Nutrition / Recipes

10 Dietitians Share Their Go-To Dessert Recipes

Did someone say dessert?

When the dessert cart comes around, it can be tempting to go all in and chalk up a post-dinner indulgence as simply a well-earned treat.

But, satisfying that sweet tooth doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to toss all your healthy habits (and Aaptiv workouts) out the window. We chatted with a few nutrition experts to see exactly what they turn to when they’re in the mood for dessert.

Check out these ten nutritionist-approved dessert recipes that satisfy cravings and fuel your body.

Matcha-Chia Pudding

“Matcha is one of my favorite flavors, so I always try to incorporate it into new recipes, even if it’s just sprinkled over plain yogurt. This matcha-chia pudding combination is perfect for when you’re craving a dessert. It’s not super-sweet and it’s packed with fiber, Omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants. If I really have a sweet tooth, I like to add a little bit of high-quality dark chocolate—at least 80 percent cocoa, which means there is much less added sugar and greater health benefits.” —Brooke Alpert, M.S., R.D., C.D.N, author of The Diet Detox

Servings: 4

Ingredients:
2 cups almond milk
1 teaspoon matcha powder
2 teaspoons maple syrup
½ cup chia seeds
Optional: a few high-quality dark chocolate nibs

Directions:
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the almond milk and matcha until combined.
2. Add the maple syrup.
3. Whisk in the chia seeds.
4. Pour the mixture into a glass container and refrigerate for at least four hours, or overnight, until set.
5. Serve cold, and top with dark chocolate nibs, if desired.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Mug Cake

“This mug cake is gluten-free and incorporates spirulina, dark chocolate, and cinnamon to add flavor, but also give you some added health benefits. I love spirulina lately, which is a natural blue-green algae and packs a punch. This powder is high in protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, as well as Omega-3 fatty acids. You won’t regret taking two minutes out of your day to make this delicious mini cake!” —Danielle Stadelman, RDN

Servings: 1

Ingredients:
¼ cup almond flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 egg
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon coconut oil or coconut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon spirulina
1 tablespoon dark chocolate chips
Pinch of sea salt
Optional Toppings: coconut shreds, Greek yogurt and/or berries of choice

Directions:
1. Whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl.
2. Pour batter into your mug. Microwave for one to two minutes, or until cake is cooked all the way through (insert a toothpick into the cake; if it comes out clean the cake is all done).
3. Remove from microwave and let it sit a few minutes to cool. Add additional toppings of choice and enjoy!

Dark Chocolate Bark

“I specialize in weight loss and the ketogenic diet, so this is a sweet treat that satisfies the craving while remaining low-carb, low-sugar, and providing all the health benefits of antioxidant-rich chocolate and the healthy fat of nuts.” —Courtney Schuchmann, MS, RD, LDN Registered Dietitian, Department of Gastroenterology at The University of Chicago Medical Center

Servings: 20

Ingredients:
1 cup chopped pecan pieces
1 cup shredded coconut
10 oz. bag low-sugar dark chocolate chips (60 percent dark chocolate chips)
2 teaspoon coconut oil or vegetable oil
1/2 tablespoon coarse mineral salt

Directions:
1. In a microwaveable container, melt chocolate chips with coconut oil. Heat in 30-second intervals to avoid scorching.
2. Stir chocolate until it’s smooth. Add the pecans and coconut, stirring well.
3. Pour onto a parchment lined baking pan and smooth out.
4. Sprinkle with coarse salt.
5. Place in the freezer to harden.
6. After it has hardened, break into pieces and store in the refrigerator.

Almond Peanut Butter Balls

“Even when I indulge, I try to make sure the dessert is balanced, in terms of macronutrients. There are so many delicious ways to enjoy sweets that don’t have to rely only on sugar. Some of my favorite recipes include high-fiber ingredients, good quality fats, and even protein to keep both my taste buds satisfied and my blood sugar more stable. Nuts and seeds—these aren’t just for trail mix. They’re are high in unsaturated fats and fiber and are also a good source of protein, which are all very satiating.” —Lori Zanini, RD, CDE, and Creator of For The Love of Diabetes.

Servings: 17

Ingredients:
1 cup natural peanut butter, unsalted
1 cup almond meal
¼ cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons honey, or 100 percent pure maple syrup
¼ cup golden raisins

Directions:
1. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and process until it becomes a fine mixture.
2. Transfer mixture to a mixing bowl. Fill a tablespoon with the mixture and roll into a ball. Place on a plate. Continue rolling out tablespoon-sized balls.
3. Refrigerate them for at least 30 minutes and then serve.

Banana Slush

“One of my favorite go-to desserts is one with limited ingredients. This one is rich in fiber—perfect to curb sweet cravings without all the other added ingredients!” —Yasi Ansari, MS, RD, CSSD

Servings: 1

Ingredients:
2 bananas
Water
Honey

Directions:
1. Take two bananas, chop them up, and place them in freezer-approved Ziploc bags.
2. Once the fruit freezes, ideally somewhere between five to eight hours, take them out and put them into a food processor.
3. Turn the food processor on and adjust the setting enough to blend the fruit—it should turn into a soft-serve ice cream consistency.
4. Once the fruit is blended, add to your favorite dessert cup and drizzle honey on top (“I just add a little, because the banana will already taste sweet itself!”)

