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Three Nearly Guilt-Free Desserts

Mar14

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My name is Mir, and I… have a serious sweet tooth. (Now you say: “Hi, Mir!”) I like desserts. And candy. And especially chocolate. Heck, let’s be clear: I like sugar, in all its forms.

If you’ve read me and any of my recipe posts before, you also know that I just plain like food, all kinds. I’m not a total junk food junkie, or anything. But any time I see advice to “skip dessert and have a nice piece of fruit, instead” I snort a little. Fruit is delicious. I love fruit! I would like dessert after I’m done with my fruit, please. (What?)

The challenge—even more so now that I am, erm, advancing in age—is to feel like I’ve had something delicious for dessert without continuing to eat as though I’m still a teenager. At the same time, I try to make sure those desserts appeal to said teenagers in my house, because this is how I bribe them to eat fruit (first). Also, I’m too lazy to make two desserts. Anyway. The following three desserts feature in heavy rotation in our home, without, you know, making us heavy.

Strawberry Buttermilk Popsicles

Strawberry Buttermilk Popsicle Recipe by Round The Table
My friends to the north are looking at me like I’m insane, right now, but the fact of the matter is that in just a few more weeks we’re going to be awash in strawberries here in the south. I realize it may not yet feel like strawberry weather (or popsicle weather, for that matter), but I prefer to look towards spring with hope… and hunger. There’s nothing quite like endless fields of pick-your-own strawberries that bring out the glutton in me, and yes, I’m happy to just eat fresh strawberries, but freezing some makes them last longer. Well, it does in theory, anyway. I started with this recipe from Round The Table one year because I had strawberries and I had buttermilk, and surely that could turn into… something? This recipe is delicious and kid-friendly, and because it’s mostly fruit (fruit!) you don’t have to feel bad about it. Something about the tang of the buttermilk makes this better than a “regular” strawberry popsicle, and more like fancy ice cream.

Even better… I later discovered this Epicurious version, which uses more fruit, less sugar, and no vanilla. Plus there’s no straining (not that I ever did it with the first recipe, frankly, but I can see where some people would be bothered by the tiny seeds). Just dump the berries, sugar, and buttermilk into your blender, then pour into popsicle molds. It literally could not be easier. (Well, I guess if the popsicles grew at the U-Pick place, maybe it could. That seems unlikely, though.)

Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies

Chocolate Chip Meringues Recipe by The Cookery Maven
The Cookery Maven says this is her grandmother’s recipe, but it’s identical to the one I grew up with that we always called Polka Dots. My favorite thing to do with these is feed them to someone unsuspecting and then tell them they have corn flakes in them. Because… cookies with corn flakes?? Yep! The flakes add a bit more body to the meringues, and some chew, without adding much in the way of calories (and not a lot of sugar). Meringues are light and fluffy and perfect for when your mouth wants dessert but your stomach would prefer you keep it light. I also break tradition slightly and use miniature chocolate chips, as I think they work better in meringue than the regular ones.

Even better… I will tell you that in my foolish younger days I tried making these without the corn flakes, once, and they were absolutely, completely wrong. I’ve been known to purchase corn flakes specifically for this recipe. That said, I purchased Special K Protein cereal on sale at one point and no one in my family was willing to touch it, but it turned out to work just fine in these cookies. Once you take a 10-mg-of-protein-per-serving cereal and add it to cookies, I think that makes it a veritable health food.

Black Bean Chocolate Cake

Black Bean Cake Recipe by Forgiving Martha
Do not cringe at the title. Do not even cringe at the thought of black beans in your cake. I am a chocolate cake connoisseur and I promise you that you will stand in disbelief that this delicious cake from Forgiving Martha is made from beans. Pinky swear. I give this recipe to everyone because delicious chocolate cake from beans. It’s dark magic, clearly, but I do not care, because it’s delicious dark magic—chocolate cake that is filled with fiber and protein and still tastes the way cake ought to taste. (Texture-wise, think of this as a chocolate sponge cake.) All three of these recipes are gluten-free, but this is a flour-free cake that actually tastes like cake, which means it is about as common as a real live leprechaun.

Even better… the recipe as written has a lot of “put this here, mix this over there” sorts of things. Put the dry ingredients in one bowl and throw everything else into the blender, then add the dry ingredients, too. It’ll work find that way. And then forget about making a cake; it’ll make twelve cupcakes, or if you live in my house, twelve muffins. If you call them muffins, you can eat them for breakfast. I think you see my point.

There you go; three delicious desserts you can continue eating with very little guilt. Not that we need to feel guilty about dessert, ever, I suppose, but I do like that these options offer me a sweet fix without a bajillion empty calories.

About the author

Mir Kamin

http://wouldashoulda.com/
Mir Kamin began writing about her life online nearly a decade ago, back when she was a divorced mom trying to raise two regular little kids and figure out what she wanted to be when she grew up. Now her life looks very different than it did back then: Those little kids turned into anything-but-regular teenagers, she is remarried, and somehow she's become one of those people who talks to her dog in a high-pitched baby voice. Along the way she's continued chronicling the everyday at Woulda Coulda Shoulda, plus she's bringing you daily bargain therapy at Want Not. The good news is that Mir grew up and became a writer and she still really likes hanging out with her kids; the bad news is that her hair is a lot grayer than it used to be.


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3 Responses to “Three Nearly Guilt-Free Desserts”

  1. Andrea Mar 15 at 2:11 pm Reply Reply

    I can attest to the deliciousness of that bean cake recipe. I fed it to 20 nine year old girls and if it had not been for one mom telling her daughter it was black beans (I guess i hadn’t given the warning that this should be kept secret at all costs), all 20 would have raved. As it was, 19 girls chowed down on them and were none the wiser.

    A little blurb of frosting stuck inside (cut a cone shaped scoop of cake out of the top, toss in some frosting and pop the cake back on top) made an extra delicious treat

  2. vanessa Mar 16 at 7:05 pm Reply Reply

    Dear Mir, I love you and these look yummy and I really enjoy being your Facebook friend. However, as someone with a history of eating disorders who is trying to develop what Ellyn Satter calls “eating competence” I really, really wish we could all stop framing things as “guilt-free.” Except insofar as not everyone has enough, food is not a moral issue. There is nothing inherently wrong with eating dessert of any kind.

    These do look yummy and I do appreciate healthier dessert options. But I hate the framing of eating traditional dessert equals guilt. That leads to yet more food shaming, which is really not what we need.

    • Mir Kamin
      Mir Kamin Mar 18 at 11:26 am Reply Reply

      I hear you, Vanessa. Points taken, and I will work on being more thoughtful with my framing moving forward, because you are right. Thank you.

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