Have you ever wondered if any desserts out there won‘t lead to blood sugar spikes?
Unfortunately, many popular desserts and summer treats tend to be high in sugars, fats, and simple carbohydrates, leading to irregular glucose trends, increased risk of obesity, and overeating. But does that mean you’ll never be able to enjoy a slice of peach cobbler or a big scoop of vanilla ice cream again?
Our answer is no—we think it’s important to enjoy the sweet things in life from time to time, and by keeping a few simple tips in mind, you can snack on a tasty dessert without worrying about any adverse health effects.
In this article, we’ll share our roundup of six Nutrisense nutritionist-endorsed healthy desserts and our favorite easy recipes that will hit the spot this summer.
What Makes a Healthy Dessert?
The word “healthy” can be thrown around without enough truth to it, especially when it comes to desserts. In general, our favorite dessert options are low in saturated and trans fats, contain minimal added sugar, are low in simple carbohydrates, and have plenty of fiber and protein when possible.
When we think beyond popular treats such as cake and ice cream, there are many creative ways to make sweet, summery desserts at home that can even provide nutritious vitamins and minerals.
For example, curating your desserts to include fresh peaches, kiwi, and other summer fruits with a low glycemic index can help satisfy your sweet tooth while providing you with nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin A, and fiber.
To make some classic desserts (think cupcakes or brownies) healthier, you can swap out white flour for whole-grain flour. Or add additional sources of fiber and protein (such as nuts, fruit, and plain Greek yogurt) as these elements can help stabilize your blood sugar by slowing down the rate at which glucose is released into the blood.
6 Nutritionist-Recommended Desserts To Try This Summer
We asked our nutritionist team here at Nutrisense to recommend their favorite glucose-friendly treats so you can enjoy something sweet while still taking care of your health. From frozen treats to chocolates that melt in your mouth, there’s something here for everyone!
Here are our six must-try desserts to add to your summer recipe list.
1) Banana Almond Nice Cream from Plant Prosperous
Recommended by: Randi Yow, RDN, LDN
Randi says, “To me, nothing says summer like ice cream! I love making this "nice cream" at home with just a few simple ingredients. To make it more glucose friendly, you can blend your mixture with plain Greek yogurt or just top with a drizzle of peanut butter and nuts!”
This recipe is easily customizable and can even be made vegan by leaving out the optional Greek yogurt or swapping it out for a plant-based variety. You can also top this bowl with a handful of raspberries to give it a little extra tartness, along with some extra vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
- 3 overripe bananas, frozen
- 4 tablespoons almond milk
- ½ cup almond butter
- ¼ cup chopped almonds
- ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt (optional)
2) Peanut Butter Greek Yogurt Dip by Feel Good Foodie
Recommended by: Victoria Eaton, RDN, IFNCP
Victoria says, “I love a good Greek yogurt fruit dip for summertime! With just a few simple ingredients, this recipe is easy to whip together, and you can even add a sprinkle or two of Hu chocolate gems for an extra crunchy texture. It's a delicious dip - especially for strawberries!”
This recipe is full of protein and fiber from the Greek yogurt and peanut butter and is a fun way to add more fresh fruit to your diet. Get creative and try out a variety of different dippers with this tasty combination!
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- Red and green apples sliced, for serving
- A handful of sliced strawberries (optional)
- Hu chocolate gems (optional)
3) Healthy Strawberry Frozen Yogurt by Just a Taste
Recommended by: Jordyn Wallerius, MS, RDN, CD
Jordyn says, “Summer is strawberry season, and for me, it‘s the best time to enjoy some homemade strawberry frozen yogurt. This recipe is low-fat, easy to make, and hits the spot on a warm summer day!”
Making frozen yogurt at home can help you limit any extra added sugars you consume, and with just a few ingredients, it’s also cost-effective! You can blend these ingredients or even toss them into an ice cream maker at home for a quick summer snack.
- 4 cups fresh strawberries (frozen overnight)
- 3 tablespoons agave nectar or honey
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt (non-fat or full-fat)
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
4) Healthy Avocado Brownies by The Healthy Maven
Recommended by: Marie Funk, MS, RD, LDN
Marie says, “Brownies are a favorite at summer BBQs! This avocado brownie recipe swaps out a few more classic ingredients with healthier choices than an original brownie recipe. These brownies are not as sweet, so they're more glucose-friendly. And they‘re also gluten-free. I think they might just give you a new outlook on brownies!”
