Healthy Body  >  Go Ahead and Eat Dessert {Recipe}

Go Ahead and Eat Dessert {Recipe}

chocolate-avocado-dessertAhhh, dessert.  Isn’t that reserved for the days when you “deserve” it or have been so “good” that you just need to be “bad”?  Or maybe it’s something you splurge on…and then beat yourself up for going off your plan?  Or perhaps you get mad at yourself for even craving a gooey caramel brownie because aren’t you more enlightened than that? You might be thinking: how can I possibly stay on track and feel good in my body if I allow myself to eat dessert.

If you’ve been searching for a way to eat that is both healthy and sustainable, not a quick fix that will get you into your skinny jeans temporarily, then eating pleasurable foods, including dessert, is the key ingredient to support you in your efforts over the long haul.  (Trust me. I know!) It may seem counterintuitive, but deprivation doesn't work. It backfires.

Diets that are devoid of pleasure and joy may work in the short term, but over time it can impact your relationship with food and create all sorts of unwanted behaviors from having an all or nothing eating approach to slipping into patterns of binge eating and/or overeating.  Or if you are able to abstain from any “fun foods” and think that your meals should be a joyless activity, then chances are you might be irritable, miserable and sometimes even resentful. Whoa!

Are you still thinking: Okay,  I’m just going to spiral out of control if I allow myself to eat foods that I enjoy?  I’m not suggesting you just go wild and succumb to all your food desires with little or no restraint, but when you build in the occasional treat (especially those that have some nutritional value) in conjunction with an eating lifestyle that is comprised of whole, real foods, you have a winning formula for eating habits that stick. I have seen it happen time and again: if you give yourself permission to go ahead and eat <super decadent and enjoyable goodness>, the dessert suddenly loses its strong hold and power.

A true personal story:

When my son, Noah, was a toddler, he loved to devour dessert.  In fact, he would ask us “what’s for dessert” the minute we sat down to dinner. (Hello, I just slaved over an entire meal and all you care about is the afterthought.) I knew that I didn’t want to make dessert the “prize” at the end of the meal, but I already saw the pattern developing.

At the time, I did some research and decided to follow some of the advice I read.  I started serving dessert with the meal. Yep.  He had chocolate cake, ice cream, sorbet or whatever dessert toddlers ate back then alongside his chicken, broccoli and brown rice.  Of course, the grandmothers both disapproved of such unconventional parenting, but I had a suspicion that by not making the dessert the “reward” for being “good”, I might have been onto something.  Sure enough, after just a few dinners, the dessert had the same “value” as the broccoli.  He would eat a bite of cookie then move on to whatever else was on his plate and then go back and forth from salmon to green beans to oatmeal pecan cookie. When we gave him permission to eat the dessert right alongside his meal, it no longer had the same power. (Come to think of it: this may have been where the seeds were originally planted for the philosophy behind Kale & Chocolate).

While we can’t go back and undo the messages that we learned about not deserving dessert until we “cleaned our plate”.  Or we can’t erase whatever other conditions (whether in childhood or more recently) we’ve attached to dessert to make it so coveted, we can change some of our patterns now so that we’re able to experience pleasure without guilt and still eat more optimal choices most of the day while enjoying the occasional treat.  In other words, you can have your cake and eat it, too…and in an ideal world, make it with high quality, nutrient-dense and unrefined ingredients.

Here are a few mindset shifts to reprogram your thinking:

  • Food is not “good” and “bad” and something that you “deserve”.
  • Saying never and don’t just makes you want it more.
  • Thinking that you need to deprive yourself in order to be healthy can lead to unwanted behaviors around food and will most likely set you up for failure.
  • Finding the healthiest version to satisfy your sweet tooth is not an impossible feat.  See the Healthy Chocolate Mousse recipe below.
  • Enjoying the “real deal” on occasion is part of any sustainable plan, but it only works when you eat without guilt and truly savor every morsel.
  • For the other 90 percent of the time when you’re making sound choices, practice mindful eating strategies so that you can not only enjoy all food fully, but also learn to tune into the wisdom of your body.

To get you started, try my latest double ‘thumbs up’ teen-approved luscious dessert. It’s loaded with antioxidants and heart healthy fats and tastes like the more refined, sugar-filled versions of chocolate mousse. It also goes along with my theme of pairing greens with chocolate…yes, I am cheating on kale here with the creaminess of the avocado.  It may sound strange, but once you taste this silky, smooth and delicious treat, you’ll forget about the secret greens hiding beneath the chocolate.

And just in case you’re curious:  Noah enjoyed his dessert with the rest of us after dinner.



