I love sweet things! Chocolate, cake, biscuits, you name it! However in the last year, I have really tried to find healthier ways of getting my chocolate fix. As it is my birthday week, this blog is all about delicious sweet things, which are healthy and cut out the rubbish. There are some very simple recipes at the end of the blog. Sugar is addictive and the more we have it, the more it messes with our blood sugar levels and then the more we crave it. It affects our mood negatively, depletes our energy levels, causes fatigue, messes with our skin, unbalances insulin levels and causes a risk of developing diabetes, obesity and heart disease. Not to mention it can cause higher risk of developing injuries or taking longer to heal if we are injured from dancing.
I had always previously considered myself to be a healthy person and a biscuit here and there wouldn’t matter as I could quickly dance it off. I think everything in moderation is fine, but it’s when it becomes an unconscious way of eating, there is a problem and we should question what processed sugar does to our insides as it sits around our vital organs once it has been converted into fats during digestion. Sugar for some people may not cause weight gain but can catch up at a later date with more sinister health conditions. Sugar is compared to a drug and after my recent health issues, it has certainly kicked me into action to really, properly take care of myself and what I put into my body. I have discovered that there are so many ways to satisfy sweet cravings, give you energy and at the same time not risking your health.
Sugar is well disguised in many of the foods that we eat in a typical western diet and it is easy to think we may not have a high sugar diet but in actual fact, sugar is in many forms of food. Apart from from the obvious foods such as sweets, biscuits and anything with added white sugar, it can also be found in bread, rice, pasta, breakfast cereals, fruit juices, low fat yoghurts and desserts, energy drinks, sodas, alcohol, ketchup, salad cream, salad dressings, croissants, bagels. It is naturally in foods such as honey, maple syrup, agave.
Our bodies are not designed to consume large amounts of sugar and are only really designed to absorb natural sugars from fruits and vegetables. The green juice, which I talked about in part 1, is a great way to start the day and is heavier in vegetables than it is in fruit, so as to not consume as much natural sugar. I now have very little sugar in my diet, in comparison to before and have been able to gradually break the pattern of eating sugar by trying out some of the unbelievably simple ideas I have gathered along the way…
I have discovered Cacao Powder (pronounced co-cow) – described as ‘the drink of the gods’. It is the purest form of chocolate and because of its purity it used to be very expensive. To make it more affordable, producers created a cheaper, synthetic chocolate (cocoa) and it is what is generally on sale in shops today. Cacao was used medicinally as it is packed with zinc, copper and magnesium and it can be used as drinking chocolate or in desserts. It is so delicious and it is so good for you. I love making healthy drinks, snacks and desserts which are hugely satisfying, energising during a busy day dancing and versatile. Here are some super, simple ones that I love:
1. Hot Chocolate – Raw Cacao powder and Almond milk. Heat the milk and stir in the chocolate. This takes the edge off of any chocolate cravings! You can always add in a splash of vanilla extract or a pinch of cinnamon for extra taste!
2. Raw Chocolate Brownies (Deliciously Ella recipe)
You will need:
400g x Medjool dates
3 x tablespoons Cacao Powder
140g x Pecan nuts
2 tablespoons x Maple syrup (optional)
1. Pulse the pecans in a food processor until crumbly. Then add in all of the other ingredients. Blend together.
2. Once the mixture is sticky, take it out the food processor and even out on a baking tray.
3. Freeze for the mixture for 1 hour. Take them out the freezer, cut into squares and then store them in the fridge.
Cacao Energy Balls (Deliciously Ella recipes)
You will need:
400g Medjool dates
4 tablespoons of cacao powder
2 tablespoons of almond butter
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
2 tablespoons of chia seeds
1. Blend the almonds so they are crushed in a food processor. Add all of the other ingredients and 2 tablespoons of water. Blend it all together.
2. Roll the mixture into balls. (It should make roughly 20).
3. Place the balls in the freezer to set for 1 hour and then remove them and store in the fridge.
Eat, Nourish, Glow (2015). Amelia Freer
Deliciously Ella (2015) Ella Woodward