Scrumptious. Photo: Mangia Blog

Scrumptious. Photo: Mangia Blog

Four Guilt- Free Dessert Recipes

Words by Rebecca Parsons

Despite your best efforts to eat healthy, your sweet tooth is bound to take over from time to time and have you rushing to the store to indulge in your guilty pleasure. It may feel good in the moment, but sugary treats will leave you feeling heavy and bloated for your next workout. But what if there was a treat that not only satisfied your craving, but left you feeling energized as well? Lucky for you, we've got you covered. The following is a collection of four guilt-free desserts, perfect for packing along for an expedition or simply to enjoy at the end of a long day.

Paleo Brownie Bites

Whether you're paleo or not, these vegan brownie bites are delicious and easy to stick in your pack for a distance paddle or expedition. They're small, fudgy balls coated in coconut and contain no refined sugar.


2/3 cup raw walnuts

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup Medjool dates, pitted

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

1-2 tbsp. honey or agave

2/3 cups shredded unsweetened coconut


Blend cocoa powder and walnuts in a food processor (or blender) until walnuts become fine crumbs. Add pitted dates, vanilla, and desired sweetener–agave or honey–into the food processor and blend until the dough combines into a ball. Place dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for two or more hours. Finally, roll the dough into small balls and coat them with the shredded coconut. Keep chilled.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Energy Bites

These pumpkin oatmeal energy bites are quick, easy, and worth every bite. Sweetened with honey, these no-bake energy bites are gluten-free and perfect for some quick energy before a morning session.


½ cup pumpkin puree

1½ cup oatmeal (dry)

1 tbsp. raw honey

½ tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. vanilla extract

¼ cup walnuts (finely chopped)

½ cup all-natural peanut butter


Combine ingredients and stir until the mixture is soft, but not sticky (add more oats if necessary). Scoop a large spoonful and roll into a ball; repeat with remaining dough. Keep chilled.

Almond Butter Cookie Bars

You know you want a bite.

You know you want a bite. Photo: Mangia Blog

These chewy cookie bars are packed full of pecans, coconut and chocolate chips, but are also vegan, gluten-free and contain no refined sugar. They make a perfect after-dinner treat or a grab-and-go snack.


1 cup raw almond butter

1 flax egg (1 tbsp. flaxseed meal + 3 tbsp. of water, mix and let sit for 3 minutes)

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup coconut flour

1/4 cup raw coconut sugar

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

1/2 cup unsweetened, flaked coconut


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8×8 inch baking dish with coconut oil. In a bowl, combine the almond butter, flax egg, vanilla, coconut flour, coconut sugar, and baking soda. Mix well. Fold in pecans, chocolate chips, and coconut. Spread the dough evenly across the pan and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Chocolate Ice Cream

This rich, creamy ice cream is made from four simple ingredients, but tastes delicious and is dairy free. It's a great treat for cooling off after a hot paddle.


1 14 oz. can coconut milk (refrigerated)

1/4 cup raw honey or agave

2 tbsp. cocoa powder

1 tsp. vanilla


Place coconut milk, honey, vanilla, and cocoa powder in a blender and mix well. Add ingredients to an ice cream maker and start it. Typically takes 10-20 minutes. Freeze for an hour and enjoy.


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