Recipes & Cooking
12 Healthy Desserts That Can Actually Help You Lose Weight
Love dessert but not the sugar? Here are a bunch of healthy desserts made with good-for-you ingredients—but not a single grain of added sugar!
Courtesy Amy Gorin
While I’m a huge dessert fan, as a registered-dietitian nutritionist and healthy-recipe blogger I’m always looking for ways to whip up a sweet treat with nutritious ingredients. That’s how this vegan chocolate pudding came to be. It’s made with just bananas, powdered peanut butter (unsweetened), and coconut. The bananas provide blood-pressure-helping potassium, and the peanut butter adds protein to keep you feeling satiated. I promise you won’t miss the sugary version. Don’t miss these additional vegan dessert recipes.
Fruit salad with orange blossom water
Courtesy lindsey pine
If you’re looking for a refreshing treat, how about a fruit dessert with a twist? This fruit salad with orange blossom water isn’t any ordinary fruit salad, says Lindsey Pine, MS, RDN, a certified sports dietitian in Los Angeles. “The orange blossom water and fresh chopped mint elevate the fruit to a whole new level with an intoxicating floral aroma,” she says. “Melons contribute so much nutrition, including fiber and antioxidants—such as the healthy vision-promoting antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin.” Prefer a salad with berries, mango, kiwi, grapes, and oranges? Fork into this California fruit salad from Heather Bainbridge, EdM, MA, RDN, a private practice dietitian in Bucks County, PA.
Healthy energy bites
Courtesy Courtesy EA Stewart
Naturally sweet, apricot- and date-sweetened treats make a healthy dessert. These healthy energy bites “take only 10 minutes to make and are perfect for an after-dinner treat or anytime you need a quick, yet sustainable burst of energy,” says EA Stewart, RD, an integrative dietitian in San Diego. Or try these almond-pistachio cocoa bites, with a hint of chocolate and a base of almond butter—they offer a satiating combo of protein, fiber, and healthy fat. Can’t get enough chocolate? Whip up chocolate walnut orange bites from Rachel Begun, MS, RDN, a culinary nutritionist in Los Angeles. “They are so rich in flavor, you won’t believe they are healthy,” she says. “The combination of cocoa powder, orange rind, ginger, walnuts, and Medjool dates makes for a sophisticated flavor profile while also providing all the health benefits.”
Courtesy Amy Gorin
Love Frappuccinos but not the high sugar and calories that come with the decadent coffee drinks? I make this frozen mochaccino (essentially a lightened-up Frappuccino) whenever I have a craving for a frozen coffee drink. It’s sweetened only with cocoa powder and fruit—and because it’s creamy with Greek yogurt, it offers 25 grams of fueling protein. Split the dessert drink into two or three portions, and share it with family members or friends. Here are some more low-sugar desserts that are sugar savvy.
Italian-style panna cotta
Add this Italian-inspired treat to your healthy desserts list. “This perfectly portioned spring panna cotta dessert is made with Truvia Natural Sweetener, a calorie-free sweetener from the stevia leaf,” says Toby Amidor, MS, RD, a best-selling cookbook author who lives in New York City. “The dessert has 25 percent fewer calories and 66 percent less sugar than regular sugar-sweetened panna cotta. It also contains an array of berries, providing anti-inflammatory antioxidants called anthocyanins. Research shows these may help ward off diabetes and help keep eyes healthy. This panna cotta tastes great without the added calories and sugar.” Here are some more yummy holiday desserts that are diet-friendly.
No-sugar-added fruit and nut quick bread
Courtesy Elizabeth Ward
Whip up a loaf of this quick bread for dessert tonight, then serve a slice with a scoop of plain Greek yogurt and fresh fruit for breakfast tomorrow. “This delicious, elegant, gluten-free bread is packed with fiber for digestive health, protein to support many bodily functions, and heart-healthy fat,” says Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, author of Expect the Best. “It’s sweetened with ripe bananas, so you don’t need added sugar to feel satisfied.” Use raisins instead of dried cranberries, which are typically sugared.
