Craving a sweet treat? For as long as I can remember, I have always reached for something sweet at the end of a meal. It has definitely been a time-honoured tradition in our family to enjoy dessert and it is a habit I have never considered giving up. However, what has changed over time is the type of treat that I find will satisfy the sweet craving and it no longer needs to be something full of refined sugars, saturated fats and processed ingredients.
What is Dessert?
The word “dessert” originated from the French word desservir which means “to clear the tables”. Michael Krondl’s A History of Dessert (2013), explains that it refers to the fact that dessert was served after the table had been cleared of other dishes.
Why do we Crave Sweets?
Despite the fact that health practitioners often suggest reducing sugar consumption because it is a source of empty calories with no nutritional value, across many cultures it is still the tradition to end a meal with sweets. So what is this all about?
As the main function and energy expenditure of the body after a meal is digestion, the body can crave an energy surge in the form of sugar. According to scientists, sweet cravings at the end of a meal can also be a result of an increased production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with mood elevation leaving us feeling happier, calmer and more satisfied.
Other craving triggers can include eating an unbalanced meal comprised mainly of carbohydrates causing uneven blood sugar levels or cravings in response to a very salty meal which when followed by something sweet is the body’s way of attempting to create balance.
These oat bars are based on a recipe from Deliciously Ella. They are vegan and gluten free and contain only a few ingredients such as oats, bananas and nut butter. They are a simple yet satisfying, naturally sweetened treat which can be enjoyed plain or dressed up with icing and any toppings such as chocolate, fresh fruit, chopped nuts, dried fruit or coconut.
Ingredients for Oat Bars:
- 200 gm jumbo oats
- 2 ripe bananas
- 6 TBSP maple syrup
- 4 TBSP melted coconut oil
- 6 TBSP nut butter
Ingredients for Icing:
- 10 medjool dates
- 4 TBSP cacao powder
- 3 TBSP nut butter
- 4-5 TBSO almond milk
- For the base, mash the bananas and then mix the remaining ingredients and add to a lined baking tray.
- Bake at 200C for 15-20 minutes.
- Add icing ingredients to a food processor and blend.
- Once the base is cooled, add the icing, cut into slices and add preferred toppings.
It is believed that in most cases, cravings for sweets are due to psychological reasons rather than physiological and the desire is borne out of habit to end a meal with a sweet. The good news is that following a healthier diet does not necessarily mean trying to shed this custom.
Whatever the reason for wanting something sweet, I believe there are options that can indulge this desire while still eating wholefood ingredients which are less likely to result in more cravings. These oat bars fit the bill for me and whether you choose the plain or the more decadent versions, it seems you can still have your treat and eat it!