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Healthy BUT Indulgent Desserts

Written by Reya Borbridge

This week Slugs in the Kitchen is highlighting desserts! Although these sweets are catered towards Valentine's Day, these treats are good for any occasion! For this week we thought it would be fun to do some vegan truffles, raw cashew cheesecake bars with a raspberry swirl sauce, and beet brownies!! These treats are all so rich, vibrant and surprisingly not so bad for you! This is perfect for when you have a sweet tooth, but don't want to feel sick after indulging. These desserts are low sugar, high protein, and perfect for when you want that sweet craving but don't want to feel heavy and tired after digging into a piece of cake that is packed with sugar and processed ingredients. What's amazing about these desserts is that they have minimal ingredients, easy instructions, and energizing properties!

Let's dive into the recipes briefly by starting off with the vegan truffles. For these you only need 4 ingredients! This includes freeze-dried raspberries, cocoa or cacao powder, coconut milk, and dark chocolate (70% or higher). Extra ingredients for this recipe would be extra raspberry powder, coconut shreds or flour, extra cacao powder, or another powder to roll the truffles in after they are set and ready to be coated! You first start by making the chocolate raspberry mixture in a bowl over boiling water in a pot, so there's a double boiler situation happening. Have the raspberry powder and coconut milk whisked and hot first in the bowl then add in the chopped chocolate, and cocoa powder until everything is well melted, hot and combined. Turn off the heat and let cool in the fridge until hardened, around 3 hours then roll into small truffle balls. Refrigerate again then roll each one in a different powder such as raspberry and cocoa to have fun, colorful, Valentines themed truffles!!

For the cashew cheesecake bars, you really only need a blender and patience! First, start the night before by soaking cashews overnight in water, enough for the cashew to absorb the liquid and puff up a bit. The next day then go ahead and make this decadent dessert by placing oats, dates, salt, and mixed nuts of choice into a blender until it forms a thick consistency that you can pinch and form into a base for the raw bars. You may need to add water in this process to help blend the ingredients if your blender is low quality. Once you're at the perfect consistency then line the square baking tray that you are using with parchment paper. Spread and press the base evenly on the lined tray. Now pop this in the freezer while rinsing the blender out and making the cashew cream top layer. Place the soaked and drained cashews into the food processor and blend until smooth. Add lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla, salt, maple syrup, coconut oil, and coconut milk into the blender and blend again until finely incorporated. Take the tray with the base portion out of the freezer and pour over the cashew filling. Then for the final step add fresh raspberries and maple syrup to the blender to make the raspberry sauce and use a chopstick, knife or back of a spoon to swirl it into the cashew cream cheese filling until the entire top has pink swirled into it. Pop into the freezer again for several hours to harden. When it has set, pull out of the freezer, take the parchment paper out of the metal tray and slice the cheesecake into squares. Serve immediately, or save in the freezer for several days when not eating right away, otherwise it will melt!

Last but not least our Beet brownie recipe! First, we need to peel and cube the beets. Once this step is done place them in a pot of water to simmer in until they are soft. This may take 45-60 minutes. Once those are cooked, drained, and cooled, place into a blender until it is smooth. Add in a flax egg (flax meal mixed with water), maple syrup, vanilla extract, salt, 1 mashed banana, and coconut oil to the blender until smooth. Now add this blended portion to a bowl with oat flour, cocoa powder, chocolate chips, brown or coconut sugar, and baking powder. Mix everything until well combined. Add this to a lined raised square baking tray then top with extra chocolate chips. Pop into the oven to bake for about 30 minutes, then slice into 16 small squares once the batter has cooled. Enjoy these magenta colored brownies and try not to eat all of them in one sitting!

Before ending this blog post I want to briefly discuss the health benefits of dark chocolate and why these recipes are actually pretty clean considering most desserts! High-quality dark chocolate, this meaning 70-80 percent cocoa or higher has a bunch of antioxidants! Raw, unprocessed cocoa beans are among the highest-scoring foods that have been tested. Dark chocolate is loaded with organic compounds that are biologically active and function as antioxidants. Dark chocolate is known for also being high in iron, fiber, magnesium, and copper. These, however, are all true when eating chocolate in moderation. Although the desserts we made do have some significant chocolate, one or two truffles or 1 beet brownie is the healthy amount of chocolate to consume when thinking about chocolate consumption. Typically 2-3 squares of a chocolate bar are the perfect amount to get the right benefits from chocolate without exceeding into an unhealthy margin. The overall message here is that chocolate is actually really beneficial for our diets, just in small quantities. So slow down when eating chocolate, and savor every bite!! Don’t forget to give these fun recipes a try and tag us on Instagram if you do give them a go!

All of the above recipes with exact measurements are posted on our instagram page @slugsinthekitchen_ucsc under the recipe photo posts or video posts! They are also posted on the Youtube channel: UCSC Basic Needs!

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