*Update to this post: I added some photos to the recipe at the end of the post. Enjoy!
I love sugar. I really do. And I appreciate it. I savor it.
I can pass up savory stuff all day long.
If there are chips in the cupboard I am fully capable of forgetting they're even there. Cheese, crackers, bread, pasta? No thanks. Not interested.
Oh, dessert. Now that's a totally different story.
If I know there are cookies, cupcakes, candy, ice cream or pastries in the house; forget it. I'm actually distracted by the knowledge that something so wonderful is so geographically close to me.
And the idea of having just one? Of only enjoying one bite of cake? Or one square of chocolate? Or one spoonful of ice cream?
An impossible task.
I remember a few years ago hearing then-First Lady Obama say something to the effect of "dessert is fine as an occasional treat--like once or twice a week."
More like once or twice a day in my world. And I thought that was showing remarkable restraint.
While I agree that indulging in treats occasionally is totally fine for most of us, I have a hard time controlling my sugar intake once I get started. The thing about refined sugar is that it's addictive. The more you consume, the more you want to consume.
The fact that we reach for it when we need comfort, or when we're looking for a little joy at the end of the day is no accident. Our brains have reward centers and the key player in getting that feeling of pleasure is a chemical called dopamine. Drugs like heroin stimulate that reward center, by causing a flood of dopamine to be released into the brain. And while the surge isn't quite as high, consuming sugar causes a release of dopamine in the brain too. So you aren't imagining that sweets are making you feel happy. They are. It's just that it's temporary. Check out this NPR story for more info.
My Go-To Sweets
While I love the temporary sugar high, I don't love the other side effects of too much sugar on my body. So, I've had to come up with desserts that give me something sweet at the end of the day but don't require I take a scary ride on the sugar roller coaster.
Here's my current favorite. Maybe it'll become one of yours too!
(N)Ice Cream. If you spend any time at all on Pinterest, chances are you've seen a variation of the Banana Nice Cream recipe before. I've tried a bunch of them and the one I like best right now is this one.
Place half of a frozen banana (cut into 1 inch pieces) and about a cup of chopped frozen strawberries into a food processor. Pulse until the pieces are small and crumbly. Like this.
Stream in some non-dairy (or dairy if you prefer) milk until the frozen fruit starts to combine and smooth out. Let the food processor run for a few minutes until it's the consistency of soft serve ice cream.
Add 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon of non-alcoholic vanilla and 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and mix until combined.
You can mix up the fruits involved. If you don't like bananas, frozen pineapple works well too. Peach is a great mix-in. I've also done just banana, peanut butter and cocoa powder. That's really good. You can play around with flavors until you find something you like.
The bananas give it a creamy consistency, but if you're worried about the carbs in the bananas, you could try canned coconut milk and berries or peaches. Haven't tried that yet, but it would probably work just fine. If you try it, let me know how it turns out!
That's it from me today. Hope you have a sweet rest of your week!