Have you ever known a kid who doesn’t like dessert? If you have, you’re lucky. But if not, you’ll need to come up with some smart swaps that will let your kids indulge their sweet tooth without going overboard.
You may have considered eliminating dessert and other indulgences from your child’s diet altogether, however, conventional wisdom decrees that putting something off-limits sometimes makes people want that thing even more. A far better – and more sustainable – option is to replace typical desserts, like cake, brownies and ice cream, with healthy versions that are actually good for you while still tasting sweet and satisfying.
Don’t worry – with a little strategy, your kids will be none the wiser to your devious dessert tactics. Here are some creative ideas for kid-friendly dessert swaps:
Alternative ‘ice cream’
In a kid’s dreamland, they’re digging into bottomless bowls of ice cream every night. In reality, that’s a recipe for poor health. Ice cream doesn’t have to be completely off the table, however. There are dozens of clever ways to recreate that ice cream flavor and texture without using heavy cream and lots of sugar. One is to mash up “creamy” fruits like bananas and mangos and then let them solidify in the freezer. You can also mix up frozen blueberries, strawberries or pineapple chunks in the blender, and then stick the mixture in the freezer. It’s also very easy to make your own frozen yogurt – just mix Greek yogurt with a touch of honey or vanilla extract and freeze. When it’s time for dessert, scoop out some of your homemade ice cream, add some toppings like shredded coconut or a small spoonful of peanut butter, and watch your kids smile as they think they’re getting away with something!
Healthy ice pops are a great dessert swap.
Refreshing ice pops
Chocolate-dipped treats on a stick should be a once-in-a-while indulgence, but if you make healthy, fruit-based frozen pops, you can let your kids enjoy them without any guilt! From raspberry almond milk ice pops to iced tea frozen treats and even healthy chocolate fudge pops, there's a recipe your kids will love - check out our article with recipe ideas here.
Healthy Cinnamon Carrot Cookies
If your kid prefers a nightcap of chocolate chip cookies and a glass of milk, try this healthier swap. These cinnamon carrot cookies from Baking-Ginger contain heart-healthy oats, better-for-you coconut flour and a coconut oil as a butter substitute for a more nutritious cookie that only tastes overly indulgent - and contains a healthy serving of vitamin A-rich carrot to boot. Store the cookies in airtight containers and you'll have a healthy dessert in easy reach all week long.
1 1/4 cup rolled oats (gluten-free)
1/2 cup coconut flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon all spice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup maple syrup/honey
1 cup grated carrots
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheet.
2. Mix together the oats, coconut flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, all spice and nutmeg.
3. In a separate bowl, mix together the coconut oil, vanilla, egg and maple syrup/honey.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and continue to mix.
5. Fold in the carrots.
6. Place batter in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
7. Scoop dough onto baking sheet in 12 round dollops and press flat slightly.
8. Bake for 15 minutes.
9. Allow to cool before serving.
Pack cookies with oats, fruit and even vegetables.
The blog Hello, Wonderful had the great idea of making "donuts" using apple slices and cream cheese frosting, and this treat can also serve as a healthy replacement for cupcakes and other sweets. They're also incredibly simple to make. First, core an apple and then cut the apple into 1/4-inch thick slices. To make the "frosting," mix plain cream cheese with food coloring. Spread a thin layer of frosting on each apple slice and then top with rainbow sprinkles for a festive finish.
There are hundreds of ways you can create healthy dessert replacements with apple slices. Try topping them with peanut butter and raisins, mashed banana and dark chocolate chips or almond butter and toasted coconut.
Frozen yogurt 'candies'
If your child gets a craving for candy after dinner, try this healthy alternative. With Greek yogurt and sprinkles, you can create smart sweets that look and taste like candy, but are much healthier. The blog A Healthy Slice of Life suggests first spooning the yogurt into a large plastic bag, then cutting off a small piece at one of the corners of the bag, as you would to a bag full of frosting before you decorate a cake. Then, squeeze out small 1/2-inch drops onto a baking sheet lined with freezer paper. Top with sprinkles, then freeze for at least an hour before enjoying.