I need a treat!

“I’m trying to eat healthy but today was rough. I deserve a treat!”

“My kid worked hard today. She deserves a treat!”

“I didn’t choke anyone at that meeting today. I deserve a treat!”

Sound familiar? (Welcome to blog 4!)

We all deserve treats, damnit! Let’s face it. It’s rough out there.

I have great news. You DO deserve a treat. And you should have one! But you DON’T deserve the guilt. And you DON’T deserve the sugary processed ingredients that build up over time and hurt your health. Here’s how I see it; we have several options.

Option 1 Option 2 Option 3
Eat a sugar/refined flour-filled treat that tastes delicious. Short positive effect on taste buds, but long-term negative health effects. Possible sugar crash. Followed by guilt. Eat a healthy, boring treat. Not exciting for taste buds but no negative health effects. Eat a healthy AND delicious treat! Quick positive effect on the taste buds, and positive health effects cuz of the nutrition in the snack! Minimal guilt.

 

I choose option 3 whenever possible! I could eat a sugar-filled treat that harms my current and future health, OR I could eat a different yummy treat that actually contains nutrients. Sounds like a no-brainer to me! I’ll admit, I’m not always able to make my own healthy treats. But every time counts. With every choice, with every bite, I either fight off or invite future disease. But here’s the thing: since I don’t often splurge on sugary desserts, when I do splurge on them, I don’t feel so bad. Cuz I only do it once in a while.

I’d like to share with you some of my new favorite go-to recipes for low-guilt treats. I’ve tried all of these and they’re wonderful! I’ll share my cooking/shopping tips, too.

My favorite healthy dessert recipes

  1. Black Bean Brownies: This recipe is outstanding. SO quick to make. I’ve served it to some children and also to grown men who do NOT enjoy eating “that healthy stuff.” And these brownies passed the test with flying colors. Tip: chocolate chips contain sugar. If you buy a chip with a higher cacao rate, there will be more nutrition and less sugar. I like to go for 70% cacao or higher when possible. Try Harris Teeter, Wegmans, Whole Foods, or your local health store to find healthier chocolate chips. Or check out Thrive Market, a GREAT online and super affordable site for healthy people who aren’t lucky enough to have a Whole Foods nearby. Also! Be sure to use a good quality maple syrup. (Yes, the expensive stuff.) You want the real stuff! Also! If you’re worried about GMOs and/or Roundup, buy Bob’s Red Mill organic oats. One more note: the recipe calls for cocoa powder, but cacao also works great. My mother-in-law started adding walnuts to these brownies at the end, which is genius, cuz walnuts are super good for us. Omega-3s, baby! Good for the heart and brain. (I used to prefer brownies without nuts, until I learned about the health benefits of walnuts. Then I decided to change my mind. It worked!)
  2. Strawberry muffins: Check out the photo attached to this blog! I just tried these a few weeks ago and holy cannoli, they were amazing. See note in #1 about oats and syrup. ALWAYS use organic eggs from pasture-frollicking chickens. I used brown rice flour and it worked great. If you don’t feel like chopping strawberries, try the blueberry.
  3. Chocolate chip cookies: These are not guilt free. But they’re still not as naughty as the average cookie. These do contain chocolate chips and sugar. But the amount of sugar is much less than usual. And the type of sugar is different (coconut palm sugar = lower glycemic load). Be sure to buy chocolate chips that are at least 70% cacao, as the recipe suggests. I do recommend using almond butter or cashew instead of peanut; I rarely see health experts include peanut butter in their recipes. One more note: the recipe calls for “fleur de sel” salt, but I think sea salt works just fine. Warning! These cookies are damn good. And they’re super quick to make!
  4. Grilled peaches. Already have the grill fired up? Dude, just grill a peach. Cut a peach in half, remove the pit, maybe rub a little oil on it, and grill it for a few minutes. It’s so freaking good; you don’t need any fancy schmancy stuff! Top it with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt if you’d like. Sprinkle on some cinnamon. Ohhh yeahhh.
  5. Healthy banana oat cookies. Remember, you can eat these anytime! They’re super quick to make and you can eat them for breakfast.
  6. Summer Mixed Berry Crisp: Ummm COME TO MAMA. I could eat this whole thing. I was worried this recipe would be complicated, but it wasn’t at all. I usually have most of these ingredients. I used blueberries and diced strawberries. I also used a square brownie pan instead of a pie plate. It’d be easy to double everything and use a 13 by 9.
  7. Also! Don’t forget, I give out a few of my healthy dessert recipes when you sign up for my newsletter. Click HERE.

