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2/21/2022
Seasonal

Eat Dessert With Your Favorite President

Written by
Brooke McKelvey
Team Nutrisense
Reviewed by
Carlee Hayes
RDN, CD
an American flag in a chocolate muffin

Wouldn't history be a little more fun if it included some tasty treats to eat, as you learned? Well, you now have that chance! This Presidents Day, we're taking you through a list of desserts you can enjoy while learning more about your favorite president.

But first, if you didn't already know, Presidents Day is a federal holiday celebrated annually in the United States on the third Monday of February. It honors the country's history of presidents and presidential service. The day was originally known as Washington's Birthday but later renamed Presidents Day to include all U.S. presidents. There have been 46 presidents to date, and as you can imagine, they all had pretty diverse tastes when it came to sweet treats

If you want to connect with our presidents' past and devour some delicious treats at the same time, then this history lesson is for you!

10 Desserts Loved by Presidents

Here's a list of 10 tasty desserts that past presidents would definitely approve of. Find your favorite, and then see what our dietitian Carlee Hayes says about its effects on your health and blood glucose!

1) Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson and his favourite dessert Monticello Muffins

Thomas Jefferson is one of the most famous and influential figures in American history. He was a founding father, author of the Declaration of Independence, and third president of the United States. Jefferson was also an architect, educator, musician, and scientist. 

And the most exciting thing we've learned about him recently is that his favorite dessert was something called "Monticello Muffins."

This recipe was adapted from the original by Susan McCrary and Katherine G Revell from the Monticello staff. Check out the simple ingredients below and our pro tip to make it healthier:

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of flour
  • 1 1/2 packets of yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • A cast-iron skillet

Pro Tip:

This simple recipe is low in fat and protein, which means it’s almost purely carbohydrates. These foods are often more rapidly digested and can contribute to larger blood sugar responses. Although most restaurants offer breads and rolls before the main meal (think Olive Garden breadsticks or Texas Roadhouse rolls), this isn’t an ideal way to eat. I’d recommend eating Jefferson’s favorite muffins after a protein-rich meal, which can help keep blood sugars (and energy levels) stable!

2) William Henry Harrison

William Henry Harrison and his favourite dessert pound cake

William Henry Harrison, born in Virginia in 1773, was the ninth president of the United States. Harrison served in the War of 1812 and later became a congressman and ambassador to Colombia. 

In 1840, he became President but served for just one month before dying from pneumonia. His favorite dessert is popular to this day—the humble pound cake. 

Check out the simple ingredients for this recipe below and our pro tip to make it healthier:

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons milk (skim, low fat, or whole)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1-1/3 cups cake flour, spooned into a measuring cup and leveled with a straight edge
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 13 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (no need to cut it into pieces)

Pro Tip:

Poundcake is a dense dessert, containing about 30 grams of carbohydrates per small slice. While this can definitely be a part of a healthy diet, there’s always something we can do to improve your body’s response! Research shows that having a small salad before a meal can improve your body’s response to carbohydrates (like those found in poundcake!). The fiber in the salad can help fill you up while promoting better digestion—all essential components of a good blood sugar response. 

3) Millard Fillmore

Millard Fillmore and his favourite dessert corn pudding

Millard Fillmore, the 13th president of the United States, is one of the lesser-known presidents. He was born in 1798 in New York and died in 1874. He was a part of the Whig Party and became President after Zachary Taylor died in office. 

Millard Fillmore is perhaps best remembered for signing the Compromise of 1850. He also helped to establish the University at Buffalo. 

His favorite dessert? The Southern favorite, an old-fashioned corn pudding! Check out the simple ingredients for this recipe below and our pro tip to make it healthier:

Ingredients:

  • 5 eggs 
  • ⅓ cup butter, melted
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 (14 ounces) can corn kernels, drained
  • 2 (14.75 ounce) cans cream-style corn

Pro Tip:

This dessert has a shockingly high proportion of eggs, which means it’s higher in protein and vital nutrients like choline! One small swap to add a boost of nutrition to this dish would be to opt for pasture-raised eggs. Unlike other eggs, pasture-raised eggs have higher vitamin A and E concentrations, plus more omega-3 fatty acids. They are a little pricier, though, so if that’s in your budget, no worries! All eggs are healthy eggs.

4) Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln and his favourite dessert Lemon Custard pie

Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States and is widely considered a great leader in American history. His notable achievements include leading the country through the Civil War and establishing the Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln was also a master orator, renowned for his eloquent speeches.

His favorite dessert is a light and airy lemon custard pie, which became a staple at the White House. Check out the simple ingredients for this recipe below and our pro tip to make it healthier:

Ingredients:

For the filling: 

  • 1-9" pie crust
  • 5 eggs, divided
  • ¾ cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (15 grams) cornstarch
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup (70 grams) lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon lemon extract (optional)
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (260 grams) milk
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

For the whipped cream on top:

  • ¾ cup (180 grams) heavy cream
  • ¼ cup (60 grams) sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • ½ teaspoon lemon extract (optional)

Pro Tip:

This is a delicious, decadent dessert, which means portion size is everything! I’d recommend cutting this into small pieces and enjoying your piece mindfully, without distractions. Studies show that how you eat your food matters just as much as what you eat. By paying close attention to how you feel while eating, you will better recognize your hunger and fullness cues, reducing the risk of overeating. Eat without guilt, but enjoy every bite!

5) Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant and his favourite dessert Boston Cream Cake

Ulysses S. Grant was a celebrated general during the American Civil War. After graduating from West Point, he fought in the Mexican-American War and was later appointed general by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War and later promoted to general-in-chief.

