When you think about the concept of eating healthy, what do you think of? Do you imagine eating salads with no dressing? Eating baby carrots as a snack and continuing to starve? Eating boneless, skinless chicken breasts day in and day out with no condiments?
If you think that’s how I eat as a health coach, or how I tell my clients to eat, you could not be more wrong. Sure, I pass up cookies and cakes at parties, quick trips to McDonald’s, and spirited drinks. Lately, I’ve even cut out gluten, dairy, soy and a whole slew of other food groups. But it doesn’t mean I’m depriving myself of tastes and flavors at all. Quite the opposite, really. I love to experiment with new foods and old flavors.
For example, I couldn’t go the rest of my life without a Reese’s peanut butter cup, or a peppermint patty, or chocolate chip cookies, or coconut macaroons… the list goes on. Sure, I don’t eat a ton of desserts because of the negative effects sugar has on the body. (Want to know more about that? Contact me for information on my next Sugar Blues workshop!) But once in a while, everyone deserves a treat.
However, I can’t eat the regular versions of these. Aside from the fact that they have milk ingredients and soy preservatives, they’re also loaded with sugar, chemicals, more preservatives and basically everything you want to stay away from.
So, what do I do? I find methods of making my own that only use whole, healthy ingredients. These chocolate peanut butter cups I made were ten times better than the originals (and I love the originals!), the peppermint patties were incredible (and I’m not even a huge fan of the original) and I would choose these coconut macaroon balls over store-bought cookies every single time.
Trust me. Eating healthy is not deprivation. It’s the opposite. Once you get used to not having the taste of high fructose corn syrup and oodles of sugar, salt and grease in everything you eat, you’ll realize there is more flavor in the healthy, whole food options. Fruits and vegetables bought locally from a farmers market have way more flavor than the ones from halfway across the country, or a different country, in the grocery store. Same goes for desserts. Pure maple syrup tastes 100 times better than processed, good-for-absolutely-nothing white sugar, or the worse alternatives. You need a whole lot less of it, too!
To give you an example, here is a coconut macaroon recipe that everyone should make. It is full of protein and healthy fats rather than empty calories, but it’s definitely sweet enough to be a dessert. It’s raw, so there is no baking involved, which is great in the summer. If you love coconut, you’ll love these.
Don’t have all the ingredients? They’re a little pricier than your average baking supplies, but that's because they’re much better quality. If you purchase them, like the coconut oil and pure maple syrup, you can also use them in the peanut butter cup and peppermint patty recipes, along with a slew of other recipes I post.
Note: I supplied the original recipe that I got from this Simple Medicine blog, but I’ve also made it by replacing the maple syrup with grinded dates and adding more coconut flakes. The dates help sweeten it and bulk up the recipe, which makes more macaroons! Your choice. (Thanks for that tip, Katrina!)
Raw Coconut Macaroon Balls
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup almond meal (or almonds put through a food processor)
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons water
2 ounces dark chocolate (optional)
Mix all ingredients in a bowl, except the water and chocolate. Once mixed, add the water to the bowl and mix. If you think the dough isn’t sticky enough to stick together, add a teaspoon of water at a time until it is sticky. (If using dates, these are sticky and will help the dough stick together too.)
Using your hands, form the coconut dough into balls. Store in a container in the refrigerator.
If using chocolate, melt the chocolate and dip the bottom half of each coconut macaroon into the melted chocolate and then place on parchment paper to dry.