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Alternative Sweets Recipe Roundup

Alternative-Sweets-Roundup

In the United States we eat a lot of processed junk food.  I think we’ve actually become immune to the taste of it; sometimes sugary treats don’t even taste that sweet! The good news is that we can reverse the effect that years of consuming junk food has had on our taste buds and retrain our palate, in my opinion.  Or – even better! – we can orient our impressionable kids’ palates towards more whole foods from the beginning.

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My family doesn’t eat much junk food. But I come from a long line of natural sweet-tooths, so we try to satisfy that longing for sweets with reasonable choices.  We extremely rarely eat store bought sweets and are very picky when we do.  This keeps us away not only from refined sugar, but also hydrogented oils, preservatives, artificial flavors and food dyes.  I don’t stock refined white sugar, but instead turn to more natural sweeteners like maple, raw sugar, honey, or brown rice syrup to name a few.

My kids don’t bat an eye when I hand them a chickpea cookie at a birthday party as a substitute for a sugary, dyed pink cupcake.  I truly believe that since they don’t eat “normal” treats often, if ever, their little tastebuds dance at the thought of a more wholesome treat.  We started to be very committed to this way of eating out of necessity when my eldest was diagnosed with a food-dye allergy (see here for more details) but now that we’re used to these alternative sweets, we wouldn’t trade them for all the store-bought cupcakes in the world!

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Over the years I’ve come to find so many wonderful recipes using natural sweeteners. (As a bonus many are, or can be easily tweaked to be, gluetin-, dairy-, and egg-free.) It may take a bit of a detox at first, because many of them aren’t that crazy-sweet that you will find from a real, sugar-loaded cookie, for example.  But once your taste buds acclimate, these treats are delicious, and won’t leave you with a sense of nagging guilt, a sugar crash, or a mouth full of filings. My husband has actually made an argument that they’re so healthy we can just call them a salad, but I wouldn’t go quite that far.  Eat your kale, kids.

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Chickpea Cookies

Without further ado, here are a handful of my favorite alternative sweets recipes.

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Chocolate Cranberry Oat Bars

 

Chickpea Cookies via Texinerin

My variation: I use good-quality dark chocolate, chopped in small chunks in substitution for the mini chocolate chips.  These are much better warm, straight out of the oven.  I roll mine all into balls and then store them in the fridge in an airtight container.  Then just pop a few at a time into the over and  enjoy warm, homemade cookies!

Chocolate Cranberry Oat Bars via New Nostalgia

My variation: I cut down to scant 1/2 cup honey and scant 1 cup good-quality dark chocolate chopped in small chunks, and increase to 3 1/2 cups organic rolled oats and 1 cup dried cranberries

German Chocolate Fudge Bites via Chocolate Covered Kate

Peanut Butter Cookies via 101 Cookbooks

* Note on the peanut butter in these recipes: DO NOT use brands like Jiff! Ingredients should be nothing but peanuts and salt.

Coconut Loaf reprinted with permission from Sprouted Kitchen: a Tastier Take on Whole Food. Visit the blog at Sprouted Kitchen for other tasty treats.

1/4 cup extra-virgin coconut oil, melted plus more for the pan
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
3/4 cup turbinado sugar
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 (13.5-ounce can coconut milk)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup organic powdered sugar, or more as needed
2 cups fresh blackberries, for serving on the side
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease an 8.5 inch loaf pan (or 2 mini loaf pans), with a bit of coconut oil.

Spread the shredded coconut on a rimmed backing sheet and toast in the oven until just golden brown, about 4 minutes. Watch it carefully, it can burn quickly. Set aside 1/2 cup for topping the loaf.

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1.5 cups of the toasted coconut and the turbinado sugar. Sift in the flours, nutmeg (or cinnamon as I did), baking powder, baking soda, and salt and stir to combine. In another bowl, whisk the eggs together, then whisk in 1 cup of the coconut milk, coconut oil, and the vanilla. Gently stir the wet mixture in to the dry ingredients until just combined. Pour the mixture into the loaf pan(s) and bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. 45-50 minutes for a full sized loaf pan, about 25-30 minutes for the mini pans. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature.

While the loaf is cooling, combine 1/4 of the remaining coconut milk and the powdered sugar in a bowl and whisk until there are no clumps. Add more sugar or more coconut milk, to taste, depending on the consistency you prefer. (You won’t use the entire can of coconut milk). Pour the glaze over the cooled cake and sprinkle the remaining toasted coconut on top. Cut into slices. Toast each slice, if you like.  Serve with a handful of fresh blackberries.

Note, while this recipe boasts a longer ingredient list and is a little more involved than the others, it is absolutely delicious.  In my opinion it is sweet enough without the glaze, but for a special occasion this “frosting” is great!

Makes 8 slices.

For more inspiration on alternative sweets visit my Pinterest board. You’re sure to find something you want to make – and eat! – tonight!

Mollie is a wife to a wonderful man and stay at home Mama to two beautiful and energetic little girls. She has lived in South Orange County for most of her life and enjoys crafting, running, clean and natural living, party planning, and being involved in her community and church. She believes that being a Mom was and is her highest calling and attempts to give her girls a wide array of different experiences. From soccer cleats to tutus, running races to finding the perfect hair bow, she wants them to grow up knowing that they can be both girly and strong.
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