10 desserts that satisfy without sabotaging your health

April 17, 2017

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When you commit to improving your health, you often start in the kitchen. You dedicate yourself to eating nutritious meals, eliminating junk food and switching to healthy snacks. But does that also mean you have to give up dessert? 

Not at all, say creative cooks who have trimmed the fat from some classic dessert recipes. Now you can have your cake – and brownies and fudge and pie – and eat them too! 

Nutrition experts want you to make healthy food choices as often as possible, but they also recommend moderation. They recognize that sacrificing dessert completely and ignoring a sweet tooth forever can backfire in bingeing. That’s no excuse for grabbing a box of cookies or digging into a tub of ice cream whenever you feel the need for something sweet.

The scrumptious recipes that follow will help you find moderation. These lighter treats have a lower glycemic index but will still tickle your taste buds. Many of them share common ingredients, such as almond milk, coconut oil and nut butters, so consider experimenting to create healthier versions of your own favorite desserts.

To get you started, here are 10 recipes that transform classic desserts and treats into guilt-free but still delectable indulgences. Links to the full instructions for each recipe are included.

Almond Milk Fudge Pops

Many alternative nut spreads, such as almond or hazelnut butter, are high in good fats. Almond milk is a great dairy-free substitute rich in vitamin E.

This chilled dessert recipe is perfect for satisfying that ice cream craving and, with only two ingredients, it’s a snap to make. 

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup chocolate nut spread 
  • 1 1/2 cups vanilla or chocolate almond milk

For full instructions, see here.

Coconut Oil Fudge

This irresistible fudge recipe is just as good as the real thing, but without the fats and refined sugar found in traditional fudge recipes. Maple syrup is a sweetener with a low glycemic index, and the cocoa powder and almond butter are naturally sourced ingredients. 

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup creamy almond butter
  • 1/2 cup cacao powder
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt 

For full instructions, see here.

Lemon Raspberry Frozen Yogurt

Low-fat Greek yogurt and fruit make this tangy dessert guilt-free and entirely satisfying. Sweetened with honey and fresh lemon, this is a refreshing, healthy treat. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 12 ounces frozen raspberries
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons honey

For full instructions, see here.

Fudgy Paleo Brownies

Brownies are one of those indulgent desserts that are hard to resist – and with this recipe, you won’t have to. These fudgy, paleo brownies are dairy-free, nut-free and gluten-free.

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil 
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder 
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder (optional, but recommended)

For full instructions, see here.

Vegan Triple Berry Chia Seed Pudding

Chia seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and antioxidants. The chia texture in this recipe makes it as satisfying and delightful as traditional pudding. 

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk (almond, rice or soy)
  • 4 tablespoons chia seeds, black or white
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Mixed berries of choice

For full instructions, see here.

Slow Cooker Crustless Apple Pie 

It’s the apple part of apple pie that gives you nutritional benefits in a delightful dish. Combined with the health advantages of cinnamon and nutmeg, this crustless apple “pie” is a healthier twist on the all-American dessert. 

Ingredients:
  • 6 large apples, sliced
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

For full instructions, see here.

Double Chocolate Banana Muffins

Bananas, honey and yogurt make these muffins ultra-moist and naturally sweet, with the added delight of dark chocolate. 

Ingredients:
  • 3 bananas
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 2/3 cups white whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup mini dark chocolate chips
For full instructions, see here.

Dairy-free Cheesecake 

If you’re willing to spend a little extra time, this cheeseless cheesecake is worth the effort. As indulgent as traditional cheesecake recipes, it uses more nutritious substitutions, such as almond flour, raw cashews and apple cider vinegar for a cheesecake that is, oh, so satisfying. 

Ingredients:

Shortbread crust
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons almond flour
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder 
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup nonhydrogenated palm shortening
Cheesecake filling
  • 2 cups raw cashews
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 1/3 cup expeller-pressed coconut oil 
  • 1/4 cup cacao butter, chopped, about 1.2 ounces
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup  
  • 1/4 cup honey  
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
  • 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar 
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

For full instructions, see here.

Vegan Chocolate Crunch Bars

Cocoa powder satisfies your chocolate craving without all the sugar additives. Coconut oil, vanilla extract and maple syrup are all naturally derived ingredients, and the sprouted rice cereal adds a satisfying crunch without high carbs.

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 5 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sprouted rice cereal
  • pinch of salt

For full instructions, see here.

Paleo, Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies 

Chocolate chip cookies are a classic family favorite, but when made with refined sugar, white flour and less-healthy fats, they’re not the best dessert option. This paleo recipe uses many natural ingredients to make chocolate chip cookies that are better nutrition-wise but still delicious. 

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups raw walnut halves
  • 1 cup medjool dates, pitted (about 12)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 flax or chia “egg” 
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips 

For full instructions, see here.

Have you created some healthy dessert recipes of your own? Please share them in the comments below.