Desserts are an important part of your diet. You might be surprised to read the previous phrase, but desserts play an important role in feeling satisfied and not deprived.
While they are not usually valued for their nutritional qualities, desserts can be low in added sugar and fat, and actually can add some nutritional value in addition to enjoyment. Of course, that’s not to say you can’t also enjoy your high sugar and fat desserts too! The idea is to keep in mind the dietary principle of moderation. Keeping your intake at a reasonable level has lots of benefits, as I’ve outlined here. I’ve also already provided a lot of tips for reducing your intake of added sugar, which should give you some ideas in addition to the below.
I’ve detailed below some of my favorite desserts that are healthy, delicious, simple, easy-to-prepare and won’t leave you on a sugar high.
Raspberry Yogurt Swirl
How to make it: Defrost a handful of frozen raspberries, organic if possible, ahead of time. When they are defrosted, you can mash them into a puree.
Put some yogurt of your choice into a bowl, and swirl the raspberry puree into the yogurt to create a beautiful, vibrant look.
Why I love it: Not only is this dessert very simple and quick to prepare, you get fiber from the serving of fruit and some protein and calcium from the yogurt. It’s also filling thanks to the yogurt. The idea for the raspberry puree is adapted from this recipe from Green Kitchen Stories.
Banana Cacao Fruit Smoothie
How to make it: In a high-powered blender, add frozen fruits of your choice along with a tablespoon of cacao nibs, half a banana and half a cup of nut milk. Mix until well-blended and serve in a tall glass with a reusable straw, if desired.
Why I love it: A smoothie is a visual delight thanks to the colors from the fruits. The cacao nibs add a level of complexity to the smoothie with regards to taste, and the banana sweetens the smoothie. Clean-up is as quick as the preparation!
Avocado Chocolate Pudding
How to make it: Place the avocado in the refrigerator ahead of time to chill it. In a high-powered blender, add ½ an avocado, 1 medjool date, 1 tablespoon cacao powder and ¼ cup almond milk. Mix until creamy and smooth. Adorn with a berry, edible flower or pinch of fresh mint on top.
Why I love it: Rich and creamy, this dessert hits the spot when you’d like something sweet and chocolatey. I sometimes enjoy this even without the medjool date (if I don’t have any available in my pantry at the time), as the avocado also provides sweetness. This dessert is also perfect to make when you have guests, as you can prepare it ahead of time (put it in an airtight container in the refrigerator) and let it chill.
Avocado Honey Delight
How to make it: Slice the avocado lengthwise into thin slices. Arrange the slices in a bowl and drizzle honey on top.
Why I love it: Can it get any simpler? (I don’t think so!) This dessert might seem unusual to you since you probably consider avocado a savory food. Avocado is actually a fruit, though, and in many cultures it’s consumed as a sweet food. Embrace its heavenly creamy quality and enjoy it unadulterated with a bit of honey on top!
Puffed Cereal Soup
How to make it: Pour a serving of a puffed grain (for example, spelt, amaranth or quinoa) into a bowl. Pour almond or other nut milk over it and add in a few fresh or defrosted raspberries or blackberries.
Why I love it: This dessert “soup” is another incredibly simple and fast dessert. The puffed grains add some fiber and a bit of protein to your dessert, and the defrosted berries add a beautiful touch of color to the soup. To make it a bit sweeter, you can buy puffed grains with a touch of added honey (be sure to check the number of grams of added sugar per serving) or you can mix in a bit of liquid honey yourself if you’re using unsweetened grains.
A Few Squares of Dark Chocolate
How to make it: No preparation necessary, other than unwrapping your bar of chocolate!
Why I love it: Dark chocolate really hits the spot when you want a satisfying, filling dessert. And you only need a square or two to feel satisfied. You also get some beneficial nutrients like magnesium and polyphenols. Lastly, this dessert is great when you’re on the go or don’t feel like preparing anything. If you’d like to see my picks for my favorite, healthful chocolate brands, take a look here.
My fellow dietitians have lots of interesting easy and low-sugar desserts posted on their sites. This Iced Pumpkin Spice Muffin recipe by Dietitian Deanna does require baking, but the preparation is very simple and it doesn’t contain any added sugar.
I’ve chosen desserts that are easy to incorporate into your cooking, with a minimal time investment. One of the best ways to make changes in your diet stick is to find ways to make the changes easy-to-implement, unintimidating and without requiring any big investments in time and money.
Remember, if you’re used to eating desserts with a lot of added sugar, these desserts might taste quite different. Give your taste buds time to adjust, and notice how you may be able to savor the taste of the ingredients more with less sugar.
Another way to adjust your desserts is to continue to make your usual desserts while slowly adjusting the quantity of sugar to be less and less. You can do this by simply reducing it or by substituting some of the sugar for other ingredients, like applesauce, dates.
While sugar is a tempting addition to dessert, it can mask the flavor of the other ingredients, actually decreasing your pleasure of the essence of the dessert.
If you want some additional ideas for some sweet treats that come in packages, I made a list of my favorites here. You can indulge in a sweet snack without overdoing it on added sugar for sure.
With the above in mind, try out a new dessert today! Don’t forget to savor every bite of your wholesome, delicious sweet treat.
Have questions? Comments? I would love to hear what you think below!
Jinan Banna, PhD, RD is the founder of Jinan Banna LLC and an Associate Professor of Nutrition at the University of Hawaii. Her research interest is in obesity prevention. Jinan helps working women to lose weight so that they can feel confident and energetic by offering free information on her blog, as well as nutrition coaching. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Doctorate in Nutritional Biology. She is also a registered dietitian.