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How to Make Healthier Treats Out of These 2 Sweets

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It is hard to stick to a clean eating plan all the time — especially with so many easily accessible and deliciously tempting goodies right at our fingertips. Having worked with many nutrition clients, I’ve found the main culprit that causes slip-ups is a lack of preparation. When there are no healthy food options available at home or in the work fridge, then that is when the cookie monster rears its ugly head.

Given that reality, it is imperative we have the healthy basics available. And that doesn’t happen by accident — we have to make it happen for ourselves. If we stock the fridge full of baked sweet potato, chicken, eggs, chopped veggies and fresh fruit, nuts, and seeds, we can’t go wrong.

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But let’s go one step further. Rather than just prepping our healthy meals, why don’t we prep some healthier treats, too? Because remember — we’re not aiming for perfection. We’re after sustainability and a lifelong practice of productive choices, and that sometimes means we’re going to make the choice to treat ourselves.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t make healthier treats than we might have in the past.

My forte in cooking is removing or substituting the not-so-good ingredients from yummy recipes and turning them into healthy (but still yummy) dishes that fit in to a healthy meal plan. Here are a couple of my favorite healthier treats that I would like to share with you:

Homemade Jell-O

Growing up, we likely all loved Jell-O, but I avoid it these days because of the artificial food dyes, sugar, and sweeteners included. But the good news is you can make your own version of Jell-O and sweeten as you choose.

Jell-O is made from gelatin, which you might be surprised to learn is actually a very healthy thing. Gelatin is packed with collagen, the main protein that makes up the fibrous tissue in our tendons, ligaments, and skin. There are loads of supplements on the market that tout themselves as collagen for our skin and joints, but maybe just eating some good old fashioned homemade Jell-O without the sugar or artificial dyes might be as beneficial? Who knows?

Regardless, this sweet treat is high in protein, low in sugar, and fat free. It is also super easy to make and requires no baking. That all means it’s a great treat to have on hand for “kids” of all ages.

Homemade Jell-O

Category Dessert, Snack
Compliance Level Kickstart
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 5 minutes
Servings 6
Author Sophia McDermott Drysdale

Ingredients

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup juice any flavor, but use natural fruit juices rather than juices sweetened with high fructose corn syrup
  • 2 packets unflavored gelatin
  • 1/2 cup strawberries chopped

Instructions

  1. Bring 1 cup of water to the boil.
  2. In a medium-sized glass (or heat proof) measuring cup, pour 1 cup of boiling water and dissolve gelatin packets one by one.
  3. Pour the cup of water with the dissolved gelatin into a container that is ideal for setting.
  4. Add the juice and stir.
  5. Let set in fridge for approximately 20 minutes, until slightly set.
  6. Sprinkle chopped strawberries into the mixture, then let set for another 2-3 hour or until firm.

Raw Cashew Nut Bliss Balls

This treat is a little sweeter and requires a bit more preparation. I enjoy these cashew nut bliss balls as a post-training snack after an intense session or workout. Also If you are having some serious dessert cravings, one or two of these should satisfy that sweet tooth.

Raw Cashew Nut Bliss Balls

Category Dessert, Snack
Compliance Level Kickstart, Lifestyle
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes
Servings 12 balls
Author Sophia McDermott Drysdale

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut unsweetened and without preservatives
  • 1 scoop protein powder of your choice vanilla works best
  • 10 Medjool dates
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup extra coconut for rolling

Instructions

  1. In a food processor, blend the cashews until in chunk-form.
  2. Add all other ingredients and blend until smooth.
  3. Pour the extra coconut into a bowl or on a plate for rolling.
  4. Roll mixture into small balls—this recipe should make 12.
  5. Roll the balls in the bowl of desiccated coconut until they are covered and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper to freeze.
  6. Freeze to set (approx 2 hours) and enjoy.
  7. These balls will last in your freezer for 2 weeks and are equally delicious if stored in the fridge, once set.

Lead a Healthier Lifestyle by Prepping Healthier Treats

Long-term success with healthy eating is all about creating a healthy lifestyle. Prepping and having healthy food available is key. But healthy food doesn’t always have to be the usual chicken, fish, healthy starches, fruit, and veggies. You can occasionally make some healthier treats to keep things interesting and full of variety.

Enjoy these treats now and then, and know that because you made them from scratch they are much lower in sugar and free of any artificial sweeteners, food dyes, and other chemicals — and still within the scope of your long-term healthy eating plan.

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Sophia McDermott Drysdale
Sophia is an athlete, coach, trainer, and mother. Her focus is women's health and fitness, as well as pregnancy and postpartum workouts and nutrition. Her new e-book Spring Into Summer offers a seven-day meal plan with over thirty recipes.

Sophia also offers personalized diet and workout programs on her website, a no-nonsense nutrition eBook, and a free weekly newsletter full of health and fitness tips. Sophia travels the world to teach seminars and she offers Lifestyle camps in Las Vegas.

Her sporting career started when she was four years old as a jazz ballet dancer. At age eleven, she began gymnastics and trained in an elite squad for almost ten years. In 2002, she began Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ) and was awarded her black belt in 2010 making her the first Australian female to receive a black belt in the sport.

Sophia competed nationally and internationally, earning multiple state, national, Pan-Pacific, and Pan-American titles, as well multiple No Gi World Champion titles and a World Champion title. Currently, she lives in Las Vegas, Nevada and competes in figure shows. She holds the distinction of being the Overall Unlimited Champion in the Figure division for the NPC federation.

Sophia received her qualification in gymnastics coaching and Cert III and IV for Personal Training. She has worked as a personal trainer specializing in functional training for athletes and nutrition for more than a decade. Sophia travels the world to teach BJJ, women's self defense, and nutrition seminars. She also runs a women's only training program in Las Vegas.

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