Sacha's passions include Jesus, fitness, food, learning, and helping people achieve their potential.
I'm very into desserts. Ever since I was little, I've had a massive sweet tooth. In my teens, however, I started looking around for healthier ways to get my chocolate fix. I went through a bit of a phase where I was vegan/wannabe raw-foodist. It was during that time that I discovered raw desserts. I was amazed. I couldn't believe you could make a cake without cooking it or that a crust could be made from nuts. Unfortunately, all of these recipes relied heavily on "healthy" sweeteners like maple syrup, honey, or agave.
Now, I'm not saying these things are terrible and should be avoided—they are much, much better alternatives than sugar, and I often put a bit of honey in a warm drink when it's cold or if I'm fighting something—but I am saying that (like anything), in copious amounts, these things do more damage than good. They're pretty much liquid carbs, and I was routinely putting between 1/4 cup and 1 cup of these sweeteners in my desserts.
The thing that I have discovered is that you don't really need these sweeteners 90% of the time, because there are often other elements that can give recipes the sweetness you need. I started to look into this when I began Crossfit, and my eyes were opened to eating healthily with healthy foods. For example, you might have a banana, an apple, and an orange every day, and consider that really healthy. Sure, these foods are great—they're packed with vitamins, minerals, and all sorts of other good stuff. They are, however, really dense in fructose, and too much of this can spike your insulin big time and can be quite detrimental. So, it's good to keep an eye on how much fruit you eat.
This was big news to me. Beforehand, I figured if I ate foods that are typically considered healthy, my diet was fine. However it's important to take into account the sorts of foods you are eating and what sort of macronutrients they contain (e.g. protein, carbohydrates, fats). You can eat sweet potato all day long, but you aren't going to get enough protein or good fat out of that alone. Keep in mind that working out what works for your body is a journey. I think I'll probably be tweaking what I eat for many years to come.
Anyway, when I heard my coaches hadn't had raw desserts before, I quickly set about correcting this and made something along the lines of a chocolate and raspberry cake. It was from there, as I discovered new approaches to diet, that I started to think about ways to reduce the amounts of honey, maple syrup, agave, and other sweet elements (like banana) I put in things. I was trying to get away with a great-tasting recipe that didn't call for that much sweet stuff.
That's when I discovered dates. I reckon dates are totally underrated. They give sweetness (and yes are very carbohydrate-dense, but I believe it is a better alternative, plus they aren't in pure liquid form) and are so versatile. They are often in recipes with honey etc, so I wondered if I could just stick with the dates and omit the liquid sweetener. Since then, I've been experimenting with different flavors and different recipes. It's been lots of fun!
Moving on, here is the recipe for a granola that I threw together today!
- 2 cups dates
- 375 grams macadamias
- 3/4–1 cup cashews
- 2 spoons chia seeds
- 2 generous spoons coconut oil (to be melted)
- 2 heaped spoons raw cocoa powder
- Blend the dates until they're well chopped.
- Add in the macadamias and melted coconut oil.
- Blend until the ingredients are mixed together well.
- Add the cashews, chia seeds, and cocoa powder.
- Blend until desired consistency is achieved.
- Serve with coconut milk or, like I did this afternoon, with some mixed berry coconut yogurt. Enjoy!
Note: If the mixture is too dry, add in a touch of water or some more melted coconut oil.
© 2017 Sacha Elms