Anyone with a sweet tooth knows the struggle of not face-planting into gallons of ice cream whenever the urge for a treat strikes. Praise the food gods that there are ways to satisfy those cravings without completely blowing up your blood sugar or throwing your healthy diet out the window.
We asked eight nutritionists to share their personal go-to fixes to help you triumph over temptation. Take that, frosted supermarket cookies!
Deconstructed Chocolate-Dipped Apple
“My deconstructed chocolate-dipped apple is one of my favorite sweet and healthy snacks,” says Lauren Harris-Pincus, M.S., R.D.N., owner of Nutrition Starring You. “It contains protein, fiber, and carbs, so it’ll keep you satisfied and happy.”
Make It: Core and slice 1 medium gala apple and toss in ½ teaspoon lemon juice. Layer the apples on a plate and generously top with 1 teaspoon hemp hearts and 1 ½ teaspoons shredded coconut. In a separate bowl, stir 1 tablespoon dry powdered peanut butter with water until thick, and top apples with the mixture. Finish off the plate with 2 teaspoons cacao nibs or mini chocolate chips.
Nutrition: 170 calories, 8.7 grams of fiber, 5 grams of protein
“For a healthy, sweet snack that won’t push you into a sugar coma, I love making sweetish nuts,” says Brooke Alpert, R.D., founder of B-Nutritious Dietetics and Nutrition and author of The Sugar Detox. “While these nuts are sugarless, they have a natural sweetness, thanks to the cinnamon, ginger, and vanilla. Leave a bowl out on your counter and see how quickly they disappear!”
Make It: Start by preheating your oven to 325 degrees. In a bowl, combine 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract, and 1 ½ teaspoons extra virgin olive oil. Add 4 ounces each of walnuts, pecans, and cashews, and coat well with spice mixture. Place nuts on a baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes.
Nutrition: This mixture provides protein, fiber, and antioxidants—plus, the cinnamon can support stable blood sugar levels, says Alpert.
Related: Get your crunchy snack fix here.
Key Lime Kiwi Smoothie with Greek Yogurt
“When I’m craving a sweet dessert, I typically pick a fruit and add some type of protein,” says Jim White, R.D., owner of Jim White Fitness & Nutrition Studios. “This way I’m satisfied and I don’t have an awful sugar crash.”
“This key lime kiwi smoothie bowl is my go-to all year long, because it tastes like pie or ice cream but won’t derail all the healthy choices I made during the day.”
Make It: Combine 2 peeled kiwis, ½ an avocado, 1 banana, 2 tablespoons almond butter, 3 tablespoons lime juice, ½ cup unsweetened almond milk, and ¾ cup reduced or non-fat plain Greek yogurt in a blender. Blend on low until smooth. (Makes two servings.) If you’re feeling extra adventurous, pour the mixture into two bowls and top with crumbled granola or dark chocolate chips.
Whipped Banana Oatmeal
“My whipped banana oatmeal recipe satisfies any sweet tooth for breakfast, as a snack, or even as an added sugar-free dessert,” says Kath Younger, R.D. “It’s 100 percent whole grain and packed with fiber.”
Make it: Combine 1/3 cup old fashioned rolled oats, 1/3 cup 1 percent skim or soy milk, and 2/3 cup water in a saucepan over medium heat. Once the oats begin to steam or bubble, stir in ½ thinly sliced banana and whip vigorously. After about 5 minutes on medium heat, all liquid should be absorbed and the oatmeal should be at your desired consistency. Stir in a drop of vanilla extract and any other desired toppings, such as ½ tablespoon of chia seeds, almond butter, granola, or coconut.
Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Brownies
“These chewy brownies are sweetened with dates which add some fiber, contain peanut butter for protein and healthy fats, and use sweet potato for an extra boost of veggies,” says Lindsay Livingston, R.D.
To make these delightful bites, add 1 cup chopped, pitted dates, 2/3 cup mashed, cooked sweet potato, and 3/4 cup nut butter to a food processor or high-powered blender. Blend mixture until smooth, and add 2 eggs and ¼ cup applesauce. Process until well-mixed and sift in 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder and ½ teaspoon baking soda. Finally, stir in 2/3 cup dark chocolate chips or pieces. Spoon mixture into a greased 9×9 pan and bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. For some extra indulgence, top with melted nut butter and chocolate chips once brownies have cooled.
Pomegranate Probiotic Shake
“When I reach for something sweet, I want nutritional benefits, too, so one of my go-to’s is a pomegranate probiotic shake,” says Jackie Newgent, R.D.N., author of The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook and spokesperson for POM Wonderful.
“It’s pretty and tastes great—plus it’s a good source of potassium and contains the antioxidant polyphenols from the pomegranate, beta-carotene and vitamin C from the mango, and high-quality protein and gut-healthful probiotics from the skyr or Greek yogurt,” says Newgent.
Make it: Blend 2/3 cup 100 percent pomegranate juice, 2/3 cup frozen mango, and ½ cup Icelandic skyr or Greek yogurt. For something extra special, pour the beverage into a glass and top with a dollop of real whipped cream.
“When I’m asked to bring dessert to a party or when I’m craving something sweet at home, I’ll make some coconut-sprinkled strawberries,” says Tori Schmitt, M.S., R.D.N., founder of YES! Nutrition.
Make it: De-stem strawberries and cover with 1 tablespoon each of Greek yogurt. Toast unsweetened coconut shreds in the oven at 350 degrees until lightly brown, about 5 to 10 minutes, and roll on ½ tablespoon coconut per strawberry.
Nutrition: One of the heavenly nibbles is 30 calories, so you won’t ever feel that post-dessert guilt, says Schmitt.
Dates in Nut Butter
“My favorite healthy sweet treat is two medjool dates stuffed with almond butter,” says Abby Langer, R.D. “Dates are naturally sweet and high in fiber, and the almond butter contains healthy fats—it’s a win-win!”
Make it: Slice open two pitted dates and spoon a teaspoon of almond butter into the center of each.
Nutrition: 198 calories
Pin now, enjoy delicious sweet treats later!