5 Keto Dessert Recipes You Need In Your Life

As more and more research supports the benefits of a ketogenic diet for weight loss, cognitive function, and health conditions like type 2 diabetes, more and more people (understandably) jump on the bandwagon.

Thing is, this bandwagon has little room for traditional desserts, since getting your body into the state of ketosis—the Holy Grail of the keto diet—in which it uses fat for energy instead of glucose, requires all but eliminating sugar. And that’s a major heart-breaker if you have a sweet tooth.

Luckily, with a little kitchen creativity—and some help from natural sugar-free sweeteners like stevia and erythritol (a sugar alcohol), and grain-free flours like almond flour—you can totally have dessert without throwing yourself out of ketosis. Plus, even if you’re not on a ketogenic diet, high-fat/low-sugar treats can help you conquer your sweet tooth guilt-free while cutting down your overall intake of the addicting stuff.

Ready for a treat? Here are five of the keto dessert recipes that are breaking the internet right now.

photo: Keto Connect

1. Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

Honestly, does a dessert combination better than chocolate and peanut butter even exist? Keto Connect’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake is basically a keto-friendly lava cake that oozes with creamy peanut butter when you dig in. The easy-to-make cake uses unsweetened chocolate and a mix of stevia and erythritol to keep sugar low, and takes less than 20 minutes from start to finish!

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You’ll mix the cake ingredients, which also include coconut flour, eggs, butter, and cream, in a microwave-safe bowl and warm the mixture until you get a smooth, thick batter. Then you’ll pour half into a greased pan, add the peanut butter in the very center of the pan, pour in the rest of the batter, and bake at 400 degrees for 13 to 15 minutes.

Calories: 366 Fat: 32g Fiber: 6.5g  Net Carbs: 3.5g  Protein: 10g

photo: Ruled.Me

2. Easy Keto Strawberry Shortcakes

When berries—which are low in sugar and pretty much the only fruit allowed on keto—are in season, you’ve got to whip up this guilt-free dessert! Fans of the OG strawberry shortcake will love Ruled.Me’s keto-friendly recipe. The cakes themselves call for just five ingredients: eggs, cream cheese, baking powder, vanilla, and erythritol, while the filling is a simple mixture of strawberries and whipped cream. The key is to beat the egg whites until they’re nice and fluffy before mixing in the rest of your ingredients. From there, you’ll bake up 10 mini puff cakes and layer in those berries and cream.

Calories: 273 Fat: 26g Fiber: 0.5g Net Carbs: 3.9g Protein: 6.6g

photo: Sugar-Free Mom

3. Keto Butter Pecan Ice Cream

Sugar-free ice cream that’s actually satisfying (and doesn’t taste like chemicals) is hard to come by. Luckily, it’s actually pretty easy to just make your own! Sugar-Free Mom’s butter pecan ice cream recipe is low in carbs and stands up surprisingly well against your childhood favorite. You’ll need an ice cream machine or stand mixer (like a KitchenAid) to really master this recipe, which calls for butter, heavy cream, Swerve confectioner’s sweetener (a blend of erythritol and prebiotic fiber), salt, egg yolks, maple extract, sugar-free maple syrup, MCT oil, and pecans. Making the ice cream is a bit of a process—it takes about 4 hours from start to finish—but that maple-y, nutty goodness is well worth the wait.

Calories: 302 Fat: 32g Carbs: 2g Protein: 2g 

photo: The Big Man’s World

4. Coconut Chocolate Bars

Candy bars are pretty taboo on keto, but you can still get your fix with The Big Man’s World’s killer chocolate coconut crack bar recipe. (In addition to being keto-friendly, it also happens to be Paleo and vegan.) You’ll need just four ingredients: unsweetened shredded coconut, coconut oil, monk fruit-sweetened maple syrup, and stevia-sweetened chocolate chips. First, you’ll mix the shredded coconut, syrup, and coconut oil, press the mixture firmly into a parchment paper-lined pan, and stash the pan in the fridge. Once the mixture has firmed up, you’ll cut it into bars, melt your chocolate chips, and coat each bar in chocolate for a treat that rivals any sugar-laden bar out there.

