A Pretty Sweet Alternative

Posted by Kristin Beale in Life After Paralysis on June 03, 2021 # Lifestyle

My grandparents always have ice cream in their freezer. My grandfather, Papa, is a countryman in every sense of the word: a cattle farmer, a hard worker, and a Southern accent. There are hundreds of more things that make him special, but I’m focusing on his accent and the way he talks about his “cream” after dinner every night. They always have ice cream, and that’s no exaggeration.

When I was moving into my own house, I liked the idea of always having some kind of food in stock- just like my grandparents. I considered Jell-O shots, chocolate, and cookies, mostly because I don’t like those very much and wouldn’t be tempted to overindulge. I also liked the idea of learning how to cook really well and being able to make myself gourmet meals in my new kitchen.

Spoiler: I lived alone for 6 years, I still don’t cook for myself, hardly ever, and my food supply is extremely inconsistent.

I lived without accountability for so many years that I did, however, figure out how to indulge between meals (i.e., satisfy the sweet tooth) without completely compromising my health; when I’m craving “something a little sweet” outside of mealtime, I have some healthier alternatives. There are hundreds of choices out there, but here are a few of my favorites:

  1. Fruit, but make it fun. This sounds like a lame way to start the list but hang with me. I’ve frozen pieces of banana with a plop of peanut butter (or chocolate) on top; mashed up apples to make healthier applesauce (with honey instead of sugar); mixed berries with yogurt and freeze it into a popsicle, and; more basic, freeze grapes and eat them like popcorn.
  2. Cookies! Don’t let me fool you: these aren’t going to taste like normal cookies. They will, though, satisfy the sweet. The recipes I found online use rolled oats, a sugar substitute like honey, some flour, and real vegetables (or fruit). Please trust me that these can be good. My personal favorite is carrot cake oatmeal cookies with real carrots.
  3. Avocados, in your smoothies or pudding, is a game-changer. Before you laugh off-putting avocado in dessert food, think of the texture (not the taste) of an avocado: thick, creamy, customizable, and nutritionally dense. Best, you can’t even taste it. Make sure to look up a recipe for chocolate peanut butter, chocolate, or vanilla avocado pudding. Again, there are hundreds of recipes for hundreds of avocado-flavor combinations. I add cauliflower to my smoothies for an equally healthy and tasteless option, but let’s take one step at a time here.
  4. Ice cream, without all the extra stuff. There are only two ingredients to my recipe, so this is a hack for my busy friends and the ones who want ice cream without added sugar. Bananas are one of the sweetest fruits, so they make a great base for ice cream. Cut up, then freeze a banana, throw it in a blender with peanut butter, cocoa powder, or any kind of berry, then mix it up! As long as your ingredients are frozen, it’ll make ice cream. Some recipes say to add milk or heavy cream, but that’s easy enough. We’re making my grandparents proud with this one.
  5. I saved my favorite for last, which is chia seeds. Chia is great because they just look like tiny seeds, but they can expand to absorb liquids around them. Chia seeds have no taste of their own, so they take on the flavor of the liquid they’re filling up with. For example, I fill a cup with chia seeds and almond milk, add a couple of drops of vanilla extract, mush up a banana, add some peanut butter, and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. The breakfast time result is something like pudding, but without any kind of guilt. A tiny chia seed turns into an almond milk balloon, and fills your stomach! It’s wonderful.Kristin and her husband

These are just a few of my go-to dessert alternatives, but I guarantee there’s something out there for everyone. Moderation, both in full-sugar desserts and in my healthier desserts, is the keyword; any food is okay to eat, as long as you watch your serving size. With healthier desserts, your serving size can be a little bigger.

My now-husband moved in with me almost two years ago, he took over the grocery shopping, and my house now has a reliable stock of Oreo cookies for me to talk myself out of, every time I open the pantry. I’ve convinced myself that it’s okay to eat an Oreo occasionally, as long as I don’t make a habit of eating the 10 that I want. Practice moderation, along with the opportunity for a healthier option, and you can stay on top of your health and your cravings.

Kristin Beale is a native of Richmond, Virginia. She is the author of two books, Greater Things and A Million Suns, and a comic book, Date Me. Check them out and read an excerpt at https://kristinbeale.com/. Her comics can be found on Instagram @Greater.Things.Comics.

This project was supported, in part, by grant number 90PRRC0002, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy.