Let’s face it, dessert is inherently not great for our health. But how enjoyable and sustainable is life without it? I will tell you from experience that it is not very fun. So, what can we do to have our cake and eat it too?
Well, we can start making a better choice when it comes to sweets and desserts. Let’s think about some of the top dessert options that the average American turns to:
Sweet drinks (soda, juice)
What is it about these foods that is so satisfying to us? Sometimes it is texture or flavor or just the comfort that comes from eating ice cream. The one thing they all have in common is sweetness and sugar. This is what defines a dessert. So, if we can hit that sweet spot of having a satisfying treat without going overboard on the sugar content then you just made a better choice.
Let’s say your dessert vice is a snickers bar. You have a snickers bar every night. A full-sized snicker contains 28 grams of sugar. Plus, a bunch of other additives but the lets just focus on the sugar. The thing about pre-packaged desserts is that we can’t control how much sugar is in them. Sure, you could only eat half a bar but let’s be honest, who can really do that, especially when the company behind snickers has specifically designed the flavor profile so that you CAN’T stop. It’s just too addictive to our brain chemistry.
Instead, if we made our own dessert, then we could control what goes into it and keep it from being so addictive.
Look at this “Paleo Sugar Cookies” recipe for example. This recipe is made from simple ingredients with a low sugar content but is still sweet enough to feel like a dessert. Each cookie contains 5 grams of sugar, so you can eat 3 and still only consume half the sugar that is in a snickers bar! Plus, instead of empty calories, you are getting the nutrition from almonds and coconut oil. It’s a win-win.
Paleo Sugar Cookies (serves 6)
1/4 teaspoons Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoons Simply Organic Almond Extract
1 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
5 tablespoons Maple Syrup, All Natural
1 tablespoons Coconut Oil
1/4 cups Tapioca Flour
1 1/2 cups Almond Meal/flour
1. Preheat the oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large mixing bowl stir together the almond meal and tapioca starch, then add in the rest of the ingredients. Stir well until
a sticky, uniform dough is formed.
3. At this point, you can drop the dough by tablespoons onto the pan and flatten them with your fingers. (The dough is very
sticky, so you might want to wet your hands with water to easily press the dough.) These cookies spread just a little bit, not a
lot, so try to shape them into the size you want them to turn out.
4. Bake the cookies at 350F for 12 to 14 minutes, until the edges are dry to the touch. The browner the edges get, the
crispier the cookies will be, so I pull mine out before the edges brown at all. (But, I like mine pretty soft in the center.) You can
play around with your baking time to get your desired texture, but keep in mind that these cookies will firm up even more as
they cool. Allow the cookies to cool on the pan completely, at least 30 minutes
Another option for making a better choice is to reduce the frequency of whatever your dessert of choice is. Instead of eating a snickers every day, try dropping that down to every other day. Or even better, only on weekend days. Boom! Right there you just cut your sugar and calorie intake by 50-70% with that simple change. Plus, its sustainable because you are not giving up dessert entirely.
-Andy Adams, B.S., CSCS, Pn1 Coach | Trainer