No matter how many times I look through my Instagram feed and salivate over beautifully curated pictures of rainbow sprinkled banana splits, dense chocolate cakes, glistening glazed donuts, and stacks of ooey gooey brownies, I fail to go the extra step in actually copying the recipe and making them. Not because I don’t think I can, but because these desserts contain hundreds of calories and artificial ingredients that I’d rather not consume and later regret.
Luckily, there are always healthy alternatives to these favorite treats made with nutritious ingredient swaps—and they can be just as picturesque while still remaining gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, low-cal, and/or sugar-free.
Here is just one gallery of mouthwatering, healthy desserts—and you might not even be able to see or taste the difference! That’s because all of these dishes are made with rich, wholesome ingredients that you can actually pronounce rather than containing artificial sugars and flavorings. If you’re going to enjoy dessert, why not make it good for your body and leave you feeling guilt-free, too?
Spoiler alert: This beautiful mousse didn’t come from Martha Stewart’s cookbook. In fact, it was developed right in Thrive Market’s own kitchen. While most chocolate whips are filled with empty calories and sugar, this unconventional dish spins that notion on its head. Believe it or not, this rich, chocolatey treat is made with only four ingredients: avocado, raw cacao, pure maple syrup, and mixed berries.
For the full Insta effect, serve in small ramekins with blackberries on top (this extra step also makes it prime for a decadent dinner party). Whatever the occasion may be, though, this sweet treat always does the trick without any added sugar. Even better, this chocolate avocado mousse can be made in five minutes, which is great if you’re in a time crunch or looking for a quick fix.
Brownies are a dessert staple with unlimited variations—from double chocolate to cream cheese, even pumpkin spiced, there’s no shortage of creative ideas for this chocolatey mini-cake.
What’s different about this recipe, though, is that it’s totally Paleo and grain-free; instead, these bites are made with ground flaxseeds, raw cacao powder, Medjool dates, vanilla extract, and of course dark chocolate. While they taste good on their own, you can also create a brownie sundae a la mode (with dairy-free ice cream) for the picture perfect finishing touch.
Next time you need an unforgettable gift, whip up a batch of these healthy homemade truffles that will leave your friends and family speechless (especially since they will be trying to get in every last bite). These rich little treats look picturesque when wrapped up together—see some of our tips for eco-friendly packing!—but the real joy comes in devouring the full-bodied fruity flavors: each truffle is made with ripe Medjool dates, juicy strawberries, and unsweetened coconut flakes and then covered in crushed walnuts, cacao powder, and ground cinnamon, which helps to hold them together and provide a slightly firm texture. Since these tasty bites are made with all-natural ingredients (including no added sugar), and require no baking, they also qualify as a scrumptious raw dessert, too.
Creme brulee has been around since the late 1600s, allowing ample time for it to be perfected and recreated over the years—including Thrive Market’s own exotic coconut variety. Though it’s made from only five ingredients (vanilla beans, coconut cream, egg yolks, coconut sugar, and a pinch of salt), this dish tastes like it came from a five-star kitchen.
The custard itself is Paleo-friendly and gluten-free and still includes the classic hardened top, made from a pinch of the coconut sugar and a handheld pastry torch. Serve at your next gathering, but be prepared for a round of pictures before you can actually dig in.
Moist and hearty texture meets bright citrus flavor in these European-inspired cakes that are ready for their photo shoot right out of the oven. Because each is miniature in size, they’re great for anyone watching portion control and can also be easily taken on-the-go for a quick pick-me-up. In Italy, where the recipe hails from, these desserts are known as tea cakes and are served in the afternoon with a side of fresh berries and a hot cup of Earl Grey.
Because these desserts are made with polenta rather than wheat flour, they also qualify as a great dessert option for anyone with a gluten intolerance or Celiac disease. But that doesn’t mean people without food allergies can’t still enjoy them, too!
Skip the candy aisle and make a handful of these dark chocolate almond butter cups at home. If you don’t have a chocolate factory waiting for you there, it’s okay, since this creative recipe uses only a mini cupcake tin and simple ingredients such as almond butter, maple syrup, raw honey, coconut oil, vanilla, and sea salt—and that’s it!
The creaminess from the almond butter goes perfectly with the hard chocolate shell, while the pinch of sea salt sprinkled on top becomes a great contrast to the sweet, nutty flavor. Make them ahead of time (each batch creates two dozen treats) and wrap up for sweet bites on-the-go or an incredibly generous gift. Just don’t forget to capture a picture for Instagram so everyone can “like” your hard work.
If you’re looking for basic cookies, you’ve come to the wrong place. This batch has double the pleasure—bite into this scrumptious dessert and first you’ll experience a kick of hot ginger that tingles the tongue before the dense pomegranate molasses cools things off. The result is a a great contrast of flavors in one small treat that looks just as good as it tastes.
For even more photo-ready presentation, stack a few of them high on a plate and serve alongside a helping of candied ginger or blackberries. Another option is warming them up and serving with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top, which adds an additional perfect combination of hot meets cold. See for yourself how this unique fusion delights a crowd, especially as it racks up all those Instagram likes.