Are Dairy Free Desserts Healthier?

We all enjoy something sweet from time to time, how do dairy free desserts measure up on the health spectrum?

Dairy Free Desserts

Cake, ice cream, apple pie and sticky toffee pudding are just a handful of the nation’s favourite desserts, and along with their delectable ability to satisfy any sweet tooth, they all have something else in common: dairy.

From a young age we’ve been taught that desserts are a sugar-filled indulgence, saved for special occasions and the odd after-dinner treat. However, with up to 40% of us enjoying desserts twice a week or more, the question arises of how healthy – or unhealthy – they really are.

We all know that adding a dessert to your meal will increase your calorie count. But depending on the type of pudding and portion size you choose, this can range from an extra hundred or so to a calorie increase that reaches into the thousands! With the average adult recommended to consume 2000 calories a day, a slice of chocolate gateaux or bowl of crumble and custard can have a drastic impact.

Of course, it’s not only the calories to be considered when it comes to the healthiness of sweets. Saturated fat, trans fat, sugar and even the salt associated with common desserts have damaging effects on your body, and enjoying these treats several times a week can see your health decline while the scales soar.

It would be terrible to deprive yourself of desserts, so what’s the solution? Fortunately, dairy free alternatives mean you needn’t banish sweet treats from your diet completely.

What makes dairy free healthier?

The dairy free diet lessens your consumption of saturated fat and sugar dramatically, making way for less calorific and more nourishing ingredients like vegetables, nuts and beans. Swapping milk products for dairy alternatives can have extremely positive effects on your body, helping to lower cholesterol and achieve a healthy weight, thus lessening your risk of heart disease and some cancers. Cutting out dairy is also much kinder to your digestive system, getting rid of that sluggish, bloated feeling many of us experience.

However, while we’re very much aware of the benefits of dairy free living, some remain apprehensive when it comes to their favourite sweet treats. But there’s no reason you can’t still enjoy that creamy pudding or heavenly chocolate brownie; there are plenty of delicious, dairy free desserts available, providing you a more nutritious alternative that doesn’t scrimp on taste.

Dairy free alternatives

Chocolate ganache cake is an all-time favourite, and with its moist, rich sponge and creamy filling, it truly is an indulgence. But with the taste come the calories, and a 100g serving of the stuff can rack up over 400 and almost 30 grams of fat. A great dairy free alternative for true chocoholics is a vegan chocolate brownie, which can dramatically decrease your calorie count as well as halving the fat.

For those that love ice cream, it can be painful to hear that two small scoops of the stuff can add over 200 calories to your daily allowance. Ice cream is rich in carbohydrates and therefore a great source of energy, however it’s also high in milk fat and not great for your cholesterol. A healthy, dairy free option is homemade fruit sorbet, which offers the same chilled sweetness but with a miniscule amount of calories and fat.

One of the most dairy-laden desserts is cheesecake, and while it tastes heavenly, it comes with a real price. An average slice of New York vanilla can add 350 calories to your meal… and that’s without seconds! A good alternative for cheesecake fans is dairy free Eton Mess, which still provides creaminess and crunch in a much healthier manner. Try with coconut cream or soya yoghurt to replace the traditional cream, and top off with mixed berries for an extra hit of natural sugar.

Much like cheesecake, traditional creme brûlée is reliant on dairy for its smooth, creamy, custard filling. Unfortunately, it’s also very high in fat and carbs. While it’s difficult to emulate a true creme brûlée without milk, a great solution is rice pudding made with coconut milk. You can also replicate the caramelly crunch by topping with toasted nuts, seeds and a dash of natural sugar syrup.

It goes without saying that dairy free desserts are healthier than their traditional counterparts, and with a few small adjustments, they can be just as tasty. Dairy free desserts also provide you with the opportunity to top up on the nutrients your diet requires, such as those found in fruit, nuts and dairy free yoghurt. And best of all, when you choose a dairy free dessert, you can feel much less guilty about that second helping!