Biting the bullet and deciding to go whole food plant-based can be the toughest part of your lifestyle change. Seriously, that initial decision can be daunting. And chances are if you’re new to eating this way you’re a little worried you might miss out on some of the finer things in life -- like dessert!
The good news? There are so many wonderful and delicious whole food plant-based desserts, you won’t feel like you’re missing out on a thing. Well, actually, you will miss out on a few things: no more sugar spikes, or crashed, no more belly aches, no more portion control!
Sounds good right? Eating dessert doesn’t have to send you into a tailspin of guilt and sugar shakes.
Refined Sugar vs. Natural Sugar
So what’s the difference between whole food plant-based dessert and say, doughnuts? It all has to do with refined sugar vs. whole food sugars. In short, refined sugars shoot into your bloodstream quick; your blood sugar spikes up real fast then dips back down again shortly thereafter. Whole foods on the other hand, contain enough fiber to slowly release sugars into your bloodstream, keeping your glucose levels stable.
That’s why when your 5-year-old drinks apple juice they’re off the walls, but when they eat an apple they’re a perfect little angel (okay, maybe not all the time but you get the point). Whole food sugars are more energy stable. It’s all about that fiber!
How do you make whole food vegan desserts?
When sweetening plant-based desserts, refined sugars are off the table. No white or brown sugar, unless you plan on grinding up the whole sugarcane. And actually, many non-organic cane sugars processed in the US are not vegan.
That said, there are many ways to sweeten your favorite desserts using whole food plant-based ingredients.
Sometimes plant-based recipes use small amounts of maple syrup because of its nutrient density. Plant-based recipes often use honey, but this ingredient is widely not considered to be vegan. All in all, your healthiest alternative is going to be date syrup because of its fiber to sugar ratio.
Can’t find date syrup in the stores? No worries, it’s so easy to make your own: just pit, soak and blend dates with a few tablespoons of water until you’ve reached a honey consistency. Voila! You’ll never need table sugar again.
If you’re baking and need to use a dry sugar, use date sugar (just dehydrated date syrup!).
So now that you know how to sweeten your whole food plant-based dessert, let’s get cooking!
10 Plant-Based Desserts to Try at Home
Try these 10 simple, refined sugar-free, oil-free, plant-based dessert recipes tonight. Oh, and did I mention they are all gluten free?
Keep your oven turned off for this quick and easy no-bake raw sweet potato pie. Sweet potatoes are an incredible source of beta-carotene and are incredible for longevity. In fact, the population of women who have the longest lifespans in the world live in Okinawa, Japan and eat a sweet potato rich diet!
A single ripe banana has 14 grams of natural sugar. Wow… thank goodness whole food sugars react differently in your body than refined sugars or this recipe would have you spiking and crashing like a cat that just discovered catnip. Instead, you get all the sweetness and none of the health consequences.
“Nice cream” is the humane version of ice cream. That’s right - you don’t have to say goodbye to ice cream just yet. Throw some frozen bananas in your food processor and blend until creamy… and then keep on blending. The result? Soft serve!
Flavor it up with peanut butter, cacao, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, vanilla or any of your favorites. Try this Raspberry Nice Cream recipe for the healthiest ice cream you’ve had in your life… so yes, it’s okay to finish the pint.
Any whole food with a deep purple or blue color is rich in antioxidants. And what do those do for you? They prevent oxidation in the body.
Think of it like this: If you bite an apple and leave it out on the counter, it will oxidize and turn brown. If you squirt lemon juice on it (an antioxidant) it will prevent the oxidation and your apple will stay white. The same thing happens with our bodies. Antioxidants have anti-cancer and anti-aging properties that keep our bodies healthy, and our skin looking smooth. So, load up on this vegan blueberry crisp.
We’ve talked about sweet potatoes being an anti-aging super food, and antioxidants keeping you feeling good from the inside out. It just so happens that cacao is loaded to the brim with antioxidants, too. Therefore, these Peanut Butter Cream Sweet Potato Brownies do both!
Every heard of overnight oats? Well this is an overnight pie (so much better... right?). This vegan dessert is loaded with Omega-3s, beta-carotene, and fiber. So why not have a slice (or two) for breakfast?
This vegan shake will blow your mind time and time again. With just 4 powerful ingredients, it’s a sweet, thick, creamy -- and healthy! And not an ounce of dairy.
No salmonella scares required for this raw vegan cookie dough! And I bet you NEVER thought you’d be eating beans from a blender thinking, “Mmm… gonna treat myself to some dessert.” But I promise, it’s lick the bowl clean good! And you won’t feel an iota of guilt doing just that since this dough is loaded with fiber, protein and tons of nutrients!
If you have enough patience to wait for plant-based cookies to come out of the oven, try this super simple, refined sugar free, gluten free cookie recipe. Although… If you still can’t wait the batter is pretty finger lickin’ good as well. Why wait until dessert? Bake up a few of these babies and bring them with you on your next road trip, hike, or any adventure.
Who says it has to be fall to enjoy pumpkin spiced everything?! Anytime is a good time to load up on beta-carotene, fiber, and other nutrients that will power you through your day.
10. Refined Sugar-Free Apple Crisp
There’s nothing better than the smell of baking apples and cinnamon wafting through your home on a crisp fall day. Time to make that dream a reality. This apple crisp is whole food plant-based and guaranteed to please a crowd.
Want to enjoy old favorites? Give them a plant-based spin by using flax seeds, date syrup, and eliminating the oil.
For more whole food plant-based dessert recipe ideas, browse our recipes on the website to find everything from chia seed pudding and black bean brownies to carrot cake and vegan truffles!
Caroline is a plant-based chef, recipe designer, and whole food plant-based nutrition educator, with a Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.