Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Eat Your Veggies…For Dessert

Individuals have been trying to solve the dilemma for years: how do you incorporate more vegetables into your daily diet? Main meals and snacks are challenging enough, but what about dessert? The idea has recently become a trendy addition to the dessert trays at restaurants. Now, you can prepare these healthier desserts right at home.

How did the idea of adding vegetables to desserts get started?

Dessert staples such as Carrot Cake and Zucchini Bread have been around for ages. In fact, rumor has it Sweet Potato Pie was a favorite of Elvis Presley back in the ‘60s. Using vegetables such as eggplant in desserts actually has its “roots” in a variety of cultures such as Italian and Indian.  The recent resurgence of the trend is probably based on a creative chef’s desire to add a twist to a dish.

What are the benefits of adding vegetables to desserts?

Additional vitamins, antioxidants and fiber in your diet
Helps get you and your family your five servings of daily vegetables
Interesting, new flavor combinations
In some instances, a crunchier texture, a nice change for dessert
For baked goods, vegetables can add moistness to the dessert

Author of The Sneaky Chef, Missy Chase Lapine, has built a successful business based on the idea of hiding healthy foods, often in the form of purees, in kids’ meals. The idea of adding healthy foods in unexpected places is backed by solid findings. According to a Penn State study, research shows that preschoolers consumed twice as many vegetables and 11% fewer calories just by eating their favorite foods, enhanced with fruits and vegetables.

Types of easy desserts using vegetables:

1. Baked: cakes, muffins and cookies. Check out this recipe for Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies.
2. Prepared: puddings, ice cream and Icy Hot Chocolate, to name a few.
3. Raw: Carrot “Cake” is a great example. Find a delicious recipe here.

How to use vegetables for healthier desserts:

When you’re just starting, it’s advisable to follow healthy food recipes for desserts. You can find a variety of dessert recipes that include vegetables online.
As you become more familiar with the art of preparing desserts with vegetables and legumes, you can start to modify recipes yourself.
Invest in a good cookbook or conversion guide for assistance.
Be creative and have fun. Turn the challenge of making fun desserts into a family activity!

Hints for healthy food recipes using vegetables:

Look for flavor combinations that offset each other for better taste. For example, in Beet-Berry Cakes, the earthy, distinct taste of the beet is subdued by the sweetness of the berries.
Seek out recipes where vegetables are steamed or added raw to keep fat to a minimum and increase nutritional value.
Consider texture, taste and smell when incorporating vegetables into desserts. Spinach Brownies might smell and taste fine, but the texture of raw or steamed spinach might not be appetizing to you or your kids.

Even if dessert ideas like Parsnip Pudding or Turnip Tarts doesn’t sound appetizing initially, experiment with some recipes and you just might find a new way to sneak veggies into your family’s diet.  Enjoy!

Be Wize & Be Healthy

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