Craving chocolate? Ice cream, or cookies? Make any of my 5 healthier, gluten-free treats to squash any kind of dessert craving!

Craving chocolate? Ice cream, or cookies? Make any of my 5 healthier, gluten-free treats to squash any kind of dessert craving! | iowagirleats.com

Put the Easter candy away – we’re squashing sweet treat cravings in a healthier way without sacrificing decadence, deliciousness, and most importantly, CHOCOLATE, in today’s episode of Just 5 Things!

First, hi! How was your Easter weekend, if you celebrated? We took the kids to Living History Farms for egg hunting and rabbit stroking on Saturday, then had about the most gorgeous Easter Sunday I can remember in recent years. This was one weekend I did not want to end.

Especially because it meant having to decide what to do with all the leftover Easter candy! Luckily we don’t have nearly as much as we used to laying around – Lincoln’s allergic to dairy so I fill his eggs at home with coins for his piggy bank, and a few Surf Sweets jelly beans, and my parents do the same for their egg hunt since my nephews have severe food allergies. But still, IT’S THERE. The sticky, fruity, chewy, sweet elephant in the room.

You guys know that several years ago I took Jacqueline Smith’s Go Sugar Free Course and it totally changed my life. Prior to taking her course I would have bought double the amount of candy for Lincoln’s Easter basket so I could eat half while filling his eggs up with the other. I LOVED sweets.

Several years out, I’m back to eating sweet treats occasionally. Obviously, since I’m sharing 5 of them with you today! But among the lessons that have stuck with me over the years is to be sugar selective. Read ingredient labels. Choose wisely. Because of this, I can’t tell you the last time I bought candy to eat on the drive home from the grocery store. Or on a road trip. Or because it was a Tuesday. Literally it’s been years.

Now when I crave something sweet, I enjoy a healthier REAL treat! If you would have asked me what a “healthier” treat looked like 10 years ago, I would have told you sugar free jello with fat free cool whip. That just made my blood pressure rise to an unhealthy level. There is nothing healthy about feeding your cravings with chemicals.

To me, a healthier dessert doesn’t always mean one that’s low in calories or fat (although it’s nice if it works out that way,) it means a small, occasional something that I’m going to truly enjoy and be satisfied with because I know the ingredients weren’t manufactured in a lab. Ya feel me?

That said, today I’m sharing 5 healthier treats I turn to when I’m craving something sweet, and this post is sponsored by my friends at Simple Mills, with whom I have an unnatural obsession with (psst, Costco just started carrying their almond crackers in bulk – woooot!) In a world full of processed foods with ingredient lists a mile long, it’s so refreshing to find convenient, delicious products that are made with real, whole food ingredients. All of their products are gluten-free, and most are dairy-free (with the exception of their cheddar crackers) which means everyone in our family can eat them.

Simple Mills just came out with a new line of ready-to-eat crunchy cookies, and the only thing I love more than the ingredient list is their perfect, wee size. While healthier in my book means better for you ingredients, it also means portion control, and these little cuties definitely help with that.

 

1. For a Cookie Craving

Calling all cookie monsters! My first healthier treat is for when a cookie craving strikes. When that happens, just trust me and make a Simple Mills Mini Cookie Sandwich, ok? Can you EVEN!

All you do is sandwich Simple Mills crunchy cookies – they have chocolate chip, cinnamon, double chocolate, and toasted pecan – with their coconut oil-based frosting. If I had to sit down and think about my 5 favorite foods on this planet, these frostings would for suuuure make the list. 🙌🏻

Refrigerate the mini cookie sandwiches for 20 minutes or so, to let the icing firm up, then devour. You can make a big batch and freeze them, or just keep the mini sandwiches in your refrigerator. Since the frostings have no preservatives, and are made with coconut oil, they firm up in the fridge but will soften in 5 minutes or so on the counter, and then melt the rest of the way as you bite in. One little sandwich totally satisfies!

As much as I love these mini cookies, they make the best special treats for little hands. Lincoln’s favorite is this healthier “Oreo”.

In addition to the chocolate/vanilla combo, we love the chocolate chip cookies with chocolate frosting (which tastes like chocolate pudding!) and cinnamon cookies with chocolate frosting (ie my take on a churro with dipping sauce.) Could not love these little guys more!