Calories: 106 Fat: 11g Fiber: 2g Net Carbs: 1g Protein: 2g

photo: The Mom’s Menu

5. Keto Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting

Though it features one of our favorite veggies, carrot cake doesn’t typically fall into the ‘health food’ category—unless it’s this recipe from This Mom’s Menu. (Don’t worry, there’s still cream cheese frosting.) The recipe swaps sugar for erythritol and also calls for butter, eggs, unsweetened almond milk, vanilla extract, almond flour, coconut flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ground allspice, and (of course!) carrots. First, preheat the oven to 350°F and line the bottom of a cake pan with parchment paper. While the cake cooks (about 20 minutes at 350 degrees), you’ll whip up a too-good-to-be-true frosting made with cream cheese, butter, vanilla, heavy cream, and erythritol. Just don’t forget to let the cake cool before frosting it up!

Calories: 148 Fat: 14g Fiber: 1g Net Carbs: 1g Protein: 4g

Related: Want To Try Keto? Here’s What A Healthy Day Of Eating Fat Looks Like

6 Ways To Kick Your Own Butt Back Into Gear

While we all love the warm-and-fuzzy endorphin rush that comes after a good workout, some days we just don’t want to move. And, hey, when your to-do list is a mile long, or you just really need to unwind, there’s nothing wrong with taking a day off from getting your sweat on. But if you’ve been dealing with a near-constant case of ‘meh’ motivation lately, well, that’s a different story.

Often, a little movement is exactly what we need to feel our very best—and luckily, there are plenty of little things you can do every day to boost your motivation and kick your butt back into gear. Here are health and fitness experts’ go-to strategies for getting up and going.

1. Upgrade Your Mornings

First off, stop hitting the snooze button so much! Getting enough sleep is super-important if you want to power through a workout and the rest of the day, but more isn’t always better—especially if it cuts into workout time. The sweet spot, according to the National Sleep Foundation, is seven to nine hours of shut-eye each night. To prevent yourself from hitting snooze, yoga instructor and personal trainer Stephanie George recommends keeping your phone on the other side of the bedroom, so that you have to actually get out of bed to turn it off.

Sticking to a consistent routine that involves waking up around the same time every morning—even on the weekends—can also help you have healthier days. “Eventually that routine will turn into a habit and, who knows, you make even be able to wake up without an alarm,” says George.

George also recommends making time for a healthy breakfast. “Coffee won’t cut it,” she says. “You need a well-balanced meal that provides you with the energy you need to get moving.” Try eggs with spinach, peppers, and onions scrambled in, or a protein shake with frozen berries and greens.

2. Drink More Water

Could a few extra sips of H2O be the difference between staying on the couch and lacing up your sneakers? According to the CDC, as much as 43 percent of American adults drink fewer than four glasses of water a day—less than half the recommended eight glasses. Not only is dehydration dangerous, but it also significantly decreases your energy levels, leaving you feeling tired and lethargic. “Even a small depletion of water in your body can affect mental focus, energy levels, and physical performance,” says author and sports scientist Elesa Zehndorfer, Ph.D.

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One easy way to stay hydrated: Mix an electrolyte supplement into your water. Not only will these minerals help your body maintain its proper fluid balance, but flavored electrolyte powders also make drinking easier if you don’t like plain water.

3. Focus On Balanced Plates

Deficiencies in vitamins and minerals—especially magnesium, calcium, and zinc—can make you feel tired, irritable, and lethargic, warns Zehndorfer. Not only do these minerals support your mood and energy levels, but they also help your body relax for sleep. Meanwhile, processed foods—which are often high in sugar—can lead to a rollercoaster of blood sugar spikes and crashes, and leave you too sluggish to get moving.

Your goal: Focus on lots of green vegetables, fruits, complex carbs (like whole grains and starchy veggies), and high-quality protein.

