If you're looking for a clever way to reduce dessert portions — for your kids or yourself — bites can go a long way. Whether you prepare your own from your favorite recipes or zip into a supermarket bakery, treats like brownie bites, mini cupcakes, muffins and tiny cookies are big on flavor and lighter on calories, carbohydrates and fat.
Even more satisfying and innovative, though, is to stretch the treats by including them as highlights within an even more satiating health-conscious dessert.
Let some of the following rev up your imagination:
Along with a dollop of whipped cream, float a frosted, decorated mini cupcake atop diet root beer or a dark chocolate high-protein shake.
PB&J MUFFIN SANDWICHES
Slice a mini muffin and spread with natural peanut butter or almond butter and fruit-only spread (available in the jam aisles of supermarkets). After closing like a sandwich, lightly dust with ground cinnamon and unsweetened cocoa powder.
Use a small handful of mini cookies as dippers in fruit-flavored Greek yogurt (higher in protein and lower in sugar than traditional yogurts). Also dip mini organic or regular carrots and slices of Fuji apples (sweeter-tasting than many apples).
SUNDAE EVERY DAY
Create a sundae by topping strawberry Greek (or regular) frozen yogurt with a sliced frosted, decorated mini cupcake, sliced fresh strawberries, a few chopped walnuts and sugar-free chocolate syrup.
CORNY BUT TRUE
Slice a mini corn muffin and gently mix with plain popcorn and a few chopped peanuts. Drizzle with sugar-free maple syrup.
OATMEAL COOKIES WITH A TWIST
Break a small handful or chocolate or chocolate chip mini cookies in half and gently mix with oat cereal (like Cheerios) before adding low-fat milk or unsweetened soymilk or almond milk, or using the cookie halves as a topping for warm oatmeal that has been prepared with one of those milks.
AFTER-WORK GOURMET COOKBOOK SHELF
Recently, juice stores and juice cleanses were so widespread that it might not have been that surprising to hear that one had popped up on the moon. However, Moon Juice isn't there. It's a current small, upscale Southern California chain that seems to have distilled all that was best from the juice craze. They also further distilled it into a major publication: "The Moon Juice Cookbook: Cook Cosmically for Body, Beauty, and Consciousness." Mostly raw ingredients and herbs are employed by Moon Juice founder/former fine dining restaurant chef Amanda Chantal Bacon into primarily raw or lightly cooked finished snacks, treats and beverages. More than a decade ago, Bacon's doctors' tests agreed that she helped tame a lifelong thyroid condition with her dietary changes. She expanded and more than 75 tempters like beet juice and seed crackers, cumin and chard crisps and savory tarts with cheese and tomato filling are a few of the unique and tasty "functional food" results.
Lisa Messinger is a first-place winner in food writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the author of seven food books, including "Mrs. Cubbison's Best Stuffing Cookbook" and "The Sourdough Bread Bowl Cookbook." To find out more about Lisa Messinger and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.