(BPT) – If you have a sweet tooth but are trying to eat healthy and avoid extra calories, you may be overlooking the appeal of a warm, flavorful dessert based on your favorite baked fruit.
Imagine the cinnamon pie-like tang of a perfectly baked McIntosh apple, the creamy goodness of naturally caramelized banana slices or the comfort-food pleasure of sweet, vanilla-roasted peaches.
“Instead of rolling out a pie crust or agonizing over the measurements for a time-consuming cake, all you need to do is slice the fruit and cook it simply on the stove or in the oven,” states an article on Plated.com. “(That allows) the heat to caramelize the natural sugars and transform it into a warming, indulgent dessert that’s still easy on the waistline.”
Seeking ideas for deliciously simple baked fruit desserts that call for little to no sugar, so you can feel good about serving them to family and friends? Consider the following.
- Sweet and savory roasted grapes. Toss a pound of red grapes in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of olive olive and 2 teaspoons of fresh marjoram, fresh thyme or fresh oregano. Roast them on a baking sheet at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until they begin to split. Season them to taste with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and a little balsamic or sherry vinegar, then serve — perhaps with a cheese plate.
- Sugar-free baked apples. Wash and core four Fuji, McIntosh or Granny Smith apples, leaving the bottoms intact. Mix 4 tablespoons of coconut oil with a little salt and a tablespoon each of cinnamon and cardamom. Stuff the apples with the filling, baking them uncovered for about an hour at 350 degrees until the flesh is tender. Enjoy both the flavor and the delicious smells wafting through your house.
- Baked bananas with nutmeg. Over medium heat, sauté 1 tablespoon cornstarch, a cup of water and up to 1/2 cup sugar, to taste. Bring to a boil before removing and stirring in 2 tablespoons butter, 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice and a pinch each of nutmeg and salt. Drizzle the mixture over bananas that have been sliced and placed in a casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.
- Broiled pears with hazelnuts. Core and cut in half lengthwise three ripe pears, removing any tough ends. De-seed the hollows, arranging the fruit peel-side down in a baking pan. Fill the hollows with chopped hazelnuts and a little butter. Sparingly sprinkle cinnamon and powdered ginger on top, adding a little brown sugar, to taste. Cover and bake at 180 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes until the fruit is tender but not mushy.
- Roasted honey-nut pineapple. Cut a peeled, cored ripe pineapple into eight lengthwise wedges. Marinate the slices for 10 minutes in a mixture of 1/2 cup orange juice, 3 tablespoons honey and brown sugar, to taste. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper, flipping and brushing with the marinade halfway through. Serve with chopped pistachios, fresh mint leaves and yogurt, if desired.
For many people, dessert is the best part of any meal. But that doesn’t mean every dessert dish has to be so saturated in sugar that it lacks nutritional value. When planning your menus this season, think about serving up sweet treats that feature the natural goodness of fresh fruit.
Shop Meijer’s produce departments nationwide to find a huge variety of fresh fruits you can turn into delicious, nutritious desserts.