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30 Make-Ahead Appetizers for Easy Breeze Hosting

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A gathering is best enjoyed when the host is involved. In the party, that is—not just the prep. Once you’ve spent time planning the event, the guest list, and the menu, the last thing you want to do when happy hour strikes is frantic, last-minute prep. If there’s one thing guaranteed to appease your guests in a timely manner, it’s easy make-ahead appetizers.

They’re a gift to hosts everywhere. There’s nothing like having food prepared ahead of time to mitigate the dreaded pre-party scramble. Couple that with make-ahead appetizers that are also relatively uninvolved, and you’ve unlocked the ultimate stress-free secret. The easy make-ahead appetizers ahead are not only beneficial to the host, but they’re sure to be enjoyed by everyone in attendance. Because we all need a little something to nibble on upon arrival.

Featured image of Ashleigh Amoroso’s spring happy hour.

summer-cheese-board-3

30 Easy Make-Ahead Appetizers for Stress-Free Hosting

Appetizer hour is almost always my favorite part of the evening. It gives guests a chance to unwind, settle into the conversation, and snack on carefully crafted offerings that can tide them over until the main event. So what are you waiting for? If there’s a small soirée, an all-out party, or a gathering of any size in your future, these easy make-ahead appetizers are sure to solve the stress of hosting.

From dishes you can thaw to ones you can toss in the oven day of—these aren’t your traditional dishes, but we’re sure you’ll adore them just as much as we do.

Salads and Sides

mediterranean salad_make ahead appetizers

Mediterranean Kale Salad

Why We Love It: Talk about a vibrant first course—this blend of Mediterranean-inspired flavors is the perfect way to brighten up any gathering. A little bit tangy from feta cheese and balanced with crunchy kale, it’s a perfect opening act.

Hero Ingredient: A bit of flaky salt goes a long way.

sesame green salad

Sesame Salad

Why We Love It: This isn’t your typical side salad. Tossed in a sesame dressing—a blend of tahini, honey, and a touch of ginger—its simplicity will have you craving this dish every night.

Hero Ingredient: Ever had pistachios on a salad? Now’s your chance.

simple potato salad_make ahead appetizers

Simple Potato Salad

Why We Love It: Potato salad is still definitely a salad in my book, and this version is the most hassle-free adaptation of the classic Southern recipe. Elevated with smoked chipotle aioli, it’s fast, delicious, and holds up great in the heat.

Hero Ingredient: Fresh dill is a must-have.

simple green salad

Simple Green Salad

Why We Love It: When it comes to appetizers, sometimes simplicity takes the cake. That’s the case with this simple green salad inspired by the NYC staple, Via Carota. The punchy shallot vinaigrette creates the perfect blend of crunchy texture and tangy sweetness. If you’re in a pinch, prep the vinaigrette in advance. From there, this salad calls for only three simple ingredients.

Hero Ingredient: Toasted walnuts are a great way to add a nutty crunch.

strawberry caprese salad_make ahead appetizers

Strawberry Caprese Salad

Why We Love It: Have you ever seen a more summery salad? Fresh, juicy strawberries and extra-creamy burrata are the perfect complements for a world of flavor in every bite. This salad isn’t just delicious; it’s a stunning addition to any table.

Hero Ingredient: Burrata isn’t just a trend—it’s a lifestyle.

white bean and radicchio salad

Why We Love It: This Italian-inspired aperitivo is the perfect way to kick off a meal. Bitter radicchio leaves contrast with creamy white beans and Parmigiano Reggiano for a salad that’s sure to impress yet so easy to make. You can prep the beans and lemon vinaigrette ahead of time. Once that’s complete, all that’s left to do is toss everything together. To take it a step further, you can slice your radicchio a few hours in advance and chill it on ice to maximize its crunchiness.

Hero Ingredient: Those beans are next-level delicious. They’re cooked with olive oil, shallots, white wine, and chicken stock to seal the deal on flavor.

tomato, avocado, and cucumber salad with feta

Why We Love It: Beat the heat with this tomato, avocado, and cucumber salad. It’s juicy, refreshing, and full of fresh, seasonal flavors. A perfectly ripe tomato meets vibrant cucumber, creamy avocado, and salty feta to create a salad both you and your guests will love. You can’t go wrong with this one.

Hero Ingredient: Pickled red onions’ vinegary profile takes this salad to a new level.

watermelon tomato caprese salad_make ahead appetizers

Why We Love It: This Caprese salad makes the most of everything watermelon brings to the table. It’s loaded with juicy melon, crisp cucumber, creamy mozzarella, and vibrant basil. This fresh salad sets the tone for a delicious meal and even better conversation. Mix everything together a few hours in advance to let those flavors come alive in the fridge.

Hero Ingredient: Don’t skimp on the lime juice. It’s the contrast of sour lime and sweet melon that finishes this salad beautifully.

summer credites with classic ranch

Why We Love It: Crudités are a classic appetizer that guests of all ages will love. The recipe is loaded with fresh veggies and a classic ranch dip that’s tasty enough to make you want to lick the bowl. You can also prep the veggies beforehand and chill them over ice until you’re ready to serve, which will keep everything perfectly crisp.

