5 Healthier Desserts For The New Year

Dark Chocolate Berry Bark

When the New Year begins and one starts thinking about one’s goals, besides routines, fitness and food invariably pop up. I often find myself with vague goals (eat better, move more) at the very same time my appetite for sugar has increased (having become accustomed to an abundance of cookies and chocolates and other wonderful holiday treats). So when I was introduced to Edwina Clark, a registered dietitian who has recently relocated to San Francisco from Boston, my question was how to satisfy that appetite and still “eat better.” She came up with five suggestions, and I’m looking forward to trying them all! 

5 Healthier Desserts For The New Year
by Edwina Clark, MS, RD, APD (Aus)

It’s no secret that I have a sweet tooth. From the moment I was old enough to eat solids, I’ve adored sweet things of all kinds. In fact, my mother recalls adding pureed pears to my baby food to trick me into eating veggies (well played, Mum).

Years of nutrition education and practice hasn’t shaken my enthusiasm for dessert either. I’m a daily chocolate-eater, a fro-yo lover, and a bulk-buyer of berries. And I am not alone in the dietetic community. Many of my colleagues and friends are equally as fond of the sticky, sweet and indulgent as I am.

The trick with dessert is not how to get rid of it, but how to do it better. There is room to honor your sweet craving the question is: with what? With that in mind, I came up with five delicious, nutrient-packed desserts for those days that need a dash of sweetness.

Dark Chocolate Berry Bark

1 bag (250g) good quality dark chocolate chips
½ cup freeze-dried blueberries
½ cup freeze-dried strawberries
Pinch salt

1. Line a baking tray with parchment paper (I have also used aluminium foil, but the parchment paper works better).
2. Measure out the freeze-dried berries and place them in a zip-lock bag.
3. Close the zip-lock bag, and lightly crush the freeze-dried fruit with the heel of your hand.
4. Melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave according to the instructions on the packet.
5. Spread the chocolate over the parchment paper to make a 10 x 8 inch (25 x 20cm) rectangle (approx).
6. Sprinkle the crushed berries over the chocolate, followed by a pinch of salt.
7. Refrigerate until set. Crack into small pieces and enjoy!

Makes one 10 x 8 inch slab.

Balsamic Strawberries

Balsamic-Basil Strawberries

3 cups fresh strawberries
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp brown sugar
4 fresh mint or basil leaves

1. Remove the tops of the strawberries, and cut in half.
2. Place the strawberries in a bowl, with the balsamic and brown sugar, and toss to dissolve the sugar.
3. Chiffonade the basil/mint leaves.
4. Sprinkle the basil/ mint over the strawberries, and serve.

Time required: 5 minutes
Serves 2 (generously)

Edwina’s tip: If you have time, let the strawberries marinate in the balsamic mixture for an hour to allow the sugar to fully dissolve.

PB + B Bites

PB-Banana Bites

1 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt
2 tsp honey
2 tbsp all-natural smooth peanut butter (100% peanuts)
8 graham cracker squares (4 sheets)
1 medium banana
Sprinkle cinnamon

1. Mix together the yogurt, peanut butter, and honey in a small mixing bowl until well combined.
2. Slice banana on the diagonal into 10 slices.
3. Break up the graham crackers sheets in 8 squares. Spoon a dollop of the yogurt mixture onto each graham cracker square.
4. Top each square with a slice banana and a pinch of cinnamon. Serve immediately.

Time required: 10 minutes
Serves 4

Edwina’s tip: The yogurt mixture can be made ahead of time, but assembly is best left until you are ready to serve. The graham crackers lose their crunch when this delish dessert is prepared in advance.

Orange and Cinnamon Poached Pears

1 firm pear
¼ cup 100% orange juice
A sprinkle of cinnamon
¼ tsp vanilla
½ cup vanilla Greek yogurt or frozen yogurt

1. Cut the pear into 8 wedges.
2. Add the orange juice, orange zest, cinnamon, and vanilla to a small saucepan or skillet.
3. Stir the ingredients in the pan to combine.
4. Add the pear wedges to the pan and turn the stove onto medium heat.
5. Cook the pears until all the liquid has evaporated. Leave the pears in the pan for an additional 1-2 minutes until the pears are a rich caramel color.
6. Serve with vanilla Greek yogurt or frozen yogurt and cinnamon.

Time required: 10 minutes
Serves 2

PB Chocolate Truffles

‘Healthy’ Chocolate-PB Truffles

1 cup old fashioned oats
⅔ cup shredded coconut
½ cup flaxseed meal
⅓ cup good quality dark chocolate chips
½ cup all-natural smooth peanut butter (100% peanuts)
¼ cup honey
¼ tsp real vanilla extract
Pinch salt

1. Place the shredded coconut in a small pan. Turn the stove onto low heat, and toast the coconut until golden brown.
2. Add the toasted coconut, oats, and flaxseed meal to a large mixing bowl.
3. Add the dark chocolate chips, and a pinch of salt to the mixing bowl, and stir to combine the dry ingredients.
4. Add the peanut butter, honey and vanilla to the dry ingredients.
5. Using your fingers, work the peanut butter, honey, and vanilla into the dry ingredients until well-combined.
6. Shape the ‘dough’ into truffle-size balls, approximately 1 inch (2.5cm) in diameter. Add extra honey (sparingly) if you need extra glue for the dry ingredients.
7. Store in the fridge or freezer for an on-the-go healthy snack or dessert.

Time required: 25 minutes
Makes 24 truffles

Thank you, Edwina! These sound amazing. I just added shredded coconut and freeze-dried berries to our grocery list. 

Edwina Clark is a San Francisco-based Registered Dietitian, foodie, and fitness-junkie on a mission to help others lead healthy and happy lives. She has served as a wellness coach, spokesperson, writer, and consultant to a diversity of clients from Fortune 500 companies to high performance athletes (and everything in between). Outside the office, Edwina can be found in the kitchen testing new recipes, running, and exploring the Bay Area’s beautiful natural landscape.

P.S. Homemade granola bars.

[All photos by Edwina Clark]

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