There seems to be a growing animosity towards desserts, especially among the health-focused. We find this unfair because nutrition is a total of everything you consume, and singling out dessert makes the sweet treat bear the brunt of our other indulgences.
Granted the sweetness often comes with a lot of calories, but this can be regulated. It is even worse if you have celiac disease or are gluten intolerant; dessert becomes a taboo in your world. The candy and pastry are out of bounds.
This is not 100% true. While you may need to skip the whipped cream, chocolate ganache, and carrot cake, you don’t have to miss out on a delicious after-dinner treat.
We came up with this list of gluten-free desserts that are also sugar-free to show you that it is possible to indulge in the pleasure without triggering any allergic reaction and still operate within healthy parameters. By the end of the article, you should be able to choose healthy desserts and come up with your own gluten-free and sugar-free recipes.
Here are eight sample desserts that fit the bill for both selection criteria. We have listed the ingredients, so you can see they are simple everyday items that you can combine with just a little creativity.
1. Watermelon Pizza
Watermelon pizza is a simple-to-make dessert that is vegetarian, gluten-free, and without added sugars. The sweetness comes from the watermelon and pineapple pieces and a drop of honey. The toasted coconut flakes, lime juice, and zest add vibrancy, and it will tickle your taste buds.
- A round slice of watermelon
- Pineapple pieces (120g)
- 2 teaspoons of toasted coconut flakes
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- Coriander or Thai basil leaves
- Lime juice and zest
- Black Pepper
For this simple recipe, cut the round slice of watermelon into wedges, just as you would slice pizza, and lay them on a board or baking sheet. Scatter the pineapple pieces on the slices, the coriander or Thai basil leaves, and toasted coconut flakes on top of the wedges.
Mix the lime juice and honey, then drizzle the mixture on top. Add black pepper and lime zest, and you’re done!
2. Vegan Lemon Cheesecake
The fact that this is a dairy free cheesecake recipe is the first indicator that this healthy dessert defies the odds to provide a savory delight despite addressing several health limitations. It is also gluten-free and vegan, and you use only a tiny bit of agave syrup to sweeten up the luscious lemony taste.
Agave is a naturally occurring sweetener extracted from plants, and it is less refined than sugar. It has a low glycemic index meaning it takes longer to absorb into the blood system and will also satisfy your craving longer.
- 30g coconut oil and extra to grease pan
- 100g blanched almonds
- 100g soft pitted dates
- 300g cashew nuts
- 2 1/2 tablespoons of agave syrup
- 150 ml almond milk
- 50g coconut oil
- 150ml almond milk
- 2 lemons, zested and juiced
Start by preparing the topping; put the cashews in a bowl, pour boiling water on them and let them soak for an hour.
Blend the base ingredients with a pinch of salt using a food processor, then press the mix into a tart tin greased with the extra coconut oil to prevent sticking. Let it set in the fridge for roughly 30 minutes.
Drain the cashews and pour them into a clean blender. Reserve a portion of the lemon zest and add the rest of the topping ingredients to the food processor. Blend until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
Spoon the mixture onto the base and put the cheesecake back in the fridge to set for a further two hours. Scatter your lemon zest reserve on it just when you are about to serve.
3. Chili Chocolate and Black Bean Brownies
This chocolatey gluten free dessert uses healthy black beans instead of flour to stay gluten-free. The light unrefined muscovado sugar gives it its sweetness with low caloric weight and trace amounts of iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium thanks to its natural molasses content. The subtle bite of chili adds character to its flavor.
- Sunflower oil for greasing
- Two 400g cans of drained black beans
- 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
- 6 eggs
- 200g chopped soft butter
- 200g light muscovado sugar
- 100g cacao powder
- 2 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder
- 85g chili-flavored cocoa powder
Preheat the oven to 365˚F (180˚C), then grease a brownie tin and line it with parchment paper.
Blend the drained black beans, vanilla, a half teaspoon of salt, and eggs until the mixture is completely smooth. Put the remaining eggs, cocoa powder, soft butter, and light muscovado sugar in a bowl and beat them with a whisk until the mixture is creamy.
Pour in the bean mixture and stir until evenly mixed, then scrape the mixture into the lined brownie tin with a spatula. Bake it in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, at which point it should be firm to the touch. Let it cool, then cut into brownie squares.
