Diets are full of things you’re supposed to stay away from and typically high on that list are sweets. You may be able to give up soda, cheese, and even French fries, but depending on your personal taste, sweets may be on a whole other level. The very reason delicious sweets are so hard to stay away from is because they taste amazing. This addictive taste comes from the sometimes-scary levels of added sugars like sucrose and high fructose corn syrup. These sugars contain plenty of calories but provide no essential nutrients, which basically translates to eating empty calories that give your body nothing and leave you needing “real food” shortly after.
No matter how many times you’re told that sweets are bad for you, they can be hard to resist. As much as you may try to adhere to the rules of your diet perfectly, breakdowns happen. When they do, resist the temptation to bake a German chocolate cake and eat the whole thing. Instead go for these sweets, they are delicious, easy to make, and actually provide you with some nutrition.
1. Banana, Coconut, Macadamia Ice Cream
If you’re an ice cream lover, take note. This dairy-free dessert, via Livestrong, will cure your biggest cravings without all the fat and excess sugar that comes loaded in traditional ice cream. To make this recipe even easier, slice up the bananas the day before and store them overnight in the freezer.
- 2 tablespoons raw macadamia nuts
- Cooking spray
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- 4 large bananas
- 1/4 cup coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 3 tablespoons shredded sweetened coconut
Directions: Slice and freeze bananas the night before.
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Place macadamia nuts on a sheet pan and spray gently with cooking spray. Season with sea salt and roast until slightly golden (approximately 5 to 7 minutes), shaking the pan once in the middle of the cooking time. Remove from oven and let cool. Place frozen banana slices in a food processor and purée until coarse.
Add remaining ingredients plus a pinch of sea salt and purée until smooth and creamy and the texture of ice cream. Fold in the salted macadamia nuts. If you prefer soft-serve, scoop into a bowl and enjoy immediately. For a firmer ice cream, pour mix into an airtight container, cover and freeze for one hour.
2. Cherry-Mango Crumble
Unlike most crumbles, which are made with white flour and sugar that have no nutritional value, this recipe uses oats and dates to sweeten and form its high-fiber crust. Throw in some fresh mango and tart cherries and you’ve got an antioxidant packed dessert with fiber and vitamin A and C.
- Cooking spray
- 2 mangos, chopped
- 16 ounces frozen unsweetened dark red cherries
- 1 tablespoon 100% corn starch
- 1/3 cup agave nectar
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 4 pinches of ground nutmeg
- 3/4 cup gluten free whole grain oat flour
- 3 organic medjool dates, chopped
- 4 tablespoons butter, chopped
- 1/2 cup gluten free old fashioned rolled oats
Directions: Defrost the cherries.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray bottom and sides of a medium size casserole or glass baking dish with cooking spray. Place mango’s and cherries in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk together corn starch, agave nectar, sea salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg until combined. Drizzle over mango and cherry mix and toss gently just until combined. Pour mixture into the casserole dish. Place in the oven for 15 minutes while you make the crisp topping. In a food processor pulse the oat flour, dates, butter and just a pinch of sea salt until it resembles coarse sand. Or combine ingredients in a bowl with a pastry cutter until it resembles coarse sand. Add in the whole oats and pulse until just combined (you want to leave the whole oats intact as much as possible).
Remove the hot mango cherry mixture from the oven and crumble the topping evenly on top, using your hands to gently shape some of the crumble topping into larger chunks. Continue to bake for 40 to 45 more minutes, checking after 30 minutes. The top should be golden brown and the filling should be bubbling. Keep an eye on it to prevent the top from burning.
3. Chocolate Covered Strawberries
Contrary to popular belief, chocolate covered strawberries aren’t just for Valentine’s Day. If you like fruit and chocolate, there’s no easier way to get your fill then with Real Simple’s two-ingredient dessert.
- 4 ounces of semisweet chocolate
- 1 pound of strawberries (about 20)
Directions: Coarsly chop the chocolate and wash and dry the strawberries. Place the chocolate in a glass bowl and microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until melted and smooth. Holding a strawberry by the stem end, dip in the melted chocolate, letting the excess chocolate drip off. Repeat with the remaining berries.
Transfer the dipped strawberries onto a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Refrigerate the strawberries until the chocolate is firm, at least 30 minutes. They will keep for up to three days, covered, in the refrigerator.
4. Blueberry Coconut Quinoa Parfaits
When all you want is an ice cream Sunday, How Sweet Eats’ yogurt parfait may do the trick. The blueberries give you a boost of antioxidants, the quinoa provides texture and some protein, and the coconut milk and Greek yogurt provide you with some healthy fats. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can make your own granola or just look for a healthy, low-sugar option at the store.
- 1 1/2 pints fresh blueberries
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
- 2 cups light canned coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened flaked coconut
- 2 pinches of salt
- 1 (17-ounce) container plain Greek yogurt
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place blueberries on a nonstick baking sheet with a pinch of salt. Place in the oven and roast for 20 minutes, or until berries start to burst. While the blueberries are baking, add quinoa and coconut milk to a saucepan along with another pinch of salt and the coconut flakes. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover, cooking for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
When ready, assemble parfaits with layers of yogurt, roasted blueberries, coconut quinoa, and granola.
5. Chocolate Protein Chia Pudding
Chia seeds are popping up all over the place because of their versatility and health benefits. They’re full of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and protein. When they’re immersed in liquid, they transform into a tapioca-like consistency, which is what this recipe takes advantage of. The protein powder gives your metabolism a boost and the raw cacao powder provides the rich, cocoa flavor. Throw some berries on top for a perfect breakfast or dessert.
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
- 2 scoops chocolate protein powder
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cacao powder
- 1 teaspoon agave nectar
- 1 teaspoonpure vanilla extract
- 4 tablespoons chia seeds
- 1/2 cup strawberries
Directions: Place the first five ingredients in a nutribullet or blender. Blend until combined. With a spoon, stir in the chia seeds and immediately pour into cups or jars to refrigerate overnight. Make sure you stir in the chia seeds vigorously so that they are evenly distributed before pouring into individual jars.
Right before serving, stir well. Taste and adjust sweetness with an additional teaspoon of agave nectar if necessary. Garnish with fresh berries and enjoy.