The words dessert and diet aren't often used in the same sentence, but the Mediterranean diet makes space for sweets, favoring ones that are low in refined sugars and grains. The inclusion of both carbs and desserts is perhaps one of the reasons the Mediterranean diet was named the Easiest Diet To Follow in 2020. Whether you're just trying out Mediterranean eating, or you've been following it for years, these 11 dessert recipes will remind you why this "diet" is really just a healthy, sustainable style of eating.
1. Olive Oil Walnut Spice Cake
This olive oil walnut spice cake, developed by cardiologist Steven Gundry, M.D., is free of refined flour, sugar, and artificial ingredients. Instead, it's flavored with warm spices and both vanilla and almond extracts. With olive oil, coconut milk, and walnuts, this cake has no shortage of healthy fats.
2. Fudgy Date Brownies
Who doesn't love a fudgy brownie? This recipe in particular gets its gooey texture and natural sugars from one cup of blended dates and a bit of honey. Those sweet flavors are balanced with the bitter, antioxidant-rich cocoa powder.
3. Coconut Tahini Cashew Bars
These coconut tahini cashew bars are the sweet-and-salty dessert of your dreams—and they don't require any baking. The base—made with dates, walnuts, cashews, coconut oil, and salt—is layered with a savory tahini topping. "They can serve as a midmorning snack, afternoon pickup, or a post-dinner bite," recipe developer Cameron Rogers says.
4. Banana Nice Cream
This banana nice cream is a light and refreshing summer dessert. The sweet and creamy base is made of frozen bananas and hazelnut butter, with no added sugars or dairy. For those who don't love chocolate, feel free to leave out the cacao powder and double up on the vanilla.
5. Greek Yogurt With Berries
To make this homemade Greek yogurt, all you need is two ingredients, a pressure cooker, and a bit of patience. Top with fruit, granola, honey, or all of the above.
6. Banana Bites
Sick of smoothies and banana bread? Use those frozen bananas to create five-ingredient banana bites. While the recipe calls for dark chocolate and pecans, feel free to get creative with the dips: yogurt and dark chocolate chips; peanut butter and coconut flakes; the options are endless.
7. Pear & Berry Crisp
This springtime pear and berry crisp is simultaneously sweet and juicy from the fruit, plus comforting from the cinnamon and granola. It's also grain-free and gluten-free and leaves room for necessary dietary substitutions (i.e., type of flour and oil versus butter).
8. Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons
These chocolate-dipped coconut macaroons are light and fluffy from the egg whites and coconut yet rich and decadent from the dark chocolate drizzle. They swap maple syrup for sugar, and almond flour for wheat flour, making them Med-diet-approved.
9. Matcha Blueberry Crisp
Looking for creative ways to use excess matcha powder? This matcha blueberry crisp is a delicious place to start. With rolled oats, arrowroot powder, pecans, and almonds, this crisp is high in protein and completely gluten-free. The matcha powder and the blueberries are rich in antioxidants for extra nutritional value.
10. Macadamia Nut Cookies
White chocolate macadamia cookies are out, and these macadamia nut cookies are here to replace them. The crunchiness of the nut is combined with the chewy texture of dried fruits. Bonus: Macadamia nuts are full of healthy monounsaturated fats. Each nut is 75% fat by weight, with 80% of that fat being monounsaturated.
11. Oatmeal Cookies
These five-ingredient oatmeal cookies are easy to make and even easier to eat. Not only are they free of refined sugars and grains, but they're also vegan. The pumpkin puree and bananas keep them from drying out—leading to a perfectly moist cookie every time.
Bonus: For those with just a minor sweet tooth, try a bit of dark chocolate, a fruit bowl, or a glass of wine to top off the night.
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Abby Moore is an editorial operations manager at mindbodygreen. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and has previously written for Tribeza magazine. She has covered topics ranging from regenerative agriculture to celebrity entrepreneurship. Moore worked on the copywriting and marketing team at Siete Family Foods before moving to New York.