4. Gluten-Free Scones
Here is another easy way to savor gluten-free, healthy yet tasty dessert. Xanthan gum, a soluble fiber that doesn’t add any calories but improves the texture, consistency, and flavor, stabilizes the gluten-free flour. You can even add sultanas, jam, and clotted cream to improve the presentation.
- 250g gluten-free self-rising flour
- 50g fine sugar
- A half teaspoon of fine salt
- A half teaspoon of xanthan gum
- 1 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
- 40g cubed cold butter
- 75ml whole milk
- 1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk
- 50g sultanas
Mix the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and xanthan gum in a bowl until they resemble bread crumbs. Whisk the whole egg and milk together and gradually pour them into the flour mixture as you knead it with your hands to form a smooth dough. Mix in the sultanas in the process. Knead the dough into a smooth ball.
Roll out the ball until it forms a circle with a half-inch thickness and transfer it to a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Let it chill in the fridge for approximately 30 minutes so the dough can firm up and become easy to cut out.
Cut out your scones and lay them upside down on another baking tray with parchment paper to ensure the top is neat in the final product. You should press the offcuts together and roll them again to minimize waste. Leave at least half an inch between the scones in the tray for an even bake.
Whisk the egg yolk and use it to brush the top of the scones on the tray. Ensure to spread the wash evenly and don’t let it run down the sides; otherwise, your scones will rise unevenly. Let them sit in the freezer for about 15 minutes. Preheat your oven to 428˚F (220˚C) towards the end of this period.
Brush another layer of egg yolk on your scones and bake them for up to 15 minutes until they turn golden brown. You can serve them warm or cold, with an option of jam and cream toppings.
5. Indian Coconut Ice
This easy-to-make snack with a cardamom scent inspired by Indian recipes is sweet and healthy, so you can indulge without feeling guilty. All the ingredients are gluten-free and low carb.
- 4 tablespoons of ghee or clarified butter (add extra for greasing)
- 100ml milk
- 100ml double cream
- 6 green cardamom pods
- 175g golden caster sugar
- 200g dried coconut
- 200g gluten-free white chocolate
- 4 tablespoons of double cream
- A few drops of pink food coloring
Grease a 6-inch square baking tin using extra ghee or clarified butter. Mix the milk and double cream and keep aside. Remove the seeds from the cardamom pods and crush them using a pestle and mortar.
Using medium heat, melt the ghee in a non-stick pan, then add the dried coconut and caster sugar. Stir the mixture for 2 minutes before adding the milk and double cream mix, and then the ground cardamom. Stir the mix continuously for 10 minutes over the heat until it thickens, then remove it from the heat and spread the mixture evenly on the pan.
Melt the white chocolate in a bowl. You can do this by placing the bowl on top of simmering water in a pan or using the microwave. Warm the double cream, add it to the molten white chocolate, and mix well. Remove it from the heat and stir in the food coloring until evenly distributed.
Pour this mixture over the coconut layer and let it chill in the fridge for up to 3 hours so it can set. Cut it into squares to serve.
6. Berry Nice Cream Cake
This ice cream takes the form of a cream cake topped up with berries, so you can enjoy the best of both worlds and maximize the output from the different flavors, natural sweetness, and nutritional content. The combination of cashews, bananas, dates, and blueberry topping is a wholesome treat quite rare in desserts.
Vanilla Nice Cream Cake Ingredients:
- 300g raw cashews
- 2 ripe bananas
- 10 pitted Medjool dates
- A half vanilla pod with the seeds scraped out
- 60ml unsweetened soy milk
Berry Layer Ingredients:
- 200g frozen blueberries plus a few extra to serve
- 240ml soy milk or coconut milk plus extra in case extra thinning is needed
- 5 pitted Medjool dates
- 100g raw walnuts
- Blackberries to serve
Soak the cashews in water for at least four hours. Cut the banana into half-inch slices and arrange them in a single layer on a plate lined with parchment paper. Freeze for at least four hours.
Drain the cashews and blend them with the frozen bananas, dates, and vanilla as you add soy or coconut milk until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Pour the mixture into an eight-inch cake tin and freeze it for at least two hours.
