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How to offer guilt-free desserts

September 29 2016

Whether or not to order a dessert is a common quandary for diners. They might be stuffed after their main course, or reluctant to spend too much money. But more often than not, they will be worried about the extra calories and as a result, they'll opt out so they don't need to feel guilty about overindulging afterwards.

Of course, this leads to missed opportunities for both parties. The diner might have missed out on a genuinely scrumptious final course, while the restaurant has lost out of the sale of one of its dishes.

Fortunately, there is a way round this - making desserts healthier and promoting their health credentials to customers.

This is actually easier than you might think. It just takes a few clever substitutions of ingredients to make something that tastes naughty and indulgent, but is ridiculously low in calories, added sugars and saturated fat.

Fat-free ice cream

With a few tubs of fat-free yoghurt and fromage frais, along with some vanilla essence and sweetener, you have a creamy, delicious and healthy ice cream. And all you need to do is use different flavour yoghurts or serve with various fruits to make it even more varied.

Fat-free chocolate mousse

Chocolate mousse, believe it or not, is also something that doesn't need to be loaded with fat and sugar.

Use quark and fat-free fromage frais as the basis for a creamy and sweet-tasting mousse, along with some artificial sweetener and a sachet of hot chocolate. 

It's actually so healthy that a diner can have several servings without ever feeling bloated or worried about piling on the pounds.

Fruit sorbet

Fruits are loaded with natural sugars that are good for you, so there's no need to use artificial sweetener to enhance the taste of a healthy fruit sorbet. Blend fruits of your choice, such as summer berries or mangoes, with some fat-free yoghurt and freeze, and there you have it, a sweet-tasting and delicious fruit sorbet that looks as good as it tastes.

Cheesecake

Quark again is the dieter's best friend with this one, as it's a wonderfully low-fat alternative to less healthy cheeses in this classic dessert. Use low-fat butter or vegetable spread and fat-free yoghurt - and then you can add the genuinely indulgent treats like biscuits and chocolate. You don't need to feel too guilty about having these if it's complemented by some genuinely healthy options.

Banoffee pie

Fat-free toffee yoghurt is the key ingredient if you want to make a healthier version of this classic pudding. Use low-fat spread, quark, artificial sweetener and reduced fat digestive biscuits to keep the calorie count down and you have a healthy Banoffee pie that doesn't compromise on flavour at any point.

Other hints and tips

Reduce portion sizes

Diners might feel more inclined to go for a treat at the end of their meal if it isn't intimidatingly large. So offer some mini desserts that are mouth-watering rather than eye-watering. 

A large slice of cake might make people worry about how full they'll feel later and how much weight they'll put on, whereas a small slice looks as if it just slip down pleasantly without any problem.

Serve fruit as standard

Even the most indulgent desserts look a bit healthier if they're served up with fruit, such as apricot slices or berries. While the calorie count might possibly be high, at least any guilt the customer might feel is abated if they have eaten something healthy alongside it.

Let customers know about healthy options

Of course, you can make all the clever ingredient swaps that you want but it won't make a big difference unless you actively tell diners what you're doing and how you're working to make your desserts healthier. Only if they know about it can they make an informed decision and be willing to go for that final course.

It can be frustrating for restaurateurs to see diners lap up a starter and main course and not complete the package with a dessert.

But with a little psychology and some genuinely healthy and no less tasty ingredient swaps, you can encourage people to savour some delicious and nutritious final courses - and spend more money at your restaurant in the process!