Paleo Desserts

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Flourless Mocha Bacon Brownies!

(recipe from Practical Paleo cookbook and posted here)

 

 

 

In the past couple of years my opinion of the Paleo diet has cycled from:  annoyance/seriously these people are going to give themselves heart disease, to curiosity, to educating myself on its philosophy, to let’s give it a 30 day trial and see what happens, to finally ending back in reality but with some new favorite dessert recipes.

Paleo desserts.  Those words together are kind of humorous, a bit of an oxymoron.  Did the cavemen really have almond flour?  Paleo dessert recipes have become another internet craze, however most Paleo enthusiasts would agree that they are meant to play a small role in a healthy diet rather than be a daily event.  The overall premise of Paleo is real foods– otherwise known as foods found in nature that our ancestors relied on:  pasture-raised or wild animals, generous amounts of produce and avoiding modern-day processed junk as well as dairy, vegetable oils, legumes and grains.  Many variations exist such as low-carb Paleo or the inclusion of certain dairy products.  The shunning of legumes and whole grains is a controversial can of worms that I won’t open up right now.  All I have to say about that is some things work for some people– but we are all different.

It does seem like I write an awful lot about desserts and sweet things.  Please don’t think that is all I eat. :)  I happen to have a passion for “healthified” sweets and this doesn’t mean that I don’t promote a diet based on a variety of wholesome foods.  Vegetables, fruits, tubers, eggs, nuts/nut butters, meats, fish and seafood make up the base of my diet, honest they do!

But I love being in my kitchen concocting something chocolately, sweet and delicious made from real-food ingredients.  Putting the salmon in the oven and stir frying veggies is all good fun too but does not produce the same level of therapy.  🙂

Actually, Paleo desserts aren’t that different from my usual vegan treat recipes, only now I use eggs (and Ok, the occasional bacon)– and eggs really can make an AWESOME difference.  Except the bummer is you can’t eat the batter and you must wait until it’s cooked before sampling.

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I’ve had fun experimenting with several Paleo muffin recipes.  The truth is they are better than any vegan muffin I ever had.

Paleo Pumpkin Muffins from Paleo Plan.  Chocolate chips added by moi.

 

The thing I really like about many of the Paleo-inspired dessert recipes out there is that they don’t use sugar, wheat flour or vegetable oil.  A quick beef about “vegetable” oils which #1, are really not even from vegetables, and #2 are super refined and processed at high temperatures, which leads to oxidation and damage to the once-healthy fats.  I question whether our bodies are meant to handle these concentrated extractions of a seed, corn or a bean.  It’s one thing to eat sunflower seeds, corn or soybeans but to cook with large amounts of a pressed out portion of a once-whole food?   Many of these oils are rich in omega-6 fatty acids which are inflammatory and extremely susceptible to heat, light and oxygen.  They are protected inside the seed but once processed they become exposed to all three damaging factors.  Personally, I vote for using a saturated fat like coconut butter or even, yes dare I say it,  a good quality butter (organic, grass-fed).  Who would have ever dreamed that with all we were taught back in dietitian classes that  saturated fats would ever be promoted for health!?

And that canola oil we’ve all heard is so healthy?  The oil dietitians are *supposed* to recommend as being one of the healthiest oils to use?  Take a look at this video about its production and think again.  Washing the oil for 20 minutes in sodium hydroxide?  Filtering out waxes?  Bleaching it??  The really strange thing is, the video does not seem to be anti-canola oil and talks like these are all normal ways to process a food intended for human consumption.  I would not even eat canola seeds in their whole form, let alone what’s found in a bottle labeled canola oil.  And cottonseed oil–?  I see that occasionally in an ingredient list and quickly put it back on the shelf.

Time to stop ranting about oils posing as health foods and back to something happy.  I made a couple of paleo pumpkin pies this fall and they came out excellent!  Instead of my usual tofu this called for coconut milk and eggs and only 1/4 cup of maple syrup to sweeten the whole pie.

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Enjoy your sweets if you like them.  They don’t automatically equal junk food if made with quality ingredients that give nutritional value and are eaten as part of a diet composed of real foods.  Instead of making your food choices solely on taste, get in the habit of considering the health factor as well.   Once you begin to make better choices, you realize how great you feel and you will see that you don’t need all those highly processed foods you thought you did.  Life is too short to settle for store-bought sweets with yuck ingredients stripped of their nutrients.

Check out those flourless mocha bacon brownies again:

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I opened the oven to take them out only to find that they had exploded!

They settled down a few minutes later and were perfectly fine:

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I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season.  This can be a tough time of year for many reasons, the abundance of baked goods and chocolates being only one.  As we approach the shortest day of the year you may be finding it hard to stay as active as you were this summer.  No sooner did those “it’s too hot” excuses end than the “it’s too cold” began.  And then there is the always popular “I don’t have time” to which I recently heard is the grown-up version of “the dog ate my homework”  which made me laugh because it is so true.  I know you’ve heard it too many times and deep inside you know it but I’m going to remind you once more:  Get outside.  Go for a walk or a run.  Play soccer or baseball in the yard with your kids.  Throw the frisbee with your friends or take your dog to the beach.   When you don’t feel like doing it now, remind yourself that your body (and mind) will thank you for it when you are done.  Just like the healthy foods you eat today will be the makeup of your future body/mind.  Strive to bask in the sunshine for a few moments when you can.  Those moments are much rarer than in the warmer months which can make the rays feel even more special and healing.

Coming soon:  Meal ideas.  Yes, I will write about something other than chocolate!  There seems to be a lot of confusion about what to eat for quick, easy meals.  I always say just pair up a protein and some veggies.  I often get blank looks so I am going to make the effort to take some photos of MY quick, easy meals to give you some ideas.  Meanwhile, make sure you make some healthy sweet noms (bacon optional) for a healthy holiday.

 

 

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