Top 5 Tips to Indulge Your Sweet Tooth...without Going Overboard!

When it comes to eating and drinking, I'm a big believer in "everything in moderation." One way I keep things moderate, especially when it comes to sweets, is to concoct seemingly decadent and indulgent dessert recipes that are sneakily lighter in fat, sugar and calories. With these 5 handy tricks I've picked up over my years as a recipe developer and dessert lover, there's room for sweet treats in everyone's life! Here's how to satisfy your sweet tooth without going overboard:

1. Go Cute: A key trick to enjoying treats is to keep your portion sizes in check. Use recipes that you can make in ramekins, mini muffin tins, mini pre-baked phyllo cups, shot glasses or in other "preciously-sized" packages - they'll provide automatic portion control and keep you from going overboard with "one more sliver".

2. Swap it Out: For you bakers, there are some ingredients that are easy to substitute for lighter versions that won't compromise flavor or texture such as yogurt, cream cheese, and egg whites. Also, go for low-fat vs. fat free to keep that satisfying rich mouth feel, while still lowering the fat content. You can also cut oil or butter in a recipe in half and replace it with fruit purรฉe. Baby food prunes, applesauce, pumpkin puree, or mashed banana all work great!

3. Split the Recipe: Lots of recipes are written to serve a crowd. Rather than cooking up an entire batch, try dividing the recipe in half or even 1/4, or go for versions that are intended for just 2 or 4 people. Or if the recipe won't work as well divided, consider sharing the extra treats with neighbors and friends or tucking them in the freezer for your next group gathering.

4. Fool your Eyes with Fruit: You can use fresh fruit or a fresh fruit compote to easily make any dessert portion seem bigger without overly impacting fat and calories. Think ice cream sundaes, angel food parfaits, or cheesecake. Another tip? Try adding a bit of lemon juice or zest to your fruit compotes. It lends a burst of bright flavor so you won't need as much sugar.

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My Mini Lemon Cheesecakes with Blueberries recipe is a great example of using all of these tips. They're precious, they're individually sized, the recipe's written to serve 4 and it includes lots of great ingredient "swaps" that make it sneakily healthy while staying darn delicious.

5. The final tip? Ditch Deprivation: If you really have a craving for something sweet, completely denying yourself may lead to you to overindulge on something else. So use my tips above, go ahead and have a reasonable portion of what you're craving and be sure to enjoy every sweet bite!

Want more great decadent-seeming yet delicious dessert inspiration?  

Check out My Weight Watchers Blog "What's Cooking with Julie" - the latest post features these tips plus 4 of my favorite Weight Watchers dessert recipes.  Enjoy!