Almond Butter Coconut Bites

“These little bites are perfect for any occasion, from a tasty dessert to a quick post-workout snack. Better yet, this recipe can be meal prepped on Sunday and stay good all week long. Just be careful not eat them all in one day! I love incorporating more whole grains into my diet, and oats have been a nutritional powerhouse for years. Not only are they loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, but oats are rich in fiber—more specifically a type of fiber called beta-glucan, a particular type of fiber known to help lower cholesterol. The fiber in oats also keeps you feeling full, so you’ll eat less later on during the day.” —Danielle Stadelman

Servings: 12

Ingredients:
1 cup rolled oats
½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
2 to 3 tablespoons melted coconut oil or coconut butter
½ cup almond butter or nut butter of choice
¼ cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Optional toppings: pistachios, coconut flakes, melted dark chocolate, and/or melted almond butter

Directions:
1. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and mix until well combined. Then, mix in maple syrup and vanilla extract until mixture is well coated.
2. Heat almond butter, salt, and coconut oil (or coconut butter) on the stove until melted; then combine with the rest of the ingredients.
3. Use a spoon or a scooper to form one inch balls on parchment paper; add toppings of choice. My favorite is dipping half in melted dark chocolate and topping with chopped pistachios! Let sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
4. Best kept in the fridge for up to one week.
Note: If the mixture is too dry, add more wet ingredients one tablespoon at a time. If too wet, add more dry ingredients one tablespoon at a time.

Pumpkin Almond Butter Cups

“What I love about this recipe is that it takes no more than ten minutes to make, satisfies my sweet tooth, and contains no added sugar. Instead, it gets its sweetness from maple syrup! Bonus: The addition of pumpkin gives it that rich fall, comfort-like taste…not to mention, pumpkin is a vegetable, so you’re getting added nutrition from that!” —Maggie Michalczyk, RDN, founder of Once Upon a Pumpkin

Servings: 12

Ingredients:
Bottom Layer (chocolate)
⅓ cup almond butter, creamy
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

Top Layer (pumpkin + almond butter)
⅓ cup almond butter, creamy
½ cup canned pumpkin
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt

Directions:
1. Mix almond butter, coconut oil, vanilla, and cocoa powder together in a bowl to create the bottom layer.
2. Scoop the chocolate layer into muffin paper cups placed inside a muffin tray.
3. To create the bottom layer of the cups, shake the mixture to get it to settle.
4. Mix the top layer ingredients (almond butter, canned pumpkin, maple syrup, etc.) in a separate bowl.
5. Scoop on top of the chocolate layer and spread around.
6. Freeze until solid, and enjoy!

Chocolate Mug Cake with Strawberries

“I know beans aren’t usually thought of when it comes to dessert, but black beans surprisingly mix in very well with chocolate desserts. There are also some great black bean brownie recipes out there which can incorporate two of my favorite dessert ingredients: beans and cacao!” —Lori Zanini

Servings: 1

Ingredients:
¼ cup black beans
1 tablespoon old fashioned or quick cooking oats
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon unsweetened almond milk
1 teaspoon canola oil, plus more for greasing the mug
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon baking powder
3 strawberries, sliced

Directions:
1. In a blender, combine the ingredients and process until smooth.
2. Pour into a lightly greased coffee mug.
3. Microwave for one to two minutes, depending on the power of your microwave. Start with one minute, and continue for 30 seconds at a time until it is firm in the center.
4. Let cool for five minutes before removing from the mug.
5. Top with strawberry slices, serve.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream

“As a dietitian, most of us use desserts as cheat foods. That means that we eat the full-blown bad stuff—but sometimes we try for the healthier choices! I try—with friends and family—when doing a healthier dessert to look for recipes with fruit. Then at least they’re getting a serving [of] for fruit for the day. I like this non-dairy ice cream made with bananas and peanut butter. I’m allergic to milk, and before Ben and Jerry’s started making non-dairy ice creams, this recipe (from The Lemon Bowl) was my go-to.” —Heather Richards, RD, LD

Servings: 4

Ingredients:
2 large frozen banana, sliced
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of salt

Directions:
1. Place all ingredients in a high-speed blender or food processor and slowly pulse, 15 seconds at a time, until mixture is smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides as you go. Note: this process may take a couple of minutes, so be patient.
2. Serve immediately, or freeze in an airtight container for up to five days.

Smart Blondies

“This an original recipe from my Good Clean Eats ebook. I love these blondies because they’re very light. I use applesauce in place of butter, semi-sweet chocolate in place of milk chocolate, and almond flour in place of all-purpose (or wheat) flour. If you’re trying to avoid wheat, gluten, milk chocolate, or butter but want to keep all the sweetness, this is the perfect recipe.” —Trinity S. Perkins, M.S.Ed, AFAA Certified Personal Trainer, ISSA Performance Nutrition Specialist

Servings: 12

Ingredients:
¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
1 egg
¾ cup creamy almond butter
1 egg white
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup almond flour
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350.
2. Mix almond butter and applesauce in a bowl.
3. Add eggs, almond flour, salt, and baking powder in the same bowl and mix it all together.
4. Add the chocolate chips last when the rest of the mixture is free of lumps.
5. Spread the batter evenly into an 8×8 baking pan.
6. Bake for 30 minutes.

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