Healthy Summer Desserts
We all love a bit of summer sunshine, don’t we? We revel in the long days and lighter (hopefully warmer) nights by eating outside as much as possible. Barbecues. Picnics. Outdoor parties. Any excuse to eat alfresco is welcome. But it’s easy to overindulge on the salty, sugary snacks and then fill up with burgers and bangers and not leave room for any pudding. And that would be a crying shame in our humble opinion. So we’ve come up with some ideas for lighter summer desserts that will still satisfy the sweet-toothed among you but are just that little bit healthier if you’ve eaten one too many sausages. Recipes to help you stay cool, fruit-filled treats to cut down on the calories, and no or low sugar summer desserts that don’t compromise on flavour. Read on for delicious inspiration.
6 healthy summer desserts
Here’s a few ideas to get your taste buds tingling this summer – give them a go, and remember, you can always make things lighter by swapping out ingredients for healthier alterantives.
What could be simpler, or tastier, than a fresh, colourful fruit salad? It’s the ultimate no-cook dessert. Packed full of nutrients, hydrating, refreshing and cooling, just pile a big bowl high with your favourites or whatever you can buy from the supermarket or greengrocer, and that’s it. Strawberries, plums, nectarines, blueberries, grapes, peaches, watermelon, pineapple, mango, kiwi fruits, bananas… you get the idea. You can serve it on its own, or if you can’t resist adding something extra, you can add a dollop of ice cream (home-made is best), home-made yoghurt, a drizzle of honey, some crushed meringue, or a scoop of whipped cream or crème fraiche – just don’t be tempted to add any extra sugar as the natural sugars in the fruit will provide enough sweetness. Making mini fruit kebabs is a great way to serve a fruit salad too. You can find our simple recipe here.
The citrus tang of nectarines, the nutritional benefits (and nutty flavour) of almonds, the creamy loveliness of home-made ice cream. Hungry yet? These easy-to-make ice cream sandwiches are a great way to celebrate the season. And if you want to make them a bit healthier, you can swap the sugar for honey or agave, and the cream for a dairy-free alternative.
Fancy a bit of refreshing summertime zing? Of course you do. This simple sorbet recipe is packed full of summery strawberry goodness and is a healthier alternative to ice cream for a cooling treat on those long, hot summer days and nights.
Topped with juicy clementine slices and pomegranate seeds, this fruity little cheesecake number is chock-full of wonderful summer flavours and is the perfect way to round off a barbecue or pizza party in the garden. And it’s all made in a slow cooker, proving just how versatile those wonderful machines are.
Is there any dessert that screams summer more than a Classic Strawberry Tart? We think not. With its sweet pastry base (swap sugar for an alternative like agave if you want to make it healthier), creamy filling and topping of fresh strawberries, it’s a warm weather crowd-pleaser that finishes off an outdoor gathering. If you’re not a confident baker or short on time, you can make it easy on yourself by buying a pastry case and swapping the crème patisserie for mascarpone.
Know someone who likes their treats sweet, but is on a gluten-free diet? These little lemon, almond and poppy seed quinoa cakes are a fantastic way to spoil them, and are so easy to bake in our 12 Hole Loose-Based Mini Loaf Tin. And they’re quite delicious with a cup of coffee when you’re out on a summer picnic.
What desserts do well in the heat?
Of course, anything that has cream or ice cream in it is going to come a drippy cropper if you leave it out in the sunshine, so keep those desserts safely in the fridge until you’re ready to serve up. Similarly, desserts that have chocolate toppings are not going to fare well either. But if you want to lay out your desserts on the picnic table in advance, go heavy on the fruit-based and cakey treats, which will cope better. A pineapple upside down cake won’t mind a bit of sun beating down, and our twice-tropical mini versions are just the thing to take on picnics or hand out at barbecues.
Fruit salad kebabs can be served on a bed of ice to help them keep their cool, as can slices of watermelon when you need a refreshing pick-me-up. Grilled peaches or pineapple are ideal too – served hot or cold. Check out our recipe for Barbecued Pineapple Wedges with Coconut and Chocolate. And let’s not forget the humble cookie. If you want to keep them healthy, make them sugar-free by swapping out sugar for an alternative. You can read about some sugar alternatives below.
How can I satisfy my sweet tooth without sugar?
Most of us probably eat too much refined sugar, and cutting down on those empty calories can only be a good thing. Refined sugar is present in so many of the foods we buy without thinking about it – everything from baked beans to tomato ketchup, so you’re probably eating a lot more than you realise, which means the more you can cut out of your summer meals, the better. That doesn’t mean going without dessert or your favourite treats, it’s just about making them a little bit healthier. Happily, there are alternatives to sugar which are better for you but will still give you the sweetness you crave. Things like bananas (who doesn’t love a banana split?), agave, honey, cinnamon, peanut butter and other nut butters, dates, and maple syrup will all add sweetness and flavour to your recipes.
Enjoy a healthier summer
We hope we’ve given you some healthy food for thought as you think about your light desserts for summer, and you can find lots more recipes on our blog which can be followed to the letter or adapted to help you eat better without missing out on flavour.