With the period of Lent over, you can now officially indulge! However, if you have actually managed to give up certain foods (and many people choose chocolate) it makes sense not to waste all that hard work and throw away the health benefits you’ve gained. So how can you still reward yourself without undoing all that healthy eating?
Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, provides us with her five healthiest treats to keep you going after Easter.
If you’ve not yet discovered how delicious and satisfying raw chocolate can be, then now’s the time to find out! Raw chocolate is actually raw cacao as opposed to normal chocolate which is made from cocoa beans. The nutritional content of cacao is far superior and, because it only contains monounsaturated fats (just like olive oil), it can be eaten regularly and won’t upset your nutrition plans!
Cacao is high in a number of essential minerals, including magnesium, which is great for stress, iron, which is excellent for energy, plus many of the B vitamins, which are also provide energy. Even better, cacao contains four times the number of antioxidants found in dark chocolate, so it is also great in terms of preventing the ageing process.
You can use cacao powder just as you would cocoa powder in cooking, smoothies, milk shakes and hot drinks. Raw chocolate mousse, as one example, is a real treat: just mix the cacao powder with avocados, desiccated coconut and vanilla extract, and then add some fruit and nuts for decoration. Truly delicious!
Coconut butter doesn’t just make a brilliant body moisturiser, it also makes a great and healthy cooking ingredient. Unlike ordinary butter, the fats in coconut butter are medium chain triglycerides, which are used as an energy source by the body and not stored as fat. Therefore, this little treat can also be relatively healthy.
These lovely squares are made with self-raising flour, oats, coconut butter, eggs and blackberries or blueberries. What’s more, you can sweeten these with xylitol – a natural sweetener – rather than sugar, and they make an excellent afternoon tea treat!
Normal butter can always be substituted for Coconut butter in any recipe, plus it’s one of the healthiest oils to cook with because it has a high melting point, therefore no toxic fats are produced.
Easter biscuits are a traditional Easter treat. However, a much healthier option is to bake some oaty biscuits, which can be made with energy-sustaining whole grain oats, coconut butter rather than normal butter and xylitol rather than sugar. And for people who are unable to tolerate gluten, they can be made with a gluten-free flour: dare to be different this Easter!
Whilst traditional basil pesto is not necessarily that unhealthy, a quick glance at certain brands of pesto shows that many contain sunflower oil (not the healthiest of oils) plus parmesan cheese (high in saturated fats). So why not make a much healthier and tastier version using walnut oil, olive oil, walnuts, pine nuts, garlic and basil?
All these ingredients contain amazing health benefits, with walnuts in particular being an excellent source of omega 3 fats – great for the heart, bones, joints, hormones, eyes and skin.
Walnuts rank highest amongst all nuts at delivering the greatest number of powerful antioxidants, so they are also great for protecting against free radical damage. Additionally walnuts also help support healthy blood vessels and maintain balanced cholesterol levels.
And finally, if your post-lent celebration just isn’t the same without some good old chocolate treats, why not make your chocolate treat part of your 5-a-day?
Using dark chocolate to melt over the fruit will provide a greater number of those health-giving antioxidants, together with less fat than milk chocolate. All fruits are suitable to be chocolate coated but I think strawberries are one of the most delicious, plus they have a low glycaemic index, meaning they have a less negative effect on blood sugar balance. Additionally, strawberries boast one of the highest concentrations of Vitamin C of all fruit, so your immune system and skin will be getting a boost at the same time!
So many congratulations on all your hard work and sticking to your resolutions for Lent – but this hard work needn’t be lost and forgotten forever; you can continue to live healthier and feel better well beyond Easter.
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