If a sweet tooth hankering comes on strong after eating dinner, you’re def not alone. Dessert is something many of us enjoy on the reg and it actually doesn’t have to be something we completely shun from our lives. News flash—we can be healthy, feel great, and still eat dessert. Yep, it’s true—with healthy sweet swaps, you can have that cake and eat it too.
We’ve come up with a list of the healthy sweet swaps you need in your life. From healthy sugar replacers to healthier low sugar dessert options, we got you covered.
Here’s how you can enjoy dessert, while actually fueling your body with something pretty darn healthy.
Healthy Sweet Swaps to Make Dessert That Much Healthier
#1 Go Natural With Your Sugar Choice
We can’t talk about dessert without talking about sugar. Sugar is found in everything sweet (duh), but not all sugar is created equal. There’s a big difference between chowing down on that batch of brownies that are doused with white table sugar, than making a homemade brownie mix using pure maple syrup instead.
Refined sugar can cause our blood sugar to spike and then crash, leaving us feeling jittery, irritable, and craving even more.
White sugar is also full of empty calories, meaning it doesn’t provide us with any nutritional value.
The good news is that you can make some pretty easy and delicious sugar swaps by choosing natural sweeteners that come with some added benefits like vitamins and minerals—something white sugar doesn’t offer.
Heads up—while these natural sweeteners provide some nutritional benefit, they still contain sugar and should be enjoyed in moderation.
Whenever you can, try replacing the white, inflammatory sugar with healthier natural sugar options like:
- Pure maple syrup
- Raw honey
- Coconut sugar
#2 Make Frozen Bananas Your BFF When it Comes to Enjoying Ice Cream
If ice cream is your nemesis when it comes to sticking to your healthy eating goals, it turns out that you can still enjoy your fav frozen treat.
And, by making a healthy ice cream alternative, you skip that bowl of ice cream full of sugar, excess calories, and carbs. The high sugar content in ice cream is enough to make all of us crave more sweets. Why? Because when we consume high sugar foods, our blood sugar levels spike, and within a few hours, those levels crash and triggers your brain to reach for more. It’s a vicious cycle we don’t want to get stuck in.
What’s even more interesting is that a study found that when we consume foods that combine both carbs and fats (we’re looking at you ice cream), something interesting happens in the brain. Researchers believe that the brain processes carbs and fats separately, so enjoying a food that’s heavy in both may cause the craving and reward stimuli in the brain to go a little haywire. The result? We keep reaching for more of the wrong foods.
The good news is that you can help satisfy that ice cream craving without the guilt. Ditch that carton of commercially made sugar-loaded ice cream and freeze a few bananas instead. Add them to a blender with a splash of full-fat coconut milk and blend until it looks like soft serve vanilla ice cream.
Top with your favs (we love raw cacao nibs, fresh berries, and shredded unsweetened coconut).
#3 Make Chocolate-Covered Strawberries Healthy Again
Who doesn’t love getting a box of chocolate-covered strawberries from their sweetie on Valentine’s day?
Making some healthy sweet swaps whenever we can, even on holidays that are all about sugar, can lead to big changes in overall health.
Enter healthier chocolate covered strawberries. Instead of using sugar, melt one cup of 70% or darker dark chocolate chips with ¼ cup coconut oil, and a pinch of pink Himalayan sea salt in a stockpot over low heat.
Remove from heat as soon as the chocolate is melted and dip your strawberries into the chocolatey goodness.
Place the berries on a parchment-lined sheet and refrigerate until ready to enjoy.
Seriously—these are delish, and they are free from added sugar, so what’s not to love?
#4 DIY Healthy “Milkshakes”
Ok, who doesn’t love a good chocolate or strawberry shake? As a healthy sweet swap, try blending up your own milkshake using just a handful of healthier ingredients.
Chocolate lover? Blend together one cup of unsweetened almond milk, a frozen banana, a tablespoon of raw cacao powder, and a drizzle of pure maple syrup.
Or, blend up a strawberry shake that’s perfect for Valentine’s day (or any day for all strawberry lovers out there). Use your fav dairy-free milk, a frozen banana, a cup of frozen strawberries, and a drizzle of raw honey.
Viola! You now have two ways to take your milkshakes to the ultimate healthy level, while still satisfying that sweet tooth.
#5 Dark Chocolate is Always a Good Idea
If you’re craving something sweet, but aren’t up for making anything from scratch, reach for some 70% or darker dark chocolate.
Dark chocolate will not only help satisfy even the strongest of sweet tooth cravings, but it’s also pretty darn good for you (the raw, unsweetened kind that is).
Dark chocolate has been found to support healthy cholesterol levels, boost mood, and it’s loaded with antioxidants.
So, chocolate lovers rejoice, because here’s one more reason it’s a-ok to get your chocolate fix on.
Heads up— You can’t grab any old chocolate bar, though. In order to reap the benefits dark chocolate has to offer, stick to unsweetened varieties, and stick with the chocolate bars that are 70-80% cocoa.
See, You Can Have Your Cake & Eat it Too
Healthy eating doesn’t mean that you can’t have dessert. In fact, one of the biggest pitfalls of “dieting” is that it becomes too restrictive.
Not allowing yourself to enjoy some of your favorite foods for an indefinite amount of time is a surefire way to grab that pint of ice cream when cravings come on strong.
The more balanced approach? Allow yourself that after-dinner treat every once in a while—just do it a healthier way.
With these healthy sweet swaps, you’ll quickly see how easy (and delicious) it can be to eat clean. Because even that piece of chocolate can have a place in a clean eating diet.