Who doesn’t love a sweet treat from time to time? There’s nothing wrong with spoiling your taste buds and indulging in a little dessert. The problem arises when refined sugar or artificial sweeteners are used in these treats. If you want to avoid the unhealthy side effects of sugar such as blood sugar spikes, an increase in cravings, weight gain and an altered gut microbiome, choose natural alternatives instead.
Natural sweeteners such as local honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, blackstrap molasses, and fruit contain vitamins, minerals and even enzymes. These beneficial properties are still fully intact and able to be used by the body. On the other hand, refined and artificial sweeteners lack the beneficial properties. These include white table sugar, brown sugar, high fructose corn syrup, evaporated cane juice, sucralose and aspartame.
I make a conscious decision to only consume treats made with natural sweeteners – but even those I enjoy in moderation as sugar is sugar, no matter what the form.
The recipe below for dairy-free mango coconut parfait was created without the addition of any added sweeteners. Total win! Instead, this dairy-free treat boasts natural sweetness from the fruit. It can be enjoyed any time of day, without the guilt. I love having it for breakfast, but it’s also great as an after dinner snack.
The health-promoting ingredients in this recipe are:
Coconut Meat: The soft, jelly-like meat from a young Thai coconut is an excellent source of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), which provide a steady stream of energy to the body. These MCTs are sent straight to the liver, where they are then turned into ketones, in turn providing a direct source of energy to the brain. This is extremely beneficial for people with memory impairment and anyone showing signs of Alzheimer’s Disease. In addition, the meat contains beneficial vitamins and minerals such as potassium, sodium, and those awesome energizing B vitamins. Finally, coconut meat provides natural dietary fiber, important for digestion and elimination.
Be sure to purchase organic thai coconuts for this recipe. Conventionally raised coconuts are typically dipped in carcinogenic chemicals, like formaldehyde or sodium metabisulphite, to preserve them for the long trip to your local food store. Unfortunately, this is one ingredient that has a large carbon footprint, unless you live in a region abundant with coconuts.
Coconut Water: Also referred to as coconut juice, the liquid found within the young coconut is filled with electrolytes, vitamins and minerals. Coconut water’s healthy dose of potassium, magnesium, calcium, sodium and phosphorous make it an excellent alternative to common sports drinks such as Gatorade. It is super hydrating and has even been used to treat mild cases of diarrhea in children.
Mango: Naturally sweet, this fruit sweetens the recipe all on its own, no extra sugars are needed! Mangos also provide fiber, plus a dose of vitamin C.
Bee Pollen: A potent superfood, bee pollen is full of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins (especially B vitamins – great for energy), protein and free amino acids that can be readily used by the body. It is also an excellent way to combat seasonal allergies. Buy it local and be sure to start taking it at least 6 weeks before allergy season to get the full benefits if using it for allergies.
- 4 young thai coconuts, meat removed
- 1-4 tbsp coconut water, reserved from the coconut
- 1 tsp lime juice
- 4 mangos, skin removed
- 4 tbsp - ½ cup fresh coconut water, reserved from the coconut*
- ⅛-¼ cup fresh lime juice
- For topping the parfait:
- ½ tablespoon bee pollen
- lime zest
- fresh diced fruit, optional
- Open coconut, reserve water and remove meat. Watch my tutorial on how to crack the coconut here. Using a high speed blender, puree coconut meat by adding 1 tablespoon of coconut water at a time, until you reach your desired consistency. Add a splash of lime juice. Set aside.
- In a high speed blender, puree mango, coconut water and lime juice together. Again add 1 tablespoon of coconut water at a time, until you reach your desired consistency. Then add lime juice. Start with ⅛ cup of fresh lime juice, tasting and adding more to your liking.
- In a wide mouth glass, layer coconut yogurt and mango puree. Sprinkle with bee pollen, lime zest and your choice fresh fruit to garnish.Place in the refrigerator to set for 1-2 hours, or overnight.
- These parfaits will last about 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
- *Freeze the extra coconut water for later use or enjoy as a refreshing drink.
What’s your favorite all natural sweetener of choice? Share it with us!