Hero Ingredient: A dash of Tabasco in the ranch dip introduces a slight heat to complement the veggies.

burrata with pesto and figs

Why We Love It: A four-ingredient appetizer that you can make in under five minutes? Yes, please. Fresh burrata is always a crowd-pleaser, especially when surrounded by nutty pesto, sweet figs, and crusty French bread to soak it all up. Fire up the grill for quick pre-party bread toasting that won’t keep you from your guests. Goodbye, FOMO.

Hero Ingredient: You can use homemade pesto or store-bought, making your prep all the easier.

southern cheese rounds

Why We Love It: I don’t know about you, but in my book, cheese rounds are a staple at any respectable gathering. They’re classic, easy, and universally loved. These cheese rounds are completely textbook, with Rice Krispies, butter, flour, grated cheddar, tabasco, and cayenne to build the flavor and crunch.

Hero Ingredient: I like my cheese rounds to have a little kick, so hot sauce and cayenne win the prize.

watermelon salad with cucmber, mint, feta, and lime

Why We Love It: If you can’t tell, we’re a little obsessed with watermelon—and for good reason! It’s a true superstar that deserves to be celebrated. In this salad, watermelon is surrounded by cool cucumber, fresh mint, salty feta, and acidic lime to create something nothing short of magical. Serve this to guests before the main event to set the meal off on the right foot.

Hero Ingredient: Be sure to slap your mint before tearing it over this salad. It wakes up the flavor and amplifies the aroma.

Spring Crudité with Green Goddess Dressing

Why We Love It: Another winning crudités recipe, this platter with green goddess dressing is easy to put together. The entire tray takes about ten minutes to assemble. You can prep all of the veggies ahead of time (bell peppers are my personal favorite), as well as that gorgeous dressing. I recommend whipping up a little extra green goddess for week-long salad dressing and veggie dipping.

Hero Ingredient: A few capers in the dressing bring a salty, briny flavor to the mix.

bitter greens citrus, and proscuitto salad

Bitter Greens, Citrus, and Prosciutto Salad

Why We Love It: This isn’t your traditional lettuce-packed salad. Bright citrus flavors make for a bowl of excitement, complemented by a bit of salty prosciutto. Unique salads are something we strive to put on every table, and this might be one of our all-time favorites.

Hero Ingredient: I would have never thought to put prosciutto in my salad, but I can’t say I don’t love it.

Dips and Spreads

dips and crudite platter

Dips & Crudite Grazing Board

Why We Love It: There’s plenty to love about this grazing board. While veggies alone are always a satisfying crunchy and fresh bite, the dips are the real star of this board. The key here is to include a couple of options for guests to pick and choose from—such as a hearty bean dip or a creamy and rich jalapeño ranch.

Hero Ingredient: The caramelized onion in this board’s main dip is to die for.

smokey eggplant dip

Smoky Eggplant Dip

Why We Love It: If you’re short on time, this smoky spread is the perfect dish to put out in a pinch. It can easily be made the night before and refrigerated before serving. Top with smoked paprika and pine nuts to add to the smoky and spicy blend of flavors.

Hero Ingredient: Eggplant, of course.

ricotta with pears and honeyed pistachios

Ricotta with Pears and Honeyed Pistachios

Why We Love It: Any recipe with ricotta and fresh fruit is bound to be a hit, and nothing gets more simple than this delicious board. The pistachios’ sweet nuttiness is beyond, hitting your palate with a nice bit of indulgent crunch.

Hero Ingredient: I’m a ricotta lover till I die.

summer cheese board_make ahead appetizers

Summer Cheese Board

Why We Love It: I’m sorry to say that plain old cheddar cheese just won’t cut it for this elevated summer cheese board. (No hate!) Charcuterie-ing during the summer is all about choosing seasonal fruits and flowers, as well as meats and cheese that can withstand the heat of the season.

Hero Ingredient: A charcuterie board isn’t complete without a freshly sliced baguette.

carrot turmeric hummus with veggies

Why We Love It: A hummus packed with plant-based freshness and nutrition? Sign me up. This carrot turmeric hummus will have you and your guests glowing from the inside out. Turmeric helps fight inflammation, while carrots boost bone strength and keep blood sugar under control. Surround that foolproof formula with garlic, lemon juice, mint leaves, sunflower seeds, and voilà—you’ve got a winning appetizer for any event.

Hero Ingredient: Sumac joins the party and brings its tart, fruity flavor profile to the forefront of this tasty dip.

za'atar spiced citrus yogurt dip with roasted broccoli_make ahead appetizers

Why We Love It: A cool citrus yogurt dip helps kick off a meal in style—especially when it’s seasoned with shallots, za’atar, and cilantro (and takes less than ten minutes to build!). Prep this dip the night before, so all that’s left to do is plate up some crackers, fresh veggies, pita, or roasted broccoli.

Hero Ingredient: Fresh-squeezed orange juice is key. It brightens up the entire dip and introduces a welcome acidity.

peruvian carrot pesto

Why We Love It: On this list of easy make-ahead appetizers, dips are a fave—and this Peruvian carrot pesto is a real winner. It’s composed of cilantro, parsley, garlic, carrots, pumpkin seeds, and more, and makes the perfect pair for a cracker or veggie. Make this in advance, so all that’s left to do is surround it with accompaniments and enjoy!

