Sometimes we all yearn for an over the top sweet dessert and once in a while it’s ok to indulge. Luckily when we get that craving there are some great handmade options sold locally. But beware of many of the store bought varieties which often contain chemicals, artificial sweeteners, flavorings or an excess of processed sugar, which does not help fuel our bodies or our minds, let alone our insulin levels or our moods.
Here's a natural and healthy dessert option that is free of processed ingredients and you can put it together easily at home.
Start with plain, unsweetened yogurt. Unsweetened yogurt contains live and active cultures. These cultures/probiotics, aka, "good bacteria" are excellent for our digestive systems and work hard to strengthen our immune systems as well. Please note that there are local brands sold at the markets in the area and at the farmer's market.
Lay out a bowl and then spoon out desired additions onto the bowl of yogurt:
– Fresh Fruit: cut up local fruit readily available year round such as banana, papaya and pineapple
– Lightly roasted nuts or seeds such as pecans or almonds or sunflower seeds: Turn a skillet on medium high heat and let it warm up for a minute or two. Toss on the nuts and watch closely because they need a lot of stirring or shaking. Let brown for 5 minutes or so until crunchy. Seeds and nuts are an excellent source of fiber and natural energy. If you want, you can soak the nuts or seeds for 8 hours and drain, rinse, and dry before toasting. This process makes nuts easier to digest. And if you want crushed nuts, you can put them in a towel or a baggie and use a hammer or back of a wooden spoon to crush.
– Coconut flakes: unsweetened shredded coconut or prepackaged raw shredded coconut or fresh coconut "meat." If you choose fresh coconut, you will need to shred the pieces before serving since they are quite big.
– Honey: local dark amber honey is best. You don't need much to get the sweet benefits. Honey is easy to digest and is loaded with minerals and vitamins.
– Raw cacao nibs or cocoa powder: excellent source of iron and fiber. This form of unprocessed, unsweetened is the healthiest choice – packed with antioxidants and helps raise endorphin levels.
– Powder cinnamon: the perfect spice... and one that naturally helps us digest sugar.
– Ground flaxseed: filled with omega 3's and fiber and a slightly nutty flavor. Flax is good for our heart and naturally lowers cholesterol levels.
Here are some sample combinations to try over the yogurt:
- Coconut flakes, cacao powder, flax, and honey
- Papaya, coconut and flaxseed
- Cinnamon, pineapple, honey and pecans/sunflower seeds
- Cinnamon, flax
- Banana, flax, pecans, honey and cacao nibs
- Pecans, coconut, cocoa powder, honey
- Flax, honey, coconut, almonds/sunflower seeds
- Coconut, cacao nibs, cinnamon