This post will soon appear as a guest blog for Crohns.net.
Desserts are challenging for anyone who is concerned about their health, and especially for someone with gut issues! That said, dessert at the end of the meal can be a lovely ritual for a holiday or special occasion, and add a feeling of completeness to a meal.
What’s Wrong with Dessert?
For people with digestive problems, sugar can be problematic, as it feeds the unhealthy bacteria in our guts. This includes—to some degree—natural sugars like those found in fruit. Moreover, anything that is difficult to digest should be avoided if you have an unhealthy gut—this includes grains (including flour), nuts, and dairy. You can see how coming up with desserts without any of these ingredients can be challenging!
Desserts for People with Digestive Problems
Unless your gut issues are particularly severe, it’s probably unrealistic to think that you’ll never eat dessert, and there are ways to enjoy a little dessert occasionally without dire health consequences. Having said that, each individual needs to assess his health, and consult with a health practitioner to determine how strict or wide his diet can be. There are times when a strict therapeutic diet is necessary only for a limited time, and if you have healed to the point of being able to experiment with food, or you are on a particular maintenance diet that’s working for you, the three desserts below may be okay, as they are much easier on the digestive system than typical desserts.
Ways to Curb Sugar Cravings
If you want to avoid craving desserts in the first place, here is a strategy I often recommend to my private health coaching clients: try adding sweet vegetables to your meals and be cautious with salty condiments. Macrobiotic theory suggests that overly “yang” meals (including those that are very salty) will increase one’s craving for sweets (which are “yin”). You can read more about this theory of staving off cravings by balancing the yin and yang in your diet here. At one point in the pinnacle of my healthful cooking days, I used to serve sweet potatoes for dessert! (My grown children love to tell this story.)
When You Really Need Something Sweet
If you have tried to stave off your cravings for dessert to no avail, and you want to go easy on your gut, here are three of my favorite desserts for this time of year when blueberries are in season. Berries are much lower in sugar than most other fruits, so they are a better bet for people with digestive problems.
• 2 pints of fresh blueberries
• Juice of 1 lemon
• 1 cup of almond meal/almond flour (if you cannot tolerate almond meal you can substitute brown rice flour)
• ¼ cup chopped macadamia or walnuts (if you cannot tolerate any nuts skip this)
• ¼ cup organic grass fed ghee, butter, or organic coconut oil
• 2 tablespoons maple syrup, coconut palm sugar (or skip this if you are avoiding all natural sweeteners)
• ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
• 2 pinches of sea salt
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Place the blueberries in a 9” by 9” inch baking dish and squeeze half the lemon juice over the blueberries.
3. In a bowl, combine the almond meal/flour (or whatever flour you’re using), macadamia nuts (or whatever nut you are using, if any), melted butter, ghee, or coconut oil, remaining lemon juice, maple syrup, cinnamon, and salt.
4. Spread the topping evenly over the blueberries, and bake until the fruit is well cooked, bubbly, and the topping is golden brown, around 30-45 minutes.
Vanilla Tapioca with Blueberries
• ¼ cup natural sweetener (maple, coconut sugar, or stevia (for stevia adjust to ¼ tsp whether liquid or powder)
• ½ cup granulated tapioca
• 3 cups of almond milk or coconut milk
• 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
• ¼ teaspoon sea salt
• 1 pint of fresh blueberries (you can substitute any fruit that you can tolerate)
1. In a medium saucepan, combine the sweetener, the tapioca, almond or coconut milk, vanilla, and salt, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.
2. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring, constantly until thickened. You can transfer to a serving bowl and chill, but I like eating it warm.
3. To serve, whether warm or chilled spoon the pudding into individual bowls, and top with the berries and their juices.
Blueberry Chia Pudding
1. Pour coconut milk into a mixing bowl. Add chia seeds, maple syrup, and vanilla. Stir well.
2. Let mixture sit for 30 minutes at room temperature or refrigerated. Top with fresh blueberries, or it is delicious plain.