It's a new year and a new me, so I'm cutting down on junky foods and eating...chocolate pudding. Wait just one minute, chocolate pudding? Yep. And blueberry pie. Blueberry pie? Sure thing. Cookies? Certainly. Peanut butter cups? Beyond a doubt.


Several new cookbooks provide luscious recipes that prove I don't have to miss out on the indulgences I love. It is possible to take care of myself while also savoring dessert.


I use these trimmed-down recipes and exert portion control (no easy task), yet it's a small price to pay for decadent finishes. This method is far superior to my habitual diet procedure: Declare sweets off-limits, feel totally restricted, go nuts one day and vacuum up an entire bakery.


Whether you're causally aiming to do your best; seriously counting sugars, calories or carbohydrates; or avoiding gluten, here are recipes for treats you'll adore.



Half the Sugar All the Love - A Family Cookbook
100 Easy, Low-sugar Recipes for Every Meal of the Day
By Jennifer Tyler Lee and Anisha Patel

Published by Workman Publishing




Chocolate pudding With Maple-Vanilla Whipped Cream


This decadent chocolate pudding is big on flavor and low on added sugar - melted dark chocolate, cocoa powder and a touch of almond butter add plenty of chocolaty sweetness. Its rich, creamy texture comes from avocado, which also provides a boost of healthy fats. Don't worry - you'll never taste the avocado.


Because this pudding is packed with nutritious ingredients and is very rich, the serving size is a little smaller than a packaged pudding cup to keep calories per serving roughly the same. We think you'll find that it's even more satisfying.


2 ounces dark chocolate chips (about cup)
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened almond butter
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 to 12 ounces ripe Hass avocado, peeled and pitted (2 small to medium avocados)
Maple-Vanilla Whipped Cream, for serving (optional)
Fresh raspberries, for serving (optional)


Place the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until melted, about 1 minute total.


Pour the almond milk into a high-powered blender. Add the melted chocolate, cocoa powder, brown sugar, almond butter, vanilla, salt and avocados, and process until smooth and no chunks of avocado remain, about 2 minutes.


Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Divide among 10 small cups. Top each with a dollop of the whipped cream and a few fresh raspberries, if using.


Note: The pudding can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.


Serves: 10


Nutrition Information (about 2 1/2 ounces without Whipped Cream):
Calories: 142 | Added sugar: 1 3/4 teaspoons or 7g | Carbohydrates: 14g | Sodium: 136mg | Saturated fat: 15% of calories or 2g | Fiber: 4g | Protein: 2g



Maple-Vanilla Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
1-1/2 teaspoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Place the cream in the chilled bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, and beat on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. Add the maple syrup and vanilla, and beat on medium-high speed until medium-to-stiff peaks form, about 30 seconds more. Serve immediately.


Makes: 2 cups



Blueberry Pie


Juicy, sweet blueberries are the stars in this classic summertime pie. No added sugar is required! A touch of cinnamon complements the berries, and lemon zest adds brightness. It's delicious with a dollop of maple-vanilla whipped cream for a treat. The dough cutouts are optional, but if you wish to make them, save the scraps from the crust (or use an extra crust), roll them out to an 1/8-inch thickness, and cut out shapes with cookie cutters.


1 prepared (9-inch) pie crust, homemade
or store-bought
7 cups blueberries (about 36 ounces)
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.


Place 4 cups of the blueberries in a saucepan set over medium heat. Cook, smashing occasionally with a wooden spoon or potato masher, until mostly broken down and reduced, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool completely.


Meanwhile, combine the remaining 3 cups blueberries with the cornstarch, lemon zest, cinnamon, salt and vanilla ina large bowl. Add the cooled cooked blueberries and stir to combine. Transfer the mixture to the pie crust.


Whisk together the egg and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl to make an egg wash. Brush the egg wash on the edges of the pie crust (and the dough cutouts, if using).


Place the pie on a rimmed baking sheet (if using the dough cutouts, arrange them on top of the filling) and bake for 25 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue to bake until the crust is golden brown and most of the blueberry liquid has evaporated, 15 minutes more.


Remove from the oven and cool completely, 2 hours. (Because this pie has no added sugar, it takes more time to fully set.) Slice and serve.


