Can desserts really be healthy or is it just an oxymoron? Many people who
are watching what they eat often put all desserts off-limits. They just drool at
confectionery in a bakery window but never actually eat them. This can lead
to self pity and low self esteem or even binge eating when you let the cravings
snowball into one day when you eat the entire chocolate pie and hate yourself.
Indulging in a little something sweet occasionally can
actually be good for you. It lets you be a part of the cel-
ebration at parties and prevents you from always feeling
sorry for yourself by saying no. If you choose healthier
dessert options and practice portion control, desserts
need not be a bad word in your diet dictionary.
There are a few ways to approach healthy desserts and
adopting a combination of all of them can bring variety to
your menu and lead you to feel satisfied.
As Natural Possible
Try to stick to as natural a dessert as possible. This means
opting for fresh fruit and even sweet vegetables like
squash and carrots to satisfy a craving. When you make
desserts, look for recipes that use few, if any, processed
ingredients. If you are buying a dessert, read the label
to see how many chemicals and fillers they might have
added for the volume, vibrant colors or extra sweetness.
Chef Rubina Hafeez has her own bakery, Gur Sweets, in
Elmhurst, Illinois (
.) She uses all-
natural fresh fruit bases and no preservatives. She uses
whole milk, unbleached flour and no fillers. This leads to
a shorter shelf life for her products, but it’s a small trad-
eoff for the freshness and healthier desserts she whips up
every day. Instead of high fructose corn syrup, she uses
raw cane sugar to stay as natural as possible. For diabetics
she uses agave nectar which is low on the glycemic index.
She also offers gluten-free, eggless and vegan desserts
upon request.
She enjoys creating fusion desserts where she can couple
her professional pastry chef training with ethnic flavors
and requests such as her pina colada desserts and a hot
rod which includes a kick of pepper. Whatever is left over
is donated to local shelters.
“I believe there is a need to educate the Muslim consumer
that it’s not only meat that you have to worry about being
zabihah halal,” Hafeez said. “Lots of bakeries and chain
stores use animal byproducts, chemicals and alcohol in
their ingredients. Many don’t even know about it as they
purchase pre-made mixes.”
Summer 2013
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