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The Dessert-a-Day Diet

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Sample Day of Meals

You're working out five days a week. (Not easy, we know.) Your reward: Indulge in sundaes, crepes, and chocolate — and still lose weight! Pick one breakfast, snack, lunch, dinner, and dessert each day from the choices here, aiming for a total of 1,500 calories. You'll lose a few pounds a week and never, ever feel deprived. Below is a sample meal plan to show you just how well you'll be eating as you shed those extra inches.

Breakfast

(about 300 calories)

Quick Breakfast Pizza
Cooking spray
1 egg plus 2 egg whites
1 whole-grain pita (5 inches), toasted
2 tablespoons shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup grapes
Make it: Spray skillet with cooking spray and scramble eggs. Top toasted pita with egg, cheese, and oregano. Broil for 5 minutes, until cheese is bubbling. Serve with grapes.

Snack

(about 150 calories)

Spicy Peanut Spread on Celery
1 tablespoon peanut butter
Cayenne pepper to taste
1/2 lime, juiced
4 medium celery stalks
Make it: Mix peanut butter, cayenne, and lime juice. (To soften peanut butter, microwave it for 30 seconds.) Spread on celery.

Lunch

(about 400 calories)

Turkey, Mozzarella, and Basil Wrap
2 small (6-inch) whole-grain tortillas
3 ounces turkey
11-ounce slice part-skim mozzarella cheese, cut in half
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 medium apple
Make it: Fill tortillas with turkey, cheese, and basil. Serve with apple.

Dinner

(about 500 calories)

Maple-Lime Salmon with Cilantro Couscous
4 ounces salmon
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 lime, juiced
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup whole wheat couscous
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Dash of salt and pepper
1 cup frozen broccoli, cooked
1 teaspoon olive oil
Make it: Put salmon on a cookie sheet. Mix maple syrup with lime juice. Pour over salmon and broil for 8 to 12 minutes, until fish flakes with a fork. Bring water and couscous to a boil, remove from heat, and cover for 12 minutes. Stir cilantro, salt, and pepper into couscous; serve with salmon and broccoli drizzled with olive oil.

Dessert

(about 150 calories)

Sauteed Strawberry Sundae
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 cup sliced strawberries
1/2 cup light vanilla ice cream
Make it: Saute vinegar, honey, and strawberries for 3 minutes. Top ice cream with warm berries.

Breakfast Choices (about 300 calories)

Skillet Pesto-Potatoes and Eggs

Cooking spray
3/4 cup finely chopped potatoes
1 tablespoon prepared pesto
1 whole egg
1/2 medium grapefruit
Make it: Spray skillet with cooking spray. Add potatoes and cook until golden, about 12 minutes, turning once. Toss potatoes with pesto and put on plate. Spray skillet with cooking spray again, cook egg, and place on top of potatoes. Serve with grapefruit.

Breakfast Burrito

1 Amy's Breakfast Burrito (prepared according to package directions)
1 small peach

Toast with Walnut and Pear Spread

1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1 tablespoon chopped walnuts
1/2 medium pear, finely chopped
2 teaspoons honey
1 slice whole-grain bread, toasted
Make it: Mix cottage cheese, walnuts, pear, and honey (for smoother texture, puree in blender). Spread on toast.

Waffle with Fresh Blueberries and Lemon Syrup

3/4 cup blueberries
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 whole-grain frozen waffle (4-inch), toasted
1 8-ounce glass skim or light soy milk
Make it: Mash blueberries with fork and mix with maple syrup and lemon juice. Top waffle with blueberry mixture. Serve with milk.

Strawberry, Banana, and Flax Smoothie

1/2 medium banana
1/2 cup frozen unsweetened strawberries
1 1/2 cups skim milk or light soy milk
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
Make it: Blend all until smooth.

Takeout!

From Au Bon Pain:
Medium oatmeal
Small fruit cup

Snacks (about 150 calories)

Honey-Curry Dip with Carrots

1/3 cup low-fat plain yogurt
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 cup baby carrots
Make it: Mix yogurt with honey and curry powder. Dip carrots.

Corn Chips and Salsa Verde

10 corn chips
2 tablespoons prepared green salsa

Yogurt with Honey and Sunflower Seeds

6 ounces low-fat plain yogurt
1 teaspoon honey
2 teaspoons sunflower seeds
Make it: Mix all ingredients together.

Mini Ham and Honey-Mustard Sandwiches

1 tablespoon honey-mustard salad dressing
1 slice whole-grain bread, cut into 4 squares
1 ounce low-fat ham
Make it: Spread honey-mustard dressing on bread and top with ham. (Makes 2 mini sandwiches.)

Grapefruit Spritzer and Soy Nuts

4 ounces 100 percent grapefruit juice
8 ounces sparkling water
1/4 cup soy nuts
Make it: Stir together grapefruit juice and sparkling water. Serve with soy nuts.

Crackers and Chevre (goat cheese)

6 whole-grain crackers
1/2 ounce goat cheese

Lunch choices (about 400 calories)

White-Bean Gazpacho with Whole-Grain Roll

1/2 cup canned white beans, rinsed and drained
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
1 cup finely chopped cucumber
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1 cup low-sodium tomato juice
Dash of salt and pepper
1 medium whole-grain roll
Make it: Mix beans, tomato, cucumber, garlic, vinegar, tomato juice, and salt and pepper. Serve with roll.

