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Try something a little naughty

Food for thought: we are all tempted by sweet treats

A few months ago, over a very ordinary dinner of pasta and sauce, Belle announced that she knew what the F-word was. After choking on my glass of wine (and rapidly pouring another), I asked her to enlighten me. “Freakin!” she said, after which I breathed a huge sigh of relief, but pretended to look shocked. And the more appalled I looked, the more she said it … so we can see how the teenage years are likely to pan out. I am going down in flames unless I perfect my game-face. Must remember not to accidentally fuel the fire of rebellion!

Then, yesterday, Belle whispered that she REALLY knew what the F-word was. I wondered what we were in for this time — fudge, flip or a very Bermudian “fack”? But no, she delivered the real deal with a huge grin and sense of accomplishment. I forgot to look unimpressed and instead burst out laughing. I was so surprised and so mortified and I did completely the wrong thing. Of course now she thinks it’s hysterical. Parenting fail.

The thing is, for lots of people, there’s something irresistible about being naughty. And that’s especially true when it comes to food. Everyone loves an indulgent dessert. But unless you want the love handles that come along with it, it’s a good idea to establish a healthy relationship with the sweet stuff. And when it comes to that, I have two major tips.

The first is really simple, just don’t eat dessert or sugary treats when you are starving. Sugar doesn’t provide you with any real nutritional value, so try not to see it as “food”.

If you do, you’ll completely overdo the portion size. Also, because your body will still be looking for actual nutrition (good fats, quality protein, complex carbs, vitamins and minerals) it will still send you hunger signals, even if you’ve technically met your calorie requirement for the day.

That’s a major reason why so many people who eat junk, end up massively overeating. Instead, have dessert as a small layer on top of some properly nutritious food. If you’re watching your carbs or calories, then skip carbs with your main meal (just have protein and lots of green veg) and have a small dessert afterwards. That way you won’t double up. Damage limitation!

Tip two is to try out healthier, made-over versions of things you typically crave. Some nutritionists don’t like this idea — they will argue that if you want a cookie that badly, just have the damn cookie and don’t trick yourself into thinking that your healthy version is actually good for you. I do get that mindset, but I also don’t really agree with it.

At Natural we have a simple philosophy: choose food that nourishes you. So, essentially, we encourage people to recognise that food should be doing a job for your body — it should be making you fitter, stronger, healthier. The food you eat will literally build you up or knock you down, it will make your life easier of harder, it will be your ally or your downfall. So, pick wisely because the ingredients in your food provide the building blocks for a better body. And by better, I mean one that performs and feels better (but yep, you’ll get to look better too).

So, when we’re considering better desserts, think two things. Firstly, better quality ingredients and secondly, protein. Let’s take the example of banoffee pie. You do have the option of making it with a can of factory-farmed condensed milk, more factory-farmed cream, a load of refined sugar and a genetically modified, refined cookie base. Or, as below, you could pack it full of quality ingredients, with better nutrient density (so a little is more satisfying) and more protein/fibre to provide longer-lasting energy release.

Here’s how we did it: the base is made from low-sugar, oat-based cookies that have lots of fibre. The main part of the pie is made from cashews (which add good fats, vitamins, minerals and protein) and the toffee sauce, while sweet, is made from coconut milk and maple syrup only. We also added some caramelised walnuts for a little extra protein … and because they complement the bananas so well. The upshot? More nutrients, no factory farming, better energy release and gluten/dairy-free too. If you have friends who are vegan or plagued with allergies, make them this! Trust me, they are bored of sorbet and berries being their only fun options in restaurants and they will love you for ever. Just hope they share it with you!



6 small packets (1.5 boxes) Nairn’s oats and syrup gluten-free Biscuit Breaks (Supermart)

1 cup organic Earth Balance vegan margarine (melted)

1.5 cups maple syrup

Large pinch of sea salt


1.5 cups raw or lightly roasted (but definitely unsalted) cashew nuts

1 lemon, juice of

1/3 cup EV coconut oil, melted

1/3 cup runny honey

2 ripe bananas, medium sized


2 tins full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated

1 cup maple syrup

Large pinch sea salt


2-3 ripe but not too ripe bananas

1 cup walnuts (maple syrup, coconut oil, sea salt)

Dark organic chocolate, grated


1. Soak the cashew nuts overnight (for at least eight hours), rinse well and then set to one side.

2. Put all base ingredients in a food processor and pulse until you get a sticky dough that you can press into the base of a 8 x 8 springform cake pan. Add more maple syrup or sea salt to taste. You want this to be biscuity and buttery but not overly sweet. Press the mixture evenly into the base of the pan and set in the freezer.

3. Put all filling ingredients in a food processor or even better, a high-performance blender (eg vitamix) and blend until as smooth as possible. If you use a high-performance blender, don’t let the mix get too hot — so pause in between blending sessions!

4. Pour the filling over the cold base and put back in the freezer to set for at least six hours.

5. Make the toffee sauce. Remove the coconut milk cans from the fridge. Open and then spoon out the thick white layer into a saucepan. Discard the watery layer underneath or use in a smoothie later. Add in the maple syrup and salt and bring to the boil, stirring to help the coconut liquefy. Then simmer gently for quite a long time til the sauce reduces and thickens. Transfer to a bowl, allow to cool and then store in the fridge.

6. Break up the walnuts and prep by tossing in a little melted coconut oil, maple syrup and sea salt. You want sweet but salty! Roast in the oven at 350F for about 10-15minutes, but keep checking and toss at least once to make sure they don’t catch. Space them out on a large tray and they will get nice and toasty. If you pack them together they steam a little and will not be so crunchy.

7. Grate half a bar of dark organic chocolate at any thickness (I used a microplane grater) and leave in a bowl in the fridge.

8. When you are ready to serve, take the pie out of the freezer. Loosen the edges with a knife neatly and then release the spring form. Transfer the pie to a large plate or cake stand by running a thin spatula underneath the base.

9. Remove the toffee sauce from the fridge and stir until runny. Slice the bananas and layer on top of the pie. Drizzle half of the sauce on top of the bananas. Scatter over the walnuts and drizzle on another layer of sauce. Top off with the grated chocolate and serve!

The advice given in this article is not intended to replace medical advice, but to complement it. Always consult your GP if you have any health concerns. Catherine Burns is the managing director of Natural Ltd and a fully qualified nutritional therapist trained by the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in the UK. Please note that she is not a registered dietitian. For details, please go to www.natural.bm or call 236-7511. Join Catherine on Facebook: www.facebook.com/nutrifitandnaturalnutrition bermuda.