I’ve always been one of those people who need something sweet after dinner. My sweet tooth starts nagging me. Dessert doesn’t need to be fancy, just something to satisfy that craving. But sticking to just a small sweet snack can be tricky.
Let’s be honest: Anything that seriously satisfies our sweet tooth isn’t going to be the epitome of a healthy meal. But we’ve got you covered. Let’s just say these are 32 somewhat healthier ways to satisfy any sweet tooth.
Though many of these desserts contain sugar, we found lower- and no-sugar options that have some good-for-you element, whether it be a superfood (like strawberries and grapes) or nutrients like protein, vitamins, and minerals.
1. Chocolate-dipped strawberries
Balance out chocolate’s not-so-healthy side by using it as a semisweet jacket on a superfood — like strawberries! Dip and let set in the refrigerator until the chocolate coating has hardened. Here’s an easy recipe.
2. Choco-nut popcorn
Pop a small bag of natural popcorn and top with a tablespoon of melted peanut butter and a dusting of cocoa powder. Crunch and the perfect amount of sweetness! Not sweet enough for you? Try swapping the peanut butter for a natural chocolate-hazelnut spread.
3. Frozen chocolate banana
This frozen sweet treat packs a nutritional punch! Bananas are a great source of vitamins C and B-6 and are packed with fiber and potassium.
Peel a banana, cut it in half, and freeze it. Once it’s solid, roll it in melted dark chocolate. (Here’s how to melt chocolate in the microwave.) While the chocolate’s still melty, roll the banana in whichever crunchy topping you like — nuts and granola work well.
Return it to the freezer until the chocolate is set (at least an hour). Kids love eating and making these, and so do we.
4. Yogurt parfait
Top 1 cup Greek yogurt (plain or vanilla) with your choice of toppings. Granola, nuts, and fruit are all healthy choices. Add some shaved chocolate if you like. And we love to layer the yogurt and toppings in mason jars, don’t you?
5. Fresh fruit
Can’t get simpler than this. Any piece of fresh fruit should offer enough natural sweetness to quell those cravings. But if you choose a fruit superfood like blueberries, kiwi, or watermelon, you’ll get added nutrients and fiber!
6. Dark chocolate
Not all chocolate is created equal. But dark chocolate (with more than 70 percent cacao), which has less sugar than the regular old milk chocolate we grew up on, is your healthiest bet.
Dark chocolate is packed with antioxidants and can help regulate levels of the stress hormone cortisol. But hey, we don’t need a study to verify what we’ve seen with our own eyes: No one feels stressed when they’re eating chocolate.
7. Chocolate milk
Chocolate milk is an easy way to add sweetness to your day, and research shows it’s actually an effective post-workout recovery drink, too! We prefer to use low-sugar or unsweetened cocoa powder and whole milk.
Got dairy? Got fruit? Then you’ve got a smoothie. It’s easy to find a quick, healthy smoothie recipe for breakfast, a snack, or dessert. We know (oh, do we): We’ve gathered 54 healthy smoothie recipes so you can find one to fit any craving or dietary preference.
We’ll admit it: Peanut butter and jelly is our go-to sandwich. Half a sandwich on whole-wheat bread (with grape, strawberry, or whatever type of jelly you like) provides an excellent amount of sweetness with a little dose of protein and fiber to boot.
10. Ice pops
There’s no added sugar in these sweet watermelon-lime pops. Simply puree watermelon chunks and lime juice and freeze. If it’s not watermelon season, try any other juicy fruit — like strawberries or peaches — sweetened with a touch of apple juice.
11. Cafe mocha
This is the perfect way to get a kick of caffeine and a serving of dark chocolate at once. And you can save a few bucks by making it at home. It’s just coffee, chocolate syrup, and milk (easily frothed with an immersion blender).
12. One-ingredient banana ice cream
One Ingredient! We couldn’t believe it. And this banana ice cream is incredibly easy to make. Freeze a banana, process it into a creamy puree, and freeze again. This is an awesome base for other flavors, like a swirl of peanut butter and a dusting of cocoa powder.
13. Cereal and milk
Opt for a high-fiber, whole-grain cereal and top it with a bit of honey or cinnamon. Of course, if you feel like going the sweeter route, there’s always Chocolate Chex.
Especially during warmer months, keeping a pint of homemade sorbet in the freezer is an easy way to satisfy cravings without overdoing the sweet white stuff. When plums are in season, you can use less sugar in this super simple plum sorbet.
15. KIND bars
These are a Greatist HQ staple. KIND bars come in a ton of awesome nut, grain, and fruit flavors that hit our salty-sweet tooth just right. (We love the ones drizzled in chocolate — yum!) Protein never tasted so deliciously crunchy.
