When temperatures soar outside, the last thing you want to do inside is further heat up your home by firing up the oven. Even if you live in a mansion equipped with superb central air conditioning, you're still forced to bake alongside whatever you're baking, which is why not baking is the ideal summertime solution for the making of any and all things sweet.
You might be surprised by the variety of not boring treats you can not bake, too. Sure, you can't do a *baked* Alaska, but you're also not limited to putting out a bowl of berries and calling it a day. And in fact, opting for vegan ingredients (read: not eggs), such as those often utilized in Well+Good's shows Alt-Baking Bootcamp and Plant-Based can make it even easier to leave the oven in the off position.
In the following healthy, no-bake dessert recipes, the hosts do the most with the least—meaning they mix nutrient-dense ingredients up into delicious desserts that are entirely oven-free. Your afternoon snack is just moments away.
Keep reading for the best healthy no-bake desserts to try while it's still hot out:
1. Zero-waste lemon popsicles
Of all the snack options available in the entire world, popsicles are possibly the easiest to make healthy (without having to give up on flavor or satisfaction, to boot). This particular recipe from Jenny Dorsey, chef and owner of Studio ATAO, calls for any type of citrus fruit you like. (She uses lemons and limes.) The fruit is then mixed with coconut milk, honey, a little salt, some mint, and a splash of ginger juice, if you're feeling spicy. The result is both refreshing and refreshingly nutrient-dense, and makes an entire heat wave's worth of frosty treats with which to cool down in one fell swoop.
2. Chocolate peanut butter banana nice cream
Sometimes a popsicle just can't curb a desire for something creamier. Enter this gluten-free, dairy-free recipe from Mia Rigden, a chef, nutritionist, and founder of Rasa. Her easy vegan ice cream calls for a base made from frozen bananas, into which you can throw just about anything you like. Rigden uses peanut butter—for the protein and its ability to cut blood sugar spikes—and dark chocolate chips, but you can try tahini and dates, a rocky road situation, fresh mint, or just about any other ingredient combo your heart desires. All is then very simply thrown into a food processor for mixing and can then be eaten as soft serve immediately, frozen as *nice* cream for later consumption, or enjoyed both ways á la Rigden.
3. No-bake cookie ice cream sandwich
If you want to raise the stakes a little, try slathering fresh nice cream between two no-bake cookies and then gluing the whole thing together with homemade Nutella. And while this may sound like a lot of work, it's actually fairly simple to execute. In this recipe from trainer and chef Sashah Handal, the coconut cream-based ice cream can be made in a jar, mixed by simple shaking. The fiber-rich chocolate cookies take just a stir or two, and while technically you do have to turn your oven on for a few minutes to roast the hazelnuts for the Nutella spread, you could also buy it pre-made if you prefer to keep roasted nuts to their assigned season (we won't tell).
4. Chocolate rice crispy treats
Want a healthy no-bake dessert, but not in the mood for ice cream? Try these grown-up Rice Krispy-style treats, which replace the traditional butter/marshmallow mix with a gooey, nutrient-dense-yet-decadent spread made from cashew butter, tahini, honey, coconut oil, cacao powder, and shredded coconut. It also swaps puffed brown rice cereal in for the traditional stuff, which adds a bit of fiber and vitamins into the situation.
Arguably the best part of this recipe is that it takes just about 10 minutes, max, to make—minus the setting time. And if you're too impatient to wait for your treats to cool, Rigden suggests eating them warm as an ice cream topper or, you know, simply by the spoonful.
5. Avocado chocolate mousse
While it might seem as though avocado's rightful place is on toast, it's worth remembering that it's technically a fruit. As such, they're perfect for scooping into any sweet treat, especially given that they do a pretty good job of approximating the creamy texture of butter and other dairy ingredients. This avocado-based chocolate mousse takes fewer than 20 minutes to make and is 100 percent dairy-, grain-, and added sugar-free. It utilizes simple staple ingredients like vanilla extract, almond milk, and salt, along with chocolate, cacao powder, and monk fruit sweetener, which does not spike your blood sugar the way other sweeteners do.
6. Chocolate peppermint cookies
Yep, you can whip up a batch of cookies without even turning on your oven—and not just any cookies, chocolate peppermint cookies that will win over every Thin Mint lover's heart. The cookies in the video above are gluten-free, dairy-free, and low-sugar. Here's a run-down of what you need to make 'em: cashew butter, oats, dates, sea salt, cacao powder, almonds, coconut flakes, peppermint oil, and dark chocolate chips.
7. Berries and vegan whipped cream
Sometimes the most simple sweets make the best desserts. Case in point: berries and whipped cream. While traditionally whipped cream is made with dairy, this recipe uses aquafaba (chickpea brine) ensuring it's completely vegan. The whole vegan whipped cream recipe just has four ingredients making it easy to (ahem) whip up.
8. Dopamine bliss balls
These no-bake bliss balls can literally boost your mood one bite at a time. They're made with an herb called mucuna pruriens, a.k.a. the “dopamine bean,” which is a legume native to tropical Asia and Africa. The beans contain serotonin, a neurotransmitter that promotes calmness and satisfaction. It turns out there is such thing as magic beans after all.
Originally published August 20, 2020. Updated May 26, 2021.
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