Healthy dessert recipes that satisfy your need for sweets without overindulging. These lightened up desserts still taste amazing but can be enjoyed guilt-free.
Life is too short to live without desserts but for nights when you want something sweet but don’t want to indulge. we’ve got tons of healthy dessert recipes that will satisfy any sweet tooth. From ice cream to cakes to cookies and even candy, we’ve got desserts that will please even the pickiest palettes. Whip up these No Bake Peanut Butter Oat Bars for your next party, please the kids with the Two Ingredient Watermelon Ice Cream, or volunteer to bring this Slow Cooker Apple Crisp to your next holiday dinner. Don’t worry, no one will ever guess these are healthier treats.
A SWEET TOOTH IS MEANT to be satisfied—yes, even if you’re watching your weight. Dessert, after all, is one of life’s pleasures, and deprivation typically backfires. It doesn’t have to be a high-calorie, high-fat disaster, either: The trick is making smart choices and substitutions. “Take advantage of foods that are naturally sweet and simply delicious,” says registered dietitian Keri Gans, author of The Small Change Diet. Steer clear of fatty ingredients like creamy whipped topping or butter, and stick with fresh fruit and low-fat choices. Here are 10 desserts that are as healthy as they are tasty:
1. Grilled fruit. Try throwing pineapple, banana, apple, or pear slices on the grill. “There’s nothing healthier than sticking with fresh fruit, and on the grill, it becomes even sweeter,” Gans says. Grilling concentrates flavor by reducing water content, while also caramelizing the fruit’s natural sugars. One serving of grilled pineapple usually provides around 80 calories.
2. Dark chocolate “bark”. Melt dark chocolate and spread it on parchment paper. Sprinkle in healthy ingredients like tart cherries or sunflower seeds, suggests registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner, author of The Flexitarian Diet. Refrigerate it for five minutes before breaking it into small pieces. “It’s a healthy option because dark chocolate has less sugar than milk chocolate,” says Jackson Blatner. “And it contains more cocoa, which may make it heart-smart.” One piece of “bark” should come in at less than 100 calories.
3. Ricotta and berries. Blend 1 cup of mixed berries with ¼ cup of low-fat ricotta. “If you’re in the mood for ice cream, this can do the trick,” Gans says. “It’s creamy, sweet, and low in calories.” One serving provides between 150 and 200 calories.
4. Healthy apple “pie.” Bake an apple, cut in half, until soft. Top it with 2 tablespoons of low-fat Greek yogurt, a dash of cinnamon, and crumbs from one crushed graham cracker. Expect to spend about 150 calories.
5. Biscotti. “If you can stick with one, it’s a great low-calorie cookie,” says Gans; the smaller ones should only set you back about 70 calories. Liven things up with, say, an almond-apricot version, or even honey pistachio.
6. Greek yogurt berry brûlée. Spread plain, nonfat Greek yogurt over fresh berries in a small serving bowl. Sprinkle on a teaspoon of sugar, and use a culinary torch to burn the sugar for a minute or two, until it’s golden. Not only is this treat tasty, but the yogurt is packed with protein, and there’s lots of vitamin C and calcium, too. Calories: around 175.
7. Banana “ice cream” with cinnamon and walnuts. Purée frozen banana chunks with a splash of almond milk, creating a treat with a creamy, ice cream-like texture. Sprinkle chopped walnuts and cinnamon on top. (Cinnamon is thought to have anti-inflammatory effects, and may help diabetics manage their blood sugar levels.) This dessert is a “perfect sub” for ice cream, says Jackson Blatner. “It has less calories, no fat, no added sugar, and potassium and fiber from the banana.” Calories should add up to around 200 to 230.
8. Chocolate chia and almond bites. Use a food processor to purée pitted dates and water until a sticky paste forms. Add in cocoa powder, almonds, and chia seeds to create a solid dough. Shape the mixture into tablespoon-balls, and then refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour. The dates make the dessert sweet, and the almonds and chia seeds provide healthy fats—along with texture and crunch. Calories: 160.
