A healthy approach to desserts

Published 9:19 pm Thursday, March 26, 2015

I have something of a sweet tooth, particularly for chocolate, but also for fruit and honey. So watching three local chefs judge their colleagues’ creations in the second annual Healthy Dessert Contest last week without lunging across the table and ripping the desserts from their hands was a difficult task.

I did manage to accomplish it, however, and was rewarded with a small serving of leftovers that had been left in the kitchen at the Obici Healthcare Foundation office by one of the contestants. I thought it was delicious, and it didn’t even wind up being one of the winners. I can only imagine what the award winners tasted like.

To my delight, all of the winners in the healthy dessert contest used either chocolate or fruit — and some used both.

Email newsletter signup

Judge’s Choice went to Vintage Tavern for its Whoopie Pie with Strawberry Sorbet. Best Presentation, also chosen by the judges, went to the Chocolate Meringue from River Stone Chophouse. People’s Choice, chosen by the votes of diners, went to Mosaic Restaurant for its Ginger Agave Panna Cotta, which was topped with grilled oranges.

I try to monitor my sugar and calorie intake (the operative word there is “try”), so I am all for healthy desserts. Regardless of our health status, we could all use a healthy option to give us that sweet taste without the sugar and calories.

Restaurant Week and the accompanying contest are over. But part of the point of the contest is to encourage diners to choose healthy options and encourage restaurants to put healthy options on the menu. Some of last year’s winners are even still on the menu in their respective restaurants, and it’s probably a safe bet some of this year’s winners will be as well.

Let the Healthy Dessert Contest be your inspiration to make healthier choices every day — whether you’re at a restaurant, at the grocery store, at home deciding what to cook and how to cook it, or planning how to spend a nice day outdoors. And if you’re not sure what choice would constitute the healthier option, ask your doctor next time you see her.

The end of the contest also almost coincided with Diabetes Alert Day, which was Tuesday. If you have one or more risk factors, you should also ask your doctor about your risk. Type 2 diabetes has many risk factors, some that are controllable and others that aren’t.

Risk factors you can’t control, but which you should consider with the others, include:

  • Being a man
  • Being a race other than white
  • Your age — the older you are, the more at risk you are
  • Your family history, especially a parent or sibling with diabetes
  • Your personal history — if you have ever been diagnosed with gestational diabetes or high blood pressure, you are at increased risk

But there are risk factors you can control, too. Being at a healthy weight and being physically active decrease your risk for Type 2 diabetes, and so does not smoking. It’s never too late to start working toward those goals.