Asian Tuna Salad

1/4 cup low-fat plain yogurt
1 teaspoon wasabi powder
1/2 lime, juiced
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
3 ounces tuna, packed in water
2 cups napa cabbage, shredded
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Make it: Whisk together yogurt, wasabi, lime juice, olive oil, and soy sauce. Toss with tuna, cabbage, carrots, and almonds.

Feta, Hummus, and Cucumber Sandwich

2/3 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons feta cheese
2 slices whole-grain bread
6 cucumber slices
Make it: With potato masher, mash chickpeas, lemon, garlic, and feta. Spread on bread and top with cucumber.

Bruschetta Burger with Spinach Salad

1 vegetarian burger
2 tablespoons premade bruschetta spread
1 whole-grain hamburger bun
2 cups baby spinach
2 tablespoons vinaigrette
Make it: Heat burger in microwave. Place on bun and top with bruschetta. Serve with spinach tossed with vinaigrette.

Takeout!

From Panera Bread:
1/2 Chicken Salad Sandwich on whole-grain bread
1/2 Classic Cafe Salad with balsamic vinaigrette

From Taco Bell:
Fresco Ranchero Chicken Soft Taco
Fresco Grilled Steak Soft Taco
Side of guacamole

Dinner Choices (about 500 calories)

Cashew and Coconut Tofu Stir-Fry with Brown Rice

1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 1-inch slice ginger, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 ounces firm tofu, cubed
1 cup frozen stir-fry vegetables
1/3 cup light coconut milk
2 tablespoons cashews, chopped
1/2 cup microwavable brown rice
Make it: Heat oil, ginger and garlic in skillet for 1 minute. Add tofu and saute for 8 minutes, turning once or twice. Add vegetables, coconut milk and cashews; cover and cook another 8 minutes. Microwave brown rice, then top with tofu and veggie mixture.

Parmesan Pasta with Asparagus and White Beans

2 ounces uncooked whole wheat pasta
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups bite-size pieces asparagus (about 10 spears)
1/4 cup canned white beans, rinsed and drained
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Make it: Cook pasta. In a pan, saute oil, garlic, and asparagus for 4 minutes. Add beans and cook for 4 more minutes. Toss pasta with bean mixture and parmesan.

Spinach-Ricotta Frittata with Tossed Green Salad

Cooking spray
1 1/2 cups baby spinach
2 eggs plus 2 egg whites, whisked together
1/3 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
Dash of salt and pepper
2 cups romaine lettuce
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 tablespoons low-fat Italian dressing
Make it: Spray skillet with cooking spray and saute spinach for 2 minutes, until wilted. Stir in eggs, ricotta, and salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat without stirring for 4 minutes; then flip frittata and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Serve with lettuce tossed with pine nuts and dressing.

Curried Quinoa Salad with Grilled Shrimp

3 ounces frozen uncooked shrimp, thawed under running water for 5 minutes
1 teaspoon olive oil
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup quinoa
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1 tablespoon dried cranberries
1 cup chopped cucumbers
2 scallions, chopped
Make it: Toss shrimp with oil. Grill for 6 to 8 minutes, flipping once. Bring water and quinoa to a boil, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in curry, cranberries, cucumbers, and scallions. Top with shrimp.

Takeout!

From Chili's:
Guiltless Chicken Sandwich Meal (with black beans and steamed seasonal veggies)

From Ruby Tuesday:
Petite Sirloin
Creamy Mashed Cauliflower
Fresh Tomato and Mozzarella Salad

Desserts (about 150 calories)

Grilled Pineapple with Gingersnap-Crumb Topping

3 canned pineapple rings, packed in juice
3 tablespoons crushed gingersnap cookies (about 2 small cookies)
Make it: Grill pineapple for 3 minutes on each side. Top with crushed cookies.

Peach and Blackberry Crepe

1 small peach, chopped
1/4 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1 premade crepe (found in the produce department)
1 tablespoon 100-percent blackberry fruit spread
Make it: Mix together peaches and cottage cheese, then roll into crepe. Microwave fruit spread for 30 seconds and drizzle over crepe.

Ice Cream Treat

1/2 cup Breyers Rocky Road Double Churn Light Ice Cream

Dark-Chocolate-Covered Graham Crackers

4 small graham-cracker rectangles
2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips
Make it: Microwave chocolate chips for 30 seconds, until just melted. Spread graham crackers with chocolate and let sit for 10 minutes, until chocolate has hardened.

Homemade Mango-Lime Sorbet

1/2 cup frozen mango pieces
2 limes, juiced
1 tablespoon honey
Make it: Puree ingredients in a blender until smooth and thick.

Takeout!

From Starbucks:
Petite Vanilla Bean Scone
Grande Iced Coffee (unsweetened)

More Guilt-Free Treats on the Go

Still craving sweets? There are plenty of healthy, ready-to-eat goodies that won't derail your diet. We put them to the taste test and picked our faves. The trick: Take just one serving from the bag or box and put it on a plate or in a bowl to prevent mindless munching.

2 Skinny Cow Vanilla and Caramel Skinny Dippers = 160 calories
1 VitaBrownie = 100 calories
2 Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (1 pack South Beach Living) = 100 calories
3/4 cup Ciao Bella Raspberry Sorbetto = 150 calories
3 Firecracker Popsicles = 105 calories
Weight Watchers English Toffee Crunch bar = 110 calories
1 Kraft Handi-Snacks Chocolate Pudding = 100 calories
1 Nabisco 100 Calorie Packs Mister Salty Milk Chocolate Covered Pretzels = 100 calories

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, August 2008.

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