Desserts You Won't Feel Guilty About Eating

Most people ask themselves one of two questions when they're considering dessert: "Do I even have enough room in my stomach for it?" or "Should I or shouldn't I?" 

That latter inquiry centers entirely around the fact that dessert, well, isn't always the healthiest choice. Indeed, the most decadent, delectable, and delicious desserts are, by in large, packed with sugar, fat, and carbs — not exactly the staples of a well-rounded diet. This leads health-conscious dessert connoisseurs to a crossroads. They can either enjoy dessert and feel guilty about it, or skip the course altogether.

Neither of these options are an ideal choice, but they don't have to be the only paths available. When it comes to the final course, desserts can be just as flavorful, rich, and creamy as anything else, while simultaneously being good for you (or at least not quite as bad). For instance, simple swaps of ingredients make a big difference. However, the most important "ingredient" not listed in any of these recipes is the fact that they are homemade. Store-bought brands pack their products with extra sugar and preservatives. So even if you made the exact same product but did it at home, you'd already be producing a healthier dish. 

So without further ado, these are the desserts you won't feel guilty about eating. We don't know Marie Antoinette's opinion, but we say: "Let them eat cake... and not feel guilty."

Flourless chocolate cake

Chocolate cake is the gold standard of desserts. But with all that flour, it's usually off-limits for gluten-free dieters. To make this delectable dish available to all, we offer you this flourless chocolate cake recipe, every bit as good as the traditional dessert you're used to. 

The recipe only utilizes seven ingredients, all of which are baking staples: semi-sweet or dark chocolate, unsalted butter, eggs, granulated sugar, salt, cocoa powder, and powdered sugar. The key step in the process of making this flourless chocolate cake is to melt the chocolate by using a double boiler, which prevents the chocolate from scorching.

Once your chocolate mixture is smooth and all the other ingredients have been incorporated into the batter, the cake goes into the oven for 20-25 minutes until a light crust forms on top. Let it cool for 10 minutes, then top with some powdered sugar and dig in! This delectable treat proves that you don't need flour to make a rich, utterly delicious cake that many people can enjoy.

No-bake oatmeal cookies

A cookie that's healthy and doesn't require baking? It's true and the whole wonderful batch can be yours thanks to this no-bake oatmeal cookie recipe. These tasty bites up the "no guilt" factor by replacing sugar with the sweetness of maple syrup (or honey), raisins, and the nut butter of your choice. Peanut butter and almond butter both work well here, though feel free to riff as you see fit.

Once all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed together, place the balls of dough on a baking sheet and gently press down with your palm to flatten them. Now, instead of putting them into the oven, put these cookies in the fridge for 25 minutes. Once they've hardened, your dessert is ready. Yes, really, that's all you have to do. If you happen to have any leftover cookies, they also make for a great breakfast treat — they do have oatmeal, fruit, and maple syrup after all!

No-bake keto cheesecake

There are few, if any, desserts that elicit as much joy and guilt as cheesecake. The rich and creamy texture makes for one decadent dessert, but the cake's heaviness and use of sugar and fats may have you feeling regretful afterward. This recipe for no-bake keto cheesecake cuts down on some of the guilt by creating a low-carb version of the dessert. The ingredients list includes pretty standard items like cream cheese and milk, as well as the addition of agar-agar, often used as a vegan gelatin substitute. Agar-agar powder is derived from seaweed and is used here to replace eggs in the recipe and make the resulting cheesecake lighter.

Once the ingredients are mixed, blended, and prepped, start assembling your cheesecake by layering graham crackers into the bottom of a springform pan and freezing for 20 minutes. Then add a layer of blueberry jelly and top with a layer of white cheesecake filling. After five hours in the refrigerator, your no-bake, low-carb, lightweight, completely delicious cheesecake is ready for dessert!

Smoothie bowl

Who says smoothies have to be beverages, or served in a cup, or had only for breakfast? Not us, that's for sure. We believe dessert is best enjoyed when there are no rules. 