High-fiber flatbread cinnamon roll
Courtesy Erin Palinski-Wade
Cinnamon rolls seem so decadent, but this version isn’t. “This high-fiber cinnamon roll recipe satisfies your sweet tooth with no added sugar,” says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, author of 2-Day Diabetes Diet. “The combination of the fiber, protein, and cinnamon help stabilize blood sugar levels and combat cravings with only 94 calories per serving.” Use plain Greek yogurt instead of flavored and Flatout Light Original Flatbread to ensure this recipe contains no added sugar.
Fruit-based nice cream
courtesy liz weiss
The beauty of “nice cream” is it has the consistency and mouth feel of ice cream but contains no added sugar. Serve up a berry, banana, and peanut butter version from Liz Weiss, MS, RDN, host of Liz’s Healthy Table podcast. “The fruit and juice bring natural sweetness and a burst of antioxidants to every spoonful, and the peanut butter adds protein and satisfaction,” she says. Prefer a chocolate version? Spoon into a banana chocolate nice cream made with just two ingredients, bananas and cocoa powder. Or go for a chocolate peanut butter version, a favorite of Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN, author of 365 Snacks for Every Day of the Year. Here are some more healthy food swaps to reduce your sugar intake.
Apple cinnamon raisin sorghum bake
Courtesy lauren harris-pincus
Get some of your daily fruit intake from this fiber-packed dessert. “I love this sorghum bake because it’s sweet from natural fruit and juice,” says Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, author of The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club. “It’s also gluten-free and vegan, making it an easy dish to please a party crowd.”
Pineapple whip float
Courtesy Sarah Pflugradt
Here’s a pineapple whip float, made only with pineapple, pineapple juice, and coconut milk. “Freezing the pineapple in advance is the secret to this dessert,” says Sarah Pflugradt, MS, RD, a healthy recipe blogger in Illinois. “This pineapple float is a great way to get an extra boost of vitamin C and some hydration. A little coconut milk and extra pineapple juice is the only sweetness you need.” Be sure to choose an unsweetened coconut milk. Find out the reasons you should be eating dessert every day.
Fresh fruit compote
Courtesy Julie Hartigan
Combine cherries and vanilla bean; strawberries, mango, and mint; or blueberries, peach, white balsamic vinegar, and basil for a delicious, naturally sweet dessert topper. “I love making fun all-fruit compotes to enjoy as a sweet treat on their own, or to make yogurt parfaits,” says Julie Hartigan, a healthy cooking chef in Hoboken, NJ. “They’re easy to make ahead to keep on hand for the week and are a great way to enjoy both fresh or frozen fruit. You won’t feel deprived or miss the added sugar.”
Chocolate pomegranate truffle
Courtesy Brittany Poulson
Hello, naturally sweet chocolate. “These chocolate pomegranate truffles are a healthy way to get your chocolate fix in,” says Brittany Poulson, MDA, RDN, a certified diabetes educator in Grantsville, Utah. “Made with dates, cocoa powder, and flax seed, these are a nutritious yet sweet way to end a meal.” The pomegranate arils add an antioxidant-filled crunch. For more healthy desserts packed with chocolate flavor, try these seven healthier chocolate diabetic desserts.
Apple “fries” with peanut butter dip
Courtesy Devin Alexander
“This dip is oddly crave-worthy,” says Devin Alexander, a celebrity chef and author of You Can Have It! “This will turn the apples with peanut butter that moms feel great about serving from a ho-hum snack to a dessert. The fat and protein in the peanut butter, along with the protein in the quark and fiber in the apple make this dessert very balanced. And the Stevia adds plenty of sweetness without adding calories.” To make it, cut two extra large apples (avoiding the core) into sticks about 1/3-inch thick and as long as the height of the apple. Transfer the “fries” to a medium glass, and toss them with 1 tablespoon lemon juice until evenly coated. To make the dip: Add 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon plain nonfat quark (or Greek yogurt), 3 tablespoons natural peanut butter, and 1 tablespoon Stevia to a small mixing bowl. Using a spoon, mix the dip until well combined. Read on to find out 30 healthy snacks that can help you lose weight.