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a variety of healthy dessert recipes

Recipes in this collection:

Orange Almond Cake  ⋅  Maple Sweet-Potato Crème Brûlée  ⋅  Coconut Cutout Cookies  ⋅  Berry Chia Pudding Ice Pops  ⋅  Chocolate Frozen Yogurt Bark  ⋅  Grilled Peaches With Almond Cream  ⋅  Vegan Chocolate Cheesecake  ⋅  Chocolate-Dipped Mandarins With Pistachios  ⋅  Nectarine and Blueberry Crisp  ⋅  Triple Coconut Rice Pudding  ⋅  Chocolate Coconut Truffles

Desserts don’t have to be o­ff-limits in a healthy diet. It’s relatively easy to create flavorful treats that aren’t cloyingly sweet — and bring extra nutrients to the table — by using alternative flours and sweeteners as well as other ingenious ingredients. Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too?

Orange Almond Cake

This almond-flour cake is topped with a delectable maple cream-cheese frosting.

orange almond cake

Makes 12 servings  •  Prep time 10 minutes  •  Cook time 30 minutes

  • 1 ½ cups extra-fine almond flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tbs. orange zest, plus more for garnish, if desired
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 2 tbs. orange juice
  • 3 tbs. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • ½ cup coconut sugar, divided
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. cream of tartar
  • Maple Cream-Cheese Frosting (get the recipe here)

This recipe first appeared in “How to Bake With Healthy Flour Alternatives.” Recipe developer: Robin Asbell. Photography: Andrea D’Agosto.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place an 8-inch circle of parchment paper in the bottom of a lightly oiled 8-inch cake pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the almond flour, baking powder, salt, and orange zest. Add the egg yolks, juice, and butter, and stir well to mix.
  3. Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk ­attachment (or a separate bowl and electric hand mixer), beat the egg whites, half the sugar, the vanilla, and the cream of tartar on high speed until the whites form soft peaks, about one minute. Beat in the remaining sugar gradually.
  4. Scoop half a cup of the beaten egg whites into the almond-flour mixture, and fold in gently. Repeat to make a light batter.
  5. Transfer batter to the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
  6. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Place the pan on a rack to cool. Run a knife around the sides of the pan to loosen, then place a cake plate on top, hold firmly, and flip to invert the cake onto the plate.
  8. Peel the parchment paper from the cake, then top with cream-cheese frosting and orange zest.

Maple Sweet-Potato Crème Brûlée

Roasted sweet potatoes, cream, and maple syrup come together for this creative twist on traditional crème brûlée.

vegan creme brulee

Makes 4 servings  •  Prep time 35 minutes  •  Cook time 40 minutes, plus cool overnight or for at least 6 hours

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • ½ tbs. cane sugar (plus more for crust)
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ cup maple syrup

This recipe first appeared in “5 Recipes Using Winter Root Vegetables.” Recipe developer: Kate Morgan. Photography: Terry Brennan

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Prick the sweet potato’s skin all over with a fork. Place sweet potato on a sheet pan and roast until tender, approximately 35 minutes. Let cool, then peel and pulse in a food processor until smooth.
  3. In a large bowl, use a hand mixer to whip egg yolks, egg, and ½ tablespoon sugar until pale and the mixture drips in ribbons from the beaters, about five minutes.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat together sweet potato purée, cream, vanilla, and maple syrup. Add the sweet potato mixture to the egg mixture and beat until just combined.
  5. Adjust oven temp to 300 degrees F.
  6. Distribute the custard evenly between four shallow ramekins. Place ramekins inside a deep casserole dish and carefully pour in enough hot water to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
  7. Transfer to oven and bake for 40 minutes or until custard barely jiggles when moved. Allow to cool in the water bath for 30 minutes, then transfer to the refrigerator to cool overnight or for at least six hours.
  8. Just before serving, cover the surface of the custard with a thin, even layer of cane sugar. Use a brûlée torch to melt it, or place on a baking sheet on top rack of oven and broil on high, turning roughly every 30 seconds for five to seven minutes, until dark golden brown and bubbling.

