Pregnancy can trigger outrageous food cravings, and one of the most common among pregnant women is a yearning for sweet treats. There's nothing wrong with enjoying sweets during pregnancy, but try to choose treats that provide essential nutrients in addition to satisfying your sweet tooth. Making the most of every calorie you eat will help ensure both you and your baby get the nutrition you need.
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If you can't stop dreaming about a slice of cake, opt for a healthier sweet bread like zucchini bread or banana bread. Many stores and bakeries sell them premade, but baking your own helps you control the ingredients so you can add fresh fruit or vegetables, whole grain flour and less sugar. You can also add a dollop of light whipped cream to the top of the cake for a healthier alternative to frosting.
The supermarket freezer section is stocked with colorful popsicles, but most tend to be high in sugar and low in nutrients. To make your own popsicles that offer calcium, protein and essential vitamins, place two parts fresh or frozen fruit -- like berries, watermelon or peaches -- in a blender with one part Greek yogurt, and blend until creamy. If you're using plain yogurt, add a dash of honey for sweetness. Pour the mix into popsicle molds, then freeze for about four hours.
Homemade parfaits are the perfect way to combine nutritious fruit, yogurt and whole grains into one sweet treat. Simply layer reduced-fat Greek yogurt, chilled mixed berries and whole-grain granola in a tall glass, and top with crushed nuts, if desired.
For many sugar addicts, chocolate is the ultimate in sweet indulgences. Surprisingly, this is one treat you can enjoy guilt-free during pregnancy, as long as it's consumed in moderation. Choose dark chocolate with at least 60 percent cocoa, recommends Dr. Ann G. Kulze in an article from "Pregnancy Today." Dark chocolate has healthy antioxidants and is rich in flavor so you only need a few bites to satisfy a craving.
Most supermarkets are stocked with a huge variety of granola bars, so it's not hard to find one that will satisfy a sugar craving while providing some healthy ingredients along the way. Look for bars made with whole grains, and if possible, choose low-sugar varieties. Ingredients like chocolate chips and dried fruit will provide plenty of sweetness, even if the bar has little added sugar.
If ice cream cravings are a regular part of your pregnancy, try replacing it with a frozen yogurt version and creating a healthy sundae. Fill a small bowl with your favorite flavor of frozen yogurt, then pour warmed fruit preserves and a drizzle of chocolate syrup on top before sprinkling the whole thing with a handful of chopped nuts. This treat has all the satisfaction of a traditional sundae, but provides calcium, protein, fiber and an assortment of vitamins.