While some protein powders can be healthy supplements of the important macronutrient, most aren’t the most tasty additions to desserts because of their distinct flavors. These delicious bites use no protein powder and still pack in at least seven grams of protein per serving to help satisfy cravings and keep you feeling full for longer. Recipes like our Blueberry-Lemon Ricotta Pound Cake and 2-Ingredient Peanut Butter Banana Ice Cream are whole-food options for a tasty and protein-packed sweet treat to end the day.
Almond Flour Cake
This light and fluffy almond flour cake is flavored simply with almond extract and orange zest. Whipped egg whites give this gluten-free cake a light texture.
Blueberry-Lemon Ricotta Pound Cake
This healthy pound cake recipe isn’t just delicious—it also only requires one bowl to make. For the best cake texture, be sure to beat the sugar and butter together long enough in Step 2 to look creamy—the time it takes to get there varies according to the type of electric mixer you have. Serve with brunch or alongside a cup of coffee in the afternoon.
Banana Pudding Parfaits
These individual banana puddings contain all of those delicious traditional banana pudding flavors in a healthy little parfait package. This recipe is part of our Juneteenth Family Cookout Menu.
Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream
Here’s a simple recipe for low-fat vanilla ice cream. Our version has all the richness you’ll need but about 90 fewer calories than store-bought premium ice cream and a whopping 15 grams less total fat and 10 grams less saturated fat per serving.
Sweet Potato Bread Pudding with Pecan Praline Sauce
The dessert menu at Brigtsen’s restaurant in New Orleans offers “Bread Pudding du Jour,” which changes with the seasons. This sweet potato version plays well during the holidays.
Oatmeal Cookie Fruit Pizza
This classic fruit pizza recipe starts with a giant oatmeal cookie that’s topped with a cream cheese-yogurt sauce plus berry and kiwi slices for a fun, colorful dessert pizza. The crowd-pleasing lightened-up dessert will be the first to go at your next potluck or barbecue.
2-Ingredient Peanut Butter Banana Ice Cream
Whir up frozen bananas into an “ice cream” without the cream! Peanut butter adds a natural swirl of flavor for a sweet and satisfying dessert with no added sugar.
Peach-Ricotta Pound Cake
This peach-ricotta pound cake is fruity and delicious. The ricotta cheese helps keep it moist, and the peaches add fresh summer flavor. Using vanilla extract lets the spices shine through, while almond extract provides a stronger flavor that pairs well with the peaches.
Strawberry Fro-Yo Cupcakes
Fat-free frozen yogurt and fresh strawberries are blended together to make a healthier cupcake with a bonus cookie crunch in this easy 4-ingredient dessert recipe.
No-Bake Cherry Cheesecake
This no-bake cherry cheesecake is an easy summertime treat. This no-bake cheesecake recipe has omega-3-rich walnuts in the graham cracker crust and uses nonfat Greek yogurt and reduced-fat cream cheese in the filling to keep saturated fat in check. If you want a bright red topping, use sour cherries. Sweet cherries give it a more purple hue. To make gluten-free no-bake cherry cheesecake, use gluten-free graham crackers.
Lemon Frozen Yogurt Ripieno
Lemon lovers will enjoy the bright flavor of this creamy, refreshing dessert. To make it extra special, serve it in a frozen lemon cup! You can use the juice from your lemon cups to make the frozen yogurt or keep it on hand to enjoy later.
Blitz Torte with Orange Curd & Meringue
A blitz torte—or “lightning cake,” roughly translated—is a German-American layer cake. This cake has buttery, almost cookie-like cake layers, creamy orange curd filling and a crisp meringue decorated with crunchy almonds. Though it looks impressive, the cake is relatively cheap to make with only a handful of ingredients: Egg whites are used in the meringue, while the yolks go in the cake; both the zest and juice from a single orange flavor the curd. The rest is just flour, sugar, salted (regular) butter and a splash of vanilla. Serve this beautiful cake for any special occasion. Read more about this cake.
Burfi is an Indian sweet treat often served and gifted during Diwali and other festivals–or whenever one has a craving. Usually made with either condensed milk or ghee (or both), it’s a decadent sweet that’s not quite a cookie, not quite a candy, but something in between. It’s often described as a kind of fudge. Throughout South Asia and the diaspora, different families have their own unique ways of making it, and that’s the beauty: from the size and shape to the toppings and mix-in spices, everything can be customized. Even chocolate burfi is a thing! This version uses nonfat dry milk powder, almond flour and less sugar than most other burfi recipes for sweet satisfaction that’s just a bit lighter, so you can feel good about serving up seconds.
