Five Super-Tasty — and Way-Better-for-You — Dessert Recipes for the Fourth

Three local chefs share the healthy summer treats guests will love.

The dessert table at any Fourth of July picnic usually offers the same high-fat, sugar-filled fare: brownies, cookies, cake, maybe something covered in Cool Whip. They don’t take that long to make, and they’re a sure thing — guests will eat them. But with the right recipes, you can satisfy a sweet tooth without filling your mixing bowl with processed sugar and butter or topping everything with artificially flavored whipped topping. Which is why we went to the city’s smartest chefs when it comes to making healthy food taste great to round up the best better-for-you desserts for your next BBQ.

Here, Katie Cavuto of Healthy Bites (current contestant on The Next Food Network Star!), Dana Fore from Essene Market & Cafe, and Rachel Myers of Sweet Pea Nourishment share their favorite summer picnic sweets. Enjoy!

Mint and Lime Fruit Salad
From Katie Cavuto, Healthy Bites
Serves 10

6 kiwifruit, peeled and cut into 8 wedges
1 pint blackberries
2 cups strawberries, halved
1 medium pineapple, cubed
2 cups grapes
1 1/2 Tbsp. mint (chiffonade)
1 Tbsp. lime zest
Juice from two limes
¼ cup champagne or seltzer

Combine fruit in a bowl. Add remainder of ingredients and mix.

Vegan Chocolate Mousse

From Katie Cavuto, Healthy Bites
Serves 4

1 package silken tofu (12 oz)
10 oz. dark chocolate chunks (most are vegan if not milk chocolate)
1 Tbsp. instant coffee
1 Tbsp. orange zest
3 Tbsp. agave nectar
1 tsp. vanilla extract (optional)
¾ cup non-dairy whipped cream
Fresh fruit, for garnish

1. Blend tofu (preferably at room temperature) in food processor, blender, or with hand mixer until just smooth.
2. In a double boiler, melt chocolate chips over low heat. Stir constantly.
3. Add coffee, orange zest, agave and vanilla to melted chocolate and combine.
4. Add chocolate mixture to tofu and blend into processor until creamy.
5. Fold in non-dairy whipped cream at the end to lighten texture
Serve with fresh fruit

Crispy Brown Rice Treats

From Dana Fore, Essene Market & Cafe
Makes 12

1 1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1 box crispy brown rice cereal
1 1/4 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup raisins (or 1/2 cup raisins and ½ cup chocolate chips)
1/4 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1/3 tsp. sea salt

1. Warm the brown rice syrup slightly in a pot on medium-heat for less then a minute or until loosened.
2. Stir peanut butter, vanilla and sea salt into syrup until well blended.
3. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.
4. Add the brown rice syrup mixture and mix until well combined. (Like you would with Rice Crispy treats!)
5. Lightly grease sheet pan or 6 x 8 inch baking dish.
6. Spread mixture onto pan, pressing lightly and evenly to fill it.
7. Let cool and cut into squares.

Lemon Poppy Pound Cake With Fresh Berries

From Dana Fore, Essene Market & Cafe
Serves 6-8

1/4 lb. tofu (firm or extra firm)
1/2 cup safflower oil
2/3 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup orange juice
1 1/2 tsp. lemon extract or juice & zest of one lemon
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/8 cups unbleached white flour
1 1/8 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp. sea salt, finely ground
2 Tbsp. poppy seeds
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 pints fresh mixed berries, for garnish
Plain or vanilla soy yogurt, for garnish

* Use as many organic ingredients as possible

1. Blend the tofu, oil, maple syrup, orange juice, & extracts until smooth.
2. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
3. Pour the blended liquid into the dry mix and combine.
4. Bake in a lightly oiled bunt or loaf pan at 375 degrees for approximately an hour until a toothpick comes out clean from the center.
5. Allow to cool before cutting.
6. Top each slice with a generous portion of fresh ripe berries (raspberries work well) and finish with a dollop of your favorite plain or vanilla soy yogurt.

Carrot-Ginger Oat Cookies

From Rachel Myers, Sweet Pea Nourishment
Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt, fine grain
1 cup rolled oats
2/3 cup pecans, chopped
1 cup carrots, shredded
1/2 cup real maple syrup, room temperature
1/2 cup unrefined (fragrant) coconut oil, warmed until just melted
1 tsp. fresh ginger, grated

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and oats in a large bowl. Add the nuts and carrots.
3. In a smaller bowl, whisk to combine the maple syrup, coconut oil, and grated ginger. Add this to the flour mixture and stir until just combined.
4. Drop cookie batter onto prepared baking sheets, one tablespoon at a time, leaving 2 or so inches between each cookie. Bake in the top third of the oven for 12 to 14 minutes or until cookies are golden on top and bottom.