Hero Ingredient: Red wine vinegar introduces just the right amount of acidity that keeps things light and complex.

squash hummus with whole tahini and pumpkin seeds

Why We Love It: Another veggie-forward hummus, this recipe swaps carrots for squash and is a total home run. It’s incredibly simple to make, which makes party prep that much more hands-off. This straightforward recipe uses only four ingredients to create something so much more than the sum of its parts. Serve with anything from fluffy pita to crispy pita chips.

Hero Ingredient: Toasted pumpkin seeds bring the crunch to this smooth hummus that makes it complex, though it’s inherently simple.

mint tzatziki with endive, romaine, and sugar snaps_make ahead appetizers

Why We Love It: This appetizer is a total flavor bomb. Raw veggies meet light tzatziki for a satisfying combination you won’t want to miss. It’s like a deconstructed salad, which makes it perfect for conversation-filled mingling. The mint tzatziki is made of grated cucumber, Greek yogurt, garlic, lemon zest/juice, and chopped mint and is seriously drool-worthy. Plus, whipping up a little extra to have on hand is never a bad idea.

Hero Ingredient: Trust me, you won’t regret stirring up a little extra tzatziki. You can thin it out with a little olive oil for a zesty salad dressing or keep it in the fridge for snacking.

raw carrot hummus

Why We Love It: Raw carrot hummus is packed with plenty of fresh flavors that are joined by tahini’s creamy nuttiness. Avocado oil, garlic, lemon juice, cumin, za’atar, and parsley flavor this dip to perfection. This hummus is a breeze to make ahead of time, store in the fridge, and pull out just before you’re ready to serve. Hosting made easy.

Hero Ingredient: The key to success is that crunchy za’atar. It’s herby, savory, and nutty, making it the perfect garnish for this savory hummus.

Toasts and Breads

Hummus Bruschetta

Hummus Bruschetta

Why We Love It: We recently snagged this stunning recipe from Radhi Devlukia, and our appetizer menu has been changed ever since. While this toast can be enjoyed in the AM as well, the sun-dried tomato and hummus combo is always one I lean on before the main course.

Hero Ingredient: A good-quality bread like sourdough or ciabatta is key.

carrot and hummus toast

Sautéed Garlic, Carrot, and Hummus Toasts

Why We Love It: Simple and delicious, this variation of hummus toast is a quick way to create a filling and savory appetizer for a large crowd. Simply pre-grate your fresh carrots the night before and toss them onto your hummus toast the day of.

Hero Ingredient: Sautéed garlic is a highly underrated toast topping.

ricotta and plum bruschetta_make ahead appetizers

Ricotta and Plum Bruschetta

Why We Love It: When it comes to serving something up quickly, crostini-inspired breads are the first thing that comes to mind. With only five ingredients, this ricotta and plum bruschetta is the perfect blend of sweet and savory.

Hero Ingredient: Green onions add an unexpected crunch to this tasty toast.

classic easy bruschetta

Why We Love It: When it comes to easy make-ahead appetizers, bruschetta is king. You can prepare your bruschetta mixture ahead of time, chill it in the fridge, and pull it out when you’re ready to serve. When the time comes, all you have to do is toast some sourdough on the grill, assemble, and raise a toast to simplicity!

Hero Ingredient: I’m a huge fan of balsamic glaze on bruschetta. There’s nothing like a sweet/savory combo to set the mood for a meal.

no-knead olive and rosemary focaccia

Why We Love It: If you’ve never tried your hand at homemade bread, this focaccia is a great place to start. It’s beginner-friendly and foolproof enough to give you a big dose of confidence. Plus, bread always makes for a killer appetizer.

Hero Ingredient: Not only is the focaccia dough amazing itself, but it’s studded with an impressive lineup of toppings. We’re talking olives, red onion, rosemary, everything seasoning, garlic, red pepper flakes, and more. All of that drizzled with olive oil? Sheer perfection.

wild mushroom and ricotta toasts

Why We Love It: Mushrooms aren’t just a superfood—they also make an excellent toast topping alongside creamy ricotta and vibrant lemon zest. These toasts are such an easy appetizer for you to make and for your guests to enjoy. You can make the mushroom mixture ahead of time, so all that’s left to do before your party is toast up some crusty bread, slather with ricotta, and spoon mushrooms over top. These toasts make a first-class sidekick to a crisp glass of white. However you slice it, these are toast-ally delicious (sorry, had to).

Hero Ingredient: The finishing touches are key. Flaky salt, lemon zest, and fresh parsley take these toasts to new heights.

burrata toasts with caramelized walnuts and mint-pomegranate pesto

Why We Love It: Consider this appetizer a love letter to burrata. Its creamy, cheesy goodness earns it a top spot on my list. In this toast, burrata is surrounded by mint pesto, pomegranate seeds, figs, and sweet/salty caramelized walnuts. I mean… yum. Everything can be made in advance, too, from the mint pesto to the caramelized walnuts. Toast up some bread, spread over the burrata, drizzle with pesto, and top with figs, walnuts, and pomegranate seeds. Then, the only remaining challenge is trying not to fill up on these tasty toasts. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Hero Ingredient: Make a big batch of those caramelized walnuts for a yogurt or ice cream topping, anytime snacking, or granola making. They keep for a week at room temp or up to a month in the freezer. If you have the bandwidth to make an extra serving, you’ll be glad you did.





