Nearly everyone loves sweet treats. The pleasant combination of taste bud pleasuring, mood enhancing, brain chemical stimulating, and energy boosting that sweets provide makes them universally loved. However consuming sugar is incredibly expensive, both for the body and the planet. Processed sugary treats can destroy mental and physical health, from the brain and teeth, all the way through to the digestive tract.
Luckily, there are ways to enjoy sweetness that are less harmful. Treats made with whole foods, such as nuts, fruits, and coconuts, can provide essential nutrients to the body while still satisfying the desire for an edible source of pleasure. Here are five treats that you can make at home, to enjoy a little sweetness without the harmful affects of processed sugars.
1. Chia Pudding
Chia seeds are high in omega-3 essential fatty acids and fiber, and are a complete protein source. They can provide hours of balanced energy, and are a great breakfast food. They also pair well with most types of fruit, and form a gelatinous pudding-like texture when added to liquid.
For one serving, combine 3 tablespoons of chia seeds, 1/2 cup coconut milk, 1/4 cup sliced fruit of your choice (strawberries, figs, cherries, apricots, and plums are all excellent) and a dash of cinnamon in a bowl and stir well. Let the seeds sit for five minutes, at which point you may wish to add more coconut milk or a little water until it reaches a pleasing consistency. You can use almond, hemp, or rice milk instead of coconut, though it will not be quite as creamy.
2. Peaches and Cream
Another coconut recipe, this one uses the sweet fleshiness of peaches to balance the thickness of the coconut milk and provide a pleasing mix of mouth sensations.
Combine 1 sliced peach with 1/4-1/2 cup coconut milk, canned, packaged, or fresh. Add a sprinkle of Himalayan or Celtic sea salt, a drop of vanilla extract, and a dash of nutmeg and stir well.
3. How About a Date?
Dates are high in minerals and provide a lot of energy. Mixing the soft squishiness of dates with the crunch of nuts provides a vitalizing, protein-rich treat with both a yummy texture and flavor.
Slice 1/4 cup soaked almonds, walnuts, cashews, or hazelnuts and 2 dates. Add a dash of cinnamon, cloves, garam masala, and/or salt. You can make multiple servings at once by chopping the ingredients in a food processor.
4. Go for the Green
Green smoothies are a great way to satisfy the sweet tooth while “sneaking in” several servings of green vegetables. The basic formula is to combine some sort of leafy green and a fruit in a high-speed blender. The possibilities are endless, but here is one recipe we like at MHLC.
Combine 1/2 bunch kale, 1/4 bunch cilantro, a 1/2 inch piece of ginger, 1/4 cup mango, and 1/2 banana in a blender with 1 cup of water or nut milk. Add a dash of cinnamon or fennel seeds. Blend on high until smooth. If tropical fruit is impractical or impossible, you can use apples, berries, stone fruit, or whatever is accessible for you.
5. Sesame Surprise
This recipe supplies the ever-essential chocolate food group, without the sugar, soy, and processing that conventional chocolate bars usually contain. Sesame seeds are a decent source of iron, and complement the taste and texture of the cacao and coconut.
Note that this recipe is more about feeling than precision. Some people like a more crumbly treat, so more coconut will be wanted. Others prefer a softer and wetter texture, in case you will want to use more tahini.
In a large bowl, combine 1/2 cup tahini, 3/4 cup raw cacao powder, a sprinkling sea salt, a dash of cardamom and cinnamon, and 2 tablespoons natural sweetener like honey, coconut nectar, or Jerusalem artichoke syrup. Avoid agave syrup. Stir well. Then add 1/2 to 1 cup of coconut flakes, stirring until it has the consistency of cookie dough. You may either eat this mixture out of the bowl, or roll 1 tablespoon chunks into little balls of goodness. One bowl makes 6 to 8 servings.
If you want to avoid sweeteners altogether, you can make this recipe by soaking dates for a few hours and processing them (save the soak water for a different dish) in a blender or food processor before adding them to the other ingredients.
These are just a few of the ways you can enjoy sweet treats at home that are easy to make, yummy, and easier on the body than processed sugar products. Use your imagination, and you will be amazed how easy it is to mix fruit and nuts, or coconut and seeds, or even veggies and fruits, to create delicious sweet foods that are still nourishing to the body.