strawberry blood orange pavlova

Let’s get real for a second. For your grand plans and well-meaning intentions to start the year off on a healthy, clean-eating foot, sooner or later you’re going to break. For me, the tipping point usually comes at some point during the third week of January (seriously, every year like clock work).

After much trial and tribulation with this struggle—wanting to remain “good” but needing to scratch the sweet tooth itch—I’ve found that having some tasty low-guilt desserts in my back pocket really helps. Here are six favorites.

Strawberry-Blood Orange Pavlovas

strawberry blood orange pavlova


Yeah, okay, so the recipe calls for a cup of sugar. But you’ve got to admit that this crisp, vanilla-scented meringue topped with strawberry-blood orange compote is a lot more guilt-free than a thick slice of double chocolate fudge cake. Get our Strawberry-Blood Orange Pavolva recipe.

Sour Cherry and Green Tea Granité

Instead of reaching for the pint of ice cream (tempting though that sounds), you can satisfy your sweet tooth with this tart, refreshing granité—that’s French for shaved ice—featuring unsweetened sour cherry juice, fresh ginger, and earthy, aromatic green tea. Get our Sour Cherry and Green Tea Granité recipe.

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Bites

dark chocolate peanut butter banana bites

Smile Sandwich

On first glance, they may look like your average chocolate-covered sandwich cookies, but these clever sweets opt to replace the cookie with a healthier stand in: slices of banana. The result is nostalgically delicious. Get the recipe.

Dried Fig and Nut Bars

dried fig and nut bars


Inspired by the classic Italian panforte, this chewy bar combines honey, dried figs, pungent spices, and toasted nuts to create a sweet bar that not only satisfies but also energizes. A pre-game treat before you hit the slopes, if you will. Get our Dried Fig and Nut Bars recipe.

Baked Pears with Honey, Cranberries, and Pecans

baked pears with honey, cranberries, and pecans

This Gal Cooks

As much as we love pears poached in sweet port or vanilla-infused simple syrup, this seasonal dessert offers a healthier alternative. Aside from the drizzle of honey, baking helps caramelize the natural sugar in the fruit, which is smartly paired with tart cranberries and crunchy pecans. Get the recipe. (If you’d like to expand on this idea, here’s a more family style, less dinner party-fancy expansion on the idea). Get the recipe.

Cranberry-Persimmon Parfait

persimmon cranberry parfait

MJ’s Kitchen

Juicy, ripe persimmons mixed with tangy, chewy cranberries, chopped almonds and granola served over maple yogurt (okay, okay Greek yogurt if you’re feeling extra healthy): Now, doesn’t that just sound perfect? Get the recipe.

Maryse Chevriere is a certified sommelier, James Beard Award winner for @freshcutgardenhose, and author of "Grasping the Grape," a no-nonsense but really fun guide to wine.
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