Willpower is Overrated

Self-denial stinks—and is totally unnecessary. The better way: use nutritious whole foods to make creamy, crunchy, yummy treats that feed your need to indulge.

When I was a kid, my dad whipped up frothy, chocolate milkshakes that turned hot summer nights into special occasions. I can remember slurping my way to the bottom of the giant glass, my head buzzing from the sugar-high and stomach sloshing like a water balloon. They were delicious, yes, but they came with a price. So, this summer, I reinvented dad’s milkshake with avocado, banana, and one other ingredient that would blow my party guests’ minds if they knew about it (I have no plans to inform them). The result isn’t some almost-as-good imitation. It’s something new, improved, and just as unforgettable. Here’s how to make it, plus recipes for three other healthy, crave-inducing treats.

Double Chocolate Banana-Avocado Milkshake

Blending together frozen bananas and avocados creates a smooth, creamy consistency that rivals the most fattening ice cream. Add nutty almond milk and a hit of chocolate and you’ve got a milkshake that’s downright delicious. The good-for-you part: Avocados are loaded with healthy fats, protein, and fiber. Bananas and spinach (yep, spinach) bump up the fiber even more, and are packed with essential vitamins and minerals.

1 c. Dark chocolate almond milk
1 c. Fresh spinach
1 Pitted date, soaked in hot water for 20 mins*
1 tsp. Water (use the water you soaked the date in)
1 Banana that’s been sliced and frozen
½ an Avocado that’s been peeled, sliced, and frozen
1 tbsp. Raw or unsweetened cocoa powder
*Add an additional date to up the sweetness

1. Add all ingredients in order listed to a blender.
2. Blend on high until smooth. Pour and serve immediately.

Chocolate Strawberry Milkshake: Add 3 or 4 frozen strawberries before blending.
Mocha Milkshake: Substitute ¾ c. Dark chocolate almond milk + ¼ c. Brewed coffee for the 1 c. Dark chocolate almond milk.

Crazy Good Low-Carb Pizza Crust

The cauliflower in this recipe creates a moist, satisfying flatbread with crispy edges that fills you up with fiber, delivers vitamins and minerals, and spares you from all the processed carbs of a typical pizza. Elevate the flavor with spices, add some fresh mozzarella, and you have a hot, cheesy, treat that helps stabilize your blood sugar instead of making it spike.

1 Head of cauliflower
2 Eggs
¼ c. Low fat mozzarella, shredded
1 tsp. Minced garlic (or ½ tsp Garlic powder)
1 tsp. Dried oregano
1 tsp. Dried basil (or 2 tsp. Dried Italian seasonings)

1 c. Pizza sauce (Double check your labels and choose a sauce without added sugar.)
½ c. Shredded low fat mozzarella
Your favorite veggies, piled on high. (Ideas: sliced bell peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, tomatoes, garlic cloves, fresh spinach, olives, onions, artichoke hearts, eggplant. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, try some kale and thinly sliced sweet potatoes.)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. Place washed, broken-up cauliflower into a food processor, then pulse until cauliflower is reduced to rice-like pieces.
3. Transfer cauliflower to a pan and sauté over med. heat for 6-8 minutes, then let cool.
4. Mix together eggs, mozzarella, oregano, garlic, and basil in a large bowl.
5. Add cooled cauliflower to eggs and spice mix, and combine well.
6. Place the dough on your parchment covered cookie sheet and gently press into a ½ inch thick disk—whatever circumference fits on your cookie sheet is fine.
7. Bake crust for 25-30 minutes until edges are golden brown.
8. Remove from oven, slather with premade pizza sauce, and pile on toppings.
9. Bake for another 10-15 minutes
10. Optional: Broil for an additional 3-5 minutes to make crust extra crispy. Let pizza cool for a few minutes. Serve warm.

Oh, Baby! Chocolate Brownies

Healthy brownies are the hardest things to get right. They’ve gotta be moist. They’ve gotta be chocolatey. This baby-food-based version by my fellow Health Coach Becky Jimenez, will meet and exceed your expectations thanks to an innovative mix of naturally sweet prunes (you won’t notice the fiber), moisture-and-protein-boosting Greek yogurt, and plenty of antioxidant-rich, delectable dark chocolate.

1 c. Oat flour
¼ c. Cocoa powder
¼ tsp. Baking soda
⅛ tsp. Salt
1 Tbs. Ground flax seed
½ c. Pureed prunes (baby food works best)
¼ c. Unsweetened applesauce
¼ c. Plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
1 ½ tsp. Vanilla extract
⅓ c. Finely chopped dark chocolate

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly oil an 8×8 baking dish.
2. In a small mixing bowl, stir together oat flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, and ground flax; set aside.
3. In a separate bowl, mix prunes, applesauce, yogurt, and vanilla until well blended.
4. Add wet mixture to dry, stirring until combined.
5. Fold in dark chocolate.
6. Spread batter into your oiled dish and bake for 14-16 minutes, or until brownies feel slightly firm on top. Allow to cool before cutting.

Banana-Nut Soft Serve

When is soft serve ice cream so good for you that you could eat it as a pre-workout snack? When it’s made with almond milk, bananas, and chopped nuts—the carbohydrates and fiber from the banana will keep you energized and sustain your blood sugar, while the protein from the almonds will help you build muscle. Better than regular ice cream? Yeah, I’d say so.

2 Large ripe bananas that have been sliced and frozen
¼ tsp. Vanilla
1 tbsp. Vanilla almond milk
⅛ c. almonds

1. Place bananas in a food processor and blend until chunky, scraping down the sides as needed.
2. Add vanilla and almond milk, blending until mixture reaches a soft serve like texture.
3. Add almonds and pulse your food processor a few times to break them into smaller pieces. Serve immediately.