You can thank the stinging cold weather for your high-calorie cravings, as research shows that we all tend to eat a little more during the winter months. What do we hunger for most? Comfort foods and sweet treats! Thankfully, we found 10 cold-weather low-calorie desserts that deliver decadent flavor to keep you slim until spring.
Taking a bite out of this creamy goat cheese blend is like feasting on a slice of rich cheesecake—in popsicle form! With a spicy kick of ancho chili powder and a dose of antioxidant-rich cocoa, each low-fat treat amounts to approximately 75 calories.
4 ounces low-fat goat cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder
2 eggs, separated
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 teaspoon ancho chili powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine goat cheese, sugar, and vanilla and mix until smooth. Add egg yolks two at a time. Fold in flour, cocoa powder, and ancho chile. Whip egg whites until soft peaks form. Gently fold into mixture. Spread into buttered and sugared parchment-lined baking pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool. Remove from pan by picking up parchment. Use a 1-inch cookie cutter to make individual circles and insert skewers to create a “lollipop.”
Makes about eight servings.
If you need a little something to satisfy your sweet tooth, whip up this 75-calorie pumpkin pie for one. This simple recipe, pared down to the most basic and common ingredients, only takes 2 minutes to make, but the end result tastes as delicious as traditional, calorie-packed pie.
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup egg whites (from an egg or carton)
Cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
Mix together all ingredients. If you prefer a flan-like texture, add more pumpkin; if you prefer a cake-like texture, add more egg whites. Microwave for 2 minutes. Use a mix of Greek yogurt, hazelnut cream cheese, and pumpkin pie spice for icing. Top with toasted pecans.
Makes one serving.
PERSIMMON BUNDT CAKES
Fiber-loaded persimmons are the main attraction in these vegan treats. In this recipe, the crunchy, naturally sweet fruit is married to low-fat ingredients, including ginger, lemon juice, and unsweetened applesauce, to make scrumptious 200-calorie mini bundt cakes.
1 1/4 cup Fuyu persimmons, cubed
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup agave nectar
2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup raisins
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil or spray a bundt pan. In a small bowl, mix persimmon, lemon juice, coconut oil or applesauce, and agave nectar. In a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients except for raisins. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix just until all flour is moistened (do not over-mix). Fold in raisins. Pour into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 to 45 minutes if you using a pan for one bundt cake. (Note: A pan for six bundt cakes takes about 30 minutes.) Allow to cool for 10 minutes and then remove from pan. Cool completely before serving.
Makes six servings.
MINIATURE APPLE PIES
A yummy apple compote, generously spiced with healthy cinnamon and nutmeg, is stuffed into each of these mini pies made with flaky, gluten-free crust. You can take (almost) guilt-free bites of this classic comfort dessert, which totals 224 calories per pie!
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and make pie crust (or use your favorite pie crust). Using a floured flat surface, roll pie crust out to about 1/8-inch thickness. Using a coffee mug with a diameter of 3.5 inches, cut four circles out of dough and set aside. At this time, you will probably have to re-roll dough out. Using a smaller coffee mug or bowl with a diameter of 3 inches, cut another four circles out of dough and set aside. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray, and gently set larger dough circles in the bottom of the muffin tins so the dough comes up the sides of the muffin tins as well. Carefully scoop some slow cooker cinnamon apples (about 2 tablespoons per mini pie) on top of dough. Top with smaller dough circles and use a fork to pinch two dough circles together. Bake for 20 to 24 minutes, or until pie crust edges begin to brown. Let pies cool completely before removing from the muffin pan.
Makes four servings.
Chocolate doesn’t have to be rare luxury when you make it with a deliciously dark variety, plenty of heart-healthy nuts, and tart cherries.
“The nuts have protein and vitamin E, and they fill you up the right way—no empty calories there!” says food blogger Alyssa Shelasky. “And dark chocolate, well, it’s on the good side of bad.”
Pair these nutty, fruity 95-calorie clusters with a cup of a tea for a satisfying pick-me-up.
3/4 cup almonds (or any nut of your preference like pistachios or macadamias)
12 ounces dark chocolate (60-70% cocoa), divided
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup dried tart cherries (swap for dates or dried apricots)
Sprinkle coarse sea salt (optional)
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, toast nuts until they smell nice and roasted, about 10 minutes. Let them cool completely. Fill a medium saucepan with 1 inch of water and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Set a large heat-proof bowl atop the saucepan, making sure water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl. Place dark chocolate in bowl; cook, stirring, until smooth. Remove bowl from saucepan; stir in vanilla extract, toasted nuts, and dried cherries/fruit. Pour onto the baking sheet, spreading into an even layer about 1/4-inch thick, and sprinkle lightly with sea salt, if desired. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Break into 24 pieces. Serve in odd, mismatched shapes.
Makes 24 pieces.
These dense, chewy morsels are richly flavored with an intoxicating combination of whiskey and chocolate, and at approximately 49 calories per ball, you can indulge in more than just one. Best of all, no baking required!
