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NutriSense Dietitians Recommend: 6 Healthy Summer Desserts

July 8, 2022
Written by
Team NutriSense
Natalie Krafft

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 dietitian-endorsed healthy desserts and our favorite easy recipes that will hit the spot this summer.

What Makes a Healthy Dessert?

Acai bowl with blueberries, raspberries, and granola

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 Dietitian-Recommended Desserts To Try This Summer

We asked our dietitian 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

Banana Almond Nice Cream
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.

 

Ingredients

  • 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
Peanut Butter Greek Yogurt Dip

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!

Ingredients

  • 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
Healthy Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

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.

Ingredients

  • 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
Healthy Avocado Brownies

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.

Ingredients

  • 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
Blueberry Avocado Smoothie Bowl

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.

Ingredients

  • 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
Almond Butter Chocolate Truffles

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.

Ingredients

  • 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

someone reading a cookbook

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.

Vegetable Oils

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.

When you join the program, our team of credentialed dietitians and nutritionists are available for additional support and guidance to help you reach your goals.

Ready to take the first step? Start with our quiz to see how Nutrisense can support your health.

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NutriSense Dietitians Recommend: 6 Healthy Summer Desserts
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Thoughtful Valentine's Day Gift Ideas from NutriSense Dietitians
Thoughtful Valentine's Day Gift Ideas from NutriSense Dietitians

Still haven't settled on the perfect gift for your Valentine this year? Take a look at our Nutrition Team's favorites for some thoughtful ideas.

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The Warning Signs of Nerve Damage You Should Watch Out For
The Warning Signs of Nerve Damage You Should Watch Out For

Because nerve damage can have many silent symptoms, it often goes undiagnosed in the early stages. Read on to learn more about what causes nerve damage and some warning signs to watch out for.

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The Ultimate Guide to Fiber and its Effect on Metabolic Health
The Ultimate Guide to Fiber and its Effect on Metabolic Health

Ready to learn all about fiber beyond just the basics? In this post, we dive deep into the different kinds of fiber and health benefits of each. From functional fiber to fermentation, we break down all the jargon into a layman's language.

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The Relationship Between Cardio and Blood Sugar
The Relationship Between Cardio and Blood Sugar

Did you know that cardio can help you lose weight as well as optimize your health and blood glucose? Here's everything you need to know about cardio and its relationship with blood sugar.

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The Side Effects of Unhealthy Weight Loss
The Side Effects of Unhealthy Weight Loss

Find out what unhealthy weight loss is and learn more about its side effects and what you can do to prevent them.

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The Relationship Between Low Blood Sugar and High Blood Pressure
The Relationship Between Low Blood Sugar and High Blood Pressure

Learn about the warning signs of low blood sugar and the relationship it has on blood pressure.

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The Positive Impact Weight Lifting Has on Blood Sugar
The Positive Impact Weight Lifting Has on Blood Sugar

Here is everything you need to know about the relationship between weight lifting and blood sugar.

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The Relationship Between Cholesterol and Blood Sugar
The Relationship Between Cholesterol and Blood Sugar

Cholesterol plays a very important role in the human body, contributing to the structure of the cells, helping with vitamin D synthesis, and also promoting the production of steroid and sex hormones, like cortisol, aldosterone, testosterone, and estrogen. But how exactly is cholesterol connected to blood glucose levels?

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The Link Between Sleep Apnea and Diabetes
The Link Between Sleep Apnea and Diabetes

NutriSense dietitian Katrina Larsen, MS, RD,N, LD, CDCES discusses the risk factors for sleep apnea and how this disorder is linked to other health conditions.

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The Paleo Diet and Blood Glucose Levels
The Paleo Diet and Blood Glucose Levels

The premise of the paleo diet is that the body can handle a mix of meats, fruits and vegetables, eggs, fish, and complex carbohydrates better than processed meats, refined fats, grains and simple carbohydrates because it evolved to eat the first category as hunter-gatherers.

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The Health Benefits of Winter Squash
The Health Benefits of Winter Squash

A common ingredient in cozy winter recipes, winter squash is one of our favorite foods this time of year. Read on to learn more about how it can benefit your health.

