Happy Valentine’s Day! Whether you love it or hate it, think it’s a “Hallmark Holiday” or the most special day of the year, you’ve likely eaten your fair share of Valentine’s Day desserts.
And it’s likely that these desserts weren’t the healthiest thing you’ve ever put in your mouth. Below I have a list of my favorite registered dietitian-approved healthier dessert recipes, which are all made with recipe substitutions that may shock you!
Banana Nice Cream (crazy ingredient= banana)
Mashed banana makes a great fat substitute for any baked good’s recipe. Just replace the fat in a recipe with mashed banana in a 1:1 ratio. Not only will this cut fat, but it will also add potassium, fiber, and vitamin B6. Banana is also sweeter than butter and oil, so you can typically reduce the sugar in your recipes as well. Such a simple recipe and so tasty!
Total Time: 5 minutes
- 2 ripe bananas, peeled, chopped, and frozen
- Fresh or dry fruit
- Fresh mint
- Cocoa powder
- Extracts (vanilla, coconut, etc.)
- Dark chocolate chunks
- Green tea powder
- Spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.)
- Any nut butter
- Add bananas to a blender or food processor. Blend while occasionally scraping down the sides until smooth, approximately 3-5 minutes.
- Scoop into a bowl and enjoy immediately as a soft serve or, for a firmer ice cream, place in an airtight freezer-safe container and freeze for at least 1 hour.
Nutrition per serving: Calories 105, Total Fat 0.5g, Total Carbohydrates 27g, Sugar 14g, Fiber 3g, Sodium 0mg, Protein 1.3g
Healthy Cookie Dough (crazy ingredient= chickpeas)
Swapping chickpeas for flour is great for cutting out refined carbohydrates and getting in extra protein and fiber. It’s also a great gluten-free substitute for those with Celiac disease. When baking, swap out 1 cup flour for 1 cup chickpea puree (about a 15.5 ounce can). Your loved one will never guess the secret ingredient in these.
Total Time: 10 minutes
- 1 15.5 ounce can chickpeas, well drained and rinsed
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup nut butter of choice
- 1/4 cup milk of choice, only if needed
- 2-3 Tablespoons sugar substitute (such as Stevia)
- 1/3 cup chocolate chips
- 2 to 3 Tablespoons oats
- Add all ingredients (except for chocolate chips) to a food processor or high-powered blender and process until very smooth. Texture should mimic real cookie dough. Add milk if mixture is too thick.
- Stir in chocolate chips.
- Eat it with a spoon or use it as a dip for fruit.
Nutrition per serving: Calories 200, Total Fat 10g, Total Carbohydrates 23g, Sugar 8g, Fiber 5g, Sodium 409mg, Protein 7g
Black Bean Brownies (crazy ingredient= beans)
Like chickpeas, swapping black beans for flour will boost both protein and fiber in your recipe. The recipe substitution is 1 cup of black bean puree (a 15 ounce can) for every 1 cup of flour substituted. By adding black beans into this recipe, it creates a very fudgy, gooey, YUMMY texture!
Total Time: 25 minutes
· 1 15 ounce can black beans, well drained and rinsed
· 3 Tablespoons olive oil
· 3/4 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder
· 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
· 2 Tablespoons sugar substitute
· 1/4 teaspoon salt
· 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
· 2 large eggs
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a food processor, combine drained and rinsed black beans, olive oil, cocoa powder, vanilla, sugar, salt, and baking powder until smooth. Then, add in egg until fully mixed. If the batter appears too thick, add 1-2 Tablespoons of water and pulse again. It should be slightly less thick than chocolate frosting but not runny.
3. Pour batter evenly into a lightly greased 8×8 pan.
4. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the top is dry and the edges start to pull away from the sides.
5. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting.
6. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
Nutrition per serving: Calories 145, Total Fat 7g, Total Carbohydrates 19g, Sugar 9g, Fiber 6g, Sodium 108mg, Protein 6g
Cauliflower Chocolate Cake (crazy ingredient= cauliflower)
Cauliflower is popping up all over the place as a substitute for rice, flour, potatoes, and more! In this recipe it’s used as a substitute for half of the four. It’s a great way to lower calories and carbohydrates, while increasing vitamin C and fiber. Cauliflower rice can be used in a 1:1 ratio in place for flour.
Total Time: 40 minutes
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup sugar or sugar substitute
- 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
- 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 loosely-packed cups frozen cauliflower, thawed completely but not cooked
- 2/3 cup milk of choice
1. Preheat oven to 350F and grease an 8×8 square baking dish.
2. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl, and mix well.
3. Combine all liquid ingredients and the cauliflower in a food processor or high-powered blender and blend until smooth.
4. Pour wet into dry, and mix until just combined, then pour into prepared pan and bake 30 minutes.
5. Let cool completely before serving. This cauliflower cake is best stored in the fridge.
Nutrition per serving: Calories 163, Total Fat 7g, Total Carbohydrates 23g, Sugar 12g, Fiber 2g, Sodium 238mg, Protein 5g
Healthy Red Velvet Donuts (crazy ingredients= applesauce and beet juice)
Beet juice is a great natural way to color your baked goods. The vibrant red color of beet juice is strong enough to mimic synthetic red food coloring. Applesauce can be used to replace butter or oil in baked goods. Using applesauce in place of these fats will lower both saturated fat and calories in your recipe. Make sure to use the unsweetened variety and use it in a 1:1 ratio in place of fat in recipes.
Servings: 6 donuts
Total Time: 15 minutes
- 1 Tablespoon milk of choice
- 1 teaspoon white or apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup pure maple syrup or agave or honey
- 3 Tablespoons beet juice
- 3 1/2 Tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, loosely packed
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
1. Combine first 6 ingredients and set aside.
2. Grease a donut pan OR mini muffin pan, and preheat oven to 350 F.
3. In a separate bowl, stir together remaining ingredients.
4. Once oven is preheated, pour wet into dry and stir until just evenly mixed. Don’t overmix.
5. Bake 10 minutes or until donuts have risen and batter is no longer wet. Let sit 5 minutes before removing from the pan.
Nutrition per serving: Calories 126, Total Fat 0g, Total Carbohydrates 28g, Sugar 1g, Fiber 6g, Sodium 113mg, Protein 2g
Lauren Ott, RD is a registered dietitian at the University of Colorado Anschutz Health and Wellness Center at the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora. Check out her website www.thedessertdietitian.com, Facebook page (The Dessert Dietitian), and Instagram @thedessertdietitian for nutrition tips and recipes! View the University of Colorado Anschutz Health and Wellness website at www.anschutzwellness.com.