Alexandra Jamieson’s passion is helping professional women enhance their ability to excel and achieve, using healthy food as a catalyst. She’s the author of The Great American Detox Diet, Living Vegan For Dummies, and Vegan Cooking For Dummies; founder of Nutrition for Empowered Women; and a very busy vegan mompreneur. Today she shares three easy, healthy, delicious, and unprocessed desserts that you’re sure to love.
If you just discovered October: Unprocessed, welcome! Find out more and take the pledge. Don’t worry that it’s nearly the end of October — you can start your 30 days today or simply join in for the rest of the month.
After a day of riding my son to school and back in his bike trailer, conference calls, writing articles, testing recipes, and riding to pick up my son again at the end of the day, my body and mind are a bit frazzled and tuckered out.
Luckily most of my meals are thought out in advance, and I’m rarely at a loss for what to prepare. Eleven years of working in restaurants, preparing for and teaching cooking classes, and writing three cookbooks have honed my grocery shopping and menu planning skills.
Still, I sometimes find myself getting into a rut of having the same seven or eight dinners on shuffle, depending on the season. The last 27 breakfasts, lunches, and dinners have re-awakened a sense of excitement in planning my family meals. While going to the farmers’ market was already a twice-weekly occurrence, I found myself venturing to new areas of the familiar stands, and asking more questions of the veggie kings and queens that rule the mystical land of their Union Square Domain.
I’ve discovered that fresh, raw green beans can be sweet and delicious. I was turned on to semposi, sweet Japanese collard greens. I remembered that I was pretty good at planning a whole week’s worth of meals over the weekend to save myself time during the circus-like weekdays. I was inspired to create an entirely new e-book and cooking video series called A Week In A Weekend which will focus on teaching the home cook how to plan, shop for and cook most of their food on the weekend, saving time, money and food waste.
With all the soups, stews, casseroles, and stocking up, I realized that I was forgetting one of the most important parts of eating: Healthy desserts.
Actually, I didn’t remember. My almost-4-year-old son reminded me.
Luckily I have brainwashed him into thinking that sweet potato pudding, banana smoothies with homemade coconut milk, and brown rice “macaroons” are sinful desserts. These desserts delighted our tongues this month and require little planning ahead. It’s all a matter of always having frozen bananas lurking in the freezer and sweet potatoes around, which we do, and always making too much brown rice, which is impossible not to do.
While having a three-layer tortilla casserole ready to re-heat in the freezer at all times, or a huge vat of corn and kidney bean chili resting in the refrigerator for last minute meals, keeping something sweet and non-Diabetes-inducing makes everyone in the house feel like they’re cared for, remembered, and that all this cooking and planning ahead isn’t a desperate chore.
Desserts are nice. They make life sweet. They just don’t have to rot our teeth or insides to make us feel lighter and rich at the same time.
Here are my three “unprocessed,” whole foods, dairy- and gluten-free desserts that can be whipped up in minutes.
Sweet Potato Pudding
I like to bake sweet potatoes for a simple side dish for dinner once a week. Simply bake an extra two or three more to make this dessert the next night.
2 medium Red Garnet Sweet Potatoes, washed and pricked several times with a fork
2 Tbs. Coconut, Almond, Soy, Hemp, or Rice Milk
1 Tbs. Pure Maple Syrup
½ tsp. powdered Cinnamon
¼ tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract (ok, so I couldn’t really make this by myself, but I’m including it in Unprocessed October)
pinch Pink Himalayan Salt
- Wrap the sweet potatoes individually in foil and place in a pre-heated 400°F oven.
- Bake the sweet potatoes until cooked through, about 45-60 minutes depending on the size.
- Remove from the oven, unwrap the foil, and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes. Peel the skin off the cooked sweet potatoes and place with the remaining ingredients in a food processor. After 10 seconds in the food processor, a good scraping, and another 10 seconds of whirring, a rich, golden orange pudding emerges.
- Scoop out into bowls and enjoy. For extra kid-points, scoop with an ice cream scooper.
Leftover Rice Macaroons
Most leftover grains will work well in this dish including millet and quinoa as long as they were cooked plain.
1 cup leftover Brown Rice
½ cup unsweetened Coconut Flakes
1/3 cup raw Almond Butter (cashew, peanut or sunflower seed butter work too)
3 Medjool Dates, pitted
4 unsulphured Dried Apricots, cut into quarters
- Place all of the ingredients in the food processor and blend until well combined into a not-totally-smooth paste.
- Add 1-2 tablespoons of non-dairy milk if more moisture is needed to make the mixture sticky.
- Scoop out 1 tablespoon at a time and roll into a ball between your two palms. Place in an airtight container and eat immediately or refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
Extra Credit: Roll the finished macaroons in toasted coconut flakes.
Homemade Coconut Milk
I love to have fresh coconut milk on hand. It’s easy to make, and there’s no chance of contamination from BPA-lined cans. Use the coconut milk to make a delicious Banana Vanilla Shake (see below).
Makes 1 cup, takes about 10 minutes
1 1/2 cups Water
1 cup dry Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
- In a medium-size kettle, heat the water until simmering, then turn it off and allow to cool for 30 seconds. (Don’t add boiling water to coconut)
- Place the coconut in a blender and add 1 cup of the hot water. Blend for 2-3 minutes.
- Place a colander or fine-meshed strainer in a bowl and line the colander with 4 thicknesses of cheesecloth. Pour the blended coconut mixture into the cheesecloth and twist to extract the milk, letting the milk go into the bowl.
- Return the coconut pulp to the blender and add the remaining 1/2 cup of hot water.
- Blend for 1-2 minutes, strain and press through the cheesecloth into the bowl.
Storage: Refrigerate in an airtight, preferably glass, container for up to 2 days. To melt any hardened fat, simply place the container of coconut milk in a bowl and pour hot water in the bowl, up to the top line of the coconut milk, so that it surrounds the coconut milk container.
Banana Vanilla Shake
1 cup Coconut Milk
1 frozen Banana
1 tsp. pure Vanilla Extract
Combine all in a blender and blend until smooth. Drink with pleasure.
Great post. Thank you very much for sharing this informative article.
Now my sweet tooth is wide awake! I just ran a 5k so that may have something to do with it. 🙂
One note re: vanilla extract. I’ve been putting one vanilla bean (split or pierced but not scraped of seeds) in vodka, forgetting about the jar for a few months, and it seems to be the same thing as extract. It’s not quite as strong because you’re not using heat or whatever they do to process it industrially, so you might have to adjust levels according to taste, but it’s a money-saver (any vodka will do), safe (vodka seems to be an inhospitable environment to bacteria) and pretty fun! It’s not an instant solution, but requires so little effort and you might be able to use it for Xmas baking!
Congrats on the 5k! That’s terrific!
I have a couple of friends who do the vanilla-bean-in-vodka gift, which is always a nice touch. Sounds like a nice holiday treat! Now, to find a healthy eggnog recipe… 🙂