High-Protein Lemon-Blueberry Cake
Cottage cheese is the secret star ingredient in this stunning cake. While the cheesy flavor is muted by the fruit, the inclusion of cottage cheese adds protein and keeps the cake moist. The tart flavor of the lemon is balanced by sweet blueberries. Enjoy a slice of this cake for breakfast or an afternoon snack. Or try crumbling it up and stirring into a bowl of cottage cheese or yogurt.
Healthy Dirt Pudding Cup
Upgrade classic dirt cups by replacing the gummy worm with a strawberry to make it healthier, while achieving the same earthy feel. Creamy chocolate pudding (the “mud”) is the ultimate comfort food and this easy homemade version is so much better than any pudding mix or refrigerated prepared pudding! A topping of chocolate wafer crumbs (the “dirt”) provides an appealing texture contrast to the silky smooth pudding for a delicious snack or dessert kids and adults alike will love.
Baking homemade graham crackers with a touch of brown sugar and honey makes this cheesecake recipe an extra-special dessert.
Quick Strawberry “Cheesecake”
Get cheesecake flavor without having to bake with this healthy dessert recipe. To make it gluten-free, look for gluten-free graham crackers.
Double Chocolate-Banana Bread Pudding
In this healthy chocolate bread pudding recipe, whole-wheat bread, ripe bananas, chocolate and toasted peanuts come together for a heavenly dessert. To make individual bread puddings instead of one large pan, divide the batter among 12 small oiled individual baking dishes (about 8 ounces each). Cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes, uncover, sprinkle with peanuts and bake for 20 to 25 minutes more.
Pumpkin Cheesecake for Two
Single-serving pumpkin cheesecakes are the perfect way to finish off a Thanksgiving meal for two (or any other meal, given that they take just 15 minutes of active prep time!). You can make them a day or two ahead of time and keep them tucked away in the fridge in their sturdy ramekins until you’re ready to enjoy them.
Flourless Chocolate Torte
Apples and walnuts add a delicious twist to this flourless chocolate cake. Serve this treasured family recipe for Passover.
Peanut Butter-Chocolate Mug Cake
This super-fast peanut butter-chocolate mug cake is a great way to indulge your sweet tooth. The cake is tender and moist, with a hint of peanut butter. Enjoy this easy mug cake plain or topped with peanuts, chocolate chips or a sprinkle of coarse sea salt.
Mocha Yogurt & Raspberry Parfaits
These individual yogurt parfaits are layered with chocolate cookies and raspberries for a sweet treat. A touch of maple syrup balances the tangy flavor of the Greek yogurt.
Roasted Banana Souffles with Caramel Sauce
A silence fell over the table when my friends first tasted this dessert, interrupted only by the sound of spoons being licked or dipped back into the ramekins for a second, then third mouthful. A silencing dessert is always a winning dessert in my book.
Growing up in North Carolina, I never thought much about what water tastes like—unless it was coming out of a hot hose or I accidentally took a gulp of pool water, water was just water. But then we’d go visit my family in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and I would really notice the taste of the water, and not in a good way. To me, the water tasted sulfuric and funky, while to my mom, who grew up drinking this water, it tasted wonderful. She’d always exclaim that this was the finest artesian water when we kids would complain about it.
As an adult, I’ve actually developed a taste for Baton Rouge water, although whenever I visit Louisiana it still takes me a while to adjust from my neutral-tasting (to me) tap water in New York City, where I’ve lived for most of the past 25 years. If water is just water, how is it that water from different sources can taste so different? What about well, spring, distilled and alkaline waters? What gives them their distinctive tastes?
For a deep dive into the world of water, I spoke to expert Martin Riese, a clean water access advocate and water sommelier, about how water gets its flavor and how you can drink the best-tasting water for your preferences.
Understanding Different Types of Water
To get to the bottom of water flavors, you need a basic understanding of different water sources. Here are the main types of drinking water you may encounter and the factors that affect the flavor for each one.
Municipal Tap Water
If the water that comes out of your tap is supplied by your city or municipality, it may come from a lake, reservoir, river or groundwater. Whatever the source, naturally occurring minerals in the water contribute to its taste and mouthfeel (yes, just like wine), which is why tap water tastes so vastly different depending on the source of the water.
