Wait–there are desserts that can help with weight loss?! Yup! It turns out there are plenty of waistline-friendly sweets and treats out there, meaning that they’re low in calories and contain very little sugar and fat. Some are even made with metabolism-boosting ingredients to help combat cravings and burn calories. The secret is enjoying them in moderation!
“I find that when little indulgences like chocolate are allowed, it makes it that much easier to stick to healthy meals,” Brooke Alpert, RD, author of The Diet Detox, tells Health.com.
Want to know more? Here are five healthy desserts that nutritionists like to indulge in from time-to-time:
“My family's go-to 'healthier' dessert is homemade frozen yogurt. The beauty is in the ability to include fresh fruits, high-protein Greek yogurt, almond milk with healthy fats, and reduce the sugar content. One summer we resolved to make a different kind every week! It was super fun. Our favorites so far include Dreamsicle flavor, which uses orange juice concentrate for a vitamin boost, fresh strawberry with real vanilla bean, and peanut butter with dark chocolate chips," says Jennifer Bowers, PhD, RD, a dietitian based in Arizona.
Chocolate Covered Bananas
"The key to making chocolate covered bananas healthy is to use a chocolate that is a minimum of 60% cocoa. The higher the cocoa, the more flavonoids you’ll get. These phytochemicals may help lower cholesterol and reduce inflammation. Plus, the higher the percentage of cocoa, the less sugar in the chocolate. And, making the chocolate covered bananas or banana bites is a delicious activity," says Libby Mills, RD, Nutrition and Cooking Coach. "When the chocolate is still warm on the banana, you can roll the banana in toasted oats, peanuts, shaved coconut, or even your favorite cereal."
“When I want to crush a sweet craving with something healthy, I go for frozen grapes," explains Marisa Moore, RDN, nutritionist based in Atlanta. "I keep a stash in the freezer. They are a sweet treat and natural source of antioxidants and other polyphenols. Since they are frozen it takes longer to eat them, which may help my sweet tooth pass. I probably have them a couple times a week and will occasionally coat them in vanilla Greek yogurt for a cool and creamy treat, or blend them for a bit of sorbet effect. Three-quarters of a cup of grapes has just 90 calories."
Ginger-Cinnamon Dark Chocolate Balls
I have a small sweet treat maybe a few times a week. My go-to lately has been ginger-cinnamon dark chocolate balls," explains Cynthia Sass, RD, Health's contributing nutrition editor. "Ginger, cinnamon, and dark chocolate are all potent sources of antioxidants. Ginger and cinnamon are also immune supporters and anti-inflammatory metabolic boosters. Tahini—made from ground sesame seeds—provides copper, manganese, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, selenium, and thiamine. A two-tablespoon portion also packs 5 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber. So, in a nutshell, I'm taking in some key nutrients while I satisfy my sweet tooth. They're also easy to make and don't require baking.”
Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
“My go-to dessert is a homemade chocolate chip cookie, which I love because it reminds me of simpler times when my mom would have cookies waiting for me after school. Plus they just taste delicious! I make a batch of these cookies about once a month," says Megan Roosevelt, RDN, founder of HealthyGroceryGirl.com. "While cookies, in general, are not a health food, our recipe includes real, whole ingredients that we feel good about, as well as dark chocolate chips for a boost of antioxidants. When the cookies run out, I treat myself to a piece of dark chocolate almost every day!”