Should I do family desserts? A paediatric nutritionist’s healthy options that won’t disappoint.

healthy desserts family children

Many of the families I see in my clinic and at my workshops like to finish their evening meal with something sweet. If you can, try to get out of this habit and make desserts a ‘sometimes’ food to be enjoyed on special occasions. The aim is to not only balance blood sugar levels but also start to curb those cravings by limiting the number of sweet treats in the house.

If you need time to wean yourselves off something sweet at the end of a meal, then fresh fruit is your best bet. Choose low-sugar versions such as kiwi fruit, raspberries or strawberries and serve with protein in the form of plain yoghurt or almond butter to leave everyone feeling fuller for longer.

However, for special occasions, fruit probably won’t cut it – plus, it’s always good to have a few healthy recipes in your repertoire since anything you make will be better than sugary, preservative-laden store-bought desserts. Next time your brood is craving an after-dinner treat, try one of these delicious and nutritious options.

Delicious dairy-free desserts…

Yoghurt is a versatile and healthy dessert option that can be added to fresh fruit, used as a layer in parfaits or as the base of frozen popsicles. Making your own from coconut milk is not only great for anyone with dairy allergies or intolerances, but it’s easy, cheaper than buying from health food stores and can be flavoured according to preference. Try this recipe for DIY Coconut Yoghurt from my website.

healthy desserts family children
Coconut yoghurt is a non-dairy alternative. Image: Supplied.

These delicious Cauliflower Vanilla Muffins With Choc Date Frosting are the perfect bite-sized treat for any occasion. They are dairy- and gluten-free, packed with vegetables, plus naturally sweetened with applesauce and dates so there’s no need to add refined sugar.

In my family, lamingtons are a favourite dessert so I created these delicious gluten-free and dairy-free Strawberry and Chocolate Lamingtons which will not disappoint. They are deliciously sweet, light and fluffy, and healthier than traditional store-bought versions.

healthy desserts family children
Banana bread, but not as you know it. Image: Supplied.

Wholesome Child’s nutritious and delicious Banana Bread is rich in healthy fats, iron and protein – plus it’s school friendly! A perfect all-rounder which can be enjoyed by the whole family, it’s easy to make and a great alternative to commercial banana breads which may be filled with unwanted fats, sugar, sodium and preservatives.

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For the chocolate lovers...

One of my children’s favourite desserts is my quick and easy chocolate avocado mousse. Not only is it an excellent way to get veggies into even the fussiest of eaters, but it also comes packed with a delicious fat boosting twist as avocado is an excellent source of monounsaturated heart-healthy fats. Serve as a treat for breakfast on the weekend, an after-school snack or a healthy after-dinner dessert. For an extra fun option, place mousse in popsicle moulds and freeze.

For chocolate lovers who want to be as healthy as possible, nothing beats homemade choccies – it’s free from nasties, you get to control how much sugar is added and making it is also a fantastic activity to share with the whole family. These Creamy Chocolate Cashew Bunnies can be added to any mould to make a healthy treat to satisfy those chocolate cravings.

Another popular recipe from my book is my Betta Than Nutella chocolate spread. This moreish alternative to sugar-packed chocolate spreads can be used on your favourite bread, crackers or in muffin recipes either as a filling, as icing or to eat straight up – you can also try it as a dip with fruit or veggie sticks.

healthy desserts family children
Once your master this super simple 'Betta Than Nutella chocolate spread' you can eat it on all of your favourite treats. Image: supplied.

The mouth-watering Chocolate and Almond Scones featured on my website tastes delicious and are super nutritious. They will satisfy the whole family’s craving for “something yummy”. The base is made from almond flour, which is high in fibre and protein, a combination which will help to stabilise blood sugar levels and keep little bellies (and bigger ones) feeling satisfied for longer. They can be eaten alone or with a spread of butter, cream or coconut cream and topped with berries, cinnamon and a dash of maple syrup.

For babies...

Introducing solids to our babies is an exciting time and this homemade Apricot and Cinnamon Compote is a naturally sweet dessert that doubles as a great way to ensure that your baby does not get constipated and stays regular. It can be used in countless ways, including as a stand-alone puree, in yoghurt, mixed with porridge or as a spread on toast or crackers for later on.

When it comes to introducing sweet flavours in your baby’s diet, we love natural yoghurt and fresh fruit or the delicious recipe for Baby’s First Coconut and Mango Chia Pudding featured in my book. Or try this delicious Sweet Potato and Coconut Custard which combines the flavours of coconut milk, sweet potato and cinnamon, creating a delicious and balanced meal for babies and toddlers.

If you want to start introducing cakes and muffins as finger foods, it’s important that we aim to avoid using added sweeteners and opt for natural alternatives. These delicious Banana Muffins use the sweetness of bananas, dates and cinnamon to ensure that they will love it and want more.

And last but not least, No-Bake Cheesecake.

Made with good quality cheese and no processed sweeteners, this vegetarian, gluten, egg and nut-free cheesecake is far healthier than other desserts thanks to the protein in the cheese. Top with your favourite berries or slices peaches and passion fruit.

healthy desserts family children
The party favourite gets a makeover. Image: Instagram.

Ingredients

Base:

  • 2 cups (180g) homemade granola or oats toasted with raw honey and coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1-2 tablespoons maple syrup

Filling:

  • 2 cups (500g) cream cheese or mascarpone, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons thick Greek yoghurt, unsweetened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or powder
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup raw or Manuka honey
  • pinch stevia (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Line a 23cm round cake tin with baking paper.
  2. For the base, place all ingredients in a blender and blend until you reach a fine crumble.
  3. Put the mixture into the cake tin and press it down evenly.
  4. Place in the freezer to firm up while preparing the filling.
  5. Meanwhile, place the cheese in the food processor and process until smooth and creamy.
  6. Slowly add all other ingredients and process until smooth and creamy.
  7. Pour the cheese mixture on top of the base and spread evenly.
  8. Refrigerate for at least four hours before serving.

To learn more about Mandy Sacher please visit the Wholesome Child website. Her book “Wholesome Child: A Complete Nutrition Guide and Cookbook” is available to purchase online and through iTunes, and you can connect with Mandy on Instagram and Facebook.

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