4 naturally sweet desserts

Photo by Mitch Mandel

For many runners, a long run or race isn’t complete without something sweet waiting afterwards as a reward – why else would there be so much cake on offer at post-race HQs around the UK? But most of us consume more added sugar than is good for us. Nutrition experts say no more than five per cent of our daily calories should come from added sugar – about seven teaspoons. But most people in the UK consume at least twice this amount. When consumed in excess, added sugars are associated with weight gain, which increases risk for diabetes, heart disease and other serious conditions. Fruit-based options, on the other hand, will satisfy your sweet tooth and pack in some performance-boosting nutrients into the bargain.

1/ Thai fruit salad

This juicy treat contains beta carotene, a flavonoid with antioxidant properties. Top with yoghurt if desired.

Serves 4

142 calories per serving

60ml light coconut milk

Juice and zest of 1 lime

2 tsp dark honey

1 tsp sriracha sauce (optional)

200g diced papaya

200g diced mango

400g diced pineapple

3 tbsp chopped salted cashew nuts

1/ In a large bowl, stir together the coconut milk, lime juice, zest, honey and sriracha (if using). Add the papaya, mango and pineapple.

2/ Serve in bowls and sprinkle with the cashews.


2/ Grilled nectarines with balsamic honey drizzle

A touch of honey enhances the natural sweetness of balsamic vinegar.

Serves 4

171 calories per serving

4 ripe nectarines, halved and pitted

½ tsp olive oil

60ml balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp honey

80g crème fraiche

1/ Heat a griddle pan over a medium heat. Brush the cut sides of the nectarines with oil. Place cut-side down and grill for four to five minutes.

2/ In a small bowl, stir together the vinegar and honey.

3/ Transfer the nectarines to four dishes. Top each with crème fraiche and drizzle with the vinegar mixture.


3/ Apricot jelly with pistachios

The classic gets a taste and health upgrade by forgoing added sugar and food colouring.

Serves 4

210 calories per serving

1 litre apricot nectar

2 packets powdered gelatin

1 tsp lemon zest

Whipped cream

2 tbsp chopped pistachios

1/ In a saucepan, heat 750ml of the apricot nectar over a medium heat until warm (don’t let it boil). Pour the remaining nectar into a bowl and sprinkle gelatin evenly over the top. Allow to sit until all the gelatin is moist. If dry spots remain, gently stir to moisten.

2/ Add the warm nectar and stir until the gelatin is dissolved. Stir in the zest. Pour into four glasses and chill them for two hours.

3/ Top with the whipped cream and pistachios.


4/ Berry cherry bake

Berries and cherries contain fibre and anthocyanins, which reduce inflammation.

Serves 6

171 calories per serving

300g blackberries

450g pitted cherries

Juice from half a lemon, plus 1 tsp zest

3 tbsp honey

2 tbsp cornflour

Shortcrust pastry sheet

Vanilla Greek yoghurt

1/ Heat the oven to 180C (350F/gas mark 4). In a bowl, stir together the blackberries, cherries, lemon juice, zest, honey and cornflour.

2/ Pour into a baking dish. Roll out the crust and then lay it over the top of the dish.

3/ Trim the excess and tuck the edges down with a fork. Brush with egg and make two or three holes in the top to let steam out. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake for an hour, or until the crust is golden. Serve with yoghurt.