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Lifestyle

30 Healthy Ice Cream Recipes Perfect for Summer

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There’s nothing quite like treating yourself to an ice cream cone as soon as the warm weather hits. Sweet, creamy, rich, and cooling, you simply can’t beat this classic treat. We’ve located 30 healthy ice cream recipes that are just as delicious as the real deal— minus the feeling that you’ve devoured a pure dairy and sugar bomb (which from experience, is not ideal while trying to fall asleep on a hot night).

These healthful alternatives put a lighter spin on some of our favorite ice cream flavors. (No sacrificing taste here!) And one of the nice things about DIY’ing your own ice cream situation is that you’ll know that your cone or cup will be totally free of any preservatives or artificial sweeteners.

Healthy ice cream recipes.

30 Healthy Ice Cream Recipes to Satisfy Your Summer Sweet Tooth

And before you think that not owning an ice cream maker takes you out of the homemade, dairy-free ice cream cake, don’t fret. Most of these healthy ice cream recipes can be done with a hand mixer, blender, or just some good old-fashioned elbow grease. And while we’ve included a few “nice cream” recipes involving frozen bananas, there’s no shortage of gluten-free, keto, paleo, and vegan options below.

So regardless of your or your loved ones’ dietary restrictions, everyone can enjoy one of these scrumptious and healthy ice cream recipes.

Golden Milk Latte Ice Cream

Golden Milk Latte Ice Cream

Why We Love It: Turmeric is chock-full of health benefits, and it’s the star of this luscious ice cream recipe. The spice also boasts an impressive mix of cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, and peppercorns to drive home the flavor.

Hero Ingredient: Parle-G biscuits are the unsung hero of this delectable dessert. Or, if you prefer Biscoff cookies like me, crush up a few extra for mix-ins. And use lots of candied ginger. It’s like Cold Stone Creamery, at home.

Mango Basil No-Churn Ice Cream

Mango Basil No-Churn Ice Cream

Why We Love It: This refreshing ice cream recipe is dairy-free and uses coconut milk as its base. And, you can make it all in the blender! Since it uses frozen mango, all you have to do is blend it up and you can enjoy right away. My kind of dessert.

Hero Ingredient: The basil shines here and delivers a nice herbal tone, complementing the sweet/tart mango really well.

Mango Melon Sorbet

Mango Melon Sorbet

Why We Love It: Get out your food processor, because this mango melon sorbet is the perfect summer dessert. All you need for this vegan delight is some melon, mango, bananas, and coconut syrup. This silky sorbet is best enjoyed poolside.

Hero Ingredient: I’m going with the bananas here. They bring a creamy texture to this sorbet that might be unexpected but is definitely appreciated.

3-Ingredient Vegan Matcha Nice Cream

3-Ingredient Vegan Matcha Nice Cream From Two Spoons

Why We Love It: Our obsession with matcha will never end. And as much as we love it as a morning latte, blending matcha powder into a healthy ice cream recipe is the perfect post-meal treat. Just frozen bananas, coconut milk, and matcha powder yield the dreamiest dairy-free dessert.

Hero Ingredient: Matcha, of course. High-quality, ceremonial-grade matcha is best.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream From Beaming Baker

Why We Love It: The Reese’s folks knew what we’ve all come to accept as fact: chocolate-peanut butter is an elite combination. There’s something endlessly delicious about the pairing—and thankfully, this recipe gives it to us in a dairy-free, no-sugar-added form. Proof that sometimes, you can have it all.

Hero Ingredient: I’d like all my desserts to involve a thick peanut butter swirl.

Healthy Cookie Dough Ice Cream

Why We Love It: I’m a huge cookie dough ice cream fan, but sometimes, the sugar overload can be too much even for this sweet tooth. When that’s the case, I defer to this recipe, which uses bananas for a naturally sweetened base. The texture play is on point, with wonderfully creamy ice cream and chewy cookie dough bits mixed throughout.

Hero Ingredient: I love the nutty, gluten-free bite that the almond flour gives these cookie dough balls.

Sea Salt Caramel Coconut Ice Cream

Sea Salt Caramel Coconut Ice Cream From Minimalist Baker

Why We Love It: When sea salt combines with caramel, beautiful things happen. That’s exactly the case for this healthy ice cream recipe. The cashews and coconut milk create a creamy base that’s rich in healthy fats. And I love using dates as a healthier, vegan caramel. The flavor is deeper and with a more nuanced sweetness than your traditional caramel.

Hero Ingredient: I’ll happily eat the salted date caramel by the spoonful.

Keto Funfetti Cake Batter Ice Cream From All the Nourishing Things

Why We Love It: Every roundup of healthy ice cream recipes has to include a cake batter variation—it’s just fact. Even as an adult, cake batter ice cream still ranks among my top flavors. It’s perfectly nostalgic and full of fun colors that just scream childhood joy. And while some can taste artificial (and set you up for a major sugar rush), this recipe uses coconut milk and the alt sweetener of your choice to temper the flavor.

Hero Ingredient: Egg yolks give this recipe that rich, French vanilla flavor that’s essential in cake batter ice cream.

