Tag Archives: healthy dessert

Day 4 of Julie’s SNAP Challenge

Woke up feeling hungry, but not as bad as yesterday morning. I believe this was because I ate so much last night for dinner! I ate oatmeal, peanut butter, and milk again. I hate to say it but I am starting to crave sweets and sugar! Like I mentioned before, I normally eat brown sugar in my oatmeal, as well as other sweet things throughout the day like fruit, chocolate, granola bars, etc. My sugar cravings are rearing their ugly head this morning!!!

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Chickpea Craze

Written by Amanda Presler
Part of National Nutrition Month 2013

You might be familiar with garbanzo beans, also know as chickpeas, but did you know all you can do with them? Because they are legumes, chickpeas are a great source of protein and fiber! One serving of chickpeas provides you with just 120 calories. 20 grams of carbs, 6 grams of fiber (24% of your daily fiber intake!), 6 grams of protein to keep you feeling full AND 10% of your daily iron intake are all packed into this single serving! Furthermore, chickpeas contain many unsaturated essential amino acids, including linoleic and oleic acids. Riboflavin, niacin, thiamin and folate are examples of vitamins also contained in chickpeas that are so important in the diet. When eaten as part of your regular healthy diet, chickpeas can help prevent diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, digestive problems, and even potentially some cancers. As an added bonus, a can of chickpeas costs about a dollar at the grocery store so you won’t break the bank stocking up!

garbanzo beans

Image by Amanda Presler

Give your recipes a fun, healthy twist by using chickpeas! I recently used a recipe with chickpeas to make super easy gluten-free cookies. Blended chickpeas, honey, peanut butter and some other ingredients were combined to substitute for gluten-producing flour. The peanut butter and honey served as binding agents holding the processed chickpeas together in substitution of typical cookie ingredients! Throw in some peanuts or chocolate chips and you have a gluten-free cookie that doesn’t have to taste gluten-free!

Chickpea cookie recipe:

A couple notes: I’ve also used less chickpeas (even ½ cup) and they turned out great! Also try adding 1 Tbs of brown sugar, and experiment with chocolate chips, chopped peanuts, shredded coconut, or toss in another ingredient you might want to try!

Chickpeas are also great tossed into a salad as a protein source, pureed into hummus (where you can add other ingredients such as roasted red pepper), or even just cooked and served as a side dish. The taste of chickpeas goes well with a wide variety of other foods, so the possibilities are endless!

Here are a few links to some chickpea recipes:


I hope this post will inspire you to get creative and find ways to incorporate chickpeas into some of your everyday recipes. Be sure to let me know some ways that you’re using your chickpeas!


Jukanti, A.K., Gaur, P.M., Gowda, C.L., Chibbar, R.N., “Nutritional quality and health benefits of chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.): a review.,” British Journal of Nutrition, vol. 108, 16 pages, 2012. Retrieved from: http://journals.cambridge.org.ezproxy.lib.vt.edu:8080/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=8675336.

Don’t Doubt Dark Chocolate

Written by Nicole Guyette
Part of National Nutrition Month 2014

Many people think chocolate is sinful, but what if this isn’t true? Chocolate actually has some great qualities. What? Sounds crazy, right? Except, it’s not. Chocolate, specifically dark chocolate, has a ton of health benefits found in its delicious taste. Don’t believe me? Well, you’re in for a treat.

health benefits of chocolate

Image by Nicole Guyette
Choose DARK options!

Dark chocolate has high levels of cocoa with little added sugar. When eaten in moderation, dark chocolate has a lot of benefits. What are those benefits? I thought you’d never ask. Dark chocolate can have positive effect on cholesterol levels by lowering LDL cholesterol. The antioxidants in dark chocolate can decrease blood clots, increase blood flow, and lower blood pressure. Did I debunk the myth? Are you convinced that chocolate isn’t always bad for you? It’s okay, there’s more. Dark chocolate can increase levels of serotonin and endorphin in the brain, increasing your mood while eating it. When eaten regularly, it has even been shown to help cognitive function in older populations. On top of all that, it contains important minerals such as calcium and potassium. Keep in mind, this is only true for dark chocolate. Milk, white, and other forms of chocolate don’t have these benefits!

Now, this doesn’t mean you should run to the store, buy the biggest bag of dark chocolate and eat it all in one sitting. Dark chocolate is only good in moderation. In fact, 7 oz a week (1 oz a day) is the recommended intake. That’s about a business card’s worth of chocolate a day!

