FOOD & TRAVEL
Perhaps you have a bit of a sweet tooth. Which is fine for general indulgences but if you’re trying to be a little healthier, eat less sugar, or just generally give your body a break from constant sugar infusions, than maybe some low to no sugar options could prove helpful.
4-Ingredient Easy Vegan Brownies
I came across this awesome recipe from Minimalist Baker that fakes the traditional brownie pretty good. I mean, no sugar-free brownie will be exactly what a brownie is, but this one comes real close. The true star of the show is the dates and cocoa. With just four ingredients, this recipe is incredibly easy to make, and leaves you feeling satisfied and quite good about what you just ate.
2 cups tightly packed dates, pitted (measured after pitting // make sure they're fresh! If dry, soak in warm water 10 minutes, drain, then add to processor)
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup salted peanut butter* (if unsalted, add a healthy pinch of salt to the batter)
2 Tbsp melted coconut oil
1/3 cup cacao or unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup dairy-free dark chocolate chips (optional // we like Enjoy Life)
1/2 cup roughly chopped raw walnuts (optional // or other nut of choice)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C) and line a standard loaf pan (or similar size pan) with parchment paper. Set aside.
2. Add dates to food processor and blend until small bits or a ball forms. If your food processor has a difficult time processing the dates, ensure there are no pits in the dates and that your dates are fresh and sticky. If too dry they can have a difficult time blending. (It may also be an issue of food processor strength if it has a hard time blending.)
3. Once blended, separate the dates into chunks using a spoon. Then add hot water and blend until a sticky date paste forms. Scrape down sides as needed.
4. Add peanut butter, coconut oil, and cacao powder and pulse until a sticky batter forms. It should be tacky and thick (scrape down sides as needed). Lastly add chocolate chips and walnuts (optional) and pulse to incorporate.
5. Transfer batter to lined loaf pan and spread into an even layer. For a smooth top, lay some parchment paper on top and use a flat-bottomed object (like a drinking glass) to press into an even layer.
6. Bake on the center rack for 15 minutes - the edges should be slightly dry. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then carefully lift out of the pan using the edges of the parchment paper and let cool on a plate or cooling rack for at least 20 minutes before slicing. The longer they cool, the firmer they will become.
7. Enjoy warm or cooled. Store leftovers covered at room temperature up to 3 days, in the refrigerator up to 5-6 days, or in the freezer up to 1 month (let thaw before enjoying).
Banana Nice Cream
Another way to curb that sweet tooth is with nice cream. Have you heard of it? It has been around for quite some time though has recently gained momentum as more people notice the satisfying effect without the sugar high or stomachache that can follow a traditional ice cream binge.
The recipe essentially starts with frozen bananas, which we all have. You know those last few bananas of the bunch that you look at in the morning and think oh yeah those are started to turn brown, I really need to eat those. And then the next day and the day after as inevitably the bananas turn more brown in the time you haven’t yet gotten to them. At that point there are two options- banana bread or banana nice cream. And both require freezing. And when you’re doing so, it really just depends on how much time you have or if you’re trying to get the bananas in the freezer before they become trash material. What I like to do is take off the peel before freezing. I find that makes it easier in the long run. Removing the peel once its frozen to the banana is perfectly doable, just takes a little more time and effort. And I’m all into things that save time and energy, who’s with me?
The recipe I really like is from Oh My Veggies. I've provided it below.You won't believe how easy it is.
When it’s time to make the nice cream, break your bananas into 3 or 4 chunks each, so they fit into your food processor. You’ll want to use at least two bananas per batch, unless you’re using a very small blending device.
Some fat will add richness to your nice cream, so try stirring in some almond butter, peanut butter, tahini, or coconut cream. A tablespoon or so for every banana should be plenty.
Now blend everything up! This might take some patience, depending on the type of blending device you’re using. The first couple of rounds often yields what looks like a bunch of frozen banana crumbs. Stop, scrape down the insides of the bowl, and continue blending. You can add a splash of non-dairy milk to help the process along, but don’t go overboard or you’ll end up with a smoothie instead of nice cream.
Eventually you’ll start to see your bananas transform into a creamy mix that resembles soft serve ice cream. Give it a taste-test and adjust your add-ins if needed. Once you’re done you can also throw in any additional ingredients that you don’t want blended up, like pieces of fruit that you’d rather keep chunky. One of my favorite tricks is to melt some dark chocolate chips, drizzle them over the blend, and then pulse the the food processor a few times. The chocolate will solidify really quickly and you’ll end up with chocolate flecks throughout.
This recipe is one I can’t wait to try - dates with nut butter. I’ve heard there’s just something special about it. You can opt for the Medjool Dates which tend to be bigger and more moist, or regular dates are fine and just as sweet and delicious.
This recipe is even easier than the previous recipes if you can believe it. All it requires is splitting the dates in half, removing the pit if there is one, some dates have the pit removed before you buy others have the pit in. Then you simply drizzle tahini (or nut butter) and then some honey or agave, if you’re wanting a little extra dollop of sweetness.
I found this one, pictured below from Nourish Everyday and I can't wait to try it.
16 medjool dates
1/2 cup tahini (I used hulled tahini in this recipe)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
2 tbsp maple syrup (optional)
1. Place tahini in a small saucepan and place over a low heat on the stove, so the tahini softens. Add in the vanilla, cinnamon and maple syrup (if using all of them) and combine. Add in the shredded coconut and mix again to form a thick paste. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
2. While the tahini mixture is cooling, remove pits from the dates, carefully slicing down one side of the date only, so you've got something to scoop the tahini mix into.
3. Stuff each date with approximately 1 heaped teaspoon of the tahini mix, placing them on a tray/plate as you go. Once all the dates have been stuffed, place in the fridge or freezer for one hour to firm up. (They may need slightly longer in the fridge; I usually put them in the freezer).
4. Enjoy! These can be kept in the fridge or freezer. They should keep well for about three months if frozen.
These recipes will definitely help you curb that sweet tooth on days when you’re wanting to switch it up and not go to full indulgences. Do you have a favorite healthier dessert recipe? Drop in below, I’m always into trying out new recipes! :)