Related: 7 Protein-Packed Breakfasts Trainers Love

4. Write Down Your Goals

It’s a whole lot easier to make workouts happen when you have a clear reason for working out, which is why Chris Ryan, C.S.C.S and founder of Chris Ryan Fitness recommends writing down specific yet attainable goals and literally signing a contract with yourself to see them through. Do you want to shed a few pounds, run a race, or finally touch your toes? Write that down. What’s your plan for getting there? Maybe you’ll run four times a week or make it to yoga class every other evening. Write that down, too.

5. Find A Cause Worth Sweating For

When you need a kick in the pants that’s bigger than just you, find a fitness-focused charitable organization—like Team in Training, Cycle for Survival, or The D10—in your area to inspire you to get moving. “Not only do they make fitness fun, but they present the opportunity for fundraising and the chance to hear amazing stories that will motivate you to celebrate your body each and every day,” says Ryan. You get to reward your body and have a positive impact on the world around you—that’s a win-win!

6. Call Your Workout Buddy

Research from the University of Aberdeen shows that having an exercise companion increases how much exercise we do on a consistent basis. Having someone to hold us accountable and talk to during workouts can be just the game-changer we need to make that gym routine stick. “If you surround yourself with people who think healthy, think fun and think positive, you will be well on your way to meeting your fitness goals,” Ryan says.

Diggin’ What’s Good? For more essential health facts, tips, and inspiration, join our Facebook communities, Eating Healthy and Staying Fit, today!

Can Sitting Too Much Shrink Your Brain?

There are plenty of reasons out there to move your body more: to better your posture, to build strength, to improve flexibility, to boost your brain health, to reduce your risk for a myriad of diseases (such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer). The list goes on.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a reason not to get off your butt, considering our sedentary lifestyles have been linked to obesity, anxiety and depression, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and more. (“Sitting is the new smoking,” they say.) And if all that wasn’t scary enough, a recent study published in the journal PLOS One has identified a truly terrifying potential impact of inactivity: the thinning of the part of our brain responsible for creating new memories, called the medial temporal lobe (MTL).

The thinning of the MTL, which tends to occur with age, leads to issues with memory seen in many older adults. While previous research had already suggested a connection between fitness and a larger hippocampus (part of the MTL), none had explored the flip-side, a correlation between sitting more and a thinner MTL.

That’s where this study comes in. Researchers from the University of California surveyed 35 adults between the ages of 45 and 75 about their level of physical activity and the average number of hours they spent sitting in one place for an extended period of time per day. Then, they used a high-resolution MRI scan to take a detailed look at the volume of the participants’ medial temporal lobes to identify any possible correlations between the participants’ patterns of sitting and activity and the thickness of their MTL.

The results were pretty alarming. “We found that time spent sitting was associated with less thickness in the MTL and its sub-regions, in spite of physical activity,” says Prabha Siddarth, Ph.D., lead study author, of UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. This seems to indicate that sedentary behavior is a significant predictor of brain structure—specifically medial temporal lobe thickness—and that even high levels of physical activity can’t offset the harmful effects of sitting for extended periods of time.

Related: 6 Supps That Enhance Your Memory And Help You Focus

While the study is small, the connection it’s made between physical inactivity and the development of brain dysfunction deserves the bulging-eyes reaction it incurs—especially given the number of people worldwide who now have jobs that require them to remain stationary for extended periods of time.

“This was an associational study, so it does not prove that too much sitting undermines brain health—only that more hours spent sitting is linked to thinner brain structures,” says Prahba. “We would like to conduct a longitudinal [long-term] study and study participants over time to examine if sitting causes the thinning.”

