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The Best Desserts For Runners

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    Go For The Real Stuff

    Instead of high-fat, high-calorie treats, try these options, recommended by Kelly Hogan, MS, RD, clinical nutrition coordinator at the Dubin Breast Center at the Tisch Cancer Institute of the Mount Sinai Hospital (and a super speedy runner). The bottom line when it comes to satisfying your sweet tooth? "A little bit of the real stuff can go a long way, and it's usually more delicious," says Hogan. "I don't recommend most 'light' or 'fat-free' options, since many of them have lots of sugar or sugar substitutes added to make them taste good." Try these instead.

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    Greek Yogurt Peanut Butter Pie

    "This is a nice twist on a traditional peanut butter cream pie, which is quite high in saturated fat and sugar—and therefore, calories," Hogan says. "Even though this pie only has a few ingredients and can be put together quickly, it works well for dinner parties, barbecues or post-race celebrations."

    Directions:

    Whisk together 32 oz. of plain 0% or 2% Greek yogurt, 1–2 tsp. vanilla extract, and ¾ cup creamy natural peanut butter until everything is combined. Then pour into an organic graham cracker pie crust and refrigerate overnight to firm up. Can be topped with dark chocolate chips before serving. Serves 8–10.

    "This pie is a great source of protein—more than 12 grams per slice—which not only helps keep 'runger' at bay, but also aides muscle recovery by repairing broken down muscle fibers," Hogan says.

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    Icelandic Skyr With Fresh Berries

    "Post-run ice cream cravings are real, especially after a hot summer run," says Hogan. "Once in a while, it's totally fine to indulge in a little Ben & Jerry's—or my personal favorite, vanilla soft serve with rainbow sprinkles. But, just ½ cup of premium ice cream can pack more than 220 calories—and who only eats ½ cup? My tried-and-true dessert that never fails to satisfy my ice cream craving is 1 cup nonfat vanilla Icelandic Skyr yogurt with ½ cup fresh berries and a sprinkle of dark chocolate chips. Skyr is strained yogurt, similar to Greek in that it packs twice the amount of protein compared to regular yogurt and has a thicker texture. My favorite brand is Siggi's, because the flavored versions aren't too sweet and contain less sugar than a lot of other brands out there—and they're not paying me to say this!. The protein in the Skyr can help keep you full and rebuild broken down muscle fibers after hard workouts, and the high antioxidant content of the berries can also aid muscle recovery and reduce cellular inflammation."

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    Chocolate Banana Soft Serve

    "This is another fantastic ice cream substitute, and it's packed with runner-friendly nutrients," says Hogan. "All you need is a food processor or strong blender, one frozen, ripe banana and 1–2 tsp. of cacao powder for a delicious, cool treat that can be eaten immediately or kept in the freezer for later. Bananas are a great source of potassium, and can help replete this important electrolyte lost in sweat. The cacao adds a nice punch of magnesium, essential to help build and maintain strong bones."

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    Grilled Peaches

    "Peaches have finally arrived at the farmer's market, so this is a perfect time of year to take advantage of their juicy sweetness," says Hogan. "While they're totally delicious on their own, grilling peaches can bring out even more natural sweetness by caramelizing their sugars with a bit of heat."

    Directions:

    Slice a peach in half and remove the pit, brush with olive or coconut oil and grill for 3–5 minutes until they begin to caramelize. They can be eaten alone, with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream (or Greek yogurt), or with a drizzle of cinnamon and honey.

    "One medium peach has almost three grams of fiber, which can help satiate post-run hunger, but with fewer than 70 calories," says Hogan. "Peaches are also a good source of vitamin A, which helps promote cell growth and boost immunity."

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    Air-Popped Popcorn With Sea Salt, Dark Chocolate Chips & Almonds

    "This dessert can satisfy a craving for anything crunchy and that salty/sweet combination, but packs more nutrition and fewer calories than the typical favorites, like chocolate-covered pretzels or anything salted caramel," says Hogan.

    Directions:

    Make 2–3 cups air popped popcorn (less than 100 calories), sprinkle with sea salt, and add 1–2 Tbsp. each of dark chocolate chips and almonds.

    "Popcorn is a whole grain, and packs almost four grams of fiber for a three cup serving, which makes for a very filling but low-calorie snack," says Hogan. "Adding in the dark chocolate chips can add some portion-controlled sweetness, and the 'darker' they are, the more antioxidants they contain to help with muscle recovery. (Try for more than 70% cacao.) The almonds can add another nutritional punch, with a nice combination of healthy fats, protein, and fiber."

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    Strawberry Shortcake

    "Traditional strawberry shortcake can be high in fat and sugar, but is one of the easiest desserts to tweak or healthify, with no cooking required," says Hogan.

    Directions:

    Swap a higher-calorie pound cake or biscuit for a slice of angel food cake, and top with fresh strawberries left to sit a few minutes in a few teaspoons of fresh lemon juice (this will bring out the flavor). Top with a dollop of vanilla Greek yogurt for a high-protein substitute for whipped cream.

    "This is the best time of year to take advantage of seasonal berries, and strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C," says Hogan. "Just one cup provides more C than you need in a day. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that can help prevent free radical damage to our cells and aide muscle recovery. Adequate vitamin C intake can also help keep our immune systems strong and promotes growth and recovery to tissues throughout the body."

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    Chocolate Avocado Pudding

    "This is a great option if you're craving a rich, chocolately dessert," says Hogan. "Many ready-to-eat puddings or pudding mixes contain trans fat—the 'really bad' fat that can cause inflammation, raise LDL cholesterol, and lower HDL cholesterol—and saturated fat, which is the 'bad' fat that raises cholesterol and can also be inflammatory. Make this instead."

    Directions:

    Process one ripe avocado in a food processor, add 1–2 tbsp. honey, ¼ cup cacao powder, 1–2 tsp vanilla extract, a pinch of sea salt, and water until a creamy consistency is achieved. This makes about four servings, and provides more than three grams of fiber per serving.

    "Avocados are an excellent source of monounsaturated fats, which are good for heart health, and more importantly for runners, joint health and injury prevention," says Hogan. "The high antioxidant content of the cacao powder combined with these anti-inflammatory healthy fats can also help reduce oxidative damage to muscles that we experience during tough runs. One more bonus: Avocados are high in potassium, which is an electrolyte we lose through sweat and often need to replenish after a hot, sweaty run."