So go ahead and eat some guilt free dark chocolate. Remember to always look for DARK on labels! How are you going to enjoy yours? A mug of dark hot chocolate? Dark chocolate covered fruit? Always remember, you can enjoy the taste of eating right!


University of Michigan Integrative Medicine. (n.d.). Dark chocolate. Retrieved from http://www.med.umich.edu/umim/food-pyramid/dark_chocolate.htm

Disclaimer: Commercial products are named in this publication for informational purposes only. Virginia Cooperative Extension does not endorse these products and does not intend discrimination against other products which also may be suitable.

Delicious AND Healthy Chocolate Pudding… Is It Possible? Yes! It Is!

Written by Ashley Francis
Part of National Nutrition Month 2014

If you are a picky-eater like me, trying new recipes and finding ways to incorporate fruits and vegetables into your diet is challenging. I mean it is really tough! My favorite staple-foods (sweet-treats, steak, and potatoes) offer little nutritional benefit. I also love high-fat meals because they quickly satisfy my hunger. Coincidentally, I am super passionate about nutrition and health, and as you can imagine, this sometimes presents a real challenge!

healthy chocolate pudding

Image by Ashley Francis

If you also have this problem, TRY THIS RECIPE! It will help you enjoy the taste of eating right! Full of fiber, good fats, vitamins and minerals, this recipe is delicious and nutritious. The ingredients may make you second-guess my claims, but this chocolate pudding will please even the pickiest eater. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 avocados (pitted and peeled)
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • ¾ cup maple syrup
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp. cinnamon
  • A pinch of salt
chocolate avocado pudding

Image by Ashley Francis

Simply toss everything into a blender, run for about 2-3 minutes, and voila! Yummy pudding that tastes NOTHING like the nutritious ingredients it’s made from. Skeptical? Try it out just to see if it’s really possible to make a chocolate pudding from avocados. I have a feeling your curiosity will get the best of you; and you may end up licking the bowl when you’re done because it’s so delicious! This sweet treat is high in calories because of the healthy fats in avocados and the sugar in maple syrup, so it’s not a daily indulgence. Keep your serving size to ½ cup.

Taste is such an important part of eating. This recipe proves that eating right can still taste good – even for picky eaters. What do you think? Are you willing to give chocolate avocado pudding a try?


Duyff, R. (2013, April). 365 Days of healthy eating from the American Dietetic Association: a to avocados. Retrieved from: http://www.eatright.org/kids/tip.aspx?id=6442462343&terms=avocados
Montminy, Z. (2013, Dec. 6). A good for you chocolate pudding you can’t resist. Retrieved from: http://www.fitsugar.com/Healthy-Chocolate-Pudding-Recipe-Raw-Vegan-26106273

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

Written by Erin Ford
Part of National Nutrition Month 2014

sweet treat without the guilt

Image by Caroline Stephenson

It’s 8pm and so far you’ve stuck to your decision to live a healthier life. You woke up early and prepared a delicious breakfast, packed a colorful meal for lunch at work, and made stir-fry packed with so much zest and flavor you thought you were in Thailand.

But as you relax on the couch, enjoying your favorite TV show, you get an urge. You want anything sweet; no make that, everything sweet. In a moment of weakness you find yourself indulging in a pint of double chocolate chip ice cream.

We’ve all experienced the magical force that makes ice cream randomly appear in our lap. I understand, you accomplished eating tasty and nutritional meals all day but you want to satisfy your sweet tooth too.

Do you have a serious love and appreciation for Pinterest like I do? If yes, then this is a great site to visit for more fun and creative ideas for healthier desserts. Before you click over to Pinterest, here are some ways you can “indulge” in the sweets without ruining your day of hard work to fit in all your veggies.

  • Fruit based Frozen Yogurt or Fruit Sorbet
    • Frozen yogurt and sorbet contain less calories and fat on average than ice cream. These items can be tangy, sweet, or tart and leave you feeling refreshed while ice cream leaves you feeling weighed down and thirsty.
  • Chopped fruit dipped in chocolate
    • Chop up any fruits you can find, melt some dark chocolate, dip, and savor the delicate balance of rich and tangy flavors.
    • This allows you to get your chocolate fix while enjoying an intense and sophisticated flavor.

Remember, it’s okay to eat that square of chocolate staring you down, don’t be too strict with food. These are just quick sugar fixes to satisfy you without putting a dent in your healthy day. Take these suggestions and apply them to your favorite nighttime snack. For example, turn the chocolate dip idea into a fondue fountain when you have all your friends over! How can you make your guilty pleasure a little less guilty?


Cunningham, E. (2013, April). Stop the cravings. Retrieved from: