Automatic (Healthy) Eating // Tip 4 + Recipe

>> Thursday, December 5, 2013

You know all about my previous and present struggles with sugar (and so-called detoxes). For me, completely cutting it out (a suggestion I've received many times) just isn't an option. I fail. So, I've slowly developed a taste for less sweet treats that are intended more for fueling my body than spiking my glucose levels.

I still eat traditional desserts -- and often -- but if I keep what we have at home in check, I'm in a better place. Take these energy chunks, for example.

// TIP 4: Learn to Love Alternatives

At the start of each week, I like to make up a batch of homemade energy bars or chunks or some other healthed-up snack/dessert option. I make enough for the entire week so I'm not tempted to get out all my baking gear out of desperation on, say, a Wednesday night. That way, if I'm craving something chocolate-ly, and I always have that craving, I have a (healthy) option already on hand.

What I make changes from week to week, but I love playing with this basic Chocolate-Peanut Butter recipe for energy chunks and then modifying it for whatever ingredients I have in my pantry.


What you'll need . . .
  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup natural almond butter
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
Method . . .
  1. Put all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until blended, but still chunky.
  2. Add more almond butter if batter is too stiff.
  3. Drop heaping tablespoonfuls onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  4. Keep in an airtight container in your fridge.
* You can replace walnuts with other nuts, almond butter with other nut butters, maple syurp with agave, honey, or other natural sweetener, and leave out the cocoa powder. Totally customizable! 

From a purely caloric standpoint, you might not be saving much here. But if your main goal is to feel great, have more stable blood sugar, and consume simple foods (good goal, btw!), making alternative treats is in your favor. You can get the healthy fats, etc. you need, all while feeling satisfied + avoiding the brain fog associated with eating too much pure sugar.

Here are some more ideas:
Alternatives go beyond making entirely different items for those sweet treats you know and love. Something as simple as a swap of applesauce for oil,  natural, low-glycemic sweetners for sugar, or wheat flour for white is all you need to transform a cookie from conventional to healthful. Here's a handy chart to help with ratio calculations.

And don't underestimate the power of adding things INTO a recipe versus taking them away. You can toss in flax meal, nuts, dried fruit, oats, or a number of other good ingredients to make a treat more wholesome.

At very least, you can make small batches in a pinch:
For more healthy dessert and snack ideas, you can browse our recipe archives (vegan selections are noted with *). I try to make good swaps whenever possible. If you'd rather browse via photo, check out our Pinterest board for previous posts.

How do you make treats healthier? What's your favorite recipe?

(If you're catching up, check out tip #1: stock up on frozen veggies + tip #2: buy greens and actually USE them + tip #3: create simple, go-to meals.)

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