Lighten Up! | EatSmarter! Exclusive

Healthier Desserts

Updated on 27. Dec. 2018
This no-bake cheesecake is lightened with yogurt, while whole-wheat cookies make a healthier crust
This no-bake cheesecake is lightened with yogurt, while whole-wheat cookies make a healthier crust

Bid farewell to deprivation diets and say hello to lightened up versions of favorite comfort food desserts. With these delicious recipes in your arsenal, you'll be able to enjoy the occasional indulgence with a clean conscience.

share Share
bookmark_border Copy URL

Smart Substitutions

EatSmarter! makes use of simple swaps such as these to make better-for-you updates of popular comfort foods. You can use the same approach to make healthier versions of your own favorite dessert recipes, too.

butter neutral-tasting oils (canola or safflower), olive oil or nut oils (walnut or hazelnut)
oil applesauce, canned pumpkin or mashed banana (usually in combination with yogurt or buttermilk)
white flour whole-wheat flour, spelt flour, oat flour, nut flours (almond or hazelnut) or a combination
white sugar brown sugar, molasses, maple syrup or honey
heavy cream milk or non-dairy creamers
sour cream or creme fraiche yogurt or buttermilk
milk chocolate dark chocolate




EatSmarter! Top 10 Comfort Food Dessert Updates

1. Chocolate Chip Cookies

Dark chocolate brings less sugar and more antioxidants than semi-sweet chocolate chips, while whole-wheat pastry flour has more fiber and nutrients than white flour. Brown sugar replaces some of the white sugar, too.  

Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies

2. Brownies

Replace butter with unsweetened applesauce, almond milk and coconut oil and white sugar with maple syrup for better-for-you brownies. These also happen to be vegan, but you could swap in dark-chocolate chips for the vegan chips if desired. 

Baked Cocoa Squares

3. Chocolate Pudding

Use dark chocolate (the darker the better) and low-fat or even skim milk; a single egg provides enough richness for the whole batch. 

Chocolate Pudding

4. Cheesecake Bars

The filling for these rich and creamy bars is lightened with reduced-fat sour cream, which replaces some of the cream cheese (use reduced-fat cream cheese to shave off even more fat and calories). The simple crust is made with whole-meal cookies and no added sugar, unlike in classic recipes. 

Cheesecake Bars with Raspberries 

5. Apple Pie

This version of apple pie has a yeasted dough base that puffs up around the apples in the oven (no rolling required!). The dough has far less butter than traditional pie doughs and soaks up the juices from the apples for a luscious result. Best served warm from the oven, with a drizzle of your favorite creamer. 

6. Fig Muffins

These wholesome treats have zero white flour, sugar or butter. Instead, they are made with whole-wheat flour, almond flour and toasted wheat germ, sunflower oil, and honey. Grated carrots and chopped figs add more sweetness and moistness, while buttermilk makes them wonderfully tender (and moist). Opt for plain low-fat yogurt for the topping and these are healthy enough for breakfast or an afternoon snack, or even a no-guilt dessert.

Healthy Fig Muffins with Wheat Germ

7. Strawberry Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Think of these as strawberries and cream in cupcake form. The tender cupcakes are sweetened with brown sugar and made moist with buttermilk and vegetable oil. Fresh strawberries also are pureed and mixed into the batter, for flavor as well as added moistness. The classic cream-cheese frosting uses just 1 tablespoon of sugar for the whole batch.


Strawberry Cupcakes

8. Rice Pudding

While usually heartily sweetened and enriched with butter, this lightened rice pudding has a mere 1/2 teaspoon butter and just 2 tablespoons brown sugar (a better option than white sugar) in four servings. Use low-fat or skim milk instead of whole milk and you can enjoy this comforting bowl of goodness any time of day. 

Cinnamon Rice Pudding

9. Carrot Cake

Whole-wheat flour, brown sugar, and olive oil combine in a healthier version of carrot cake, which of course also includes plenty of nutritious carrots and nuts. This recipe skips the usual frosting, but you could dollop each slice with yogurt or creme fraiche for creamy contrast.

Moist Carrot-Walnut Cake

10. Ice Cream Sandwiches

Making these yourself means you can make the cookies extra-healthy, and these oatmeal-raisin cookies fit the bill. Steel-cut oats and whole-wheat flour are combined with brown sugar and chopped hazelnuts in the dough, and the cookies bake up chewy and delicious. They're great on their own, but even better sandwiched with frozen yogurt. 

Oatmeal Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

{{amazon_product asin="B00V5IM0EU" view_mode="small" product_text="Silicone Baking Mat" button_type="button1" inline_text=""}}

{{amazon_product asin="B002HWSATC" view_mode="small" product_text="T-fal Baking Sheet Set" button_type="button1" inline_text=""}}


Add comment