Desserts are a food that we all relish every now and then. Some of us may even indulge in them more frequently as a comfort food. Unfortunately, the nutritional value of many desserts don’t lend themselves to being incorporated into a healthy diet as often as many of us would like; consequently, many people forego their dessert in a bid to make healthier choices. The good news for you today is that in only a matter of minutes, you’ll discover how to make a healthy dessert, so now even the healthiest of you out there can have your cake and eat it.

How to make a healthy dessert - Woman licking dessert from her finger while holding dessert

Eliminate/reduce unnecessary ingredients

The simplest way to make a healthier dessert is to remove ingredients that are not essential to the food. When elimination isn’t possible or ideal, an alternative is to reduce the quantity of ingredient being added. Whether you become less heavy-handed with the toppings, reduce the amount of layers in a cake or the amount of sugar in the ingredients, there’s a multitude of ways to make some cuts that are often unnoticeable.

Cream:

Many cakes, buns and pies are often loaded with cream on top for decoration. Sadly all that decoration is merely a high-fat ingredient; for instance, fresh cream contains 360 calories, 24g saturated fat and 2.6g sugar per 100g. That typically equates to just over 100 calories per serving.

Let’s not even get started on the nutritional value of double cream. All I’ll say is that it contains 43% extra calories compared to light cream. There should be no reason whatsoever to bring double cream into your kitchen. In fact, you should probably ban it in the interest of your health. Remember, your body is a temple, right?

Toppings:

Various appetising toppings are applied to desserts to enhance their appearance. However, these pieces of eye candy are often mini mouthfuls of sugar and fat that are unnecessary additions and can often be reduced, if not omitted. Examples include:

  • Sprinkles
  • Chocolate chips and shavings
  • Frosting
  • Syrups
  • Nuts
  • Dried fruit
  • Jelly sweets
  • Biscuits
  • Alcohol
  • Sugar sprinkling

How to make a healthy dessert - mug with whipped cream

Foods swaps

Cream:

As you now know, cream can be rather high in calories. If you can’t eliminate it from your dessert, then opting for the light cream versions can save you 38% fat compared to the original version. Light cream provides 257 calories, 16g saturated fat and 3.3g sugar per 100ml.

Additionally, you can swap heavy cream for evaporated skimmed milk. It maintains the same consistency as heavy cream, minus the extra calories and fat. Also, did you know that you can substitute equal quantities of cream for low fat greek yoghurt? It also adds an extra source of protein.

Butter:

Butter is generally excessively high in fat with 744 calories, 53g saturated fat and 0.6g sugar per 100g. Swapping out regular butter for low fat butter achieves a significant drop in fat and calories, as it provides 384 calories, 25g saturated fat and 0.29g sugar per 100g.

A new phenomenon which is taking the healthy baking world by storm is the ingenious hack of swapping butter for apple sauce. This trade not only provides you with added fibre and vitamin C, it also leaves you with merely 106 calories, 0.1g saturated fat and 23g sugar per 100g to account for. Saying that, it does lend itself to an elevated quantity of sugar when compared to butter, but perhaps you can offset this by reducing the sugar added as a compromise.

How to make a healthy dessert - apple sauce in glass bowl

Chocolate:

Milk chocolate is generally higher in sugar and fat than it’s dark chocolate counterpart. Choose dark chocolate with a high cocoa percentage (greater than 85% is ideal); additionally, opting for cocoa powder over drinking chocolate will reward you with a nutritionally superior option.

Eggs:

If you’re looking to reduce the calorie or fat content from eggs, or even increase the protein content of your dessert, substitute eggs for egg whites or add in an extra 30ml of egg white to the recipe. This is equivalent to 1 medium egg white. 100g of egg white provides 45 calories, 0g fat, 1g carbohydrate and 10g protein.

Flour:

It’s almost gone to a stage where it’s overwhelming to look at a flour aisle in the supermarket; there’s just so much variety in terms of flours to choose from. As such, there should be no reason why you can’t swap processed white flour for whole wheat (wholemeal) flour.