Healthy Oatmeal Raisin Ice Cream from Eating Bird Food

Healthy Oatmeal Raisin Ice Cream From Eating Bird Food

Why We Love It: Oatmeal raisin cookies are one of my go-to desserts, and this ice cream is giving all of their flavors and more. Thanks to the frozen bananas used as this sweet-treats’ base, this ice cream is high in fiber and low in sugar.

Hero Ingredient: A hint of cinnamon makes this ice cream taste like you’re biting into a cozy oatmeal cookie.

Paleo Blueberry Crumble Ice Cream

Paleo Blueberry Crumble Ice Cream From Fed and Fit

Why We Love It: This ice cream takes all the beloved flavors and textures of a blueberry crumble and puts them into ice cream form. What could be better? Creamy and crumbly, all wrapped up in one delicious scoop.

Hero Ingredient: We can’t get enough of this gorgeous tart blueberry jam swirl and cashew cookie crumble.

Chocolate Tahini Banana Soft Serve

Chocolate Tahini Banana Soft Serve From Minimalist Baker

Why We Love It: Soft serve is ice cream at its best. Not only is this chocolate and tahini take on “nice cream” absolutely delicious, but all you need is 5-10 minutes, one bowl, and four ingredients to make this healthy ice cream recipe.

Hero Ingredient: A pinch of sea salt pulls out all of that nutty tahini flavor and enhances the richness of this tasty treat.

Chunky Monkey Banana Ice Cream

Chunky Monkey Banana Ice Cream From Food Faith Fitness

Why We Love It: Whip up this peanut butter banana ice cream in just five minutes then top with gluten-free brownies and nuts. Healthy, delicious, and ready to eat.

Hero Ingredient: Lots of salty peanuts are the garnish you’ve been looking for. They hold the key to texture-town when it comes to this ice cream.

Chocolate Sweet Potato Ice Cream

Chocolate Sweet Potato Ice Cream From Chelsea’s Messy Apron

Why We Love It: Sweet potato gives this healthy ice cream recipe a smooth, creamy texture as well as tons of nutrients. Just grab some chocolate, coconut sugar, and coconut milk and you’re ready to go.

Hero Ingredient: Vanilla and sea salt pull all of that chocolatey goodness to the forefront.

Chocolate and Pomegranate Ice Cream

Chocolate and Pomegranate Ice Cream From Food Faith Fitness

Why We Love It: Arguably one of the most delicious healthy ice cream recipes that’s easy to make and gluten-free. Sign us up.

Hero Ingredient: A little bite of pomegranate in every bite is a welcome surprise.

Coconut Keto Ice Cream

Coconut Keto Ice Cream From The Recipe Critic

Why We Love It: If you’re a fan of coconut, then this is the recipe for you. It’s creamy, decadent, and tastes just as good as it looks. Plus, it’s a super basic recipe with only four ingredients and 15 hands-on minutes standing between you and a cool treat. Who’s drooling now?

Hero Ingredient: Because this recipe is super simple, it leaves lots of room for customization. Feel free to throw in whatever ingredients you have on hand or are craving. Some that come to mind are cherries, peaches, graham crackers, nuts, and hot fudge… yum.

Chocolate Coffee Nice Cream

Chocolate Coffee Nice Cream From Half-Baked Harvest

Why We Love It: Gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, and oh-so-delicious. All you need are six ingredients, five minutes, and patience as your nice cream firms up in the freezer. The last step is definitely the most difficult.

Hero Ingredient: Dates lay the foundation for this nice cream right alongside the bananas. They counterbalance the cocoa powder and bring a welcome sweetness, though they’re not overly saturating. If you’re not a fan of dates, though, maple syrup makes for a good substitute.

Cookie Dough Blizzard Ice Cream

Why We Love It: Although a blizzard could possibly fall in the milkshake camp, I firmly believe it’s an ice cream treat. This vegan, gluten-free recipe features a banana base and just a few additional ingredients that you probably already have in the pantry.

Hero Ingredient: The cookie dough, obviously.

Cherry Garcia Nice Cream

Cherry Garcia Nice Cream From The Simple Veganista

Why We Love It: To say that I’m obsessed with this cherry ice cream recipe is an understatement. It calls for just a handful of simple ingredients and can be blended up in your food processor. Easy, peasy—delish.

Hero Ingredient: The cherries are definitely delicious, and this recipe’s namesake, but you can get playful with other fruits and flavor combinations. Think blackberries and lime zest, frozen peaches, blueberries, and lemon zest. The list goes on.

Butterscotch Swirl Pumpkin Cookie Dough Ice Cream

Why We Love It: You might be looking at this ice cream and wondering, “how on EARTH is that healthy?” The ice cream base is made of raw cashews and coconut cream and it’s sweetened with coconut syrup that gives it a delicious caramel flavor. The proof is in the pudding… er, ice cream.

Hero Ingredient: Just look at that salted caramel. I have no words.

Vegan Chocolate Nice Cream

Vegan Chocolate Nice Cream From Fit Foodie Finds

Why We Love It: On the opposite end of the complexity spectrum, this recipe keeps it simple and vegan with just almond milk, bananas, cocoa powder, and vanilla. An everyday ice cream, if you will. Make a big batch of this tasty treat to enjoy all week long!

