If you love your desserts but are trying to shed some extra pounds, we have fantastic news: Indulging your sweet tooth doesn’t have to be a guilty pleasure that derails your weight-loss goals. The trick is to use healthy, whole-food ingredients that deliver plenty of nutrition without sacrificing flavor. Eat This, Not That! spoke with Destini Moody, RDN, CSSD, LD, a registered dietitian and sports dietitian with Garage Gym Reviews, who shares her top 10 decadent whole-food desserts for weight loss. Get ready to update your shopping list and head to your nearest grocery store, because these dessert ideas are too good to pass up on.
The best part is these whole-food desserts are lower in calories than traditional ones, making them a welcome dietary addition for those looking to lose weight while continuing to satisfy their cravings for sweets. While “dessert” is often villainized in the nutrition world, these whole-food recipes challenge this common misconception. A helpful trick is to reframe these in your mind as not being desserts per se but more as a pleasurable and nutritious addition to your meal times. As long as you account for the nutrition and calories of these healthy desserts, they can be incorporated into your weekly weight loss menu.
Read on for Moody’s 10 best whole-food desserts for weight loss, and discover the incredible weight-loss benefits of these nutritious indulgences. And afterward, be sure to check out The #1 Best Dinner for Weight Loss.
Banana “Nice” Cream
Blending frozen bananas into a creamy, ice cream-like consistency creates a satisfying treat that’s rich in potassium and natural sweetness, making it an ideal dessert for those looking to shrink their waistline.
“When you crave ice cream but are trying to lose weight, it puts you in a tough spot. Luckily, frozen bananas come to the rescue. If you put some frozen bananas in the blender with some almond milk and some protein powder, all you have to do is pulse until it reaches your desired consistency,” says Moody.
Frozen grapes are basically nature’s candy but deliver a healthy dose of antioxidants along with natural sugars. Thirty-one frozen grapes contain just 90 calories.
Moody tells us, “Frozen grapes taste just like little spheres of fruity sorbet when frozen, making them perfect for a mid-day dessert on a hot day. Also, since they’re frozen and full of fiber, they take longer to consume, making it difficult to overconsume.”
Dark Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries
Don’t worry, your eyes aren’t deceiving you—dark chocolate-dipped strawberries can help you lose weight! The antioxidants in dark chocolate paired with the natural sweetness of strawberries make this dessert a guilt-free pleasure. Just be sure to choose dark chocolate with a high cocoa content to maximize the health benefits.
“Like all other berries, strawberries are full of antioxidants that can fight inflammation associated with unhealthy weight gain and are low in calories,” says Moody. “Pair their mild sweetness with the tartness of anti-inflammatory dark chocolate for a healthy spin on a classic dessert.”
Apples and Almond Butter
This classic pair delivers a perfect combination of healthy fats, carbs, protein, and fiber for a wholesome dessert that will satisfy your sweet cravings while nourishing your body.
“Unlike other dips like caramel and whipped cream, almond butter doesn’t have inflammatory ingredients like sugar and saturated fat,” Moody explains. “Instead, it’s packed with heart-healthy unsaturated fats and a touch of protein, making it a guilt-free dessert when paired with a high-fiber fruit like apples.”
Dark Chocolate and Dried Blueberries
This dynamic duo caters to your sweet tooth while providing a wealth of antioxidants and vitamins.
“Want to make your own fruit bark for a dessert you can either hog for yourself or share at your next potluck or family gathering? Simply melt dark chocolate chips in a bowl and mix in dried blueberries. Then, refrigerate the mixture on some parchment paper until it’s solid. Then, simply break off however much you plan to have and enjoy a dessert packed with antioxidants,” says Moody.
Made from nutrient-dense ingredients like oats, nuts, and seeds, energy bites are a delightful dessert that doubles as a satisfying snack.
“It’s amazing what you can make with some oats and nut butter,” states Moody. “Heart-healthy nut butters like peanut or cashew butter can act as a binder to make decadent little balls when combined with rolled oats. Oats are a good source of soluble fiber, which not only helps lower cholesterol but forms a gel in the stomach that provides a feeling of fullness and controls hunger. Get creative and add some cocoa powder and even seeds like chia or pumpkin for some extra texture.”
Blended with cocoa powder and sweetened with natural alternatives, this creamy dessert is another guilt-free pleasure for your weight loss journey. Plus, avocado contains healthy monounsaturated healthy fats that research suggests can help you lose weight.
“The thing that makes unhealthy foods like cream cheese or ice cream so crave-able is their fatty mouthfeel,” says Moody. “Luckily, healthy foods like avocado can provide the same mouthfeel. Just smash an avocado in a bowl with a fork, add some cocoa powder and natural sweetener, and stir in some milk until the mixture becomes mousse-like.”
Fresh Fruit Popsicles
Simply blend your favorite fruits, freeze the mixture in molds, and voila—you have a refreshing and wholesome dessert that takes minimal effort to prepare.
Moody says, “Get some reusable silicone molds for popsicles and fill them with a purée of your favorite fresh fruit. Strawberries and mangos work wonderfully for this as they freeze well. Enjoying low-calorie popsicles is great for weight loss because popsicles are difficult to consume too quickly, and using fresh fruit guarantees you’ll get in some good nutrition in the process.”
Apple and Peanut Butter Cookies
Like almond butter and apples, these cookies provide a perfect nutritional balance to aid your weight loss efforts.
To make them, Moody tells us, “Stir together some chunky peanut butter, a handful of dried apples, a drizzle of honey, a dash of cinnamon, and about two cups of cornflakes. Refrigerate this mixture for about an hour until they’re solid enough to form into cookies. You’ll have to keep them refrigerated if you aren’t eating them, but you’ll end up with several servings of all-whole food cookies without the added sugar and butter.”
Chia Seed Pudding
“If you don’t mind waiting overnight for your dessert, chia seed pudding is one of the easiest to make, even if you don’t have a lot of cooking talent,” says Moody. “Mix two tablespoons of chia seeds and half a cup of almond or low-fat milk as your base. If you let it sit overnight, it’ll come out in a pudding consistency. Then, you can have fun adding other healthy ingredients for more flavor and pizzazz in the form of honey, fresh fruit, or cacao nibs. Chia seeds contain omega-3s, an essential fat the body cannot make on its own, but they’re a strong antioxidant that promotes brain health, heart health, and even athletic performance.”