As the 18th president of the United States, Grant led Reconstruction efforts and successfully promoted equal rights for all Americans. Grant's favorite dessert was the famous Boston cream pie. Check out the simple ingredients for this recipe below and our pro tip to make it healthier:

Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • 1 cup cane sugar 
  • ½ cup whole milk 
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter 
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons
  • 1¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream 
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate chopped
  • 6 egg yolks room temp
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups whole milk 
  • 1 tbsp butter 

Pro Tip:

This dessert is decadent! One way to improve your body’s response to this dish would be to eat it earlier in the day if possible. Your ability to digest and process food is closely linked to your circadian rhythm. So, enjoying a slice late in the night may produce a higher blood sugar response and impair sleep quality. Aim to enjoy this after lunch or an earlier dinnertime meal to optimize your response and promote good sleep. 

6) William Howard Taft

William Howard Taft and his favourite dessert pumpkin pie

William Howard Taft was the 27th president of the United States and the tenth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He is the only person to have served in both positions. 

He is one of only two presidents who did not belong to a political party when they took office (the other was John Quincy Adams). Taft's favorite dessert was Thanksgiving favorite, the pumpkin pie. Check out the simple ingredients for this recipe below and our pro tip to make it healthier:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 cup water
  • A homemade pie crust (the full recipe makes two crusts: one for the bottom and one for some decoration on the top!)
  • 15oz can (about 2 cups) pumpkin puree
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 and 1/4 cups packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup milk 
  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk for an egg wash

Pro Tip:

Pumpkin pie is one of the most nutrient-dense desserts you can choose! With fiber-rich pumpkin and anti-inflammatory spices like ginger and cinnamon, there’s a lot to love here. One way to boost the nutrition of this classic dish is to swap out the fats in the crust recipe. This recipe calls for vegetable shortening, high in refined oils stripped of their nutrients. I’d recommend opting for good-quality butter instead! 

7) Franklin D. Roosevelt

Franklin D. Roosevelt and his favourite dessert Blueberry pudding cake

Franklin D. Roosevelt is remembered for lifting the nation out of the Great Depression. He was a master of public speaking, using his skills to rally the American people around his vision for the future. 

Roosevelt's favorite dessert was the fruity blueberry pudding cake. Check out the simple ingredients for this recipe below and our pro tip to make it healthier:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup 2% milk
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Whipped cream, optional

Pro Tip:

This is a dessert I can get behind! Fresh fruit and homemade whipped cream? Sign me up! While we may not be able to improve the nutrition in this dish without sacrificing taste, we can undoubtedly incorporate healthy habits to go with it. I’d recommend adding in an after-meal walk here. It can help your body improve its blood sugar response to this dessert and may prevent the “after-dinner energy slump” we’ve all experienced!

8) Dwight D. Eisenhower

Dwight D. Eisenhower and his favourite dessert Mable Cookies

Dwight D. Eisenhower was the 34th president of the United States. During his presidency, he oversaw significant changes in American foreign policy, presided over a prosperous economy, and made important decisions regarding civil rights. 

He also played a critical role in ending the Korean War. If you can't pick between vanilla and chocolate, you'll love Eisenhower's favorite dessert— marble cookies! 

Check out the simple ingredients for this recipe below and our pro tip to make it healthier:

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 cups chopped pecans
  • 2 cups unsalted butter
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 cups good-quality flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 48 pecan halves

Pro Tip:

These cookies are beautiful and should be enjoyed to the fullest! One tweak many people find helpful with cookies is to swap the all-purpose flour for a higher protein flour (like almond flour) at a 1:1 ratio. While this may promote a denser cookie, it can be a healthy substitution in many baked products!

9) John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy and his favourite dessert Cream Cheese and Strawberry Delight

John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, is perhaps one of the most well-known American presidents in history. He was born on May 29, 1917, in Brookline, Massachusetts. A Harvard graduate, Kennedy served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. 

As President, Kennedy championed civil rights and enacted social programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Kennedy's favorite sweet treat was a creamy, fruity dessert called a Cream Cheese and Strawberry Delight. 

Check out the simple ingredients for this recipe below and our pro tip to make it healthier:

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 16-oz. package frozen strawberries, sliced, thawed, and drained
  • 1 cup heavy cream, whipped

Pro Tip:

This dessert is high in fat and sugar, which can be a tricky combination! Fat is our slowest digesting macronutrient. Combining fat with sugar can cause prolonged, delayed blood sugar responses (which we don’t want!). One thing to try here is to experiment with the amount of sugar in the recipe. Often, the end product will taste just as good with half the sugar! I’d recommend using fresh, juicy strawberries and cutting back on the sugar. Chances are, you won’t even know the difference!

10) Barack Obama

Barack Obama and his favourite dessert Crustless Coconut pie

You likely don't need a reminder about Barack Obama. Still, just in case: he was born in 1961 in Hawaii and moved to Indonesia when he was just two years old, where his father worked as a financial analyst. 

After four years in Indonesia, the family returned to Hawaii, where Obama attended college at Columbia University. He then went on to work as a community organizer in Chicago before becoming a senator from Illinois. In 2008, he was elected 44th president of the United States of America, becoming the first African American to hold this office. Obama's favorite dessert is a dreamy coastal treat—a crustless coconut pie.

Check out the simple ingredients for this recipe below and our pro tip to make it healthier:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup self-rising flour 
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups milk 
  • 1/4 cup melted butter 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut

Pro Tip:

Did you know that just two tablespoons of sweetened flaked coconut contains one teaspoon of added sugar? An easy tweak to this recipe is to opt for unsweetened coconut and let the natural sweetness of the coconut shine through! Not ready to take the full plunge? Mix it up with half sweetened coconut flakes and half unsweetened coconut flakes. These small changes can make a big difference! 

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