Healthy Sweet Treats
Do healthy and sweet treats sound like a contradiction in terms? Most of us spend our time trying not to ‘give in to temptation’. At this time of the year that can feel hard. But is there a way that we can have our cake and eat it?
Why do we crave the sweet stuff?
It’s that time of year, dark nights, cold starts and we all just want to hibernate. We tend to crave sweet, starchy and salty foods. Then we head into the festive season and even if we are trying to eat healthily we feel we are surrounded by temptation.
In my clinical work I spend a lot of time talking to people who want to eat less sugar. My patients tell me that they are OK when they are in a good routine, when they are following healthy habits. Then something happens and suddenly they are back to old familiar ways of eating.
Stress, poor sleep. low energy or a cycle of high sugar foods can all leave us reaching for the biscuit tin. So how do we break that pattern?
Make your snacks satisfying
All too often when we get into this mindset we get into a ‘reward and repent’ cycle. We eat what we see as bad food as rewards – those indulgent sweet treats. Then we make up rules for ourselves on how we will eat healthier from now on. We fill our cupboards with healthy ‘treats’.
Problem is that all too often those healthy ‘treats’ are not really what we see as a treat or reward. Truth is they may not be that healthy either. So then we are underwhelmed and still looking for something to hit that sweet spot. Wouldn’t it be better if we could just enjoy what we wanted in the first place?
Are some desserts healthier than others?
Bottom line sugar is sugar. Whether it’s refined or natural your body is going to recognise it as sugar and treat it accordingly. We should look to eat sugar in moderation as part of a healthy diet.
But not all desserts are created equally. If you look at your classic Victoria Sponge cake you have sugar, eggs, butter and flour. Now that flour is refined white flour, which is essentially long starch chains that are quickly broken down into more sugars. Contrast this with a carrot cake which may have nuts, fruit and of course carrot. It could have the same amount of sugar as that Victoria Sponge but the fibre in the nuts, fruits and veg will slow the sugar hit and you’ll get extra vitamins to boot.
Below I’m sharing some of my favourite healthier desserts from food blogs. All of them are delicious and feel like a real treat but they are also nutrient dense. They use nuts, seeds and vegetables which enhance the flavours and make for a more satisfying eat.
Chocolate Beetroot Cake
This Chocolate Beetroot Cake by Amber Rose has been our go to family birthday cake for years. You can’t taste the beetroot but it keeps the cake moist with a fudgy taste. It freezes well and works as a traybake too. This one is gluten free but does use eggs. If you make it vegan let me know what works best.
Mocha & Black Bean Mousse Cake
This vegan cheesecake style dessert is from the talented Green Kitchen Stories. I’ve taken this one to office fuddles a few times and no-one ever guesses that beans are involved in the mix.
Chocolate Coconut Macaroon Tart
If making the full cake seems like a hassle to you then I fully recommend just making the filling because it tastes AMAZING. This one is vegan and gluten free. Find the recipe here.
Peanut Butter Fudge Brownies
These peanut and chocolate brownie bars from This Rawsome Vegan Life have always seemed wrongly named to me. The buckwheat gives them a decided crunch and makes them more biscuit than raw brownie in my mind. Whatever they are called they are very moreish and packed full of plant protein.
In writing this I spotted that all of these recipes are chocolate based. If chocolate is not your thing then check out the dessert section in my blog for some non-chocolate alternatives. New to the blog are my deconstructed cheesecakes. Do share your favourites with me.