Coconut Cutout Cookies

Use coconut sugar and a whole egg for a softer cookie, or try granulated sugar and egg whites for a cookie that stays crisp longer.

a tray of coconut cut out cookies

Makes about 30 cookies    Prep time 25 minutes   Cook time 12 minutes per batch

  • ¾ cup coconut flour
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt
  • 6 tbs. unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup coconut sugar (or ¼ cup each granulated sugar and coconut sugar)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. almond extract
  • 1 large egg (or 2 egg whites)
  • Maple Cream-Cheese Frosting (get the recipe here)

This recipe first appeared in “How to Bake With Healthy Flour Alternatives.” Recipe developer: Robin Asbell. Photography: Andrea D’Agosto.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the coconut flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, using an electric hand mixer (or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment), cream the ­butter until pale yellow, light, and fluffy, about two minutes. Beat in the sugar and ­extracts until incorporated, then add egg or egg whites and beat until smooth, about another two minutes. Add dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated.
  4. Place a square of parchment paper on the counter and scoop the dough into the center. Use your hands to shape it into a square about 1/2-inch thick and 5 inches long on all sides. Wrap and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
  5. Unwrap the dough and sprinkle with coconut flour. Roll out with a rolling pin, sprinkling more flour as needed and pressing the dough back together if it breaks. Roll out very thinly, about ⅛-inch thick.
  6. Use a cookie cutter or drinking glass to cut out cookies, then transfer to the prepared baking pan, leaving an inch between cookies.
  7. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the edges of the cookies are golden brown. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
  8. Frost with cream-cheese frosting just before serving, as the frosting will soften the cookies. Store in an airtight container for three to four days.

Berry Chia Pudding Ice Pops

These creamy and sweet DIY ice pops have just four ingredients: fresh raspberries, full-fat yogurt, honey, and chia seeds.

berry chia seed pudding popsicles

Makes 10 servings  •  Prep time 10 minutes  •  Freeze time 6 hours

  • 10 oz. raspberries, thawed if frozen
  • 1 cup full-fat, plain Greek yogurt or any non-dairy yogurt of your choosing
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 tbs. chia seeds

This recipe first appeared in “Chill Out! 9 Delicious and Healthy Ice Pop Recipes.” Recipe developer: Robin Asbell. Photography: Terry Brennan.

  1. Set up molds for 10 pops.
  2. Place the berries, yogurt, and honey in a blender. Secure the lid and blend on high until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the chia seeds and blend to incorporate.
  3. Pour ¼-cup portions into the pop molds. Freeze for 45 minutes, then insert sticks and freeze until solid, about another five hours.

Chocolate Frozen Yogurt Bark

Made with protein powder, this indulgent treat will satisfy your cravings and provide sustained energy.

high protein chocolate frozen yogurt

Makes 8 servings  •  Prep time 10 minutes  •  Freeze time 3 hours

  • 3 cups plain, full-fat Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • ½ cup protein powder of choice
  • 4 tbs. cocoa powder
  • 1 tbs. vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tbs. toasted pepitas

This recipe first appeared in “Fuel Your Body With These 5 High-Protein Snacks.” Recipe developer: Robin Asbell. Photography: Terry Brennan.

  1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, maple syrup, protein powder, cocoa powder, and vanilla, and whisk to combine.
  3. Pour the yogurt mixture onto the parchment-lined pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle with walnuts and pepitas.
  4. Freeze until solid, about three hours.
  5. Using the edges of the parchment paper, lift the yogurt bark out of the pan and place on a cutting board. Working quickly, use a sharp knife to cut the bark into diamonds or squares. Alternatively, use your hands to break the bark into chunks.
  6. Place the pieces in an airtight container, with waxed or parchment paper between the layers. Store in the freezer for up to three months. Pack individual portions in smaller containers to take on the go.

Grilled Peaches With Almond Cream

Peaches and cream — vegan cream! — is the perfect sweet end to a BBQ.

grilled peaches with cream

Makes 8 servings   Prep time 10 minutes  •  Cook time 15 minutes

  • 3 ¼ cups water, divided
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbs. refined coconut oil
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 4 large peaches, halved and pitted
  • Avocado oil for the grill
  • Ground cinnamon to taste
  • Fresh mint sprigs, for garnish

This recipe first appeared in “6 Vegan Grill Recipes.” Recipe developer: Robin Asbell. Photography: Andrea D’Agosto.

