I love luscious desserts as much as the next guy, but they tend to be heavy and over the top, especially after a long meal. If you’re looking for a nice close to a meal, but not an overload, a lighter treat is the way to go.

One of my favorites is cheese. Most good cheeses are as complex and intricate as desserts, but without the added weight (both physically and mentally). Cheese works both at restaurants and at home. Most restaurants with a cheese option heavily curate their offerings. This is a good sign. They found an array of cheeses that work cohesively with the meal you just ate. The cost of a cheese plate might be more than a sugary dessert, but if you think about paying for the gym after you eat a molten chocolate cake, cheese might be a more cost-conscious decision. 

As for home, cheese is still a great close to the meal, but the curation is up to you. One of our favorites right now is Comté (Com-te). The cheese is made from unpasteurized cow’s milk in the Franche-Comté region of eastern France. Comté means country in French. The cheese is on the hard side, but slightly sweet. A few slices will give you the real taste without overloading. 

Another light treat is Greek yogurt. I loved Go-Gurt and Daminals too— when I was eight. It’s time to step up to the big leagues… of yogurt. Greek yogurt contains a high amount of protein and a minimal amount of carbs and sodium, compared to its regular counterpart. 

Going Greek also tastes better and allows for more freedom. If you like food in its natural state, then you can eat it right out of the container. If you like fruit, there isn’t much tastier than fresh berries and Greek yogurt. And you can add honey to basically any combination and it won’t disappoint. If you’re not a fan of honey, agave will taste the same, if not better, because of the lower sugar count and more delicate taste. 

There is strong evidence that Greek yogurt is the next frozen yogurt. It’s healthier, more filling and far less messy. We are already starting to see the push toward Greek. (I’m sorry the dozens of Pinkberry spin-offs. It’s too late. Go copy something else.) Just this past September, Chobani, the most popular Greek yogurt brand, opened a concept store in SoHo, NYC. It is the first of its kind. The shop showcases a straightforward menu of around a dozen options, made to order in a bustling kitchen right behind the counter. 

Now it’s easy to pass the concept store off as exactly that: a trial of a concept. But the store is often packed with tourists, new customers, and plenty of return customers. The craze seems to become a staple, with more to come. 

The Chobani store in SoHo
The Chobani store in SoHo
By: Meng He

Our last recommendation isn’t even dessert. Surprisingly, having a really light salad after a heavy entrée has some wonderful effects. It’s light; your stomach will have room for it and is refreshing after a heavier main course. The Cooks’ House, a small farm to table restaurant in Traverse City, MI, serves a salad after the entrée if you order off the tasting menu. The choice is counterintuitive but is surprisingly enjoyable. It cleans your palette and wakes you up, especially if you just downed a ribeye.   

The bottom line is that dessert doesn’t mean stuffing your face until you can no longer stand up. It should be the cap to the meal, not the meal itself. Try going light for a few meals. If you don’t like it, and really need that chocolate lava cake, then so be it. We just don’t think that will be the case.