Ten healthy things to eat when you really really really want cake

Yep, sometimes I really really really want cake. Chocolate cake topped with a mountain of whipped cream. Mmmm.

Sometimes it's a slice of banana cream pie I crave. Or a Dairy Queen Blizzard. Or a Kit Kat bar.  Or a cupcake, a cookie, brownie, muffin, doughnut, cronut or wonut  (a cross between a waffle and a doughnut, something I never have actually eaten, but really, what's not to like!?).

I love me some sugary-buttery-flour-y food like a baby loves its mother's breast (hence my need to wax on about sweets here on Sugar Buzz Chicago).

I used to gobble up sweets at every meal. And in between. I didn't feel guilty about doing it either. Though I never consumed it in mass qualities in one sitting. Or in one standing for that matter.

But then I got a wake-up call.

It came a couple of years ago after I watched a Sixty Minutes story--biased though it may have been--about how bad the white stuff is for you.

While I listened to the story with a grain of sugar, I mean salt, I did change my behavior. I cut down on my sugar intake along with other evil edibles such as trans fat.

I still treat myself to that bad boy—the cake, the cookie, the brownie, the you-name-it-if-it's-made-with-sugar. But now I only indulge a couple of times a week and on special occasions.

Although my sugar jones peaks in the evenings, most nights I now turn to healthier alternatives. Don't get me wrong. My healthier sweet options still have calories, but they're not empty ones. They contain some solid nutritional value.

And all except one of these options do contain sugar. But it's natural sugar that's in real fruit.

I'm not gonna lie.  They're not as mouth-watering as, say, chocolate mousse or a slice of carrot cake with a thick layer of cream cheese frosting, but they do satiate my desire for sugary treats.

So here it is. My secret go-to list. Nothing fancy or genius here. Just ten healthy things I eat when I really really really want cake.

1. Dried Apricots
I buy a giant bag of these orange beauties at Costco. They're as sweet as candy. No, not chocolate candy. But as sweet as Gummi Bears. Two or three of them satisfy my sweet tooth.

2. Prunes
Or better known these days as dried plums. Same idea as the apricots.

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3. Fruit and Yogurt Parfait
I cut up some of the fresh fruit I have in the house.  Often, it's simply an apple, an orange and a banana. Sometimes I add raspberries, blueberries, strawberries or mango. I mix it up with Trader Joe's plain, low fat, organic yogurt and top it off with a sprinkling of raisins, nuts and occasionally, some shredded coconut.

4. Nuts, Cereal and Raisins
I use a healthier cereal and rely on portion control here. I eat what fits into a ramekin and no more. Dried cherries or cranberries can be substituted for the raisins.

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5. Frozen Blueberries
I pop them in my mouth straight from the freezer. They're like little baby popsicles and make for a great summer treat.

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6. Banana Ice Cream
Speaking of summer treats, it's easy to turn a banana and a little milk into a dessert that looks and tastes like soft serve ice cream. Here's the recipe which appeared on Sugar Buzz Chicago. And here's my Mango-Banana version. I'm going to attempt banana-avocado soon, which sounds like it could be a rich, creamy combo. I'll let you know how it turns out.

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7. Air-popped Popcorn
My husband likes his plain, but I prefer it when it's drizzled with a little olive oil and peppered with garlic powder and parmesan cheese. Otherwise, it's a little too stryofoam-like for my tastes.

8. Sweet Potato
Mash it up with a little cinnamon, and you've got a surprisingly delicious dessert!

9. Baked Apple
Start with a sweeter apple such as a Pink Lady. Chop it up with the skin still on it and top with oatmeal, cinnamon, nutmeg and a wee bit of butter. Then bake.

10. A Kit Kat Bar
There are times when nothing else will do but real, honest-to-goodness CANDY! If you do indulge, just make sure it's mini-size. And eat it s-l-o-w, savoring every mini mouthful. Or better yet, have one of these No Bake Energy Bites, which you can make in minutes and store in the freezer.

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