It’s that time of the year again: days are short and dark (making it even harder for us to grab our running shoes and go for a jog), we look for comfort in sugar-laden snacks to forget about the awful weather outside, and we have a list of Christmas parties to attend.
We all want to look our best during the holiday season, but it is probably the trickiest time for you to make healthy choices around your diet: dinner parties, alcohol and those pumpkin-spice lattes are all contributing to skyrocketing levels of sugar intake!
It is now clear that excessive sugar consumption contributes not only to expanding waistlines, but also depresses your immune system, making you more prone to catching colds, creates inflammation and is not good news for your concentration and mood either.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
Is there a way to enjoy decadent desserts without added sugar? You bet! Here are five options to serve your friends and family – or simply to enjoy on those cold winter nights, while choosing your outfit for that Christmas party or while plotting and planning how you’ll take over the world in 2015!
1. Avocado & cacao mousse
The healthy, diet-friendly fats in avocado combine with antioxidants-laden cacao powder for a rich and satisfying dessert that is not only delicious, but super healthy & quick: choose a ripe avocado, de-seed, peel and chop it. Just add a teaspoon of pure maple syrup and a teaspoon (or more) of pure cacao powder: blend until smooth and enjoy, sprinkled with ground nuts for an extra crunch.
2. Banana ice cream
Buy those half-price brown bananas in the supermarket: they are perfectly fine to eat! Peel, slice and freeze them in bags: whenever you feel like an icecream but want to avoid the dairy-and-sugar issue, just get that frozen banana out, blend it (a hand-immersion blender is perfect) and after a few minutes you’ll have a wonderful ice cream, with an unbelievably creamy consistency… and naturally sweetened!
3. Guilt-free brownie
You won’t need any sugar at all to make this gorgeous nutrition-packed brownie: the dates in it will give it all the sweetness you need! Just blend 220 grams of almond flour (ground almonds will do) with 6 tablespoon of good quality pure (preferably raw) cacao powder – sugar free, of course! – and a pinch of sea salt.
In a food processor, blend the almond-cacao mix with 300 grams of good quality pitted Medjool dates: feed them through the tube while the processor is running, one by one. You should obtain a sticky, uniform mixture (add more dates if needed).
Add some chopped pistachios or walnuts to the mixture (about 150 grams), place the brownie mixture in a cake tin, pressing firmly to shape it; place in fridge until ready to serve and see everyone watching in disbelief when you tell them they are enjoying a sugar free, gluten free, raw healthy dessert!
4. Chia pudding
Chia seeds have been getting a lot of attention for their omega-3 and fibre content: as a bonus, they are the perfect ingredient for creating a healthy treat.
Just soak a couple of tablespoon in some non-dairy milk, for a few hours or overnight: add a splash of pure maple syrup, fresh berries and sesame seeds and enjoy this delicious high-fibre, low GI, nutritionally dense dessert. And why not throw some unsweetened cacao or cinnamon powder in the mix for an antioxidants boost?
5. Beetroot cake
What if you feel like a proper, decadent chocolate cake but are still trying to limit your sugar intake? Not a problem – beetroots are not only packed with vitamins, minerals and good quality fibres: their sweet flavour works wonders in a cake.
You will need 100 grams of coconut oil, 3 tablespoon of honey, 50 grams of dark chocolate – melt it all on low heat and mix well. In the meantime, grate 250 grams of raw red beetroots and whisk 3 eggs: in a large bowl, mix thoroughly the beetroot, the eggs and the coconut oil-cacao mixture.
Sift 250 grams of all-purpose flour (always choose wholegrain when possible), 5 tablespoon of cacao powder, 2 teaspoons of baking powder and a pinch of salt, adding it to the beetroot mixture. Incorporate well and pour in a lined cake tin: bake it in a pre-heated oven at 350°F/175°C for about 30 minutes. Serve it to your friends and nobody will guess they are eating one of their five-a-day!
These Christmas desserts are all quick, they are all easy and they are all delicious: which one is going to become a staple in your kitchen? Let us know in the comments below and share your secret weapon to stay away from sugar during the holidays!