Healthy Desserts with Surprising Ingredients

No one really wants to give up dessert when they choose a healthy lifestyle. Desserts are often high in sugar, fat and carbs, while also being nutritionally void, so we’re advised to skip them if we can, or replace them with fruit. But what about boosting the nutritional value of desserts while reducing processed sugars? That’s where these delicious recipes come in! Each one of these recipes contains a VEGETABLE surprise. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Brownies (V, GF)

These are, in short, incredible. This recipe calls for the larger, more expensive Medjool dates, but I’ve made them with regular dates and they are so deliciously textured. I use brown rice flour instead of buckwheat flour and honey instead of maple syrup and get wonderful results every time. They’re rich, fudgy and sinful feeling without using any processed sugar.

 

Chickpea Blondies (V, GF)

These are good. Dangerously good. As in I ate the entire pan by myself in 2 days good. The best part is they’re not overly sweet, and there’s something really satisfying to me about the slight graininess of the finished product. It feels like it’s loaded with sugar while being totally natural. As usual I subbed out the maple syrup for honey and used regular non-vegan chocolate chips. I’d love to make these again next week but to be totally honest with you I don’t need a binge food just lying around the place. They’re THAT good.

 

Not Quite Banana Bread (GF, DF)

I adore parsnips. They’re sweet and floral and might just be perfect for dessert, and apparently during WWII bananas were scarce and housewives used parsnips as substitutes! Maybe I can adapt this to be pure parsnip bread someday. This recipe is dairy free and gluten free but not vegan as it does contain eggs. Although perhaps flax eggs could be substituted to convert this recipe to full vegan. I haven’t given this recipe a shot yet but I’m super excited about trying it!

Cauliflower “Rice” Pudding (Paleo, GF, DF)

I need to try this, for serious. Growing up, rice pudding was a regular staple in our house. My Gran’s rice pudding was always warm and rather thin, spiced with cinnamon, and often made with raisins. But rice pudding made from CAULIFLOWER?! Is there anything cauliflower can’t do? This rice pudding does contain egg to form the custard, but it’s dairy free. And it sounds SO GOOD. Can’t wait to try it!

So there are tons of interesting vegetable dessert recipes out there that are healthy for you to try! I even left over a beet cake because honestly I don’t like beets very much, but a quick Pinterest search will reveal plenty!

Even when eating healthy, you CAN have dessert!

Life with the Volume Up

Mental health has always been a strong part of this blog. As of late, though, I’ve been struggling to write much of anything at all. My own emotional health has been suffering. Part of this is some life changes I’ve been going through, that I don’t really wish to address here. Part of this is also hormonal, due to stress. And part of it is just that I am a deeply emotional person.

Relatively recently I’ve realized that I’m what’s called a Highly Sensitive Person. It manifest itself in me as feeling everything, and I mean everything, more deeply than the average person. I used to tell people I wasn’t much of a crier, because I believed it to be true. But the past 5 years have really been revealing to me just how many tears I’ve shed over the course of my life.

I have very strong memories of being a small child and my adoptive mom telling me that my tears weren’t real: that they were crocodile tears, that I was faking it. When I got my heart broken by my very first love in high school, I was an absolute mess for at least a month. I remember binge watching movies (before Netflix was even a thing) just to keep myself distracted.

I’ve felt hurt from every person that’s left my life, regardless of the reason. Hell, our downstairs neighbors moved away a little more than 6 months ago, and even though we weren’t more than passing acquaintances I always ask myself if I could have been a better neighbor. Abandonment is my biggest fear: the silent threat that people I care about will leave me is what keeps me up at night.

I crave intimacy from all people. I have always been willing to give myself to others emotionally, wanting to share who I am in hopes of learning, in return, who they are. For me, beauty is in the totality of someone, not just their parts. I believe that the more you know someone, the easier it is to love them, because you can see how they wind their way through the world. The sad part for me is how not everyone feels comfortable sharing those parts of themselves.  I both understand and lament this fact.

I won’t ever stop laying myself bare for others, even if it’s not returned. Even if it makes me sad that someone doesn’t want to connect, even if it means I will mourn for the closeness I’m not destined to have. Because someday someone will look at me and SEE me, and allow me to see them right back, and it will make all of it worth it.

You see, there isn’t anything wrong with me. I just live my life with the volume turned up.

I’m incredibly lucky to have a few friends who can see I need help in the way I type. My friend Sharon can tell with a text message if I need girl time, and my friend Chris can tell by my typing tone if I’m feeling down. There are even a few friends who just send me tiny emoticons, or cute animal videos, or goofy Snapchat filtered pics just to make me smile (I love those people). The thing is, I’ve been feeling down a lot lately. More than I’ve been feeling good. And when I feel this way, my brain lies its full head off to me. I feel unworthy of friendship, of love, and the urge to apologize for *feeling* is an overwhelming compulsion.

More than one person in the last month has told me I’m a good person and each time it has sent me to tears. I want to feel worthy of such praise. My heart says to believe it but my brain sows the seeds of doubt. I do, however, believe it when people say I’m kind, even though I occasionally feel like a total douchenozzle.