For those of you looking to decrease your carbohydrate intake or increase your protein or healthy fat intake, then swapping regular flour for almond flour may be the solution to your quest. Almond flour provides 612 calories, 55.8g fat and 6.9g carbohydrate per 100g serving. In comparison, self-rising flour delivers 366 calories, 1.3g fat and 75.1g carbohydrate per 100g. Almond flour isn’t your friend, however, if you’re looking to reduce calorie content in your dessert.

Tip: Beware of the cost of alternative flours as they can be rather expensive in comparison to regular flours.

For those of you looking to increase protein content or reduce carbohydrates, substitute a portion of flour for protein powder. It will not only add to the flavour, but it will also provide an extra portion of protein and lower calorie when compared to flour. It’s advisable to swap 1 cup of flour with 1/3 cup of protein powder to start with, as the recipe may not lend itself to the texture of protein powder and may need a scoop or 2 of flour. If in doubt, search for recipes with protein powder as these are tried and tested methods.

Ice cream:

The latest ice cream trend to hit social media is using frozen fruit, such as bananas to make ice cream. Simply freeze the bananas overnight, blend them in a blender or food processor, and top them with your favourite toppings. It’s also a great alternative for those who are lactose-intolerant.

Frozen yoghurt (fro-yo) is an ice cream alternative that’s so similar, most people would struggle to tell them apart. Opt for low fat greek yoghurt to shave even more fat off. Additionally, low fat ice cream alternatives are now becoming increasingly prevalent and popular.

Naturally sweetened salted caramel ice cream contains 68 calories, 4.2g protein, 2g fat and 6.2g sugar per 100ml. Compare that with regular salted caramel ice cream which provides 282 calories, 4.1g protein, 17.2g fat and 23.5g sugar per 100ml. You could essentially have 3 or 4 portions of the naturally sweetened ice cream for a similar calorie value as the regular ice cream!

How to make a healthy dessert - frozen yoghurt dessert in tall glass topped with raspberries

Oil:

As with butter, oil is also densely high in calories and fat. Again, you can substitute oil for apple sauce in the likes of cake, muffins and bread.

Milk:

With so many varieties of milk available, you can choose the one that suits your lifestyle and nutritional needs best, without feeling restricted. In terms of dairy milk, switching to low fat (47 calories per 100ml) or skimmed milk (36 calories per 100ml) is a guaranteed way to reduce calories and fat when equated to full fat milk. If you opt for alternative milks, such as unsweetened almond milk, you can achieve an even lower quantity of calories (13 calories per 100ml).

Sauces:

If you’ve read any of my previous articles, you’ll know that sauces and syrups can jeopradise a healthy meal by introducing a mammoth amount of calories, fat and sugar. Ever since discovering the sheer quantity of hidden sugars, fat and calories contained in sauces, I have turned to Skinny Sauce – Virtually Zero® Calorie, sugar free, fat free syrups which are a true game-changer in terms of revolutionising a meal and making it look mouth-watering and taste divine. I’ve recently been using maple syrup sugar free syrup as a substitute for regular maple syrup, which is high in sugar and calories.

Birthday cake, billionaire’s shortbread and blueberry syrup are next on my list of syrups to try, so don’t miss out as they do sell fast! What flavours would you like to try?

As an affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Please note that you, the reader’s interests are my top priority, and I only recommend products that I have either tried and tested or thoroughly reviewed and consider good enough for myself to buy.

Sugar:

The sugar content in many desserts can be astronomical if you compare a serving of your favourite treat with your recommended daily allowance of sugar. In many cases, it’s unlikely that you can eliminate sugar from your ingredients list. Instead, what you can do is exchange it for no-calorie sweeteners. For each tablespoon of sugar that you swap for sweetener, you’ll save 48 calories.

This can be approached in a number of ways. Either swap all the sugar for sweetener or you could swap a ratio of sugar for sweetener, e.g. swap 50% sugar for 50% sweetener. Also, bear in mind that sweeteners are much stronger that sugar in terms of sweetness; if you’re not used to using sweeteners or if you haven’t experimented with sweeteners when baking before, it’s advisable to ease into the process by choosing the latter option.

