You’ve just completed a hearty meal in a fine restaurant and the waiter returns with the menu, inviting you to try their decadent-looking desserts. Dessert or no dessert? This is the question that many of us mothers struggle with on a daily or weekly basis; we want to provide treats to satisfy that innate desire for sweetness, but we also have to struggle against the all too common sugar addiction and its accompanying diseases.
Today’s Sugary Habits
We don’t need to look very far to observe the dangers of feasting on ice cream and cake. There are kindergarteners on insulin for type 2 diabetes, obesity is becoming more prevalent among elementary school children and teenagers are being hospitalised for heart disease and stroke.
The times have certainly changed; our eating habits and our food choices have deteriorated, and now we’re paying the price. School canteens, corner shops, and quick-service restaurants have become regular features in our daily lives, having replaced home-cooked meals and fresh foods. These businesses provide us with shelf-stable, readily-made and pre-packaged desserts loaded with genetically-modified ingredients, synthetic preservatives, artificial flavours and unnatural colours. These individually-wrapped novelties are mass-produced and high-fat, high-calorie and sugar-laden with little to no nutrients, even though they bear the same names as the lovingly-prepared, wholesome desserts we enjoyed as children. Additionally, these treats are sold very cheaply and marketed, not as once-in-a-while bites, but snack items to enjoy between meals. Ice cream sandwiches are munched during TV time, sticky donuts and hand-held pies are served for breakfast. The average child can consume a handful of chocolates and caramels in half an hour without anyone batting an eye.
Cooking Dessert the Old Fashioned Way
When I was a child in Jamaica, we had desserts for special occasions; Easter buns and Christmas cakes during the respective holidays, sugar buns and rock cakes at special events, and my grandmother’s homemade puddings and pone whenever we had good sweet potato and corn harvests. Whenever my mother had time on the weekend, she tolerated us tangling her feet in the kitchen while she ‘rubbed up’ batches of pineapple-upside-down cake, orange cake or baking sheets of warm, flaky plantain tarts. When things were hectic, a scoop of rum n’ raisin ice cream or a small bowl of strawberry Jell-O was our Sunday afternoon delight.
Since treats were not a regular part of our diet, if we wanted something sweet after dinner, we had to make do with freshly picked fruit or baked nuts. Or, instead of drinking plain water or limeade with the evening meal, we might get to guzzle down homemade fruit juice.
When I think back to my childhood desserts, I think of homemade goodies – not the stuff from the supermarket shelves or pastry shops. My mother and grandmothers always knew exactly what went into their baked goods and sourced high quality produce to create them. I can’t help but agree with medical professionals and nutritionists who’ve been saying that we, the new generation of Mommies, need to return to real, whole foods.
Planning for Dessert
The strategy of meal planning and pre-cooking can be applied to desserts – especially if you reserve dessert for a special/Sunday night dinner. Even if you decide to satisfy your sweet tooth on a daily basis, fruit-based desserts are an excellent way to get yummy tummies without the guilt or dietary ills. You’d be amazed at how fresh fruits can be transformed, quite quickly and easily, into freezer pops, ice creams, sorbets or slushies without giving you any extra work. By searching out some whole food, plant-based recipes, you can discover dishes that are easy for children to make and allow for them to enjoy something sweet without the adverse effects of excess sugars, fat or refined carbohydrates.
Healthy Dessert Ideas
The following list of whole food plant-based desserts are a great place to start. If they become regular features in your family’s meal plans, you will certainly be decreasing the amount of ‘products’ in your diet and increasing the amount of ‘produce’ you consume. Here’s to healthy and delicious desserts, for your family and mine:
1. Mint-Melon Sorbet Recipe here
2. Raspberry Lime Freezer Pops Recipe here
3. Peanut Butter-Banana “Ice Cream” Recipe here
4. Vegan Chocolate Banana Mousse Recipe here
5. Dairy-Free Chocolate Bars Recipe here
6. Raw Strawberry Peppermint Cheesecake Recipe here
7. Coconut Cream Pie Recipe here
8. Vegan Strawberry-Banana Cupcakes Recipe here
Vegan Cinnamon Rolls Recipe here
Vegetarian Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Recipe here
Didan Ashanta is a natural living enthusiast who blogs at DidanAshanta.com. A native of Jamaica, she currently lives in Tokyo with her husband and 1-year-old daughter.