Healthy Alternatives to Your Favorite Desserts
by Jari Love
Is your sweet tooth sabotaging your healthy diet? Sugar addiction is real, but fortunately there are ways to curb all of your pesky junk food cravings. By substituting a healthier food that you still find delicious, you can get into the habit of turning to a truly guilt-free dessert — and still enjoying every bite. If you are serious about cutting added sugars, it may be hard to get started at first. Your taste buds are used to huge hits of concentrated sweetness, but they will adjust quicker than you might expect. Before you know it, you’ll be craving hearty fruit salads, and the thought of a frosting-heavy cupcake will just turn your stomach.
Once you trade in the sugary desserts, you won’t miss them nearly as much as you think. In order to get there, you can replace your usual fixes with some naturally-sweet treats. Here are five desserts you can feel good about.
- Trade the ice cream sundae for yogurt with fruit and nuts
A bowl of plain yogurt contains live cultures of beneficial bacteria to help support a healthy digestive system. Topped with fruit, nuts, seeds, and/or oats, you’ll have a well-rounded yogurt sundae that can double as a hearty breakfast. Berries are a great natural sweetener for your yogurt, or you can add a small drizzle of raw local honey. Be careful, as the honey will up the sugar content of your dessert, but at least it provides added health benefits.
- Trade cookies for a rice cake with peanut butter
The crunchy sweetness of a cookie might be tough to resist, but you can get a similar experience from a souped-up rice cake. Just don’t skimp on the quality of your rice cake. Try a salt-free brown rice or wild rice variety with your favorite nut butter. Add sliced bananas to this low-calorie treat for sweetness, and sprinkle a few flax seeds for extra nutritional value. This dessert is sure to satisfy your craving for a crunchy and nutty treat.
- Trade the Popsicle for a slice of watermelon
On a hot summer day, your dessert of choice is probably going to be a cold one. Instead of reaching for a sugary Popsicle or fattening ice cream cone, grab a slice of nature’s perfect summer treat. Watermelon will hydrate and cool you while satisfying your sweet tooth. The juicy melon is also great cubed with a little salt, lime, and chili, if you like a sweet and spicy dessert. And if you are feeling adventurous, try grilling your watermelon. For those who prefer warm desserts, grilled, baked, or pan-fried fruits can turn up both the heat and the sweetness.
- Trade the slice of pie for a hearty apple crisp
You might think it’s hard to beat a freshly baked fruit pie, but if you are watching your diet, you won’t believe how satisfying (and how nutritious!) a warm fruit crisp can be. Apples are an excellent and classic choice, but mixing it up with pears, peaches, and/or berries will give your crisp new dimension. This recipe from Pure and Simple is a great place to start if you want to keep it on the healthy side. You can substitute oats for the almond flour if you like. Feel free to try it with less maple syrup and honey, and the sweet juices of your fruit will shine through. For best results, choose fresh fruits that are in season.
- Trade the milkshake for a smoothie
A ripe banana may be the best natural smoothie sweetener around. Juicy mangoes are another tasty addition. Blend these sweet and nutrient-rich fruits with unsweetened almond milk for a fast and low-calorie drinkable dessert. Add a little organic cacao powder if you want your refreshingly light smoothie to rival a chocolate milkshake in terms of taste. Superfood powders like spirulina or maca can up the nutritional value, making your smoothie either a satisfying dessert or a hearty afternoon pick-me-up.
Jari Love – original creator of Get RIPPED! DVD series and group exercise classes. The hot-selling and critically acclaimed Get RIPPED! series enables individuals of any fitness level to burn up to three times more calories than the traditional weight-training program, and has received rave reviews from fitness critics throughout North America since the first title debuted in late 2005.