2 ripe avocados ½ cup cocoa powder or raw cacao powder ¼ cup coconut nectar* 1 tablespoon coconut oil 1 teaspoon vanilla ¼ teaspoon sea salt Splash of coconut or almond milk to desired thickness Optional toppings: shredded coconut, fresh berries, cacao nibs


Place all ingredients in a food processor or high-speed blender. Slowly add in a splash or two of almond or coconut milk until the mixture reaches desired consistency.  (This is a thick dessert.) Place mousse in refrigerator for at least an hour to let the flavors set before serving.  You can store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Serve in individual small bowls and top with shredded coconut & fresh berries.  Enjoy!

*NOTE: While the recipe is decadent, rich and delicious as is, two of my “tasters” said that it could be a little sweeter.  If you prefer a sweeter taste, then add 1-2 tablespoons of coconut palm sugar. (Coconut sugar seemed to enhance the sweetness more than using additional coconut nectar.)

Question of the day:  have you noticed that when you deprive yourself from pleasure on your plate, it ends up backfiring?  What are some of your favorite treats that keep you going?  Share your insights & experiences in the comments below.


  • Jennifer says:

    Elise – this article spoke to me in volumes!! I’m a young professional and all my friends and I are finally earning some decent cash…which means so much more eating out! I’m trying so hard to make the right food choices. Knowing when to let go is just as valuable as learning when to say stop. Skinny jeans are great but I want to enjoy the occasional treat instead of feeling anxious about “doing the numbers”. Thanks for always making me feel like you’ve got my back! <3 this blog!

    • Elise says:

      Hi Jennifer, it’s always nice to hear when a post speaks to my readers in volumes. How liberating for you that you have already realized that you don’t want to be ruled by numbers and that there is value in enjoying the occasional treat. Thanks for sharing your wisdom!

  • Lana Shlafer says:

    Elise, you just answered a question I’ve been having with myself over how to approach dessert with my toddler twins. I definitely didn’t want dessert to be ‘special’ or a reward so I have also sometimes started serving it to them with the meal as well. Your post has really clarified that for me that I want to treat all foods equally and take away any emotional charge around desserts. I want all of us to allow pleasure and enjoyment to be the focus of the meals! I trust in my kids intuitive knowing of what their bodies need. Thank you and I will be sharing your post!

    • Elise says:

      Hi Lana, I love when you have something on your mind and then all of a sudden others are talking about it or in this case writing about it. I agree with you that taking away the emotional charge around dessert can be sometimes tricky. I would love to hear how your toddlers respond. And, yes, one of the greatest gifts we can teach our children is to trust their bodies and learn to listen to what it is saying to them. It’s easier said than done but such a key message to instill. Good luck!

  • Lynn says:

    Wow, can’t wait to try this for my little girls when we get home from vacation!!! I know they’ll love it and I bet they’ll like w out added sweetener…I’ll let you know!!!

    I make this yummy treat that my 7 year old loves!!!

    I mix in a individual ramekin:

    raspberries, blueberries, blackberries…whatever you like!
    1 T Almond butter

    Put this in the microwave for 1 minute. It makes a delicious healthy “Cobbler” we have any time we feel like it!

    Can’t wait to try your mousse!!!

    Thanks again Elise!


    • Elise says:

      Lynn, thanks for sharing your “cobbler” recipe. I bet it would also be good with apples. I hope that your girls enjoy the chocolate mousse without any additional sweetener.

  • Yum. I used to eat this dessert during my raw foodist days. Good memories of avocado chocolate ice cream.

  • Thank you for your perspective and this recipe! Recently, my sister and I shifted our diets for health, and this dessert would be a good fit. Thank you so much!

    • Elise says:

      That’s so nice that you and your sister on this journey together. I’m glad that both of you will be able to try this dessert. It is really delicious!

  • Silvia says:

    Hey Elise. I really enjoyed this. You are so right about eating without guilt. I read in a very wise teacher that it’s the guilt with which we consume something that make us fat or other adverse reaction. So if we ate that chocolate bar with no thought (or knowledge) of it being “bad” for us…we wouldn’t gain an ounce or break out.

    • Elise says:

      Hi Silvia! Great point that you raise about our toxic thoughts impacting the way that we metabolize a food. I also believe that the guilt can affect our cortisol levels which then changes how we digest and assimilate a food. Thanks for sharing your insights.

  • I really enjoyed your tips on helping to shift your mindset. It’s definitely something i need to be doing actively, and your recipe sounds so delicious. I’m definitely going to be trying this out soon. Thanks for sharing!!

    • Elise says:

      I am so glad that the mindset shifts resonated with you. And, of course, I hope that you enjoy the chocolate dessert as much as I do!

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