ost of us enjoy sweets.  From the time we are small sweets form a large part of  the ‘comfort food’ we are given to help us feel good about life—and for the little ones, to keep them quiet!  Generally when we think about sweets, we automatically think of the highly processed products that contain highly processed products; refined sugars, fats and flavourings like chocolate.  These products have high concentrations of these highly refined food chemicals, and too many tend to cause problems with our overall health and well being.

Perhaps most notably is the damage done to our teeth.  While modern dentistry does wonders, the cumulative affect as we age still stacks up against us.  In other places we have looked at the damage that the high fat, especially the saturated fats such as in milk products, does to our systems, predisposing us to heart trouble and type II diabetes.  The high fat, high sugar diet also has a very negative impact on our blood chemistry, circulation, and immune system.  When kept in top condition our immune system can protects us from almost any invading organisms, so this is an important consideration!

In His creation our Heavenly Father has provided many natural sweets for our health and enjoyment.  Generally these come in the various kinds of fruits that grow in abundance in different parts of the world.  With the globalization that has been taking place we are privileged to be able to purchase both fresh and dried fruits in abundance in our markets.  While some may complain that many are expensive, when you weigh the benefits to the health and well being they bring, they are actually quite a bargain!  Just the benefit to the immune system is a huge savings.  While we do have a national health system, this is supported by tax dollars, so we pay for it in the end through higher prices created by the higher taxation. The well being generated by feeling good and being able to live 100% day by day is something that can not be calculated in euros.

Fruit is high in natural sugars that the body can utilize more readily than the highly processed table sugar.  Fresh fruits are also high in water content and natural food fibre, both of with are very good for us.  Fruit juice is much preferable as a beverage than the highly sugared fizzy drinks that are currently some of the most purchased consumer items in the markets.

Of especial importance is that fruits are high in vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, all of which give the body a big advantage toward fighting off aging and disease.  Eating more fruits protects us from cancer, heart and blood vessel disease, and type II diabetes. Overall it’s just good stuff!

For sweet treats dried fruits are tremendous.  Tesco, Aldi and Holland & Barrett in Waterford have a variety of dried fruits in bulk quantities.  These can be packed in children’s lunches instead of the traditional sugar based sweets, and can be used for snacks and desserts at home.  We like to stuff roasted almonds in dried, pitted, dates to make a delicious dessert or snack.  You can roast almonds easily in the micro wave, just be careful not to burn them.  I usually give them a minute at a time, taking them out and stirring them around.  They burn very quickly, so I usually take one and break it in half to see how much moisture they have left in them.  If they start to split, they are usually about done.  Almonds can be eaten raw, so it is better to undercook them than to burn them.  I think when they start to get a light brown in the centre they are at the maximum side of being done.  They should be crunchy without the inside changing colour.  They can also be roasted in the oven at low to medium temperature, again stirring often and being careful not to over cook.  The time required depends on the oven, temperature and the quantity roasted at one time, about 20 minutes usually will do it, but again watch that they are not burned.  They will continent to cook for a few minutes after they are removed from the heat, so pull them out before they start turning brown in the centre. 

Something we do at our home to utilize more fruit in the diet is to freeze bananas for fruit smoothies.  When the bananas are getting toward overripe they have a high sugar content.  We peel them and, by sticking the thumb in the centre at one end, they split into three parts.  We package them in plastic bags, about as many in a bag as our blender will take at one time, and freeze them.  There are many ways they can be utilized.  We use them in a combination with soy milk (Tesco has a product that is sweetened with apple juice and is very reasonable per litre), sweeteners like maple syrup, date syrup, honey, etc.  Carob powder, coco powder, other frozen fruit or fruit juices, nuts and flavourings can be added.  This makes an ice cream like dish that is much more nutritious—good stuff that you can feel good about eating, even if you are trying to loose weight.


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