Hi, my name is Lana, and I am a sweet-aholic.  I have been a sweet-aholic since I was a kid, sneaking into the pantry for that extra cookie after dinner or that extra spoonful of ice cream. We were a family of sweets lovers and enjoying a treat after dinner is still something I can’t live without today. However, with all of the research and work I have done over the years to better my health, I have learned that my addiction to sugary desserts has caused me health problems that will only get worse with time. Therefore, I have found some healthier ways to satisfy those after dinner cravings, and avoid sugar as often as I can without feeling completely deprived.

So for all of you fellow sweet-aholics out there looking for ways to cut back on processed sugar, I have decided to share some of my favorite ways to indulge that are just a little kinder to your body:

1.  FRUIT – Fruit is a great way to indulge with zero guilt. When I am taking the best care of myself, an apple dusted with cinnamon can do the trick, but on other nights it just isn’t enough, so here are a couple of ways to fancy fruit up:

– Fresh Berries with raw agave (or honey works, too!) are a favorite treat in the summer and often I will top them off with antioxidant and fiber rich raw cacao. Raw cacao is chocolate in its natural form and so delicious on berries, in trail mix, on Greek yogurt for breakfast and a great thing to add to any dessert!

– Top any fruit with homemade Whip Cream, (here is the easiest way) which is so simple to make and I substitute agave for the sugar, making it sweeter and healthier.

– I love to make fruity syrup to pour on waffles on the weekends or on some of the other sweet treats I have listed below. It’s super simple and fast! I just take some organic frozen fruit, heat it in a sauce pan with agave and allow the fruit to heat up and become soft and syrupy, which happens in a matter of minutes. You can jar it up and store it in the fridge for months!

2.  NUT BUTTERS– I have a serious love affair with all nut butters and they really seem to please my sweet tooth. I love to eat them in the morning on rice cakes or toast but sometimes they are exactly what I want after dinner as a treat. I will use all kinds of nut butters; cashew butter is a big hit with my husband – and have recently discovered my new favorite, Nuttzo. It is a tasty mix of organic peanuts, almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, and flax seeds, and can be found at Whole Foods or other health food stores. I will put any of these nut butters with a little agave on either rice cakes, (I love Suzie’s Agave sweetened Spelt rice cakes at Whole Foods) apple slices, or on the really indulgent nights, on super dark chocolate squares. Yum!

3.  TEA, COFFEE, OR COCOA – I have found that sometimes all I need after dinner is a warm drink. A slightly sweetened cup of herbal tea often satisfies and these days they have so many great dessert flavored teas like butterscotch, chocolate, cinnamon, and so many different kinds to try! For a while I was really into making myself a decaf latte for dessert, which really cut the craving (we have an awesome small Nespresso maker at home which is very reasonable, reliable, and produces delicious organic espresso). Hot cocoa made with milk, agave and raw cocoa powder is such a healthy way to treat your self. Add some homemade whip cream if you want it and sometimes I will even top it off with raw cacao nibs. You may be like me and sometimes just need something cozy and warm to drink to fill you up and you have saved yourself from the evils of sugar and extra calories all at once!

4.  WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS – There are some days that the healthiest desserts just won’t cut it and days like today are one of them-it’s a special holiday after all and a perfect day to indulge beyond what we normally eat.  Homemade brownies are a favorite of my husband’s so at our house, I am baking very easy, healthier brownies. In a perfect world, I would have made them from scratch, but with time being a factor, I had to go with the pre-made mix (in this case, The Cravings Place’s Ooey Gooey Chocolatey Chewy Brownies).  But this mix is gluten-free, egg, dairy and nut free so though there is sugar, it is primarily made from rice flour, cocoa powder and chocolate. I bought it at Whole Foods where you can find a plethora of healthier versions of cookies, cakes, and candies – filled with sugar alternatives, allergy friendly ingredients and most importantly absent of high fructose corn syrup, food dyes and other preservatives. One of my favorite things to buy there is Coconut Bliss ice cream. Made of pure coconut, it is not only dairy free and soy free, but it is also sweetened with agave instead of sugar! They have so many fantastic flavors (Chocolate Peanut Butter and Cappuccino are favorites at our place) and they are incredibly tasty!  In the summer, making ice cream is such a fun, healthier indulgence and the best part is you have the power to put in or leave out whatever you fancy. I will work on some homemade healthier versions to share with you next season and in the mean time, if you have any great recipes or ideas to help this sweet-aholic continue to find healthier dessert alternatives, please do share them here. I am sure others will appreciate your treats, too!

May the rest of your Valentine’s Day be filled with a little sweet indulgence!