How to make a healthy dessert - teaspoon of sugar with sugar on table

Other techniques

  • Opt for half portions of desserts where possible, or eat half and take half home if you’re in a restaurant
  • Share a dessert instead of eating a whole one yourself, often we only need a few mouthfuls to feel satisfied
  • Fruit-based desserts tend to be lighter in calories and fat, while also tending to your sweet tooth, e.g. fruit salad
  • Fruit also adds volume to a dessert, especially if the dessert is already a small portion
  • Meringues are generally low calories bases to desserts
  • Look out for the nutritional value on the menu or packaging as it may help you choose the healthier option
  • Avoid the creamy toppings where possible, these are often decorating the top of a cake or ice cream and can easily be scraped away
  • Jelly and ice cream is an established dessert on many menus and is often a lighter option than cakes and other desserts
  • Take caution when choosing liquid beverages as many coffees and hot chocolates are often higher in calories than many desserts

How to make a healthy dessert - 2 heart shaped bowls of fruit salad

Summary

  • Eliminating unnecessary toppings can swiftly reduce the calories, fat and sugar of a dessert
  • Selecting low fat creams and butter over regular versions can greatly reduce calories
  • Replacing butter or oil with apple sauce can significantly reduce calories and fat, although the sugar content is a watchout
  • Sauces and syrups can cause a significant rise in calories, fat and sugar
  • Simply choosing a liquid dessert over a food dessert doesn’t mean it’s any lower in calories

If you are concerned that you’re sacrificing a tasty dessert for an even unhealthier beverage, then don’t be caught out. Go check out best low calorie beverages – cut 100+ calories per drink to learn how to make some smart and informed decisions so that you don’t derail your health or your weight loss journey.

I hope you found these tips useful and it offers you an opportunity to enjoy more of the foods you love without having to sacrifice them or your health. These are relatively straightforward tips that anyone can implement, and following them is a piece of cake!

One last parting word of wisdom. Most importantly, remember to savour your dessert. Life is too short not to have cake, so eat it slowly, embrace the flavours and appreciate how it is decorated before you jump into it.

What’s your favourite dessert? Are there ones you avoid because of their nutritional value? How many of the above tips do you think you will incorporate in future? Which of the sugar free sauce flavours would you try first? I’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments section.

How to make a healthy dessert - Male and female couple feeding each other dessert

Sources

Magee, E., 2006. 10 Ways To Cut Calories In Baking Recipes. [online] WebMD. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/10-ways-to-cut-calories-in-baking-recipes#1 [Accessed 2 July 2020].

Scott, J., 2019. Eating Healthier By Swapping Out Your Recipes For Low-Calorie Options. [online] Verywell Fit. Available at: https://www.verywellfit.com/low-calorie-recipe-substitutions-for-baking-3496161 [Accessed 2 July 2020].

Tesco.ie. 2020. [online] Available at: https://www.tesco.ie [Accessed 2 July 2020].

Wolff, C., 2015. 7 Easy Tips For Making Healthier Desserts (And Having Less Guilt About A Little Treat). [online] Simplemost. Available at: https://www.simplemost.com/7-easy-hacks-making-healthier-desserts/  [Accessed 2 July 2020].

Categories: Blogs

14 Comments

Alyse · 08/07/2020 at 6:58 AM

Thanks for sharing all this helpful information I really enjoyed the section on food swap.

    Sharon · 08/07/2020 at 5:40 PM

    Hi there,

    Thank you so much, I’m glad you enjoyed the suggestions in the how to make a healthy dessert – must know tips blog.

    If there’s anything I can be of assistance with, don’t hesitate to ask.

    Best wishes,
    Sharon

M Charles · 08/07/2020 at 9:32 AM

Woah I salivated when reading your post. One of the things I love most about your post is the pictures; they are really talking. You have shown us the way to join the beautiful with the useful, ‘how to eat or cake and still have it’. I will always refere to this post if I have need of making a healthy dessert.

    Sharon · 08/07/2020 at 5:42 PM

    Hi there,

    Wow, thank you so much, I really appreciate the positive comments! I’m glad you enjoy the pictures, although I hope they didn’t make you hungry reading it.

    Hopefully you learned a few valuable tips that you’ll use.

