I have dessert almost every day, whether it’s dark chocolate, a cookie, ice cream or some other treat I keep in my pantry. (I use Thrive Market, Trader Joe’s and Costco to keep it well stocked, with treats, snacks and cooking basics.) And thankfully, one of the perks of my job is recipe testing for the blog, so I get to bake often!
As a runner, I also know how important it is to fuel properly for your training. And too much refined sugar can be an issue for lots of reasons. So I’m always on the hunt for tasty AND healthy desserts because, yes, there is such a thing as too healthy. There are so many great recipes that can easily be tweaked to increase the nutrition without sacrificing taste. While my husband is not one to search for a healthy alternative, but he likes each of the recipes I’ve linked below, so you can trust me, they’re a hit.
I’ve rounded up my favorite healthy dessert recipes below from my blog and some other spots online. All of these recipes have ingredients that are great for your training and also taste amazing. If you have others that I should add, drop the link in the comments below! I love trying new recipes!
Alright, let’s dive into these healthy treats.
15 Healthy Desserts For Runners
While I can list healthy dessert options all day long, the real trick is just learning to eat sweets in moderation. Even something that’s not healthy is fine for runners, as long as you aren’t eating an entire pie in one sitting. But heck, unless you do that daily, you’ll be fine (well, other than a stomachache, I’d bet) if you do that once a year, after a marathon or something. Moderation goes for everything––even healthy foods! You’ll learn what works best for your body and your training over time.
This recipe uses coconut sugar and whole wheat flour and the cookies come out light and fluffy, with an almost sponge cake-like texture. To keep these healthy, you need to use pumpkin puree over pumpkin pie filling. Be sure to use plain pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling since that’s full of refined sugars, usually cane sugar, and the recipe will be overspiced.
Dr. Weil, one of my favorite health experts, explains that coconut sugar is about 70-80% sucrose and only 3-9% percent each of both fructose and glucose. “This is an advantage because you want to keep your consumption of fructose as low as possible, and cane sugar is 50 percent fructose.” So coconut sugar is another great ingredient in these.
This recipe is amazing for lots of reasons, one being that it only makes 12 cookies, instead of 30 or so that many recipes make. They’re naturally gluten-free and made with rolled oats. Rolled oats are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. They are a really great source for carbs (runners need carbs!) and fiber. Plus, oats provide excellent amounts of Manganese and Phosphorus. These have a deep rich flavor that isn’t too sweet.
Ginger helps reduce inflammation, so it’s a great ingredient to add to a healthy dessert. Inflammation is an issue that many runners deal with, so what better way to help them than with a yummy treat, right? 😉
Dates stuffed with tahini are also a great pre-run or pre-workout snack. I find the combo really easy to stomach before and after workouts, which is key. They’re also perfect for an afternoon treat that won’t spike your blood sugar and leave you crashing shortly afterwards. (These sweet & salty energy balls are another favorite of mine!!) You can top your dates with a variety of things to mix them up – cocoa powder, coconut flakes and cacao nibs etc. These aren’t as sweet as say, the brownies below, but they’re a great treat if you’re trying to stay away from all refined sugar.
Honestly, this is good enough to make for dessert, which is why I’ve included it in this post. This recipe is SO yummy, so healthy, and so filling. What more could you ask for? Bananas, eggs, milk or non-dairy milk, old fashioned oats, and a couple other spices and you’re set. Mix it up, microwave it, that’s it. You’re welcome!
I eat these all day, so it’s hard to image them being my dessert, but they ARE good enough to be considered for it ;). These are my homemade energy balls that I make weekly. I make a large batch, freeze them, and eat them throughout the week. They are SO good, have just the right amount of sweetness, and hit the spot. My husband can attest, they are delicious. They have honey in them as the sweetener, so no refined sugar here!
This recipe looks AMAZING. It’s made with only 10 ingredients and so much healthier than regular brownies. If you’re a chocolate lover, make sure to add this recipe to your list to try. These are sweetened with maple syrup, so you can feel great about the natural sugars you’re eating instead of something processed. Honestly, I need to makes these ASAP because sweet potatoes are my favorite food of all time. Recipe and photo credit to the Minimalist Baker
This recipe comes from my friend Lexi from Lexi’s Clean Kitchen. It’s a non-dairy ice cream recipe that is SO good and really easy. I love that she explains how to make JUST the base, so you can add whatever else (or not!) that you’d like. My pick is fresh fruit and dark chocolate chips. YUM! Photo and recipe credit to Lexi’s Clean Kitchen.
This is another amazing dessert recipe from Lexi’s Clean Kitchen. They’re GF and DF, so they’re great for all crowds. They take less an an hour to make, and they’re SO yummy.
My friend Charlie from The Runner Beans is the creator of this recipe. These are packed with protein and carbs — both essential for runners and perfect to refuel after a long run! These are sweetened with honey or agave.
This recipe comes from one of my all-time favorite cookbooks, Run Fast Eat Slow. I am adding these to my must-try recipes because they look SO FREAKING GOOD. The sweeteners in these are dates and maple syrup. I love that these are made to store in the freezer, so I’d have treats for a few weeks.
Can you tell I love Lexi’s Clean Kitchen? 🙂 She has the best dessert recipes that aren’t too sweet and always have the most amazing textures. These cookies are gluten free and DELICIOUS. A monster cookie is part oatmeal cookie, part peanut butter cookie, part chocolate chip and M&M cookie all rolled into one – and Lexi adds chopped up candy bars too. Are you KIDDING ME?
This recipe has 1 cup of granulated sugar in it, so it isn’t quite as healthy as some of the recipes here, but it’s well worth it. It’s dairy free, SUPER moist, and hits the spot if you like lemon flavored desserts. My husband even loved this after I made it dairy free, and he’s usually wary.
14. Banana, Almond Butter, Chocolate chip nachos
The key with this treat is to make it feel a little bit like nachos. Cut your banana into slices and lay flat on a plate. Then drizzle almond butter (extra points if you heat it up to make it a drizzle), and then sprinkle some dark chocolate chips on it. For a little extra sweetness, top it with a drizzle of honey too. The almond butter is a great source of protein, and the bananas have lots of potassium which helps reduce muscle cramps). I don’t have a recipe for this, but it’s pretty simple to follow. You could even sprinkle some cinnamon on top too!
15. Dark Chocolate Covered Banana
Like a Popsicle but healthier. Just grab a skewer or a Popsicle stick, slice a banana in half, and stick it onto the skewer. Dip in melted dark chocolate and lay on a plastic cutting board in the freezer. Level it up with a little peanut butter or any kind of nut butter on top too! SO good! If you have a Trader Joe’s near you, sometimes they sell these!
I’d love to hear what you crave after a long run!