8 Nutritionist-Approved Healthy Desserts
Just in case you need some ideas beyond the usual piece of fruit and square of dark chocolate...
Photo: Anne Mauney
The Date You Want to End Your Night With
Sometimes the simplest treats are the tastiest ones. That's the case for this after-dinner bite from Washington, D.C., dietitian Anne Mauney: a pitted date stuffed with a little nut butter. The dried fruit is sweet and the nut butter satiates, so she isn't back in the kitchen an hour later. The butter's slightly salty flavor is a nice match for the sweet date, too.
A Warm Snack with a Little Crunch
Kristin Kirkpatrick, a wellness manager at Cleveland Clinic's Wellness Institute, loves to recommend roasted chickpeas as a light, post-supper bite; the protein-packed legumes become creamy in the center and get crispy on the outside after an hour in a 350-degree oven. Although it's typical to coat these snacks in salt and spice, Kirkpatrick's dessert-y spin is to dust them with cinnamon, which makes them taste more indulgent.
Photo: Brittany Mullins
The Pudding Everyone's Loving Right Now
Nutritionists including Brittany Mullins are fans of chia because of its health properties, while cooks have found another reason to pick up a bag of these tiny black seeds: They plump up with liquids, taking on a consistency that feels a lot like pudding. Follow this recipe; or, if you're craving something that really tastes like dessert, try Mullins' suggestion to flavor the pudding with chocolate and strawberries. The tasty bowl will satisfy anyone's sweet tooth.
Photo: Shira Lenchewski
A Banana with the Works
Bananas, nuts and chocolate are a pretty unbeatable trio, but Los Angeles nutritionist Shira Lenchewski manages to take the winning ingredients up a few notches—and still keep things healthy. She spreads some unsweetened nut butter on the fruit, sprinkles on cacao nibs and finishes the dessert with a dash of ground chili and sea salt for a salty kick.
A Truffle-Like Confection That's Surprisingly Good for You
Whether you call them protein energy bites or peanut butter balls, these bite-size treats are a superb, healthy meal-ender. Kirkpatrick makes them by mixing together oats, peanut butter and whatever other additions she's in the mood for, from chopped, dried fruit to coconut to mini chocolate chips. You form the sticky mixture into balls, refrigerate and enjoy—without the sugar crash.
Photo: Jason Lugo/iStock
A Vegetable We Actually Want to Eat for Dessert
The most common dessert starring sweet potatoes, which brim with fiber and vitamins A and C, may be pie—but that's certainly not the only way to enjoy these veggies after a meal. Nutritionist Lori Zanini suggests serving half of one, roasted and topped with cinnamon and a couple of tablespoons of pecans, for a warm snack that's sugary but not overly so.
A Scoopable Frozen Dessert
If you aren't already stashing a few bananas in your freezer for emergencies, Zanini's twist on healthy "soft serve" will convince you to. The nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics blends half a banana, a tablespoon of peanut butter and a half-cup of unsweetened almond milk; the result is creamy decadence. Add a teaspoon of cacao nibs for a burst of chocolate flavor.
With the addition of a few basic flavorings, simple frozen fruit can taste like the most delicious all-natural sorbet. Medical herbalist Paula Grainger, co-author of Infuse, tosses frozen cantaloupe into a blender with fresh ginger; or mixes mango with a squeeze of fresh lime juice and a few mint leaves. One more combo: frozen plum with plain frozen yogurt, a pinch of cinnamon powder and the seeds from a vanilla pod.