One great thing about baking is that it can be as elaborate or as basic as you want it to be. The internet is replete with intricate pastries, cakes, and cookies that can take hours—or sometimes days—from start to finish. And, hey! That's great if baking is a therapeutic activity for you. But sometimes, you just want dessert to be on the table in an hour or less. That's why we asked our stable of baking aficionados to dream up the best desserts with four ingredients (or three, or two).
Whether you're a chocolate person, someone who can't get enough nut butter, or an ice cream fanatic, we have a four-ingredient dessert for you. And did I forget to mention that every single one of these easy, healthy dessert recipes comes with its own host of health benefits? Grab your spatula and enjoy these decadent-but-down-to-earth desserts.
- Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN, New York City-based registered dietitian nutritionist
5 easy, healthy dessert recipes with four ingredients (or less)
You have Jennifer Lee, recipe creator behind Kirbie's Cravings, to thank for these unbelievably easy squares of chocolate goodness. If you have ripe-to-overripe bananas, almond butter, and cocoa powder, you have everything you need to whip up this crowd-pleasing recipe with some serious nutritional clout.
The bananas sweeten these brownies while offering plenty of potassium that helps your body balance sodium levels and digest carbs, as well as lower your risk of stroke and heart disease. Meanwhile, that nut butter adds some solid protein (about seven grams per two tablespoon serving), and the cocoa powder contains polyphenols that help protect against certain cancers and heart disease. It's a brownie, yes... but it's a brownie with superpowers.
Sometimes, simple sweets are the most satisfying sweets of all—and this recipe is exhibit A. You only need a can of full-fat coconut milk, a teaspoon of vanilla, and your go-to berries to bring this dessert together. Since this recipe contains no added sugar, it won't spike your blood sugar and lead to an energy crash later on in the day.
If you're considering which berries to buy, take note that all berries are nutritional MVPs, but blackberries, blueberries, and cranberries deliver the most antioxidants. "Antioxidants are molecules that fight free radicals in your body," registered dietitian Isabel Smith, RD, previously told Well+Good. "Free radicals are compounds in our bodies that are necessary for specific functions, but can cause serious harm if their levels become too high."
So you've made Lee's brownies and a loaf of banana bread and still have overripe bananas to get rid of? Introducing three-ingredient ice cream from Mia Rigden, co-host of Well+Good's Alt-Baking Bootcamp. Freeze those bananas, then blend them together with dark chocolate chips and peanut butter. And, bam, there's your lightning-fast dessert. You'll get all the aforementioned banana benefits (hello, major potassium), as well as healthy monounsaturated fats that help lower "bad"(or LDL cholesterol) levels from your always-trustworthy jar of peanut butter.
4. Vegan Fudge
Three-ingredient fudge. Need I say more? This vegan recipe requires semi-sweet chocolate chips, unsweetened coconut milk, and vanilla—and you don't even have to turn on the oven. "This recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free, nut-free, and vegan...we're hitting all the boxes here today," says Rigden in the video. Meaning, if you're baking for a group of people with various dietary restrictions, this fudge won't disappoint anyone.
Remember, chocolate has plenty of health benefits. And while semisweet has slightly less nutritional value than, say, an 85 percent cacao extra-dark chocolate bar, it still has plenty to speak of. Research has linked chocolate's rich flavonoid content to longevity. When you're picking out your chocolate chips, try purchasing an option with a high percentage of cocoa to reap more chocolate-covered rewards from your fudge.
Blueberry ice cream is the under-appreciated step sister of strawberry ice cream, and that needs to change. But with this two-ingredient recipe, we're well on our way to earning blueberries a new reputation. Just combine frozen blueberries and oat milk and you have a creamy dessert.
For a recipe with only two ingredients, this ice cream has a lot of nutritional benefits. First of all, the blueberries pack those free radical-fighting antioxidants we spoke about before. And second, oat milk delivers slow-digesting carbs that create B vitamins, which help your body convert food to energy. So if you're feeling lethargic one morning, ice cream for breakfast might be your best option. Seriously.
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