1 box (12 ounces) vanilla wafers
1 cup pecans
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons bittersweet cocoa
1/2 cup bourbon
1/4 cup light corn syrup
Eat a vanilla wafer to make sure they are good. Pulse remaining wafers in a food processor until they are crumbs. Toast pecans in the oven until fragrant, about 4 minutes at 400 degrees. Pulse pecans, sugar, and cocoa with wafers to combine into a nice crumb mixture. Combine whiskey with corn syrup and add to crumbs. Use hands to combine. Wash hands to get big clumps off, then roll mixture into balls. It’s helpful to squish a blob of dough back and forth between your hands 6 to 7 times to mush it together before rolling.
Makes 50-60 balls.
You’d never believe that one of these irresistible blondies sets you back less than 75 calories. But it’s true! Made with fiber-rich chickpeas, the cinnamon-saturated bars have a moist, fudgy texture that’s nothing short of addictive.
1 1/2 cups canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons nut butter (or other fat source)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 to 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
Heaping 1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup ground flax
2 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
Pinch cream of tartar (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Blend all ingredients until very smooth and scoop into a greased or tinfoil-lined 8-by-8-inch pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. You want blondies to look a little undercooked when you take them out, because they’ll firm up as they cool.
Makes 15-20 squares.
Infused with a tangy lemony essence, this light and fluffy cake makes the perfect dessert or afternoon snack! Better yet, the gluten-free, vegan confection clocks in at a mere 60 calories (with stevia) or 90 calories (with agave) per slice.
1 banana, mashed
1 cup vanilla almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Zest of 1 small lemon
Liquid stevia (such as 21 drops of NuNaturals vanilla stevia) or 1/4 cup sweetener of choice (such as agave nectar)
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup millet flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons corn starch
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use coconut oil to grease a 9-inch pie plate. In a medium bowl, mix mashed banana, almond milk, vanilla extract, chia seeds, lemon juice, lemon zest, and stevia. (Do wet ingredients first so it gives chia seeds time to soften up.) In a separate medium bowl, whisk coconut flour, millet flour, baking powder, baking soda, corn starch, and cinnamon. Combine wet ingredients with dry ingredients and pour into the pie plate. Bake for 30 minutes.
Makes eight servings.
Vegans and non-vegans alike can help themselves to this indulgence: homemade doughnuts that are roughly 155 calories each! Savor every tasty mouthful packed with a distinctive pumpkin flavor and coated in a sugary cinnamon mix.
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
6 tablespoons non-dairy milk
1/2 cup fresh or canned pureed pumpkin
1/4 cup organic cane sugar (or white)
3 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
2 tablespoons lightly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons Earth Balance (or other non-dairy butter substitute), melted
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon + 1/2 teaspoon ginger + 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (or 1 3/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
For cinnamon sugar:
1/4 cup Earth Balance (or other non-dairy butter substitute), melted
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two mini doughnut pans or two regular sized doughnut pans with Earth Balance (or other butter substitute). In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, milk, pumpkin, sugar, applesauce, brown sugar (sift if clumpy), and melted Earth Balance. Sift in dry ingredients (baking powder, baking soda, spices, salt, and flours). Mix until just combined. Spoon batter into a zip-lock bag or pastry bag and then secure it with the zip lock or rubber band. Twist the bag slightly and then cut off a hole at the corner to ‘pipe’ out the batter. Pipe dough around the circle and gently flatten down with slightly wet fingers to smooth. Repeat. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until they gently spring back when touched. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before carefully using a butter knife to remove. Place on cooling rack for another 10 to 15 minutes.
For cinnamon sugar:
Melt Earth Balance in a small bowl and dip cooled doughnuts into butter one at a time. Transfer dipped doughnut into a bag with cinnamon sugar and shake until coated thoroughly. Doughnuts keep for 2 to 3 days.
Makes 24 mini or 12 regular-sized doughnuts.
Fruitcake suffers from a bad reputation as a high-calorie dessert, thanks to the many store-bought varieties made with candied fruits and sugary icing. Luckily, we found a healthier, gluten-free version for about 310 calories per serving. This hearty treat is studded with dried fruit and nuts, and soaked with the sweetness of amaretto liqueur.
3 cup mixed dried fruits
2/3 cup Disaronno or any amaretto
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
1 cup gluten-free flour blend
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1 cup chopped pecans
A day or two before baking fruitcake, chop dried fruits into pieces, mix in amaretto, and cover. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and spray an 8-inch round cake pan or an 8-by-8-inch pan with cooking spray. Strain dried fruit mixture, keeping amaretto fruit syrup. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks (reserving whites), vanilla, and zests. Continue beating until eggs are fully incorporated and mixture is once again smooth and fluffy. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add dry ingredients to butter and sugar mixture, beating gently until well combined. Add milk, continuing to beat until well combined. Add strained fruits, mixing again until well combined. In another bowl, whip eggs whites on high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently fold whipped egg whites into batter until they have been fully incorporated. Gently mix in pecans. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for about an hour and half or until a knife poked into cake center comes out clean. While cake is still hot, pour reserved amaretto from fruit over top of cake.
Makes 12-16 servings.