    Best wishes,
    Sharon

Regina · 08/07/2020 at 7:44 PM

I use a lot of these strategies too. I also discovered a trick from my Asian daughter in-law. Use coconut milk or coconut cream in recipes instead of regular dairy cream. I don’t taste a strong coconut flavor and it’s delicious. Thank you for these great ideas! 🙂

Regina

    Sharon · 09/07/2020 at 8:25 PM

    Hi there,

    That’s what I like to hear. I’ve never heard that suggestion before, great tip!

    Thanks for sharing and posting on my page.

    Sharon

Habib · 09/07/2020 at 6:53 PM

Gosh! I did not know most of these information and clever tips and tricks to eliminates unnecessary ingredients and additives. If we can think clever like this, we can make healthy and even weight loss desserts, how amazing that will be!

I am big fan of fresh coconut cream direct from the coconut. I have substituted to cream with amazing taste, actually better than the normal topping cream, so I recommend to anyone who is a fan coconut flavor.

Thank you for this post and information

    Sharon · 09/07/2020 at 8:27 PM

    Hi Habib,

    Good to hear, I’m glad and hope you found some valuable tricks to keep your treats both interesting and healthy! Also, thank you for sharing your own opinion and experiences. It’s interesting you speak about substituting cream for coconut, another person who commented on this post made the same suggestion, so I’ll have to try it out!

    Best wishes,
    Sharon

Minaher · 09/07/2020 at 7:58 PM

Oooh, sooo many goodies! And excellent tips as well. My husband is a diabetic, so I’m constantly on a quest for healthier version of foods we used to have before. The tips and examples you gave will really help me in that, thank you. I haven’t heard of the apple sauce as a butter substitute, though. Sounds interesting. Do you think it might work with apples sauce made with Stevia instead of sugar?

    Sharon · 09/07/2020 at 8:31 PM

    Hi there,

    Thanks a mill. Ironically and unfortunately, many diabetics I know have very sweet tooths! I think it’s great you’re trying to find healthier alternatives and I hope how to make a healthy dessert – must know tips will aid your battle! Apple sauce is all the rage, you should try it out! I have seen some apple sauce homemade recipes made with stevia, so I can only assume it’s possible. Perhaps one to try out some time?

    Sharon

Jade · 09/07/2020 at 10:29 PM

Thanks for the info! I love a good dessert but usually feel guilty when I indulge, so it’s good to know that there are so many alternative options. I was surprised by a few things – like nuts and dried fruits as toppings to avoid? Why is that? And do the apple sauce and protein powder substitutes affect the flavor or the final dessert?

    Sharon · 10/07/2020 at 7:48 PM

    Hi Jade,

    You shouldn’t feel guilty if it’s within your food plan, a treat or something that doesn’t put your health at harm. From a calorie perspective, nut and dried fruits are on the dense side, so if you’re watching calories, they wouldn’t be the lowest option. That’s not to say that you can’t use them though! They’re healthier than many other dessert ingredients out there. They can do, depending on the quantity you put in. That’s why it’s good to try a ratio first as opposed to using all apple sauce or all protein powder.

    Hope this answers your queries.

    Best wishes,
    Sharon

C.N. · 10/07/2020 at 4:41 PM

Great article, Sharon! I have heard a lot of great things about Skinny Sauce (as well as seen various ads for it on Facebook and YouTube), but I’ve never actually tried it before. Does it truly taste just as good as (if not better than) regular maple syrup? I’m trying to eat better (I come from a family of sugar, fat, and salt gluttons. Haha), and I’m looking for as many ways as possible to replace my current diet without sacrificing taste/flavor. BTW, I love blueberry everything, so I will definitely try blueberry syrup in the IMMEDIATE future (Oh, pancakes?! Come out and playyyyy! Haha). Great read! God bless you!

    Sharon · 10/07/2020 at 7:53 PM

    Hey there,

    Oh that’s good to hear, I’m just making my way through their syrups at the moment and I hope to write a review on them soon! I am so used to using it instead of regular maple syrup that I don’t even notice a difference. What I would suggest is trying the samples, they’re a great way to try all the flavours without investing in a whole bottle.

    Skinny Sauce Blueberry also caught my eye, along with unicorn flavour hehe, and I had the same idea in terms of pancakes!

    Best wishes,
    Sharon

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