After its taste and fun look, the best thing about this smoothie in a bowl recipe is how easy it is to make. It consists of just four ingredients — frozen mango, frozen banana, oat milk or dairy milk, and blue spirulina (we'll get to this in a moment) — which are just blended together until they form the perfect consistency. 

As you may have guessed, the key ingredient blue spirulina, a type of algae. Before you get scared off, know that blue spirulina is completely tasteless. In this recipe, its purpose is purely aesthetic, as it gives the smoothie a brilliant indigo color that's completely natural and free of artificial food coloring. Once you have your beautiful blue concoction ready, top it with granola, nuts, fruit, or anything else your heart desires and enjoy!

Vegan chocolate cake

Everybody loves a slice of chocolate cake, but with all the eggs, milk, butter, and cream, it can be pretty calorie-heavy, not to mention completely out of bounds to those who don't eat animal products. Now, you might think it's simply impossible to make a good cake without those ingredients, but this vegan chocolate cake recipe begs to differ. The recipe substitutes eggs with mashed banana to help the cake rise as well as add that great moist texture the dessert is known for. As for the other animal products, vegan butter is used in replacement of traditional butter as it coconut milk for regular cow's milk (although almond, oat, or hemp milk will also work.)

Once you have your ingredients gathered up, the directions actually follow along like a pretty traditional cake recipe. It can be prepped and cooked all in less than an hour and the final product will be so good, even non-vegan eaters will be going for seconds (and for a copy of the recipe).

Orange Julius

Forget breakfast — save some of that orange juice for dessert. The beverage is the star ingredient in this recipe for Orange Julius, and it provides just the right amount of sweetness and citrus flavor to make it the perfect after-dinner drink. And all you need is six minutes and a blender to whip it up. Just add vanilla ice cream, milk, orange juice, sugar, ice, and vanilla extract to the blender and blend on high for 30 seconds. 

Pour into serving glass, top with whipped cream, and you're done. It's really that easy. If you want to alter the recipe for health or nutrition reasons, you can swap out the milk and yogurt for non-dairy varieties without affecting the final product much at all. An Orange Julius is an ideal dessert during the hot summer months but we certainly won't tell you to limit yourself to this treat for just one season of the year.

Heart-healthy oatmeal cookies

A heart-healthy cookie may sound like an oxymoron, but let us explain. These oatmeal cookies are packed with nutritious ingredients including whole wheat flour, oats, and walnuts. They also come without the refined sugar you'll find in most store-bought brands. As for the "heart-healthy" part, the cookies are entirely plant-based, so they lack animal product ingredients that raise cholesterol. The sweet treats are also high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, nutrients that can lower cholesterol and regulate blood pressure. Walnuts especially are nutrient-packed powerhouses that should be a central feature in your diet if at all possible.

Now that we know they're good for you, how do we make these heart-healthy cookies? Easily and quickly. Just combine the dry and wet ingredients in separate bowls, then fold the two mixtures together. Scoop out balls of dough onto a baking sheet, gently flatten them, and throw them in the oven for 20 minutes. Viola! They're ready to go!

Paleo banana bread

If you thought banana bread was best served for breakfast, this sweet paleo banana bread recipe will have you reconsidering. For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, the paleo diet excludes grains and consists mostly of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and lean animal protein, according to the Mayo Clinic. Its name is derived from the Paleolithic era, when early hunter-gather humans are believed to have had similar diets. 

With this knowledge in hand, you'd be right in asking, "How can you make bread that has no grains?" The paleo banana bread accomplishes that trick by swapping out traditional wheat flour for almond flour. Otherwise, it's a pretty straightforward bread recipe that can be prepped in just 10 minutes. 

To make this bread, mash the bananas, add in eggs, maple, and vanilla extract, then whisk in almond flour, baking powder, and salt before pouring the mixture into a loaf pan. After 50 minutes in the oven, your banana bread is ready. Enjoy it as an after-dinner snack. If you're not feeling too guilty, we recommend topping it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a little extra treat.