When you think of dessert, it’s a good guess sugar, calories, and fat (along with unbridled YUM!) comes to mind—not protein or nutrition, that’s for sure. However, it is possible to spoon up after-dinner treats (read: high-protein desserts) that not only satisfy your sweet cravings but also supply adequate nutrition to fuel your mind and body before heading off to bed. Another perk of pumping up the protein: It makes sweets more satisfying, helping you resist the urge to go back for more.
Here are 6 great ways to bulk up the protein count in dessert, so you’ll go to sleep without a grumbling belly, an elevated blood sugar level--or a nagging craving.
Protein-Rich Dessert Ideas to Add to Your Next Sweet-Tooth Craving
Related: Why Spartans Need Protein Before Bed
1. Enjoy a Greek Yogurt Bowl
Swap ice cream for creamy, thick Greek yogurt and add some sweet toppings that offer a punch of protein. “Take a single-serve container of vanilla Greek yogurt and mix in a tablespoon of powdered peanut butter and a teaspoon of mini chocolate chips. Depending on the yogurt you choose, you'll pack 15-18 grams of protein into your treat,” says Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, and author of The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club.
2. Make a “Nice Cream”
Save money on store-bought frozen treats by cranking out healthier, protein-packed ice cream in your own kitchen. Make homemade "nice cream" by blending a frozen banana with 2 tablespoons of chocolate protein powder and a teaspoon of cocoa powder, Harris-Pincus suggests. “If it’s too thick, add unsweetened nut milk until you are happy with the consistency. In minutes, you'll have a dessert with no added sugar and 10 grams of protein.”
Related: 4 Healthy and Easy Paleo Desserts
3. Have Pizza for Dessert
“Make a dessert pizza by toasting a taco sized high fiber tortilla and topping it with 1/4 cup park skim ricotta cheese, sliced fresh berries and a drizzle of honey,” says Harris-Pincus. This simple, healthy dessert packs about 12 grams of protein, any way you slice it.
4. Give Peaches Some Pow
Use cultured cottage cheese and a drizzle of honey as a topper for sliced, warm grilled peaches, says Kelly Jones MS, RD, CSSD, LDN. “After cutting a peach in half and removing the pit, grill flesh side down or cook on a grill pan. Then, slice the peaches and mix with 4 ounces cultured cottage cheese and 1-2 teaspoons of raw honey,” she says. The cottage cheese brings 14 grams of protein to the party. If you’re vegan, buzz firm tofu, lemon and honey in a food processor to make a dairy-free version.
5. Make a Chia Seed Pudding
Chia seed pudding isn’t just for breakfast. “Mix 1/3 cup ground chia seeds with 1 cup milk or soy milk, 1/3 cup cacao powder, 4 tbsp maple syrup or raw honey, a splash of vanilla extract and dash of salt,” says Jones. Pour into four dessert bowls to share with friends—it makes four servings—or enjoy one and save the others for later in the week. Let the pudding sit in the fridge at least 2 hours before serving to chill it. Each serving contains 6.5 grams of protein. Sweet, satiated dreams.
6. Buzz a Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Milkshake
Vegans rejoice—you can still have a delicious peanut butter chocolate milkshake to settle a sweet craving. Blend a frozen banana with half a scoop of plant-based chocolate protein powder, a tbsp of peanut butter, a tbsp of cacao powder and 2/3 cup of soy milk. “You’ll get 17-20 grams of protein, thanks to the 8-10 gram boost from just a half a scoop of protein powder,” says Jones. Double the batch, and you’ve got a post-workout pick-me-up for tomorrow, too.