16. Graham cracker with peanut butter
This classic combo takes us right back to kindergarten. And you know what? It’s still great. The graham cracker is just sweet enough, and the peanut butter adds a luxurious silky-smooth texture. Look for whole-grain, lower-sugar graham crackers.
Bonus points for getting a dose of calcium when you enjoy these with a small glass of milk! Just like back in kindergarten.
17. Peanut butter and chocolate pretzels
A little salty-sweet combo can cure those sugary cravings. Microwave 1 square of dark chocolate and 1 teaspoon natural peanut butter until melted, and dip 1 large or 10 mini pretzel rods. Use healthier whole-grain pretzels without sugar.
18. Frozen Greek yogurt drops
This one’s brilliant. You can quickly turn a cup of plain Greek yogurt into a frozen treat that’s fun to eat. Combine 1 cup plain Greek yogurt with ½ cup frozen berries in a blender until the fruit has broken down and the mixture has an even consistency.
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and drop ¼-teaspoon portions of the mixture onto the sheet, leaving enough room so they don’t touch. Freeze for a few hours until solid. Pour the drops into a plastic freezer bag. Store in the freezer until you’re ready to snack!
19. Fruit leather
Fruit by the Foot? Not exactly a healthier choice. But a fruit-only dried fruit leather can be a great way to satisfy a sweet tooth. Just make sure to find one with no added sugar. Or try this recipe to make it at home.
20. Baked apples
These Baked Apples are a great fall treat that’s easy to make ahead and reheat or assemble an hour before you really start craving dessert. Stuff the apples with oats, nuts, and just a little honey for natural sweetness.
22. Fruit and cottage cheese
If “fruit and cottage cheese” conjures up thoughts of your mom’s diet plan, it’s time to update that plate. Mom knew that cottage cheese is a great source of calcium and protein, and its mild tangy flavor sets off sweet superfruits like blueberries, grapefruit, and apples.
23. Frozen grapes
Pop a bunch of grapes in the freezer for a few hours and out comes a long-lasting, slightly sweet snack packed with antioxidants and other nutrients. The biggest bonus? Resveratrol, which has some potent health benefits.
Frozen grapes are a great snack on a hot day, and they add a festive touch to a glass of seltzer water or a white wine spritzer.
24. Animal crackers
A small handful of animal crackers is an ideal snack for kindergarteners — and the rest of us. A good-size handful has only about 7 grams of sugar. If you’re up for a fun baking adventure, make these healthier whole-grain animal crackers.
25. Hot chocolate
We love making hot chocolate with whole milk. But we also gotta admit this vegan version (using almond milk) is an awesome 5-minute alternative to the traditional method. You can keep the sugar content lower by using unsweetened dark chocolate chips and sweetening the drink to your taste.
Time to give that Eggo a makeover. Start with a whole-grain version of the classic frozen waffle. Toast to desired crispiness and slice in half. Top one half with 1 tablespoon peanut butter and 2 sliced strawberries. Top with other half.
Breakfast for dessert is even better with these waffle recipes.
27. Flavored Greek yogurt
To cut back on sugar, we usually opt for plain yogurt and tailor it with our own flavorings. But a small cup of flavored Greek yogurt certainly won’t hurt. It offers a good amount of protein and will keep you full until the next meal.
28. Cinnamon toast
No, Cinnamon Toast Crunch doesn’t count. But we swear you won’t miss it when you toast up a slice of whole-grain bread and top it with ½ teaspoon of butter (or a substitute of your choice), ¼ teaspoon of sugar, and as much cinnamon as your heart desires!
30. Trail Mix (with Dark Chocolate)
A small serving of a healthy mix of nuts like almonds and pistachios with a few nice chewy pieces of dried fruit (like apple juice-sweetened cranberries or cherries) and some dark chocolate pieces makes a great snack with good nutritional value, too.
30. “Banana butter” rice cake
Here’s a surprise: Bananas are sweet enough on their own to help sweeten other foods. To make banana butter, mash half a ripe banana until mushy and swirl in a teaspoon of peanut butter. Spread on a rice cake and enjoy!
31. Yogurt-dipped fruit
This one’s super sweet. Make the yogurt coating mixture by combining 1 cup of your favorite
Greek yogurt with ¼ cup powdered sugar. Blend until smooth. Now get dipping and set the coated fruit on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Freeze until hard.
Or take a shortcut with this recipe that uses vanilla Greek yogurt.
32. Blueberry frozen yogurt
Be prepared for hot summer days by whipping up some of this blueberry frozen yogurt. It combines yogurt and whole milk for a slightly tangy, creamy texture. Pro tip: For best results, you’ll need an ice cream maker.