sensible choices when visiting the food and dessert tables, you can reduce levels of fat, sugar and calories; in some cases, the addition of certain ingredients can even enhance the nutritional value of a dessert. By practicing a new and healthy approach, you can discover how to put an end to the idea that desserts must be off-limits.

    Controlling Portions is Key
    If you have a sweet tooth, do not despair. Eating a sensible portion is one of the easiest ways to manage calorie intake while still allowing you to indulge. You can split a dessert with a friend or pack half to go and enjoy it tomorrow. Remember to take small bites, eat slowly and savor the flavor!

    Tips and Tricks for Cutting Calories and Fats in Baked Goods
    You can reduce sugar in a recipe by one-third without a noticeable difference. Reduce the total amount of fat and/or substitute part of fat with fruit puree (see reverse), make or eat crust-less pies using a more healthful graham cracker crust.

    Focus on Fruit
    Fruit cobblers or fruit crisps can provide you with a full serving of fruit. If you’re baking, keep it healthful by reducing sugar by one-third to one-half. Use oats and some whole-wheat flour to add whole grain fiber as well. If you’re dining out, restaurants sometimes have fresh berries available but don’t list them on the menu. It doesn’t hurt to ask.

    Use Smart Fats
    Replace melted butter or margarine with canola oil. Regular sour cream and cream cheese can be replaced with fat-free or reduced fat versions.

    Add Healthful Ingredients for a Burst of Texture or Moisture
    Toasted Nuts. It’s easy to reduce the number of nuts called for in a recipe but try not to omit them completely. Chopping them into fine pieces helps distribute them more evenly.  Lightly toasting nuts helps develop a richer flavor.

    Grated Carrots, Apple and Zucchini add moisture along with fiber and nutrients.

    Toasted Wheat Germ sprinkled on top of baked goods prior to baking provides a golden finish while boosting fiber and vitamin E.

    Spike the Flavor
    When a dessert has great flavor, you’re likely to feel more satisfied with eating less. Enhance flavors with extracts of peppermint, coconut, lemon or orange. Add grated citrus rind for a burst of flavor and healthful phytonutrients.

    Reduce Fat and Oils with Fruit Purees
    You may have noticed that some commercial cake mixes print an optional recipe that substitutes applesauce for some of the oil that is called for.  Prune puree also works as a fat substitute. You can buy it as lekvar in the baking aisle or as baby-food prunes in a jar. Prune puree works surprisingly well, particularly for dark colored baked goods like chocolate cake, brownies or spice cake. You add moisture and texture while scaling back on fat. By using fruit purees, you can reduce the fat in baked goods by 50% to 90% and cut calories by 10% to 30%. Simply substitute fruit puree for half the amount called for. For example, if the recipe calls for one cup of oil, use ½ cup oil + ½ cup fruit puree.

    [table id=1 /]Adapted From: Healthy Homestyle Desserts: 150 Fabulous Treats with a Fraction of the Fat and Calories by Evelyn Tribole, M.S., R.D. 1996, Viking; Environmental Nutrition Newsletter. 

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