  1. Preheat the gas grill to high, or build an indirect fire in the charcoal grill: Pile the coals on one side so you have a hot side for searing and a cool side where you can cook the delicate peaches.
  2. In a small pot, bring three cups of water to a boil, then add the almonds. Boil the almonds for five minutes. Drain the almonds in a wire mesh strainer.
  3. In a high-speed blender, place the drained almonds, remaining ¼ cup water, maple syrup, coconut oil, and salt. Secure the lid and blend, scraping down the sides as needed, until the mixture is creamy. Add the lemon zest and blend to mix. Pour into a small bowl.
  4. When the grill is hot, oil the grate, then place the peaches, cut side down, on the cooler side of the grate. Turn the peaches every two minutes for about six minutes, finishing with the cut side up.
  5. When the peach juices are bubbling, spoon a heaping tablespoon of almond cream into each one. Leave the peaches on the grill just long enough to warm the almond cream, about another minute or two.

Vegan Chocolate Cheesecake

This vegan cheesecake has a walnut and coconut-oil crust and a tofu and coconut-cream filling.

Makes 6 servings  •  Prep time 5 minutes  •  Cook time 50 minutes, plus 4 hours to cool


  • ½ tsp. melted coconut oil
  • ¾ cup walnuts
  • 1 tbs. maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt


  • 12 oz. firm silken tofu
  • ½ cup coconut cream
  • ½ oz. unsweetened baking chocolate, melted
  • ¾ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tbs. arrowroot
  • 2 tbs. nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ⅛ tsp. sea salt

This recipe first appeared in “Plant-Based Comfort Food Recipes.” Recipe developer: Robin Asbell. Photography: Andrea D’Agosto.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and lightly oil six 1-cup ramekins.
  2. Place the walnuts in a food processor and process until finely ground. Add the maple syrup, coconut oil, and salt, and pulse until just combined. Firmly press about 2 tablespoons into the bottom of each prepared ramekin.
  3. Clean the bowl of the food processor, then drain the tofu and transfer to the food processor. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the coconut cream and melted chocolate, and quickly process before the chocolate hardens. Add remaining ingredients and blend until very smooth. Measure scant ½-cup portions into each ramekin.
  4. Bake the cheesecakes until the edges are dry and puffed and the center jiggles slightly but is no longer liquid, about 35 minutes. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack, about one hour. Refrigerate, uncovered, until cold, at least three hours before serving.

Chocolate-Dipped Mandarins With Pistachios

This simple-yet-decadent dessert can be made ahead of time and has only three ingredients.

chocolate dipped mandarines coasted with crushed pistachios

Makes 6 servings  •  Prep time 30 minutes

  • 4 large Satsuma mandarin oranges, or other mandarin oranges
  • ½ cup unsalted, shelled pistachios, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 4 oz. 80 percent dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

This recipe first appeared in “How to Host a Stress-Free Dinner Party.” Recipe developer: Robin Asbell. Photography: Andrea D’Agosto.

  1. Peel and section the mandarin oranges, gently removing the white pith with your fingers. Pat dry if necessary.
  2. Place the pistachios in a medium bowl. Line a serving platter with parchment paper.
  3. Melt the chocolate in a microwave or double boiler. To microwave, place chopped chocolate in a medium bowl and heat on high for one minute, then use a fork to stir. Repeat in 45-second increments until the chocolate is melted completely. For a double boiler, put an inch of water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Place a metal or glass bowl on top of the pot and add the chopped chocolate. Stir every minute or so, until the chocolate is melted completely. Place the bowl on a folded kitchen towel on the counter.
  4. Dip the outer part of a mandarin slice into the chocolate and then into the pistachios, making sure it’s covered in nuts. Place on the parchment-lined serving platter. Repeat with all the sections.
  5. Refrigerate uncovered until the chocolate is hardened, then remove the parchment liner and place the mandarins back on the serving platter. Cover and keep in the fridge until time to serve.
  6. Let the mandarins come to room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving.

