For those on the sugar cleanse, it’s been five days. One of the things that I’ve wanted to emphasis during this time of giving up refined sugar, is that our food doesn’t have to be plain or boring. As your taste-buds adjust, hopefully you will find new enjoyment in the naturally sweet foods found in abundance.
Fruit, after all, fruit is a fiber and anti-oxidant rich package. We should love fruit. It should be like a dessert to us, but after eating a large slice of overly sweet chocolate cake, it may not shine like it should.
But sometimes we don’t give fruit a fighting chance. You know those bargain bags of apples in the stores? Who hasn’t gotten a “red delicious” bargain bag and brought them home to find the apples without any crunch, mushy, and, without a doubt, un-“delicious”. I remember a few of those bags from my childhood. Those apples don’t give fruit justice. Thankfully, now I can find “bargain bags” of truly delicious, organic Pink Lady apples for $3 (for a 3 pound bag). I have been savoring them recently.
But how do we give fruit a fighting chance? One is to buy in-season fruit. In contrast to those mushy Red Delicious apples, are the bright red, super sweet strawberries that come just once a year around here. I buy a flat at the farmer’s market or at a stand (so much cheaper, I find, then buying them at the store), and we pop the juicy sweet berries in our mouths with bliss. If we do want them in a dessert, it takes just a light dusting of unrefined sugar, and a dollop of whipped cream to make them divine. (Summer, I am really looking forward to you now!). Apples are amazing in the Fall around here. And from a state over, melons are incredible and make a great dessert.
Right now, it’s winter, so there aren’t as many options. I love frozen fruits, picked at their pick and preserved in my freezer. Berries made into a smoothie are just as good as any milkshake now to me. I also love a mango orange smoothie-a great wintertime idea, though certainly not local.
Here are a few snack or dessert ideas using fruit with no added sweeteners.
1. Fresh, Ripe Fruit with Cream
I live in the land of beautiful berries. So when they are in season, we try to make the most of it. Berries are very high in anti-oxidants and oh-so-delicious. Try them with a drizzle of pastured cream or coconut milk. If they are sweet and ripe, it will be good. Another summer treat is a ripe peach treated with the same grace of cream. Out of season, frozen berries can be made into the best smoothies.
2. Apples and Cheese or Nut Butter
A crisp apple sliced and served with a good quality cheddar is one of my favorite all favorite snacks. Now that I eat mostly dairy-free, I enjoy them with nut butters. My Maple Cinnamon Pumpkin Seed Butter has a drizzle of maple syrup, but it would be good without it too.
3. Banana Ice Cream
If you take a perfectly ripe banana and freeze it, you can whip it into a wonderful soft-serve ice cream in the food processor. One-ingredient ice cream with no added sugar? Pretty cool (no pun intended). You can get directions here. . Throw in some cocoa powder and vanilla extract for a chocolate version too!
4. Fruit Salad
In my cookbook, Fresh, Nourishing Salads for all Seasons, I share a few simple ideas for fruit salads where I pair two in-season fruits, such as melon and blueberries together. I really like to combine two fruits together in a fruit salad. It seems very elegant and more fun than serving them by themselves. In my book. I also share a simple mint honey syrup that you can use to sweeten and flavor it with, but it’s good by itself too. Of course, you can make fruit salad more complicated as well!
5. Cobblers and Fresh Fruit Pies
Bake your choice of pie crust using natural ingredients, and add your choice of ripe, sliced fruit into it. Top with whipped cream (you can lightly sweeten, if desired, such as my Maple Whipped Cream). Don’t use crunchy fruit for this idea, like apples. Rather use, berries or ripe peaches or plums. I could see a banana coconut version too. Or, you can make a cobbler, baking fruit together, deepening it’s flavor, concentrating the sweetness. Elena has an apple cobbler with just a touch of sweetener here.
6. Baked Apples
This old fashioned treat can easily be made with no added sweeteners. You can stuff the core with nuts, spices, dates and butter (or coconut oil). We love them.
7. Pan-Fried Apple Slices
This simple recipe is really good! It’s been a popular one since I posted it.
8. Toasted Nut “Larabar” Balls
The dates in this recipe sweeten this recipe and make everything stick together. In this recipe, I purposely didn’t use quite as many dates as most “Larabar” recipes do, and it’s still delicious. Dates are Nature’s candy as they are full of natural sweetness. If you are ever in California, pick up a bag of the moist, fresh dates from a local stand. They are amazing!
Those are a few of my ideas. I’d love to hear yours!