I created this recipe because I love having a sweet treat every now and then but I want it to be healthy.
The problem with puddings, cakes, biscuits and other sweet treats is the sugar content, the refined carbohydrate content and the unhealthy fats.
So why are these ingredients a problem?
Refined sugar, icing sugar, even natural sweeteners will stress your body. They get broken down quickly into glucose and then flood the blood with sugar. Your body deals with all this sugar by producing insulin, that makes the cells absorb glucose and stores the excess as fat. This puts stress on the pancreas, the organ that produces insulin, and the liver that has to metabolise it.
Other problems that sugar causes -
Energy crash – Once all that sugar has been soaked up it leaves the blood very low in glucose, causing an energy crash. If you find you are regularly eating sugary foods and snacks – a biscuit, chocolate bar, bowl of cereal, flapjack, yoghurt, cakes, ice cream, sweet drinks – then you are making your pancreas produce lots of insulin, over and over again.
You can exhaust it or wear out your cell’s sensitivity to insulin and consequently suffer greater highs and lows on the sugar energy rollercoaster. Your blood can lose control over regulating your blood sugar levels. The excess sugar gets turned into fat, you feel hungry all the time and you can end up needing sugar hit after sugar hit, just to get you through the day.
It’s addictive –your brain responds to sugar by producing lots of feel good hormones like dopamine and serotonin. So eating sugar can become a self-soothing/self-medicating technique to make you feel better. But it has the added effect of making you want more of that feel good factor, making it addictive.
Studies also show that you are more likely to suffer depression too. Whole foods containing natural sugars and fibres and a host of other nutrients do not have the same effect on the brain so you won’t get the same feel good hit. But over time, resisting refined sugar and eating wholefoods in its place will stop you from craving it.
Baking with Fats & Oils
I’m not talking about the amount of fat but rather the type of fat. Not all fat is bad for you and you need healthy fats in your diet for so many functions. Fats are essential for the central nervous system and the endocrine system and every single cell in the body needs fat to make its cell membrane. The problem is that refined, hydrogenated, and bleached fats & oils are chemically altered and become toxic to us, especially when heated.
Refined Vegetable, nut and seed oils – these fats and oils are unnaturally clear, are odourless and are mostly tasteless, especially the fats that get processed into margarine. These refined oils are nearly always the fat of choice for the cakes, biscuits and pastries that you can buy.
They have been through many processes to stop them from going rancid and to prevent them from smelling and tasting awful. This processing changes the molecular structure of the fat. It creates harmful compounds such as lipid peroxides and aldehydes. These can be carcinogenic, neurodegenerative, accelerate aging and raise blood pressure.
Butter, coconut oil and avocado do contain saturated fats, but they are healthy fats. You need saturated fats in your diet. Plus these fats contain other nutrients too; they have antioxidants, fat-soluble vitamins and minerals as well as healthy fatty acids.
Butter and coconut oil are stable at high temperatures and so they can be used in baking safely. Avocados shouldn’t be heated as their oils are more delicate. Extra virgin olive oil has a high level of antioxidants that protect its oil content from damage when heated, so it is safe to cook with.
White flour is a refined product that has had most of its nutrition stripped from it. Products containing wheat then often have synthetic vitamins added back in. Wheat is usually grown with high levels of pesticides that can remain in the flour and be the cause of many digestive issues.
Gluten is the wheat protein that makes the flour so good for making bread and baking in general, because it gives it its gluey texture. But it is stressful for our digestive tract and can be damaging to the lining of our gut which can trigger allergies, inflammation and digestive disorders.
Wheat flour is also a refined carbohydrate. It converts to sugar really quickly when digested and so has a similar effect to sugar as mentioned above.
My solution to avoiding all of these unhealthy ingredients was to come up with a recipe that could satisfy my sweet tooth but also be healthy for me. My chocolate hazelnut tart is loaded with healthy fats, whole foods and unrefined natural sweeteners. That doesn’t mean you can have huge slices of it every day as it still is heavy on the fat, even if it is healthy fat.
I’ve been on a keto diet for months now as well as doing the 16/8 fasting, so I avoid carbohydrate but eat plenty of fats for energy instead (alongside a huge amount of diverse vegetables and moderate protein). I have no guilt eating a little slice of this tart most days; it is actually a meal for me. I hope it brings a little sweetness and satisfaction to your day!
½ cup of melted coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
Superfoods for extra nutrients, flavour and sweetness. All optional.
2 tbs baobab
2 tbs macca
2 tbs mesquite
300gms melted dark chocolate
200gms roasted whole hazelnuts
3tbs maple syrup, honey or equivalent of another sweetener like stevia or erythritol.
2 cups oats
1 cup dessicated coconut
1 cup almond flour
½ cup of melted coconut oil
8 pitted dates
1 – put the oven on to 160 degrees. Line a baking tray with baking parchment. Pour on hazelnuts and place in oven for 15 minutes or until they are roasted.
2 – Fill a small saucepan with about an inch of water. Put a glass pyrex dish on top so that it sits above the water. Put ½ cup of coconut oil in to melt.
3 – Put the oats, the desiccated coconut, pitted dates, almond flour in a blender and blend until it is a fine crumb texture.
4 – Pour in the melted coconut oil and blend again.
5 – Tip the blended base mixture into a lined cake tin and press down.
6 – Take out the hazelnuts if they are ready and turn the oven up to 180 degrees.
7 – Bake the base in the oven at 180 degrees for about 15 minutes, until the base is slightly golden.
8 - Break up the dark chocolate into pieces and put in the glass pyrex bowl that is on the saucepan. Check that there is still some water in the bottom of the saucepan. Add in the other ½ cup coconut oil to the chocolate.
9 – Take the base out of the oven once it is done and let it cool down.
10 – Cut out the flesh of the avocado and put it in the blender along with the melted chocolate and coconut oil, vanilla essence, superfood powders, salt and then blend.
11 – Rub the cooled hazelnuts between your hands ( or inside a clean tea towel ) to remove the skins.
12 – Pour the chocolate mixture onto the cooled base and add in the hazelnuts. You can either push the hazelnuts into the mixture or just decorate the top of the tart with hazelnuts. Smooth the topping flat and then refrigerate.
It’s ready to eat in about half an hour. I like to decorate the top with fresh fruit like raspberries, strawberries and blueberries. I serve it with whipped cream or cashew cream for a treat. Its delicious! Enjoy!