Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Basics : Easy desserts and a cookie recipe



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True Paleoites will be horrified at the thought that dessert could be considered a Basic, but I think for any way of eating to be successful for the long term it's necessary to be realistic.

Cavemen didn't balk at eating the occasional treat. If they stumbled upon a batch of ripe berries you can be sure they ate their fill. They didn't wonder if it fit in with their way of eating. It was tasty and it was edible, and that's probably all they cared about.


With saying that, they didn't have any chocolate rivers, candy trees or birds dropping exotic fruits from the sky.

We don't either (other than in the movies), but these things are easy for us to acquire, so certainly we do have cause to think about what we eat more than they did.

Many people believe sweet things can be part of a Paleo diet if you use moderation, and of course that's the key.

Moderation doesn't mean on a daily basis. However, unless you have specific health issues, indulging once or twice a week in healthy Paleo desserts probably won't hurt.


Here are a few easy ways you can do that and keep both you and your family happy and not feeling deprived.

Fruit and Cream



Fruit with cream - whipped or plain, sweetened with a little maple syrup or honey if desired, is a basic dessert recipe which will satisfy your sweet tooth without taking you of the Paleo track. You can use any kind of berry - blackberry, strawberry, blueberry or raspberry. If you wish you can also add a bit of cut up melon which is the next best choice when it comes to Paleo fruit.

To make it into a fancier dessert for weekends or special occasions you can make a parfait by layering in a wine glass. Start with a puree of berries you can quickly make yourself by blending in a blender with a little sweetener of your choice. Then add layers of berries separated by layers of whipped cream, and top with crushed nuts and more cream. (Toasting the nuts in a 350'F oven first for 15 minutes will make this even more delicious.) I think they used Granola in the picture above, but let's pretend it's just toasted nuts.


As a super splurge you could use some cubes of nut bread as well instead of the pound cake pictured above.  My almond bread recipe is sweet enough to be used in this.
almond bread recipe



Crepes with fruit

 Crepes can be easily made and kept in your freezer.  Use the same recipe I gave you for egg noodle crepes that I used in the chicken noodle soup, but instead of herbs add a pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon.

egg crepes recipe

Remember these freeze very well so a package of these in the freezer will give you instant desserts.  Just remember if you make both kinds to label them.  Herb crepes will taste funny with berries.

 Once you have the crepes you can use a filling of any kind of fruit that's in season and top with some sweetened or unsweetened whipped cream.






The variations on this dessert are endless. You can drizzle with chocolate, top with crushed nuts, or even add a spoon of cocoa to the batter and make chocolate crepes. The only limit is your imagination.







Easy 4 Ingredient cookies

No household with children can reasonably be expected to go without cookies for any length of time.  My personal view is that while I want my children to be healthy and therefore will not feed them grain products, I also want them to be able to fit in with their friends, so having good substitutes is a necessity.  I think the solution is to make sure you always have healthy cookies on hand, and this is a great basic.

There are many variations of this cookie recipe that has been around for years. Some people add vanilla and a teaspoon of baking soda, but I find they work just as well without these ingredients.

Use crunchy almond butter or smooth depending on your personal preference - they work with both. And for even more decadence add chocolate chips.

WARNING : These are very addictive so unless you have a lot of will power or are making these for your family I wouldn't make them too often.


Ingredients :

- 1 cup of almond butter
- 1/2 cup of almond flour (or ground almonds) - this might not be necessary (see my update below)
- 1/2 cup of maple syrup (or honey)
- 1 egg
- 1 cup dark chocolate chips (optional)



 Directions :

- Pre-heat oven to 375'F
- Mix the egg with the almond flour, then add almond butter and maple syrup until you have a smooth dough.
 - Roll into 15 balls and place on non-stick cookie sheet. (or use parchment paper)
- Press the cookie with a fork or the bottom of a glass until flat and about 1/3" thick. - Bake for 10 minutes.
- Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then remove from tray and place on rack to cool completely, otherwise they will crumble.  Making small cookies instead of large ones like I did would probably help with this.

This makes one tray of  15 reasonably large cookies.

These can be frozen once baked. I haven't tried freezing the dough. I have also tried them with coconut four instead of almond and they were very good but with a different texture. And I would think they would work with different nut butters as well, so if you're feeling adventurous that's something else to try.

UPDATE  - These days I use coconut sugar instead of honey or maple syrup because of it's lower glycemic value (see my post here) and I find that I really don't need to use almond flour at all, which makes this recipe even simpler.

It also makes the cookies very flakey, so make sure to use parchment paper and to cook the cookies on the tray before trying to put them onto a rack.  I usually leave mine at least half an hour.



If you have children and are going to be making cookies on a regular basis, you might want to consider investing in a half size baking pan.  These are very sturdy and easily cleaned.  They also are big enough to make a lot of cookies at a time, but best of all you can buy packages of ready cut parchment paper in the right size.

Once you own this pan and the parchment paper you will find there will be absolutely no cleanup required.  Just cover the pan with parchment, bake, throw out the parchment, wipe the pan and put it away.  Another way to save time and energy in the kitchen.

You do have to make sure you keep a stack of parchment paper on hand, but you can even get around that. Silicon baking mats work the same way, and are washable and reusable.This is another case where a small investment can really make life easier.


These recipes, together with my microwave chocolate cake and chocolate covered strawberries will give you lots of dessert options - probably more than you need for everyday use.  (Remember other fruit can be dipped in chocolate for a quick dessert as well.)
microwave chocolate cake and chocolate covered strawberries recipes

And when you are really stuck for something sweet, any kind of fruit with a little sweetened yogurt or cream is always a terrific dessert.

Lastly, there is always chocolate fondue.  Just cut up fruit, squares of almond bread, and even throw in a few whole nuts for good measure, and you have an amazing company dessert.  (Add a couple of spoons of butter to the dark chocolate when you're melting it.  This will not only keep it runny but give you a nice shiny glaze as well.)


I realize that many of you have small children with lunch boxes to fill, starving teenagers, and husbands (or wives) with a sweet tooth that needs soothing. And a dinner party isn't a party without dessert. Serve any of these and you won't go far wrong.

 Certainly they are a much healthier alternative than normal desserts you can buy, and with crepes, cookies and frozen berries in your freezer as well as some dark chocolate in your fridge, you won't be tempted the next time you are faced with the sugar-laiden dessert section of your local store.



 “Life isn't about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.”   - George Bernard Shaw






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