Perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions about eating healthy food is the concept of “giving up,” especially when it comes to treats. Yes, everything doused with refined sugars gets kicked out of our lives—packaged cookies, brownies, candy—pretty much the entire glass case of grab-and-go essentials at any Starbucks you visit. But I’d like to argue that we’re all wrong here. Actually, when you free yourself from refined sugar, you open the door to a delightful world filled with an array of sweetness that feels better and more satisfying, tastes more complex and varied, and pulls you off the path of addiction that refined sugar is so famous for keeping us on.
I’m not going to lie, I absolutely love sweet—it’s really my comfort food. But as I’ve learned and explored new ways of satisfying my sweet tooth (and my daughter’s), I’ve found it’s surprisingly rewarding to eat “sweet clean”.
My go-to ingredients for natural sweetness are: dates, figs, cacao butter, cacao powder, coconut palm nectar, maple syrup, raw honey, pistachios, cashew butter, vanilla, and cardamom. By mixing and matching these and other fruits, dried fruits, spices, and nut butters (in moderation), it’s very easy to create desserts that give instead of take from you.
COCONUT DATE NUGGETS
These are little balls of energy and delight that you can take to work, slide into your children’s lunch, or keep for yourself in the fridge for weeks. These nuggets aren’t the most sweet treats in my recipe files, but are dessert-like enough and will satisfy when you’re seeking both energy and a bit of sweet flavor without compromising on nutrients.
Feel free to adjust the size of the balls and the amount of cashew butter you use. I tend to make these quite small and store them in a stainless steel container in my fridge for up to 3 weeks, doling them out to my daughter when she’s in need of an afternoon treat of dinner dessert—I put them in her lunchbox, too.
5 fresh dates, cut in half, seed discarded
4 teaspoons cashew butter (freshly ground if possible or homemade, soaking first for 3 hours)
1. Take 1/2 a fresh date and mash with a fork until it becomes a thick paste.
2. Place about 3/4 teaspoon of cashew butter in one hand.
3. Using both hands, combine the cashew butter with the date paste, scrapping paste into your hands with a fork. Using finger tips, begin to meld the two together, forming a ball.
4. Roll the ball in the coconut, pressing as you go.
5. Eat now or place in fridge for up to 3 weeks.
Note: Play around with amounts of each and size of each nugget to suit your tastes.
Satisyfing that sweet tooth? You need this anti-aging chocolate—it does double duty.
If it’s a sweet, indulgent-slash-healthy recipe you’re after, you should probably try these raw chocolate truffles.
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