Deserts and sweet treats are one of the great pleasures at this time of year. Unfortunately most are packed with refined sugars and other ingredients, which are not great for our skin, our general health or our waistlines in excessive amounts. The good news is that you can enjoy deserts and stay healthy at the same time – yes really! Below are some recipes for healthy, nutritious deserts with health benefits for you and your skin!
Avocado & Chocolate Mousse
The avocado in this delicious chocolate mousse is rich in vitamin E and healthy monounsaturated fats, which help your skin retain moisture. Chia seeds provide more essential fats, protective antioxidants and minerals. Cocoa has stress relieving benefits and can also improve skin condition, as well as being an amazing source of antioxidants. Natural sugars are provided by the dates and banana, so there is no need for adding any sugar or sweetener.
- 1 ripe avocado
- 1 ripe banana
- 3 tbsp raw cacao powder
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- 4 medjool dates (remove stones)
- A pinch of pink salt
- ½ tsp cinnamon (optional)
- Raspberries or other berries to decorate
- Simply peel the avocado and banana, discarding the stone of the avocado, and chop into chunks
- Add along with all the other ingredients (except berries) and blend everything together until smooth and creamy
- Add water to thin to desired consistency
- Pour into small bowls or ramekins and decorate with berries
Poached Winter Fruits with Cashew Cream
Cashew nuts are another brilliant source of vitamin E and healthy fats, along with minerals zinc, iron and magnesium, for an energy boost. Soaking nuts in water makes them easier to digest and the nutrients become more available to the body. The different fruits provide vitamin c for collagen formation and to help ward off winter sniffles, along with plenty of fibre for healthy digestion. Cinnamon helps balance blood sugar.
- 2 pears, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
- 8 Dried apricots
- 8 Dried prunes
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 star anise
- 4 cloves
- Juice of 1 orange and zest of ½ the orange
- 100g cashew nuts
- 2 tsp vanilla powder
- Soak the cashew nuts in a bowl of filtered water for 30 mins to an hour, depending on how much time you have
- Meanwhile prepare the fruit by adding the pears, dried fruits, spices, orange juice and zest to a pan with about 2 tbsp water. Cover and cook gently until the pears are soft, about 15-20 mins. Remove the lid and reduce the liquid until it is thick and syrupy.
- Remove the cashews from the water but reserve the liquid, add to a hand blender with the vanilla powder and 1-2 tbsp of the reserved water. Blend until smooth, adding more water as necessary until you have a thick ‘cream’.
- Serve the fruits warm in bowls, removing the spices first, with a generous dollop of the cashew cream.
This is a wonderful, healthy, dairy-free alternative to conventional ice cream and ridiculously easy to make! It is also free from sugar and the bananas are a fantastic source of potassium, vitamin B6, magnesium and vitamin C. Cinnamon is optional but makes the nice-cream and bit more festive as well as helping to balance blood sugar levels. This goes well with Christmas pudding, anything else you would have ice cream with, or simply on its own topped with nuts. You can even have it for breakfast, I love it on buckwheat pancakes drizzled with raw chocolate sauce!
- 3 ripe bananas
- 1-2 tbsp almond milk
- ¼ tsp cinnamon (optional)
- Peel and slice the bananas, place in a Tupperware container and put in the feezer overnight
- The next morning, remove from freezer, add to a blender with a splash of almond milk and the cinnamon if using, and blend until smooth.
- Serve and enjoy!
Sugar-Free Spelt Carrot Cake
Spelt is an ancient variety of wheat, higher in nutrients and lower in gluten, which is the protein some people find difficult to digest. Spelt is high in fibre, a good source of protein and rich in minerals and vitamin B3. It is great for bread making and general baking and can be used in place of wholemeal flour in most recipes. The carrots in this cake are a brilliant source of the antioxidant and skin protector beta-carotene, also great for the immune system and healthy eyes. Pecan nuts provide healthy fats, zinc, manganese and vitamin B1.
- 150g wholemeal spelt flour
- 1 heaped tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- ½ tsp pink salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 180g grated carrot
- 1 very ripe banana, chopped
- 50g pecan nuts, chopped
- 50g plump raisins and/or sultanas
- 4 tbsp cream cheese, tofu cream cheese or thick coconut yogurt
- 1 tbsp fresh orange juice (omit if using coconut yoghurt)
- grated rind of ½ orange
- pecan halves to decorate
- Mix the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, and spices together in a bowl
- Stir in the eggs and oil and mix thoroughly
- Add the carrot, banana, nuts and raisins and mix again
- Spoon into a cake tin, greased and lined with baking paper and level the surface
- Bake for 45-55 minutes at 190°C, until golden and firm to the touch and you can pull out knife from the center, clean
- To make the topping mix ingredients together and spread over the cake once cooled. Place pecan halves on top to decorate
Baked bananas with vanilla
Almonds are another great source of skin feeding vitamin E, along with healthy fats, vitamin B2 and magnesium. Coconut yoghurt is an amazing dairy-free alternative to conventional yoghurt but still contains those beneficial live bacteria to help keep your digestive system healthy. It is available in most supermarkets now, so try it if you haven’t already!
- 2 very ripe bananas
- 2 tsp honey, maple syrup or a pinch of stevia
- A squeeze of lemon juice
- ½ tsp vanilla essence
- flaked almonds, toasted
- Coconut yoghurt or organic Greek yoghurt to serve
- Place the bananas in foil, drizzle the honey on top, and the vanilla and lemon juice. Close the foil, seal well.
- Bake for 5-10 minutes at 180°C
- Meanwhile gently toast the flaked almonds in a pan, being careful not to burn them
- Remove the bananas from the foil and transfer to a serving plate, scatter over the almonds and serve with a generous dollop of yoghurt
Wirtz PH1, von Känel R2, Meister RE2, Arpagaus A3, Treichler S3, Kuebler U3, Huber S3, Ehlert U3.Dark chocolate intake buffers stress reactivity in humans. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2014 Jun 3;63(21):2297-9.
Yoon HS1, Kim JR2, Park GY3, Kim JE2, Lee DH4, Lee K5, Chung JH6. Cocoa Flavanol Supplementation Influences Skin Conditions of Photo-Aged Women: A 24-Week Double-Blind, Randomized, Controlled Trial. J Nutr. 2015 Nov 18. pii: jn217711.