Healthy Dessert – Isn’t That an Oxymoron?

by GregP_WN

Kendall Scott, CHHC

In my quest to eat better and live a healthier lifestyle after my cancer diagnosis at the age of 27, I’ve realized that there is one thing I just can’t (or won’t?) give up: Dessert.

Oatmeal Raisin Balls

Sweets seem to serve multiple purposes in my life. They help to pick me up after a bad, stressful day. They are a reward to myself after working hard on something or feeling like I just deserve a “sweet” break. And they also offer a sense of camaraderie with my girlfriends. (I mean, seriously. Who hasn’t bonded over 7 layer chocolate cake with a gal pal?)

Now, while the health coach in me is saying, “Yes, but we must find other, healthier outlets for stress, other rewards and other ways to bond with friends,” I also know what the sweet-lover in me is saying: “Screw that! I want my gosh-darn chocolate chip cookies!” Or cake. Or whoopie pie. Or chocolates. You get what I’m saying.

When I was going through the chemo deal, I would sometimes have something sweet to treat myself. I figured if there was any time in my life that I deserved my dessert, it was when I couldn’t stomach most foods and was feeling like total crap. Plus I had friggin’ cancer! I should be able to do and eat whatever I want!

While my sweet tendencies still exist, I have discovered a few things as my diet have improved: 

1) As I‘ve added in healthier foods (especially leafy green veggies!), my sweet cravings have subsided quite a bit.
2) I definitely don’t enjoy highly processed, ridiculously sweet stuff anymore. I used to be a sweet junk food junkie, but now I tend to want more homemade baked goods that I know have been made without lots of added crap, like artificial sweeteners and preservatives.
3) I don’t feel the need to beat myself up if I do have dessert. I savor it and move on. I know that overall, I’m eating a pretty great diet. One little piece of pie isn’t going to hurt.
4) I just don’t want sweets as much. My body is more balanced from eating better, and so I don’t have all the cravings I used to. When I do, I find it’s usually linked to emotional ups and downs. When this is the case, I do try to substitute a healthier choice, like de-stressing with a massage or a walk, or celebrating something with friends and some homemade raw chocolate (Psst! Try this amazing recipe for Chocolate Walnut Bark!
5) I enjoy finding healthier sweet treats. If I can make some cookies using whole wheat flour and honey instead of refined white flour and refined white sugar, then I do! This is an awesome compromise – I can indulge a bit, but I know it’s a healthier choice.

To show you that dessert doesn’t have to equal “bad for you,” today I’m sharing one of the sweet recipes from our book, Kicking Cancer in the Kitchen. These Oatmeal Raisin Balls use nothing but whole foods, are so easy to make and help fulfill your sweet desires. And what better time to introduce a new sweet treat into your life, with today being Valentine’s Day? Enjoy!

Oatmeal Raisin Balls

Yield: makes 18 to 20 small balls
1 cup dates, pitted
1 3/4 cups oats
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon chia seeds
3/4 cup raisins

Soak the dates in filtered water for ten minutes. Drain off the water. Combine the oats, cinnamon, dates and chia seeds in a food processor then process until the ingredients stick together, forming a “dough.” If the dough mixture doesn’t stick together well, add one to two teaspoons of filtered water. Add the raisins and process until combined. Use your fingers to press the dough into small balls for serving. Store balls in the refrigerator, covered, for up to ten days.

Our Blog Post today is from one of our WhatNexters, Kendall Scott, CHHC. Health Coach, Co-Founder of and Coauthor of Kicking Cancer in the Kitchen: The Girlfriend’s Cookbook and Guide to Using Real Food to Fight Cancer

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