A few other suggestions:

  • Portion control. I used to buy a whole container of Wegmans coconut macaroon cookies. Because they freaking rock. But now, I just go to the cookie bar and buy two cookies. And I’m ok with it! I don’t need cookies every day for two weeks.
  • Sometimes, just say no. Sometimes, I walk away. There are times that I crave a donut or ice cream or pumpkin latte but then instead of indulging, I just walk away. I can’t always do that! Sometimes my will power is weak. But when I can walk away and redirect my craving, I might as well.
  • Eat healthy options when you can. Cuz sometimes, we can’t. Like when we are in the car, or our office ordered lunch, or your friend surprises you with chocolate strawberries, or Julie brought a pizza to Sweet Leda practice. (Damnit Julie!!) So when you are able to spend a little time making a healthy dessert, take advantage of the situation!

My conversation with a skeptic

I know what some of you are thinking! (ahem…my brother and mom. Love you guys!) Here are some things that a skeptic might be thinking, and here are my replies:

Skeptic: Nah, I’m gonna go with a regular brownie instead. I’m sure a black bean brownie won’t taste as good as a brownie mix brownie.

Me: Taste is important! But this isn’t just a taste test. Your health counts just as much as the taste factor! Don’t eat the two side-by-side. Think of the black bean brownie as the only brownie. You’ll love them! Don’t believe me? Remember the first time you tasted vodka? Did you think “Wow, this stuff tastes like disinfectant but I LOVE it!” I’m guessing no, you probably thought “Wow this stuff tastes like disinfectant and it’s disgusting.” But I bet you kept drinking it! If you can learn to love vodka or Jameson (blegh), you can learn to love a black bean brownie! And remember…the toughest critics loved them right away. So that’s a good sign!

Skeptic: I don’t have time to cook or eat healthy.

Me: I understand you’re busy, but change that sentence to “I choose to not make the time to eat healthy.” Truly. We always make time for what’s really important to us. If you have time to scroll on Facebook or to binge on Netflix, then maybe you do have a little time to throw some stuff in a bowl a couple times a week? You can do it! If you’re not ready to take charge of your health and make a change, I accept that. But if you are honestly interested in eating healthier, I don’t want you to think that time is an obstacle. I have three jobs! And I find a way to make the time. Do I have time to cook every day? Heck no. But some days, I make time and cook a few things that will give me healthy snacks or salads all week long! Totally worth it.

Skeptic: Gimme a break! I know that we should eat healthy, but once in a while, I do deserve to have a treat.

Me: Agreed! I totally splurge sometimes. But remember: healthy food does NOT mean un-delicious food. You can have both! “Healthy” and “yummy” are not mutually exclusive. And the truth is, you can trick your mind but you can’t trick your body and digestive system. If you eat crap, your body knows it and will process it accordingly.

One last thought: I am a work in progress and am always learning. I don’t know it all and I never will. Let us all have the courage to never stop learning and adapting and trying new things! I know that nutrition trends constantly change and it can be frustrating. But I do strongly believe this: we have more control over our health than we think. Although trends can change, this idea of “if you eat nutritious food, you are less likely to deal with cancer, heart disease, auto-immune diseases, etc”? I think that belief is here to stay. I don’t want to sound preachy. I know that many of us are very sensitive when it comes to our food. Maybe it’s what we ate all our lives. Maybe it’s what we’ve been feeding our kids all these years. But I write these blogs because I just want you to take care of yourself, as much as you can. Cuz people need you and love you. I pray for your health, happiness, and safety!

If you try any of these recipes, please leave a comment and let me know how it turned out! Feel free to ask any questions, too.

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