 

2. For a Wine + Chocolate Craving

Dark chocolate dollops studded with nuts, seeds, and dried fruit are what Netflix + wine date dreams are made of. We all know dark chocolate and red wine are the perfect pairing, and loaded with antioxidants, but adding texture and flavor from pistachios and almonds, toasted sesame seeds, and dried cranberries really take these Dark Chocolate Snack Bites up a notch. I find if I’m eating plain dark chocolate with wine I tend to eat…a lot. But just one or two of these discs does the trick.

Best of all? These snack bites are so easy to make. Just microwave dark chocolate chips in 30 second increments until smooth, stirring between increments, then dollop 2 teaspoons worth onto a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper. Sprinkle on whatever you’ve got in the pantry – again I used almonds, pistachios, dried cranberries and toasted sesame seeds, but pepitas, sunflower seeds, walnuts and/or a sprinkling of coarse sea salt would be absolutely amazing – then refrigerate until set. Peel from the backing then savor between sips. Store these snack bites in the fridge for a week or so – promise they won’t last that long though!

 

3. For a Nightcap Craving

What’s better than an espresso nightcap? An espresso nightcap served over vanilla bean ice cream – OH YEAH! I concocted one of these 2 minute treats at least three nights a week during my last trimester with Cameron using decaf espresso, and it was so special and satisfying.

An affogato is a shot of hot espresso or strong coffee drizzled over a small scoop or two of cold ice cream, and is one of the most divine treats I can think of…which is why it made the list! I like Halo Top ice cream because it’s lower in calories and fat than other premium ice creams, plus it’s crazy high in protein, which is a nice added benefit to eating this dessert. 😉 Adding espresso or strong coffee is a great way to pump up the flavor of a dessert without adding additional calories, fat, or grams of sugar.

I also adore crumbling a Simple Mills Crunchy Cinnamon Cookie on top for a little crunch and spice. Definitely making one of these babies tonight!

 

4. For a Cupcake Craving

I love cupcakes as much as the next girl (which means, a lot!) but find the craving can be easily squashed with a treat like Healthy Banana Bread Muffins. I promise you won’t miss the sprinkles!

These are another awesome find from Simple Mills and not only are they a cinch to make – just add water, eggs, and oil – but they’re super dense and moist which are musts for really good banana bread. I also add 2 Tablespoons maple syrup to this box mix to amp up the decadence factor – try it!

Not only does the mix contain nutrient dense ingredients like almond flour and coconut flour, but those are 2 of just 7 total ingredients in the mix – that’s bananas! (Sorry, had to.) I also love that bananas are the second ingredient in the mix. I just looked up another brand of banana bread mix, and banana was listed sixth out of 22 ingredients.

Instead of icing, I like topping these muffins with thinly sliced fresh bananas for a hit of sweet. They also freeze beautifully so you can pull one out and enjoy anytime.

Healthy Banana Bread Muffins are totally toddler approved, too!

 

5. For an Ice Cream Craving

There’s nothing better than a trip to the ice cream shop on a warm spring or summer night, but you can get the same experience at home with my 3 Ingredient Chocolate Peanut Butter Magic Shell. I am SO psyched about this recipe!

My family and I went to the ice cream shop at least once a week in the summer when I was growing up and I’d always get a vanilla ice cream bar dipped in chocolate magic shell, which was the inspiration for this 2 minute recipe. If you’re a chocolate + peanut butter fanatic like me, you’re definitely going to want to try this.

The great thing about homemade magic shell is YOU control the ingredients, and there’s only three of them! Combine 1 heaping Tablespoon dark chocolate chips with 1 Tablespoon coconut oil in a small dish then microwave until melted, and then stir in 1 Tablespoon peanut butter until smooth. That’s it! Let the mixture cool slightly then pour over cold ice cream (again, I like Halo Top, or banana “nice cream” to help keep calories and sugar in check,) then wait a few seconds for it to harden before tappin’ in.

Best part of this recipe? If you don’t use all the magic shell in one sitting just cover and refrigerate, and then warm again before using. Woo!

Which healthier treat would you dig into first?