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The NutriSense Holiday Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers We Love
The NutriSense Holiday Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers We Love

Haven't finished your holiday shopping yet? Pick from this list of NutriSense-approved holiday gifts to find some great last-minute stocking stuffers for everyone on your list!

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The NutriSense Holiday Gift Guide: Health-Focused Gifts They’ll Love
The NutriSense Holiday Gift Guide: Health-Focused Gifts They’ll Love

Still haven't bought all your holiday gifts this year? Don't worry—there's still time to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list. Read our guide for some great ideas!

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The Link Between Inflammation and Blood Glucose
The Link Between Inflammation and Blood Glucose

Learn more about inflammation, how it affects blood glucose levels and what you can do to prevent and manage it.

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The Health Benefits of Adding Fermented Foods to Your Diet
The Health Benefits of Adding Fermented Foods to Your Diet

Fermented foods have a range of health benefits. Read on to learn more about what they are and why you should be adding them to your diet.

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The Health Benefits of Potatoes, Yams, and Sweet Potatoes
The Health Benefits of Potatoes, Yams, and Sweet Potatoes

Potatoes, yams, and sweet potatoes are similar in usage, but pretty distinct in taste, texture, appearance, and even nutritional content! Read on to find out more about each one.

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The Health Benefits of Living With Pets
The Health Benefits of Living With Pets

Did you know that living with a pet can do more than just put a smile on your face? Read on to learn all the ways living with pets improves your wellbeing.

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The Health Benefits of Cooking With Herbs and Spices
The Health Benefits of Cooking With Herbs and Spices

Herbs and spices are a great way to add flavor to dishes, and also have a range of health benefits. Learn more about a few of our favorites.

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The Health Benefits of Beans
The Health Benefits of Beans

Learn about the health benefits of beans and how they can help you live a healthier, longer life.

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The Guide to Metabolic Diets: What Are They, Do They Work, And Who Should Try Them?
The Guide to Metabolic Diets: What Are They, Do They Work, And Who Should Try Them?

Review our guide to metabolic diets to help get a better understanding of what they are and whether they might be right for you.

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The Foods and Traditions of Kwanzaa
The Foods and Traditions of Kwanzaa

Learn about the traditions and nutrient-dense food commonly enjoyed during Kwanzaa. 

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The Blood Sugar and Joint Pain Connection
The Blood Sugar and Joint Pain Connection

Have you ever wondered how your glucose levels might be connected to joint pain? We'll take a deep dive into this connection and share tips for reducing pain.

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The Best Diet for Non-Diabetic Hypoglycemia
The Best Diet for Non-Diabetic Hypoglycemia

This article explores hypoglycemia in non-diabetics, how to manage symptoms through diet, and the advantages of glucose monitoring.

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The Effect of Aging on Your Blood Glucose Levels
The Effect of Aging on Your Blood Glucose Levels

Take a look at how aging can affect your blood glucose levels.

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The Best Diet to Increase Your Vitamin D Levels
The Best Diet to Increase Your Vitamin D Levels

Read on to learn more about vitamin D-rich foods and what you should include in your diet to make the most of this vitamin’s health benefits.

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The Best Diet for Menstruation
The Best Diet for Menstruation

When it comes to your menstrual cycle, what you eat can significantly impact how you feel. Read on to learn more about the best foods to add to your diet to help during that time of the month.

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The Benefits and Risks of Popular Ayurvedic Herbs and Spices
The Benefits and Risks of Popular Ayurvedic Herbs and Spices

Ayurveda is an ancient Indian holistic healing system that dates back over 5,000 years. In the second installment of our series on the practice, review the benefits and risks associated with popular Ayurvedic herbs and spices.

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The Beginner’s Guide to the Low FODMAP Diet
The Beginner’s Guide to the Low FODMAP Diet

In this article, we break down what a low FODMAP diet looks like for beginners, and its potential benefits and drawbacks for gastrointestinal health.

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The 6 Worst Foods for Osteoporosis
The 6 Worst Foods for Osteoporosis

When it comes to bone health, good nutrition is absolutely critical. Read on to learn what osteoporosis is and why some foods may increase your risk of or worsen the condition.