Being heart-healthy doesn't mean you have to give up dessert forever. You can easily make snacks and desserts part of a heart-healthy lifestyle by focusing on moderation and using health-boosting ingredients.
"Small changes can make recipes far healthier."
For example, if you like to bake, you can easily make cakes, brownies and other desserts healthier by simply switching to whole-grain flour rather than bleached flower. You can also lower your recipe's fat content by using applesauce rather than butter or by swapping whole milk for skim or 2 percent. These are small changes that don't make too much of a difference when it comes to taste or texture, but they make a huge impact on healthfulness. Baking isn't the only kind of cooking that can be heart-healthy. In fact, fruit-based desserts are a quick and easy way to make a perfectly healthy dessert without too much fuss or effort. Since fruit is already good for you, using it in your recipes is basically a fast-track to healthier eating. Looking for ideas for something you can indulge in this Valentine's Day? Here are two heart-healthy recipes you can use as the perfect end to a romantic meal:
Chocolate strawberries are a classic treat, and all you have to do to make them heart-healthy is use chocolate with a higher cocoa content. Dark chocolate has more antioxidants and less sugar than its milk or white counterparts. Although dark chocolate does have a relatively high level of fat, the kinds of fats it contains aren't as harmful as you might think. Only one of the three kinds of fat you'll find in chocolate has a negative effect on cholesterol - the other two either have no impact at all, or actually improve cholesterol! So as long as you're eating dark chocolate in moderation, it can actually have a positive effect on your overall well-being.
To make dark chocolate strawberries, start by melting finely chopped dark chocolate in the microwave or on a double boiler. Once the chocolate has melted, dip your strawberries quickly into and out of the liquid to lightly coat them. Twirl the berries as you lift to get a smooth finish. Quick tip: Water causes chocolate to split and become grainy. To avoid this, make sure your strawberries' surfaces are nice and dry, either by rinsing them a few hours ahead of time or by drying them with a clean paper towel.
Lemon blueberry parfait
This is a delightfully light dessert that's perfect for a casual dinner. Since it uses equal parts low-fat yogurt and low-fat vanilla pudding, you get all the health benefits without the tangy yogurt taste. Once that's mixed with the sweet-and-sour lemon taste and the punch of flavor from the blueberries, you're left with a perfectly delicious treat. Mix together 1 cup each of yogurt and pudding, then stir in 2 tablespoons of lemon curd. Fill a medium-sized mixing bowl with 3 cups blueberries or, if you'd like, mixed berries. Pour 3 tablespoons of honey overtop, along with a tablespoon of lemon juice. Stir the berries so they're evenly coated with the honey-juice mixture. Layer the yogurt-pudding mixture and the coated berries in a clear dish. If you want to add a little extra touch, you can garnish with mint leaves or a candied lemon slice.