U.S. tap water contains calcium, magnesium and sodium, along with other minerals and trace elements, according to the US Department of Agriculture’s FoodData Central. Along with the various minerals, one of the most prominent flavors you are likely to taste in tap water is the chlorine that’s added to make it safe to drink. Riese notes that some tap water can “taste and smell like a pool” if it has a lot of chlorine added. Residue from your pipes can also affect the quality and flavor of your water.
If you don’t get water from your municipality, you might get your tap water from a well that draws from the groundwater or aquifers. As with municipal tap water, this water can contain different minerals that will affect its flavor and hardness, but it isn’t treated with chlorine or in any other way unless you use a home treatment or filtration system. The flavor of well water can vary vastly—some people may complain about various flavors and aromas, including a taste of rotten eggs (sulfur), a moldy, musty or earthy flavor and fishy notes. Riese advises that it’s important to have well water regularly lab tested to be sure there are no contaminants, including those that you can’t taste.
Mineral water comes from an underground source and, in the United States, to qualify as mineral water, it must contain at least 250 parts per million total dissolved solids, according to the Food and Drug Administration. And it must contain those solids—minerals and trace elements—from the get-go; they can’t be added.
Waters have a terroir, a natural environment where they’re produced, and that’s where things can get interesting in terms of flavor. Riese explains that mineral water can take 2,000 years to pass through different stone layers, where it can pick up all sorts of different minerals, such as calcium, magnesium and potassium, with different flavors.
As a water sommelier, Riese notes how different mineral and spring waters can be paired with different foods. “It will change the flavor of different foods when you have just the right water next to it,” he says. “It’s fascinating. It’s so cool.” Personal flavor preferences play a large role when it comes to which water brands you might like. Water’s perceived taste is affected by the circumstances under which you’re drinking it, as well, says Riese. You might find a bottle of water on vacation that hits the spot just right, while the same brand back home on a rainy day after you just got dumped is the worst you’ve ever tasted. “The taste of something, is this feeling, and where we are,” says Riese. “Flavor is so much more than just the taste of a beverage.”
Spring water must come from an underground source that flows naturally to the surface, but it can be tapped below ground or collected from where it rises to the surface, per FDA guidelines. Although spring water will contain some minerals, there aren’t minimum content guidelines as there are with mineral water. Still, spring waters vary in taste and can be paired with foods and tasted for pleasure, just like mineral waters.
Purified Bottled Water
Along with the mineral and spring waters in the grocery store water aisle, you’ll also find purified bottled water. This is municipal water that’s been filtered. Minerals are then sometimes added to enhance the flavor and perceived healthfulness. While these bottled waters may have added minerals, they typically contain far less than natural mineral water, notes Riese.
Distilled water has been boiled into steam, allowed to condense and then collected. The process strips out contaminants but also beneficial minerals. While you technically can drink distilled water, and it’s safe to do so, it will likely taste rather flat to you. Better to save that distilled water for your neti pot or your clothes iron.
Alkaline water is water that has a higher pH level than typical water—in other words, it is less acidic. While a host of health benefits—including curing stomach woes, fighting cancer and heart disease and “detoxifying” the body—have been attributed to alkaline water, there isn’t strong clinical data backing up these claims.
As for taste, some people think alkaline water has a smoother taste than regular water, while others can find it to have a bitter flavor. Whether you like the taste of alkaline water depends both on your personal preferences and the specific water, since some alkaline waters also have various minerals added.
Does Filtering Water Improve the Flavor?
The good news is that filtering the water that comes out of your tap can really improve the flavor. Riese says pitcher filters, tap filters, under-sink filters and whole-home filtration systems can all make your water taste better by removing chlorine, lead and other compounds that affect the flavor. Riese recommends filtered tap water for most of your water needs, including everyday drinking and making coffee and other beverages. He has a house filtration system and brings a pitcher filter with him when he’s on the go. And when it comes to everyday drinking water, filtered tap is his top choice.
Are There Flavors in Your Water You Should Be Worried About?
If you notice a sudden shift in the way your tap water tastes, it’s worth looking into. But, be aware that many contaminants in water are not things you can taste. That’s why it’s important to stay on top of any water quality alerts in your area. If you have a well, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends testing the water every spring. Additionally, the water should be tested if you replace or repair any part of the well system.
Water can taste different depending on its source. If simple hydration is what you’re looking for, Riese recommends filtered tap water for the best taste. If you want to have a water experience and you don’t mind spending some money, try different types of mineral and spring water.