Hero Ingredient: This is another blend-and-enjoy recipe, so you don’t even have to wait for it to freeze. Talk about a hero method.

Healthy Vegan Frozen Yogurt Ice Cream Sandwiches

Healthy Vegan Frozen Yogurt Ice Cream Sandwiches From Dani’s Healthy Eats

Why We Love It: I know it’s technically not just ice cream—it’s even better. They’re refreshing, call for just a few ingredients, and can even be made vegan by using coconut yogurt. It even sneaks in a little protein powder to boost your daily intake.

Hero Ingredient: The genius shortcut to make these healthy cookies? It’s just that, genius.

Coffee Chip Ice Cream

Coffee Chip Ice Cream From Wholesomelicious

Why We Love It: I don’t know about you, but coffee is one of my favorite ice cream flavors. This recipe combines it with coconut milk, coconut cream, vanilla, dates, and more to make a delicious treat that incorporates that unbeatable coffee flavor.

Hero Ingredient: Strong coffee is key.

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream From Minimalist Baker

Why We Love It: It wouldn’t be a complete list of healthy ice cream recipes without mint chocolate chip. A classic combo, this recipe lightens things up with almond milk, coconut milk, maple syrup, and cashew butter. And, it’s completely vegan, so those following a vegan diet can enjoy it, too. Make your minty dreams a reality.

Hero Ingredient: Chocolate shavings top things off in style. And they literally melt in your mouth.

Creamy Vegan Chai Ice Cream

Creamy Vegan Chai Ice Cream From Minimalist Baker

Why We Love It: Get your tea brewing, because this recipe has all the warm chai notes that are great year-round. Coconut milk makes this ice cream extra creamy. And with the perfect touch of sweetness, this ice cream is a winner across the board.

Hero Ingredient: The spice mix is next level. Black pepper, ground cloves, and cardamom. Yum, just yum.

Healthy Blender Raspberry Ice Cream

Healthy Blender Raspberry Ice Cream From Primavera Kitchen

Why We Love It: Greek yogurt, raspberries, honey, almond milk (or a sub of your choice), and bananas are probably all things you have on hand, which is what makes this healthy ice cream recipe so great. If you’re in need of a cool, tart treat, this recipe is definitely for you.

Hero Ingredient: I’ve always liked the idea of using honey to sweeten things up. You get a nice floral flavor that sugar just can’t provide.

Protein Ice Cream

Protein Ice Cream From Eating Bird Food

Why We Love It: If you’re anything like me, you know it can be a daily challenge to meet your recommended protein intake. What better way to incorporate a bit of extra protein than in your mid-day snack or dessert?

Hero Ingredient: Throw in any chocolate protein powder of your choice.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Coconut Milk Ice Cream

Vegan Chocolate Chip Coconut Milk Ice Cream From Heartbeet Kitchen

Why We Love It: Coconut is quickly becoming a flavor I strive to incorporate in all of my desserts. This recipe only takes eight ingredients and is naturally sweetened. Bonus points for also being vegan!

Hero Ingredient: Crunchy chocolate chips are never a bad idea.

Healthy Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

Healthy Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream From Sandhya’s Kitchen

Why We Love It: Ice cream and cheesecake— two of my all-time favorite sugar-filled desserts. This ice cream is the best alternative I’ve found to the sugar crash that comes with normal cheesecake, made from fat-free cottage cheese and unsweetened almond milk.

Hero Ingredient: This recipe wouldn’t be the same without fresh (and frozen) strawberries!

Vegan Chocolate Avocado Ice Cream

Vegan Chocolate Avocado Ice Cream From Jessica in the Kitchen

Why We Love It: You may be skeptical about throwing avocado into something as sacred as ice cream, but trust me, it won’t disappoint. Avocado is a rich and flavorful alternative that keeps this recipe dairy-free. As a result, this ice cream is full of healthy fats and no refined sugar.

Hero Ingredient: Avocado takes the cake as the top ingredient in this recipe.

Dairy-Free Rocky Road Ice Cream

Dairy-Free Rocky Road Ice Cream From Feasting on Fruit

Why We Love It: I will always be a rocky road girl at heart, but sometimes loads of unhealthy ingredients that make this ice cream so delicious steer me away. Luckily, this recipe takes the same nostalgia-inducing flavors and creates a lighter and healthier alternative.

Hero Ingredient: Coconut cream is the key to your ultra-creamy base.





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An Expert Explains the Link

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We may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

With dopamine detoxes continuing to dominate the wellness space, many misunderstand the trend as eliminating dopamine from our lives altogether. First, that’s impossible—given that dopamine is naturally produced by the body, we can’t detox from it completely. What’s more, it would ignore all the good dopamine does for us. The neurotransmitter is far-reaching in its influence over our decision-making and behaviors. Dopamine is linked to our pleasure and reward system, and it plays a key role in how we experience joy and satisfaction. Enter: the connection between dopamine and sex.

Camille Styles making bed.

The Connection Between Dopamine and Sex

In truth, I knew little of the link between dopamine and sex before chatting with the team at Juna, a women’s wellness brand offering plant-powered products to optimize mind, body, mood, and sleep. Detailed in an article on the topic, they outline the relationship between dopamine, love, and sex:

“The necessity of dopamine in our lives can be attributed to its influence on motivation, the pleasure and reward system, mood regulation, and attention […] The pleasure and reward system, intricately linked with love, relies heavily on dopamine to create feelings of enjoyment and reinforcement.”

