By Colleen Huber, Naturopathyworks
Why not just go out and have a cheesecake or ice cream? Why mix your healthy whole foods with something so naughty as desserts? Because it is not written anywhere that you have to punish your body. If you eat desserts without sweeteners, you can avoid the many chronic disease risks that come with sugar and its imitators, and still feel that you have eaten something sweet and filling.
The following recipes I've included in this article are for single servings of desserts, quite deliberately, for two reasons.
First, food that is made tends to get eaten, especially if it tastes good and doesn't have to be reheated. If you make a huge dessert -- say a cake or pie for the whole family -- they will end up ingesting more of this than would be prudent from the perspective of focusing most of one's diet on vegetables and proteins. When second and third helpings of dessert are available, you can be pretty sure they will get eaten, as everyone's better judgment and will power go out the window.
The second reason is that dessert is kind of like beer, wine or coffee is for adults. Children know it exists, but it could easily displace room for more nutrient-dense vegetables and proteins in their small stomachs. If you have a whole fruit dessert while the kids are still awake, they may treat dinner as playtime, because they are saving room for fruit.
The idea of dessert is that you must suffer through the vegetables and other healthy foods to get to your "just desserts." This programming -- vegetables-are-bad/desserts-are-good -- sets up associations in the mind that often never get broken, even into adulthood.
Because of this, children are best kept away from the idea of desserts altogether, even relatively healthy ones. Let the grown-ups enjoy a whole food dessert once in a great while after the kids are tucked in, and even then make it rare, because adults also need to keep their main food intake the highly nutrient-dense vegetables and meats.
So to keep indulgence to a respectable minimum, and just as cocktail recipes are written for individual servings, the following desserts are listed as single servings.
For several of the desserts that follow, real cream is listed as a main ingredient. Ideally, you will be able to find raw cream, because it will provide the healthy enzymes and other proteins that have not been distorted by the flash pasteurization process used today. (If you are unable to find a local dairy farmer in your area who sells raw milk, visit the Real Milk site to locate a source close to you.)
Other alternatives you can use: Heavy cream or half-and-half, just so long as it is not ultra-pasteurized (if it is, its nutritional value is practically non-existent). For adults and children who have trouble digesting dairy products, many find that raw goat milk is digestible.
Then, there are people who are horrified about eating real cream on fruits, but would thin k nothing about sprinkling sugar or artificial sweeteners on them. Their concerns are exactly the opposite of where they should be. For the many reasons given in The Cholesterol Myths by Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD, and Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, the more fat in your milk the better.
And the more grass-fed and pesticide-free the dairy cow or goat, the much better quality of fat you get, and the higher proportion of omega-3 fatty acids available for brain health, artery health, heart health and joint and skin health.
Most of the population studies have shown that it is possible to gorge yourself on dietary cholesterol and still keep the blood cholesterol very low. It is not only possible, but still practiced to this day by traditional cultures in various parts of the world. For a succinct and fascinating review of the medical debate on this subject, you'll want to read What if it's All Been a Big Fat Lie?
A lot of time when people reach for a candy bar or other sweet, they have been feeling a craving, and say something like, "I just feel I need a little something more, something sweet perhaps ... ." At these times, reaching for something sweet has become a conditioned habit, but it is definitely not those simple carbohydrates that make us feel completely satisfied and carry us through the ensuing hours.
Rather, it is the fat in our diet that produces a sense of satisfaction and fullness after eating. The cream in the following recipes accomplishes that while complementing the flavors of the added fruits.
Use organic products, especially organic dairy products when possible.
Peaches and Cream
- 1 peach, chopped in small chunks into a bowl
- 8 drops of almond extract
- cream to partly cover
Sally Fallon combines almond extract with peaches for a nice flavor combination. Here, we add raw cream for nutritional balance. Stir well to mix in the strongly flavored almond extract.
Dates and Pecans
- 1 or 2 dates
- 1/3 cup of pecans
- cream to partly cover
Pit and chop dates into small pieces. Add pecans and stir till date pieces are well distributed. Add cream.
Chocolate and Banana
- Approximately a 1x2-inch rectangle of unsweetened dark chocolate (Rapunzel and Dagoba are two good types of chocolate bars)
- 1 banana
In the baking section of the supermarket, you'll find unsweetened chocolate for baking. (This isn't exactly whole food, but at least it doesn't have added sweeteners or synthetics, and it's as close as we temperate clime folks can get to the cacao pods.) Ghirardelli's is the most convenient for this, but any kind of unsweetened "baking chocolate" will do. Simply alternate bites of the chocolate with bites of banana, pear or another not-too-acidic fruit. That's it, other than just alternate bites to balance flavors.
Chocolate From Marz
- 1 frozen banana (first peeled and cut into chunks)
- A 1- to 2-inch square of unsweetened (baking) chocolate
- A dash of nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla
- 1 tablespoon of flaxseeds
- 2 tablespoons of walnuts
- 2 tablespoons of water
Naturopathic physician Russell Marz, ND agreed to share this recipe with me, which is especially helpful for the high-quality omega-3 fatty acids contained in the flax and walnuts as well as the antioxidants that have been found in chocolate. Mix all ingredients in a high-powered blender till consistent. This dessert has a chunky ice cream-like texture. For birthday celebrations it would make a good substitute for cake and ice cream.
The Simplest Recipe of All: Whole Fruit Popsicles
- Peaches, plums, nectarines, watermelon, honeydew or cantaloupe
- Popsicle molds
Don't forget about the kids altogether. The whole fruit that you may give them for a snack is all the yummier on a summer afternoon when frozen on a popsicle stick. Any of the above fruits works quite well. Cut the fruit into small chunks, and stuff them into popsicle molds. Kids enjoy making their own popsicles, so let even the little ones do this job. Just make sure you pack the fruit in tight, eliminating air pockets. Freeze for at least a few hours.
No Insulin Spikes
The whole foods mentioned in this article do not elicit an insulin spike as do concentrated fruit and fruit juice, because they have all the fiber of the whole food to slow the entry of natural sugars to the bloodstream. The real damage of typical sugared desserts is to elevate your insulin, which itself is certain high risk for heart disease and atherosclerosis.
In contrast, when the bounties of nature take the shortest path from the earth to your mouth, that is, not passing through a food processing plant in an industrial park before they get to you, you are giving your body what humans have needed for countless generations.
Let your occasional dessert indulgence be as natural and compatible with your body as the rest of your food. If you put whole foods together correctly, they can be quite delicious, and not upset your optimal biochemical balance.