Nectarine and Blueberry Crisp

Use whatever stone fruits and berries you have on hand for this vegan crisp.

Nectarine and Blueberry Crisp

Makes 6 servings   Prep time 30 minutes   Cook time 40 minutes


  • 8 nectarines, unpeeled and sliced into ½-inch-thick wedges
  • 3 cups blueberries
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt
  • Pinch ground cinnamon


This recipe first appeared in “How to Cook With Summer Berries.” Recipe developer: Rebecca Katz. Photography: Andrea D’Agosto.

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Make the filling: Combine the nectarines, blueberries, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl, and toss until the fruit is well coated. Transfer the fruit mixture to a 2-quart baking dish or a 10-inch pie plate.
  3. Make the topping: Combine the granola, oil, coconut, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl, and stir well. Spoon the topping evenly over the filling; lightly press with your fingers until the fruit is covered and the dish is full.
  4. Bake for about 40 minutes, until the topping is golden and the filling is bubbly. Let cool for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tip: Use whatever stone fruits and berries you have on hand: Try substituting peaches for nectarines, and blackberries or raspberries for blueberries.

Triple Coconut Rice Pudding

This dairy-free treat is full of healthy fats, and the mango-lime topping gives it a zesty flair.

coconut rice pudding

Makes 6 to 12 servings  •  Prep time 10 minutes  •  Cook time 30 minutes

Rice Pudding

  • 4 cups coconut water
  • 1 14-oz. can coconut milk
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 cup sushi rice or arborio rice

Mango Topping

  • 4 large mangos, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
  • Zest from 1 lime
  • 1 tbs. fresh lime juice
  • 1 tbs. sugar

This recipe first appeared in “Modern Potluck.” Recipe developer: Kristin Donnelly. Photography: Yossy Arefi.

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the coconut water, coconut milk, sugar, and salt. Cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the coconut milk melts. Ladle about 1 cup of the liquid into a measuring cup and reserve.
  2. Rinse the rice well in a strainer. Add rice to the saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat; simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the rice is tender and the pudding is thickened, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool until it’s just above room temperature (about 30 minutes). Stir in the reserved liquid.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the mango topping. In a medium bowl, toss the mango with the lime zest, lime juice, and sugar; let stand at room temperature for at least 20 minutes.
  4. Serve the pudding at room temperature or refrigerate until lightly chilled (about two hours). Serve with the mango and toasted coconut flakes.

Tip: You can substitute quinoa for the rice — and for a deeper flavor, use brown sugar.

Tip: The pudding and topping can be refrigerated overnight. Let the pudding stand at room temperature for at least 20 minutes before serving.

Coconut Chocolate Truffles

Chocolate truffles are traditionally made with cream, butter, and egg yolks, but this simple version uses coconut milk and coconut oil. Try different flavorings such as orange or lemon zest, cinnamon, cardamom, or even a pinch of cayenne pepper.

chocolate truffles

Makes 18 to 24 truffles  •  Prep time 20 minutes  •  Cook time 5 minutes, plus 2 hours to cool

  • 5 oz. coconut milk
  • 1 tbs. coconut oil
  • 1-inch piece of vanilla bean, split
  • 5 ½ ounces dark chocolate (70 to 80 percent cacao content), broken into small pieces
  • Cocoa powder, shredded coconut, or chopped pistachios, for decorating

This recipe first appeared in “7 Dark Chocolate Recipes.” Recipe developer: Betsy Nelson. Photography: Terry Brennan.

  1. Simmer the coconut milk in a small saucepan with the coconut oil and vanilla bean for five minutes. Allow to cool for three to five minutes to allow the vanilla to flavor the milk. Strain the milk.
  2. Place the chocolate in a mixing bowl, and pour in the warm coconut milk. Stir constantly with a rubber spatula to melt and incorporate the chocolate evenly as it melts.
  3. When the chocolate mixture is smooth, chill the mixture in the refrigerator until set, about two hours.
  4. Scoop the chocolate into small balls, roll in cocoa powder, shredded coconut, or chopped pistachios, and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Experience Life magazine
Experience Life Staff

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