Initial studies like this one, however, are still critical, because they develop the early data that establishes the need for studies that can determine causality, so the the appropriate interventions and treatments can be identified, explains Jesse Corry, M.D., stroke neurologist with Allina Health in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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If you’re one of the estimated 13 percent of people who works a sedentary job, consider this study one more reason to incorporate physical activity into your day whenever possible. “This could include taking breaks from sitting during the day to go for short walks, and avoiding sitting for prolonged periods when you’re not at work,” suggests says Siddharth Sehgal, M.D., lead study author, Director of the Stroke Program at Tallahassee Memorial, and neurologist at TMH Physician Partners Neurology Specialists. “Everyone should try to participate in regular physical exercise several times a week to improve their chances of normal, healthy cognitive aging.”

How’d These Smoothie Bowls Get So Blue?

Now that matcha has invaded everything from Starbucks frappuccinos to protein shakes, and we’ve become accustomed to seeing its striking green color across the most influential Instagram pages, another superfood is taking over town: spirulina.

Spirulina—a type of blue-green algae—has been made famous by wellness brands like Moon Juice, Sakara, and The End Brooklyn (though its ‘superfood’ status actually dates back to the ancient Aztecs and Mayans). The spiral-shaped organism (it’s technically a bacteria) grows in warm alkaline waters in mild climates, and is found in the largest concentrations in Mexico and Africa’s Great Rift Valley. As it grows, it absorbs a myriad of nutrients from its environment.

“From what we know, spirulina is an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin K1, vitamin K2, and vitamin B12, as well as iron, manganese, chromium, and a host of phytonutrients,” says chiropractic physician and certified nutrition specialist Scott Schreiber, M.S., R.D. “Not only is it a powerful antioxidant, but spirulina has also shown promise in protecting the liver, kidney, nerves and brain, helping detox heavy metals, supporting health blood pressure and cholesterol, and boosting energy.”

And did we mention just two tablespoons of spirulina also happens to pack six grams of protein?

Blue Smoothie Bowl goodness @healthsynergy 💦

A post shared by Smoothie Bowl Recipes (@smoothiebowls) on

It’s not just spirulina’s impressive nutrition stats that have made it so trendy, however, suggests Abbey Sharp, R.D., of Abbey’s Kitchen. The algae’s beautiful blue color is otherwise pretty impossible to find in nature, and, frankly, it just looks lovely in a latte. “Given today’s rainbow and unicorn food trends, spirulina has become a popular additive to smoothies and other Instagram-worthy dishes,” she says. (Seriously, check out this delightful birthday cake latte The End Brooklyn made The Vitamin Shoppe for its 40th birthday…)

Most nutrition experts have been long-time fans of spirulina, and research suggests its health benefits are legit. For example, one small study published in the Journal of Applied Phycology found that five grams of spirulina a day may support the immune response of people with compromised immune systems.

Kiwis and spirulina smoothie bowl via @monacoskitchen

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Just a couple things to keep in mind before turning all of your favorite recipes blue: First, make sure you buy your spirulina from a reputable manufacturer that tests for contaminants, since this water-dwelling organism can absorb potentially-harmful metals, like mercury, from its environment, and produce toxins, warns dietitian and chef Julie Andrews, M.S., R.D.N. This is especially important if a supplement lists ‘blue-green algae’ or ‘AFA’ (which are harvested from the wild, and not commercially, like spirulina) as ingredients.

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Once you’ve got the blue-green light, you can add spirulina—which you’ll typically find in powder form—to pretty much everything. If you want to keep things basic, just mix the powder straight into water or juice. If you’re feeling creative, stir your spirulina into salad dressings, mix it into homemade energy bites, or blend it into smoothies—like this colorful recipe from dietitian Gillean Barkyoumb, M.S., R.D.

Ingredients:
1 scoop of vanilla plant-based protein powder
1/2 avocado
1 cup of almond milk
1 Tbsp almond butter
1 Tbsp cacao nibs
2 Tbsp spirulina powder
Ice, as desired

Don’t worry, if you’re not a fan of spirulina’s flavor (some find it a little too ‘earthy’) you can still reap its benefits by popping a tablet supplement, like The Vitamin Shoppe brand’s California-Grown Spirulina tablets.

Is There Really Anything You Can Do To Get Rid Of Cellulite?

“I love my cellulite!” – said no one, ever.