The point? The point is I love so much more than I hate, and that while I sometimes feel broken or fragile, the truth is I’m strong. I keep going back out there with my heart open, because this is who I am, world. This is who I am.

Guest Post – Susan Conley: Slow Cooked Kale Sweet Potato Chicken Stew

Hi everyone! Today I’m pleased to present a guest post by Susan Conley from cookthestone.com! She’s sharing with us a delicious sounding recipe for Slow Cooked Kale Sweet Potato Chicken Stew. I do hope you’ll check out her blog and give us some feedback below in the comments!

How to make a slow cooked kale sweet potato chicken stew

Many people want quick and easy to cook meals, such as canned oyster stew and fried marinated pork with herb butter. And I can’t blame them, especially those who are always in a rush. If you’re working full-time, then you would appreciate making quick meals.

But sometimes, slow cooking can also be advantageous and healthy. Take for instance, slow cooking chicken.

Slow cooked chicken is loaded with the essential nutrients that you need to last the day. Moreover, it can also be considered convenient. Think about it— you simply toss the chicken into the slow cooker, set it and attend to your other tasks at home. After 4 to 5 hours, you would be ready to serve a delicious and healthy dinner for your family.

Continue reading to learn more about the benefits of eating slow cooked chicken. Later, I will share a kale sweet potato chicken stew.

Benefits of eating slow cooked chicken

Slow cooked chicken is considered healthier than grilled chicken. Why? It’s because grilling chicken can trigger glycation between sugars, proteins, and fats. Glycation is a result of burning meat. Worse, it can convert nutrients into compounds that cause cancer, damage arteries and organs.

On the other hand, slow cooking chicken is healthier because the meat is not directly in contact with the heat. Thus, it won’t cause a toxic reaction that may potentially lead to glycation.

Slow cooked chicken can also help in keeping our heart healthy. This is due to its high levels of taurine, an amino acid that supports good cardiovascular health. Taurine can increase the levels of good cholesterol in the body. It can also prevent arterial disorders and blood clots that may lead to stroke or an aneurysm.

Slow cooked chicken is also a great source of protein. This mineral is best known for building and repairing muscles. It can also promote weight loss. Protein also builds and repairs tissues, from the hair to the heart.

Finally, slow cooking chicken can preserve the nutrients found in the poultry. Nutrients are retained by trapping the chicken in a container. Slow cooking chicken can also enhance the natural flavors of the meat.

Tips in slow cooking chicken

Now that you are convinced that slow cooking chicken is the way to go, you might be raring to try the kale sweet potato chicken stew that I was mentioning earlier.

But before we go to the recipe, here are some pointers to keep in mind when slow cooking chicken:

  1. Don’t overcrowd the slow cooker. It’s okay to slow cook whole chickens as long as it won’t overcrowd the cooker. The cooker should be up to two-thirds full, and its lid should fit snugly on top.
  2. Leave it alone. Don’t take the lid off now and then as it would only release some of the heat, resulting in increased cooking time.
  3. The proper way of layering: cut your ingredients into uniform-size pieces so that you would end up with even cooking. You should also place root vegetables like potatoes and carrots at the bottom of the slow cooker, with the chicken on top.
  4. Never use frozen food. Loading a crock pot with chicken that’s fresh from the freezer is a bad idea. Aside from the obvious reason that it would take a while for the poultry to get cooked, it can also be dangerous because bacteria can flourish in the food. Thus, the chicken, as well as the veggies, must be fully thawed before you put them on the cooker.
  5. Fresh herbs or even a squeeze of lemon juice can enhance the flavor of long-cooked recipes. I usually add these towards the end of the cooking process.

Kale Sweet Potato Chicken Stew

Ingredients:

  • One pound of chicken breasts, slice into chunks
  • One onion, diced
  • Three carrots, peeled and cubed
  • One big sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • Three cloves of garlic, minced
  • One-third cup of tomato paste
  • Three tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • Two teaspoons of gluten-free yellow mustard
  • Three bay leaves
  • A bunch of kales, with the stems removed and broken into pieces
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Step by step guide:

  1. Start by washing the chicken and slicing it into chunk size pieces. Place the cut chicken into a pot of slow cooker.
  2. Add the cubed carrots, diced onion, and cubed sweet potatoes.Then add the garlic, tomato, chicken broth, vinegar, bay leaves and mustard. Stir to mix.
  3. Place the crock pot on high heat for 4 to 5 hours. You’ll know that it is almost cooked when the sweet potato and carrots are tender. Add kale in the last hour and stir to combine.
  4. Remove the bay leaves before serving.

That’s it! This recipe should make 4 to 5 servings. It may take hours for the chicken to get cooked, but it’s the perfect recipe if you are at home and you have a lot of things to work on.

Conclusion

Slow cooking chicken has many health benefits. It is also ideal for homemakers who are very busy, as they can let the slow cooker do its thing while they attend to their tasks at home.

How do you find this recipe? Let me hear from you by writing in the comments section below.

Interested in learning more about glycation?

You can read this page for more information.
There are some scientific studies that I’ve read about glycation worldwide: