Life Eat & Drink These dessert recipes are secretly good for you

These dessert recipes are secretly good for you

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As a kid, not a night went by without mum presenting a delicious homemade dessert, or ‘pud’ as dad would call it.

Lemon Delicious, Sticky Date Pudding, Chocolate Mousse, Pav, Golden Syrup Dumplings, Rhubarb Crumble… and the list of sugar, butter and flour-based puddings goes on.

I loved every mouthful, and I still love something sweet, but these days I use other ingredients for a natural sweetness.

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It was with some trepidation when I wheeled out my ‘chocolate’ mousse for a recent family gathering, not using sugar, butter, eggs nor cocoa, but instead avocado, coconut milk, cinnamon and cacao.

The trepidation was partly because mum is the mousse master but also because my brother and dad were the litmus test for the taste. Could I fool them?

Silence. Then my brother declared, ‘Gee, this is good!’

The look of astonishment from my dad was priceless when I listed the ingredients. ‘You’ve got to be joking!’ he exclaimed.

‘Well then, give me more if it’s so good for me,’ was the next comment.

healthy-desertsThese days, my shopping list for desserts typically include the following ingredients:

• Coconut milk, water and oil which are all hypoallergenic, meaning they are easy to digest and can calm the digestive system.

• Spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, which are fabulous because they are anti-inflammatory agents.

• Avocados, which are loaded with omega 3 and contain essential fatty acids, which are needed by every cell in your body.

• Black rice because it’s a great source of fibre, iron, vitamin E and antioxidants. The Chinese claim it to be good for the kidney, stomach and liver.

• Cashews, which make a wonderfully smooth and rich dairy-free ‘cream’ to top on your fresh or stewed fruit or dessert pizza.

• Cacao, which is the original ‘chocolate’ although we mostly think of it as being new. It is prepared at a low heat, which means it retains all its naturally occurring antioxidants. Cocoa (not cacao) is prepared at a high heat, depleting it of any nutritional value and sugar is then added to it.

• Rolled Oats which are high in thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3) and folate (B9) as well as minerals including iron, magnesium, phosphorous and zinc. They are low in fat and high in fibre.

• Sweet potatoes, which are naturally sweet and creamy when cooked. They are high in vitamin A, vitamin B5 and 6, thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2) niacin (B3) and carotenoids which just means they are fabulous for you. They match beautifully with cinnamon and coconut.

• Walnuts, which look like your brain and are indeed great for it. Loaded with good fats and high levels of plant-based protein plus a fabulous taste, they are a perfect dessert ingredient and best matched with dates.

So why not treat yourself and others with some healthy desserts? There are plenty of recipes available online but here are my top six suggestions:

Cacao Balls

Use walnuts, dates, chia seeds, shredded coconut and cacao. It’s simply a matter of tossing all the ingredients into a blender, rolling them into balls then popping the balls into the fridge to set before popping them in your mouth.

Cacao balls make great indulgent snacks.
Cacao balls make great indulgent snacks.

Black Rice Pudding

This is a traditional Balinese afternoon pick-me-up but works well as a dessert. Some recipes contain loads of palm sugar but you can easily dial that back.

Chilli choc porridge

Yep, switch breakfast for dessert. Add some cacao, chili, cinnamon, ground cumin and coriander and cook using your preferred milk.

Cacao Mousse

Made with avocado, cacao, coconut milk, coconut oil, coconut sugar and cinnamon. Recipe below.

Dessert pizza

This dish is certain to impress kids and adults alike. Make a base using any nut, dates, coconut oil and cacao powder. The “sauce” is a blend of cashews with vanilla extract and cinnamon. Topping is bright colourful fruits. Not an oven in sight!


Use grated sweet potato for the base plus coconut oil, cacao, chili and salt flakes for a luxe ganache on top.

Recipe: Flip’s Cacao Mousse

This dessert is loaded with anti-oxidants, omega 3 and essential fatty acids.

Serves 4


2 avocados

½ cup coconut milk

¼ cup cacao

2-4 tablespoons coconut sugar (or use maple syrup or honey)

2 tablespoons coconut oil

2 teaspoons cinnamon

Shredded coconut, to serve

Raw cacao nibs – optional, to serve.

Blueberries, raspberries or strawberries and fresh mint leaves – optional, to serve.


Blend all ingredients for a couple of minutes until very well combined and smooth.

Transfer to ramekins, cover, and chill in fridge for a couple of hours to firm.

At time of serving, add whatever toppings you like.


Replace avocados with bananas for the kids.

Add chilli and salt for a more adult taste.


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