(BPT) - Dinner is over and your family is craving something sweet to end the meal. There are plenty of delicious options to satisfy even the biggest sweet tooth while keeping your family's balanced diet in check. Best of all, these desserts can be made right in your own kitchen. By preparing your own creations, you can please even the pickiest of eaters and give your kids some extra nutrients with hidden servings of fruits or vegetables. The whole family will applaud your efforts.
Whole fruit ice cream
If you love frozen treats, try a healthier, homemade ice cream using whole fruit. Create a quick raspberry ice cream by combining 1 cup milk, 3/4 cup sugar or your favorite sweetener, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and 1 pound frozen raspberries in a Vitamix 5200. Turn on the blender and slowly increase the speed from one to 10, using the tamper to push the mixture down. In less than a minute, you'll have a creamy, soft-serve style ice cream. You can make a variety of flavors by substituting blueberries, peaches, pineapple, strawberries or other frozen fruit for the raspberries.
Non-dairy 'ice cream'
Whip up a batch of green apple ice cream for a non-dairy, vegan alternative to traditional ice cream. Your kids will love the green hue of this after-dinner delight. Plus, they'll get an extra helping of spinach, which is loaded with vitamins - especially A, C and K - on top of antioxidants and minerals like potassium and iron. Simply add 6 ounces of thawed apple juice concentrate, a peeled banana, 1 1/2 cups fresh spinach and 4 cups ice into your Vitamix. Blend on high for about 40 seconds and you'll have a healthy dessert for your family to enjoy. The kids will never know this non-dairy delight is also nutritious.
Satisfying dessert (or snack)
For an easy option that will keep you full well into the evening hours, create a fruit and yogurt parfait. Fill a tall glass with alternating layers of Greek yogurt, fresh fruit and granola. Popular for its thick, creamy texture and rich taste, Greek yogurt is typically lower in sugar and higher in calcium and protein than regular yogurt. Mix in a touch of honey for extra sweetness. Your family will love the varied flavors and textures. Plus, you can choose any combination you like - from the classic vanilla yogurt with fresh berries, to strawberry yogurt with peaches. A parfait is also a smart breakfast option, providing the calories and energy needed to keep your kids moving throughout the morning.
Everyone knows that avocado makes a great guacamole, but did you know it can also be used in desserts such as mousse, pudding, sorbet and ice cream? It may sound strange, but the fruit's rich, creamy texture lends itself well to many sweet treats. For the chocolate lover in your family, try a smooth chocolate avocado mousse. This raw food recipe uses avocadoes, almond milk, dates and coconut butter for the base, along with cocoa or carob powder for the chocolate flavor. It's best to prepare the mousse ahead of time or while dinner cooks, because it needs to chill for at least an hour before serving. Top with fresh berries or a bit of shaved chocolate for those with an extra-strong sweet tooth.
Making dessert at home puts you in control of the ingredients. It's also a great way to increase the level of vitamins, minerals and healthy nutrients in your family's diet. Fruit is naturally sweet, so it's a great place to start. To enhance flavor even more, experiment with other natural sweeteners, such as agave nectar, honey or stevia in place of granulated sugar.
Whether dessert is a nightly ritual in your household or an occasional treat, use these ideas to satisfy your family's cravings.