Jewel Zimmer, a certified brain health trainer and the CEO and founder of Juna, elaborates on the correlation, “When your dopamine levels are high, it can increase feelings of arousal and desire—things we often associate with libido. Conversely, low dopamine levels may decrease libido, since it can reduce feelings of pleasure and motivation.

For more insights into the topic, I tapped Zimmer for her expertise. Ahead, we discuss all things dopamine and sex: how to respond to a lagging libido, and her eight top tips for naturally increasing dopamine levels—and in turn, your sex drive. Hot.

Jewel Zimmer

Jewel Zimmer





Jewel Zimmer is the CEO and Founder of Juna. As a certified brain health trainer, Jewel is dedicated to helping women everywhere feel their best. She’s passionate about educating on optimal gut/brain axis, the connection between the two and helping people implement daily habits to reach their health goals. Her mission is to equip individuals with the tools to optimize their health, inspiring a wave of healthier, happier humans.

Minimalist bedroom.

Understanding Your Libido

Boosting your sex drive is the topic of many a magazine article and girl chat. Who doesn’t want a healthy sex drive? It’s associated with everything from pleasure (of course) to pain relief, better sleep, and increased intimacy with your partner. But! It’s also natural for your libido to fluctuate. That said, you may be looking to spice things up. For that, we have answers.

Zimmer is quick to preface that when it comes to your libido, dopamine is just a single piece. “Your libido is influenced by many different factors, including hormone balance, stress, relationship dynamics, and your overall health,” she notes. If shifts in your sex drive are of concern, she recommends speaking with a healthcare provider to explore potential causes and treatments.

How to Naturally Increase Libido

When it comes to increasing your libido, Zimmer encourages a holistic approach. She cites the following ideas to address a low sex drive:

  • Regular exercise
  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Managing stress through relaxation techniques
  • Getting enough quality sleep
  • Consult a healthcare provider about incorporating herbs like maca root or ginseng
  • Communicating openly with your partner
  • Limit alcohol use
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Prioritize activities that bring you pleasure and relaxation

Zimmer also suggests speaking with your healthcare provider for more personalized advice. “The healthier you feel overall,” she says, “the more likely you are to be improving that web of factors that influence libido.”

Woman lighting palo santo.

8 Tips to Increase Dopamine

Fun fact: roughly 50% of dopamine production occurs in the gut. As such, it’s important to prioritize gut health, which is linked to everything from relieving stress to boosting mood. (Key elements of a strong libido.) I also religiously take Juna’s Gut Therapy supplement for optimal gut health.

Read on for Zimmer’s tips to help you naturally increase dopamine levels. Keep in mind that with all of these tips, balance is key. “Moderation is essential to maintaining a healthy balance in lifestyle habits to support overall well-being.”

  1. Exercise. Regular physical activity can boost dopamine levels. Aim for activities you enjoy, such as jogging, dancing, or playing sports, as they also increase endorphins.
  2. Healthy diet and dopamine-inducing foods. Include sources of tyrosine, such as lean proteins, dairy, eggs, nuts, and seeds, in your diet.  Dark chocolate is another great dopamine booster that’s also highly regarded for its aphrodisiac qualities.
  3. Sleep. Getting enough high-quality sleep helps regulate dopamine levels.
  4. Stress management. Chronic stress can deplete dopamine. Practice stress-reduction techniques like meditation, deep breathing exercises, or spending time in nature. Grounding is a great way to boost dopamine.
  5. Community. Positive social interactions and bonding with others can increase dopamine release. Make time for meaningful connections with friends and family.
  6. Fall in love. When you experience love, the ventral tegmental area (VTA) of your brain becomes active, releasing dopamine. Dopamine is famous for its involvement in romance.
  7. Music and creativity. Creativity or listening to music you enjoy stimulates dopamine release.
  8. Setting and Achieving Goals. Accomplishing tasks or setting and achieving goals can provide a sense of accomplishment and boost dopamine levels.





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Is Melatonin Safe? An Expert on What You Need to Know

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It’s a noble, albeit endless quest: our search for better sleep. Just one night of restlessness is enough to have us quitting caffeine for good, putting on a PM meditation, and investing in a game-changing alarm clock. And because there’s so much on the line (our mental capacity, work performance, food cravings, and morning workout commitment), you may have been tempted to explore the wide world of sleep aids. Namely, melatonin. Though it may seem like a magic pill, the supplement’s steady rise to fame has us asking: Is melatonin safe? Your answers await.

Featured image from our interview with Odette Annable.

Woman sitting on bed drinking tea.

Is Melatonin Safe? An Expert Sounds Off

I was introduced to melatonin during a particularly rough period of insomnia. Desperate for something to help me fall—and stay—asleep, I dove deep into sleep teas, lavender essential oils, and melatonin supplements. I took the latter on an as-needed basis. (Looking back though, I needed melatonin a lot.) Though the steps I was taking to address my evening anxiety showed progress, the journey was slow. I wanted results, and I wanted them now. Millennial, much?