9. Mini ice-cream sandwiches. Put a small scoop of light vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt between two vanilla wafers. Roll the sandwich in finely chopped dark or bittersweet chocolate so that it sticks to the ice cream. Each sandwich should cost about 200 calories.
10. Dark chocolate-dipped fruit. Microwave a dark chocolate bar until it’s almost melted, and then dip in the fruit of your choice—be it strawberries, mango, papaya, apricot, or banana. “It’s a nourishing and filling option, since fruit is loaded with fiber and water,” says Jackson Blatner. Antioxidants in cocoa are thought to boost the flexibility of blood vessels and lower blood pressure; since dark chocolate has a higher concentration of cocoa than milk chocolate, it contains more of these helpful compounds. Calories in a single chocolate-covered strawberry: around 80.
Lets Talk On
Homemade Chocolate Mint Candies (Like Junior Mints)
Creating homemade copycat recipes, like pineapple whip or Asian lettuce wraps is a hobby of mine. The latest in the lineup is homemade Junior Mints. With just a few simple ingredients, these are easy, tasty, and fun to pop in your mouth.
Making Junior Mints at Home
Candy making can be a tricky process! Sugars usually have to be heated to a certain temperature for a specific amount of time. Unlike some types of homemade candy, you don’t have to worry about that with these dairy-free Junior Mints lookalikes.
It took some trial and error, but it turns out that coconut oil, a little honey, and a little peppermint extract or peppermint essential oil taste just as good if not better than the real thing!
Tip: The coconut oil must be soft enough to easily mix in the honey and mint. If it’s not, you may have to melt it, mix in the other ingredients, and then chill it before making it into balls or patties.
Chill the mixture, then form it into whatever shape and size you’d like. Kids love to help with this part, which is why we ended up with a variety of interesting looking lumps instead of the traditional flat oval shape. I figure it adds character and a personal touch!
Finally, chill the formed mints before being dipping them into melted chocolate. One final chill and they’re done!
Differences Between Homemade and Store-Bought Junior Mints
Store-bought Junior Mints are known for their soft, slightly melty center. An enzyme called invertase is used to make that happen. Invertase breaks the sucrose in sugar down into glucose and fructose and makes it soft and runny.
Since I make homemade Junior Mints with coconut oil and honey, they’re a little firmer at room temperature. However, coconut oil melts at such a low temperature that the warmth of your mouth will cause it to get pretty melty all on its own.
The other difference you’ll notice between homemade and store-bought is the difference in shininess. Store-bought Junior Mints are coated with confectioner’s glaze, which is made of a resin excreted by beetles.
Sorry, but I’m not coating my lovely chocolate-covered peppermint balls in beetlejuice just to make them shiny! I’m also not going to fiddle around with tempering chocolate perfectly. Life is just too short and they’re delicious without the added trouble!
A Couple More Homemade Candy Recipes to Try
I use coconut oil for the base of most of my homemade confections. I’ve used it to make:
- Chocolate coconut clusters
- Chocolate truffles, which can be flavored with different essential oils
- Coconut butter cups, similar to the coconut clusters, but blended for a smoother texture
- Homemade marshmallows, not made with coconut oil, but definitely a treat.
- Pumpkin spice meltaways
I doubt that these Junior Mints will have a chance to sit around the house for more than a couple of days, but if you have extra, try blending them into homemade ice cream or a milkshake! Confession: My husband and I made this boozy Junior Mints milkshake for St. Patrick’s Day one year. (For a healthier version use my homemade mint chip ice cream made with avocados to make it!)
Homemade Junior Mints Recipe
- ½ cup coconut oil (softened or melted)
- ¼ cup honey
- ½ tsp peppermint extract (or up to 6 drops peppermint essential oil)
- 1 cup chocolate chips
In a small bowl, mix together the softened coconut oil, honey, and peppermint extract.
Chill the mixture until it is firm enough to form into balls or patties.
Using a teaspoon-sized scoop, form the mixture into the desired shape, placing them onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Chill the coconut/peppermint balls until firm.
When the peppermint balls are thoroughly chilled, melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler or a bowl placed over a pan of simmering water.
Working quickly, dip the balls one at a time into the melted chocolate and return them to the baking sheet.
Chill until the chocolate is set.