Blend the Medjool dates, blueberries, walnuts, and soy or coconut milk until it forms an even, smooth mixture. Spread the mixture over the ice cream cake layer, and put it in the freezer for two to three hours. Decorate the top with the extra blueberries and blackberries for serving.
7. Blueberry and Coconut Frozen Cheesecake Bars
Fancy savoring cheesecake made entirely of raw ingredients? This is the healthy gluten and dairy free yet tasty hack for you. You get the full uncompromised nutritious value from all the ingredients.
- 280g unsalted cashew nuts
- Flavorless oil for greasing
- 140g unsalted almonds
- 140g pitted dates
- 100g coconut cream
- 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons agave syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Lemon juice
- 140g blueberry plus garnish
- 5 pitted dates
Soak the cashews for at least 10 minutes in boiling water and oil an 8-by-8-inch cake tin with your flavorless oil.
Blend the dates and almonds until very fine, then pour the mixture into the oiled tin, pressing it down until it is firmly packed and evenly spread. Keep the cake tin in the freezer to allow the mixture to set as you make the next layer.
Drain the soaked cashews and blend half of them with the coconut cream and molten oil, agave syrup, vanilla extract, and lemon juice until the mixture is creamy and smooth. Remove the almond and dates from the freezer, then spread this mixture on the top. Return the tin to the freezer and give it 40 minutes to firm up.
Blend the blueberries and pitted dates with the other half of the cashews and spoon them on top of the dessert topping after it has firmed up. Scatter blueberries on top and place back in the freezer for a minimum of another hour.
Take the dessert out of the freezer 10 minutes before serving, slice it into bars and savor the sweetness.
8. Chocolate Orange Tart
Despite the name, this dessert is also not baked but is a clever combination of ingredients to achieve similar if not better results without altering their nutritious value. It uses raw cacao and coconut oil, dates, orange, and honey.
- 75g dates
- Juice from 1 orange
- Zest from peeling 2 oranges
- 50g coconut oil
- 175g clear honey
- 140g raw cacao powder with a little extra for dusting
- 100g coconut oil
- 140g ground almonds
- 175g dried coconut
- 2 1/2 tablespoons of clear honey
- 1 tablespoon of raw cacao powder
Soak the dates in a bowl with boiling water for 20 minutes
Blend ground almonds, dried coconut, raw cacao powder, coconut oil, and honey until evenly mixed and empty the mixture into an 8-by-8-inch loose-bottomed grooved tart tin. Use your fingers to spread and push it into the grooved sides, and cover the pan using cling film as you concentrate on the filling.
Drain the soaked dates and blend them with the orange zest and juice, coconut oil, honey, and cacao powder until the blend is smooth. Scrape it onto the now chilled crust using the back of a spoon, then let it chill for an hour at least.
Remove it 10 minutes before serving and sprinkle the remaining orange zest and cocoa powder on top for presentation.
How to Identify Gluten-Free Sugar-Free Desserts
Food is gluten-free if it contains less than 20 parts-per-million units of gluten (the number of gluten units in every 1 million units of the food). When dealing with desserts, you should also factor in the probable gluten content in the rest of your diet. Because the level of gluten intolerance is different for each individual, it is better to avoid even the slightest trace of gluten in your dessert.
Use alternatives, like oat, corn, rice, potato, chickpea, and almond flour. Avoid wheat and rye and confirm that products with these proteins were not used in preparing the gluten free dessert. They can get through as salad dressing or washes. For example, beer washes contain wheat, so does grain vinegar. You should insist on apple cider. The wheatgrass you add to your smoothies also has gluten.
The FDA defines sugar free as food with less than half a gram of sugar, naturally occurring or added. Naturally-occurring sugar refers to what you will find in the food in its natural form, like fructose in fruits and lactose in milk. It is healthier than added sugar because it is less concentrated, and the sources come with other nutrients and minerals, so the added calories are not all empty.
Some of their nutritional benefits counter their negative effects. Fiber, for instance, regulates the uptake of sugar into the blood, the antioxidants are good for building immunity, and cacao even strengthens your cardiovascular system.
Because it is the sweetness that makes dessert, go for naturally sweet whole food options first. If you need to add any sweetness, use a natural sweetener. Stevia and monk fruit sweeteners have low caloric content and are essentially sugar-free. Others, like honey and maple syrup, on the other hand, contain calories, and you should use them in moderation.