But as with all things relatively quick-fix, caveats exist. My armchair analysis turned up the general consensus: melatonin supplements are safe in the short-term. But they worked so well! Was I really supposed to abstain from the *sole thing* that gave me a restful, restorative snooze? I either needed someone to spill the true tea on melatonin or walk me through all the lifestyle shifts that support healthy sleep hygiene. Thankfully, I connected with someone who delivered both.

For answers, I spoke with Jewel Zimmer, a certified brain health trainer and the CEO and founder of the wellness brand, Juna. Ahead, Zimmer and I discuss all things melatonin. From the potential short- and long-term risks to its impact on our circadian rhythms (and everything in between). Consider this your go-to guide not just to melatonin, but to transforming your sleep life altogether.

Jewel Zimmer

Jewel Zimmer





Jewel Zimmer is the CEO and Founder of Juna. As a certified brain health trainer, Jewel is dedicated to helping women everywhere feel their best. She’s passionate about educating on optimal gut/brain axis, the connection between the two and helping people implement daily habits to reach their health goals. Her mission is to equip individuals with the tools to optimize their health, inspiring a wave of healthier, happier humans.

Woman pulling back curtains.

When to Consider Using Melatonin

As we age, our melatonin naturally declines. Adults over 40 should consider supplementing a microdose nightly of 0.3 mg or under to make up for our bodies’ natural decline. This microdose can also be very helpful for jet lag and shift workers who need to reset their circadian clock. 

How Melatonin Impacts Our Circadian Rhythm

Melatonin helps regulate our sleep/wake cycles by signaling darkness to our bodies, which prepares us for sleep. Since light and dark have the most significant influence on our internal body clocks, melatonin plays a crucial role in managing our daily rhythms.

Potential Melatonin Risks

Melatonin, known as the hormone of darkness, has become one of the most talked about sleep aids/sleep ingredients on the market in recent years. It’s a powerful neurotransmitter, hormone, and antioxidant that is secreted deep in the limbic brain from the pineal gland. The limbic brain is also the part of the brain that controls our sleep/wake cycles or circadian rhythms. Our brains naturally release melatonin and signal our body to prepare for darkness and sleep.

Our bodies naturally produce about 0.1% of melatonin each night. However, this declines with age and increased blue light, so many of us are looking for supplementation. The biggest misconception is how much melatonin to actually take. An MIT study suggests 0.30mg is the ultimate dose to encourage our bodies to produce enough melatonin to fall asleep and stay asleep. But the majority of supplement brands on the market believe more is better, which is false.

The average melatonin supplement on the market is three to ten times more than what the body actually needs.

Short-term overuse and overdosing can result in nausea, bedwetting (in children), morning hangover (grogginess), inability to focus, headaches, vivid dreams and disruption to our sleep cycles, the exact thing we are trying to fix.

Long-term overuse and overdosing can result in more serious risks. Some research suggests hormone interference in children delaying puberty. Excessive overuse has also been linked to increased depression.

Camille Styles bedroom.

What to Look for in a Melatonin Supplement

It’s important to find a quality melatonin supplement that is third-party tested for potency and purity. 99% of the melatonin on the market is synthetic and oftentimes has drastically different amounts than advertised. Form factors, such as gummies versus capsules, are a personal choice. Look for something that has no sugar or filler that could upset your digestion and spike your glucose before bed, resulting in sleep disturbance. 

Melatonin Compared to Other Sleep Aids

If used correctly, starting with a microdose or dose suggested by your health care practitioner, you should be encouraging your body to produce the optimal amount of melatonin it needs for deep, restful sleep. Because the body is an interconnected system, melatonin optimization will usually have positive effects on your overall mood and hormones. In contrast, prescribed sedative sleep aids block receptors and may cause undesirable side effects like addiction, dizziness, headache, gut issues, and memory problems.

Studies show that sleep aids should not be used long-term and only actually help you fall asleep about 8–20 minutes faster and sleep an additional 35 minutes. 

Woman drinking smoothie.

When to Consider Taking Melatonin Long-Term

Lack of sleep has been known to affect our mental alertness, mood, and other health issues such as dementia and depression, thyroid, hormonal imbalances as well as metabolic issues like obesity. If you’re not sleeping and also experience one of the above, consistent supplementation could be beneficial long-term.

Additional research is needed, but initial findings indicate that melatonin could offer significant advantages to aging individuals—potential anti-aging properties, ability to alleviate cognitive decline, and enhanced sleep quality. It’s suggested that long-term melatonin supplementation should only be taken under the supervision of a knowledgeable health care provider.

Sanne Vloet reading in bed.
  • Incorporate sunlight into your eyes first thing in the morning or early in the day. Light regulates our melatonin and signals our circadian rhythms
  • Increase levels of vitamin D either through sunlight or supplementation. Vitamin D supports our bodies’ melatonin production.
  • Daily exercise has been known to improve sleep quality by reducing the time it takes to fall asleep and may promote deeper sleep.
  • Avoid eating sugar after dinner. Sugar has been shown to disrupt our stages of sleep such as REM and deep sleep.
  • Limit bluelight use (screentime) to a minimum of one hour before bed to avoid melatonin disruption.
  • Turn your thermostat down to 65 F. Studies show our bodies sleep deeper in cooler temperatures.





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