These low-carb brownies are a great way to enjoy a sweet, baked treat containing healthy fats from the avocado. You can optionally add in some chopped walnuts to up the fiber content and for an extra crunch.
- 1 large avocado
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (or swap for 1 large banana)
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup coconut flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 cup of chocolate chips
5) Blueberry Avocado Smoothie Bowl by Floating Kitchen
Recommended by: Andrew Sisisky, CNS, LDN
Andrew says, “A blueberry smoothie bowl is a perfect treat on a hot summer day. You can add any of your favorite ingredients to make this bowl to your liking, but adding nut butter and avocado with a scoop of protein powder is a great way to round this treat out with complex carbs, fiber, protein, and fats.”
This smoothie bowl is not only refreshing, and it’s also packed with protein and fresh fruit. It's dairy-free, perfect for anyone who may be lactose intolerant. You can top this bowl with additions such as pistachios, fresh berries, a handful of nuts, and some coconut flakes for a tasty, balanced snack.
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1/2 avocado
- 1/2 cup almond milk (unsweetened)
- 1 scoop protein powder
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (or cinnamon)
- 1 tablespoon sunflower butter (or other nut butter)
- 3-4 ice cubes
6) Almond Butter Chocolate Truffles by Cooking Light
Recommended by Amanda Donahue, CD, RDN
Amanda says, “I'm a sucker for the chocolate-peanut butter combo any time of the year! These no-bake sweet treats are quick and easy to make on busy summer days.
I love that these truffles are lower in sugar, high in fiber and protein, and rich in antioxidants (choose dark chocolate that's at least 70 percent cacao)! You can sub almond butter for any natural nut butter and top them with crushed nuts, coconut flakes, or even a drizzle of extra peanut butter!”
With their combination of fiber, fats, and protein, these truffles are a glucose-friendly option, and the high-quality dark chocolate is also a great source of antioxidants.
- 1 cup unsalted, creamy almond butter
- 1/4 cup unsalted almonds
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil
- 4 ounce dark chocolate (70 to 85 percent cacao)
Ingredients To Limit or Avoid in Your Healthy Dessert
Whether you’re cooking at home or grabbing a dessert on the go, there are a few different ingredients you may want to take extra caution with. These suggestions not only help with healthy glucose responses, but also healthy cholesterol levels, cardiovascular health, and even skin health!
Refined Sugar and Flour
These ingredients are commonly in treats such as muffins, cookies, cheesecake, and other baked goods. While they taste great, your body digests refined sugar and flour very quickly, leading to sharp spikes in blood sugar levels, especially when eaten on their own.
Swap these ingredients out for honey and whole grain flour, respectively, or look for flourless recipes for a low-carb dessert option.
If you’re in the mood for a baked summer treat, you may want to watch out for recipes that include refined vegetable oils such as sunflower oil, canola oil, and margarine. These are highly processed and can be inflammatory due to their high omega-6 content.
Instead, use olive oil, avocado oil, or coconut oil when possible, as these have been found to have anti-inflammatory qualities, may support heart health, and can decrease your mortality risk.
Highly Processed Nut Butters
Processed peanut butter and other nut butter often contain hydrogenated oils (or trans fats), which may increase your risk of cardiovascular disease and other health conditions.
If you’re preparing a recipe with peanut or almond butter, look for an all-natural variety with no added sugar and minimal ingredients on the nutritional label!
Engage with Your Blood Glucose Levels with Nutrisense
Your blood sugar levels can significantly impact how your body feels and functions. That’s why stable blood glucose levels can be an important factor in supporting overall wellbeing.
With Nutrisense, you’ll be able to track your blood glucose levels over time using a CGM, so you can make lifestyle choices that support healthy living.
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Natalie received her degree in Dietetics from Mansfield University and a Master’s in Clinical Nutrition from the University at Buffalo. Her career has included nutrition education and program development in her local community, adjunct faculty at several collegiate institutions, and clinical nutrition in both inpatient and outpatient settings.