Serves: 8


Nutrition Information (1 slice):
Calories: 256 | Added sugar: 0 teaspoons or 0g | Carbohydrates: 34g | Sodium: 303mg | Saturated fat: 26% of calories or 7g | Fiber: 4g | Protein: 4g


Excerpted from "Half the Sugar, All the Love" by Jennifer Tyler Lee and Anisha Patel, MD, MSPH. Photographs by Erin Scott. Workman Publishing ©2019.



Simply Real Eating
Everyday Recipes and Rituals for a Healthy Life Made Simple
By Sarah Adler

Published by Countryman Press




Flourless Everything Cookies


I love a good cookie - it's one of my all-time favorite treats. And this version has it all, without any flour added to it, making it full of hearty nutrients and texture. You can even get away with these as a breakfast treat, because they have eggs, coconut oil, nut butter, chia and flaxseeds, which give these cookies a good amount of healthy fat and protein to keep your blood sugar stable afterward. Either way, they taste amazing and are always in heavy rotation in our weekend kitchen.


2 cups gluten-free oats
2 large organic, cage-free eggs
1 cup unbleached cane or coconut sugar
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped dark or unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup peanut butter or other nut butter
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 tablespoon flax or chia seeds (optional)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Sea salt for sprinkling


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.


Combine all the ingredients, except the sea salt, in a large bowl and mix well. Form the batter into two dozen 1-inch balls, space apart evenly on the prepared baking sheets, and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or form one dozen 2-inch balls and bake for 30 minutes, or until done to your liking.


Sprinkle with sea salt before serving.


Makes: About 24 small or 12 medium cookies



Salted Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups


That's right. No need for the packaged versions ever again with these three-(real) ingredient wonders! You'll need a mini muffin tin and liners for the best results. Keep in the fridge until ready to eat. Also great stored in the freezer.


18 ounces dark chocolate, or six 3-ounce dark chocolate bars
One 18-ounce jar natural peanut butter
Sprinkle of flaky sea salt


Melt the chocolate in a saucepan over medium heat. Line 12 wells of a mini muffin tin with paper liners. Pour or scoop the chocolate into the prepared wells to fill each halfway and then chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes, or until the chocolate cools and hardens.


Next, melt the peanut butter over very low heat until it softens slightly. Remove the muffin tin from the fridge and spoon tiny bits of melted peanut butter over the chocolate, then sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before eating.


Makes: 12 servings


Excerpted from "Simply Real Eating." Text copyright 2020 Sarah Adler, photographs copyright 2020 Carina Skrobecki Photography. Reproduced by permission of The Countryman Press. All rights reserved.




Low Carb Cookbook with 4 Ingredients
By Pascale Naessens

Published by Lannoo




Ricotta-chocolate Cake


Need to make an irresistible cake in no time? No problem!


2 eggs
9 ounces ricotta cheese
1ounce coconut flour
5 ounces 85%-cocoa chocolate callets
1ounce coconut sugar or other sugar


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Beat the eggs with the sugar for 3 minutes. Add the ricotta and the coconut flour and mix. Stir the chocolate callets into the batter. Put the mixture into a cake tin.


Bake the cake in the oven for 25 minutes. Allow the cake to cool before cutting.


• Chocolate callets are small chocolate discs or pearls (like chocolate chips) to be used in desserts. Can't find them? In that case, use regular chocolate and chop it into fine pieces.
• Feel free to add more sugar for a sweeter cake.
• This cake tastes best when it's still lukewarm, but it'll still be soft, making it harder to cut. The cake will set as it cools.


Serves: 4 people (2 people if you want larger slices)



Oven-baked Apples


This tastes so good, but it's more than just a dessert; we sometimes eat it for Sunday lunch.


2 apples
7 ounces ricotta cheese
1-1/2 ounces butter
3 to 4 tablespoons honey
Handful of flaked almonds


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the ricotta over the bottom of a baking dish. Melt the butter and add 3 to 4 tablespoons honey. Slice the apples into 1/2-inch slices, remove the cores and place the apple slices on top of the ricotta.


Spoon some of the honey-butter mixture over the apple, scatter some flaked almonds on top and drizzle with the remaining sweetened butter.


Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.


Serves: 4 for dessert