Good luck finding a single soul who actually appreciates their cellulite. And there are a lot of us out there: The lumpy, cottage cheese-like condition affects around 90 percent of women—and 10 percent of men.

“There’s no discriminating when it comes to cellulite,” says Sejal Shah, M.D., board certified dermatologist. “It typically crops up after puberty and makes skin appear dimpled or lumpy as normal fat under the skin pushes through the bands of connective tissue that surround the fat cells.” When these fat cells expand, they put pressure on the connective tissue and push against the top layers of the skin, creating that “cottage cheese” look we all dread.

Women are more prone to cellulite because of the sex-specific architecture of the fibrous collagen bands in their skin tissue. “In women, the fibrous bands, called septae, form perpendicular to the skin, so their naturally larger fat cells get lodged between the bands, putting pressure on the skin in a sort of mattress-button effect,” explains Tsippora Shainhouse, M.D., Beverly Hills-based dermatologist. Men have much smaller fat cells that form at 45 degree angles from the skin, which is why they’re less plagued by cellulite, Shainhouse says.

While there’s no denying that cellulite is a hard-to-treat condition, the good news is that there are some methods that can help minimize it. Here are six of the most common cellulite treatments out there.

Topical Caffeine Treatments

Exfoliating products that contain caffeine as a main ingredient may help lessen the appearance of cellulite. “As a stimulant, caffeine dilates blood vessels in the body, so when you rub it on the skin’s surface, it can temporarily tighten the area and tone the tissue,” says Dendy Engelman, M.D., of Manhattan Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery. “By exfoliating away dead skin cells, you showcase your skin at its smoothest, while the caffeine helps to minimize fat cell size, further smoothing the skin’s appearance.”

Dry Brushing

If you’re looking for another holistic, natural approach, you may want to get yourself a dry brush. “This technique has been around for centuries and involves brushing the skin with a stiff-bristled brush,” explains Engelman. “Dry brushing exfoliates the skin, boosts circulation and elasticity, and can help reduce the appearance of cellulite.” Apply gentle pressure and brush from your extremities toward the center of the body.

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Look for a brush with firm bristles that are cactus or vegetable-derived (synthetic materials are more likely to cause irritation on the skin), like this long-handled Bernard Jensen skin brush.

Exercising and Eating Right

One of the more long-term routes to smoother-looking skin is living a healthy, active lifestyle. “If you are overweight or obese, shedding some of those extra pounds and toning up can significantly improve the appearance of cellulite,” says Shah. (Remember what we mentioned before about muscle making skin appear tauter?)

Plus, eating a healthy diet filled with omega-3s is another way to help tackle cellulite, says Shah. Good-for-you fat strengthens the cell walls in your skin and can significantly smooth out its appearance, Shah says.

Frequent Massage

“A firm massage can improve blood flow and help reduce excess fluid in an area of the body, which temporarily improves the appearance of cellulite,” says Shah. If you’re simply massaging the areas at home, Shah recommends using a retinoid or retinol cream. While it won’t directly treat the cellulite, it may improve skin texture and tightness therefore reducing the appearance of cellulite.

Cellulaze

The first-ever FDA-approved treatment for cellulite, Cellulaze is a procedure in which a small laser tube is inserted just underneath the skin to cut the connective tissue bands causing the skin’s dimpled appearance. “Cellulaze can significantly improve and minimize the appearance of cellulite,” says Engelman. “I’ve yet to see a case where the procedure completely eliminates it, though.” That’s important info to keep in mind since a single Cellulaze session can cost upwards of $5,000.

Cellfina

The latest cellulite treatment to be approved by the FDA, “Cellfina utilizes a suction method to stabilize and raise a section of anesthetized skin,” explains Shainhouse. “Then, a rotating blade the size of a needle cuts the fibrous bands beneath the skin, releasing the bound-down tissue and the skin’s dimpled appearance.” Like Cellulaze, Cellfina costs a pretty penny, pricing out around $4,000 to $6,000 a treatment.