Sweet Treat Week: 2021 Top Dessert Recipes

Sweet Treat Week: 2021 Top Dessert Recipes

It’s hours before holiday gatherings and maybe you still need a dessert for the guests coming over this evening, to take to the in-laws, ready for New Year’s Eve or to have at home just for you. Recipes are among the most popular read section of The Chronicle, and desserts at the top of that list including in 2021: avocado brownies, peanut butter cups, decadent dark chocolate orange pudding, chocolate frozen bananas and apricot turmeric lemon bars. The recipes await your holiday indulgence…

Avocado Brownies

Avocados are a great source of healthy monounsaturated fat and antioxidants, which can dampen the body’s inflammatory response and have been touted as a way to offset other poor food choices. Also included this recipe is applesauce, which like whole apples contains fiber, has a lower density energy linked to a lower body weight. This helps to dampen obesity induced inflammation. Other ingredients include maple syrup containing a molecule called quebecol which has good anti-inflammatory properties and dark chocolate, filled with antioxidants called flavanols, which reduce inflammation in the body by keeping endothelial cells within the arteries healthy.

Ingredients:

    • 1 large avocado
    • ½ cup applesauce (replace with 1 large mashed banana if you don’t have applesauce)
    • ½ cup maple syrup
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 3 large eggs
    • ½ cup coconut flour
    • ½ cup unsweetened Dutch-processed (alkalized) cocoa powder (avoid regular cocoa powder as it can result in bitter tasting brownies)
    • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • ¼ cup dark chocolate chips
    • 1/3 cup hazelnuts (optional)

 

Instructions:

        • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
        • In a blender or food processor combine avocado, applesauce, maple syrup and vanilla extract.
        • Add these ingredients to a large bowl and whisk in eggs.
        • Add sifted coconut flour, sifted cocoa powder, sea salt and baking soda to the mixture and stir until well-combined.
        • Stir in chocolate chips and hazelnuts.
        • Grease an 8 x 8-inch baking dish with coconut oil and add batter.
        • Place in oven to bake for approx. 25 minutes (cook for slightly less if you like a soft center or longer a more cake like consistency is preferred).
        • Allow to cool for 20 minutes before cutting into 16 brownies.
        • Place in a container in the refrigerator to extend storage time.

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Peanut Butter Cups  

 

Linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid found in peanuts, has been shown to reduce inflammation while Cocoa flavonoids also help decrease inflammation and improve the overall immune response. Cacao adds a dark chocolate flavor, bitter and fruity, to these peanut butter cups. Coconut oil may ease inflammation by improving antioxidant status. Antioxidants work by stabilizing free radicals in the body, neutralizing the reactive atoms that can contribute to inflammation. Healthy nuts are chock full of the polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats and contain very little unhealthy saturated fat. As a result, nuts have major anti-inflammatory effects. In particular, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, and peanuts are excellent sources of vitamin E, which may protect the body from the effects of harmful free radicals and have been shown to reduce inflammation.

Ingredients:

    • 1 cup organic smooth peanut butter
    • ½ cup maple syrup
    • ½ cup melted coconut oil
    • ¼ cup almond flakes
    • 1 1/3 cup raw cacao powder

 

Instructions:

      • Combine peanut butter, almond flakes, half of the coconut oil and half of the maple syrup. Stir until creamy and smooth consistency.
      • Fill standard muffin cups 2/3 full.
      • Place into the freezer for approx. 15 minutes, until slightly hardened.
      • Combine the remaining coconut oil, maple syrup and cacao powder. Stir until the consistency is creamy and smooth.
      • Add 2 spoons of the cacao mixture to the top of each cup.
      • Return to the freezer for approx. 45 minutes until completely hardened.
      • Keep in the freezer until ready to eat. The cups will soften and lose shape if left out at room temperature.

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Decadent Dark Chocolate Orange Pudding

 

Cacao, quinoa and citrus fruit high fiber and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals (in the quinoa), flavonoids in the cacao (which experimental evidence demonstrates some cocoa-derived flavanols can reduce the production and effect of pro-inflammatory mediators) and citrus fruit juice, high in vitamin C. The high vitamin C, is necessary for the synthesis of collagen, which helps build and repair blood vessels, tendons and ligaments. Additionally, the orange juice is full of antioxidants which helps fight excess inflammation by reducing oxidative stress. The trio of main ingredients create this decadent pudding.

Ingredients:

    • 1/3 cup quinoa
    • 3 tablespoons raw cacao powder
    • 1/4 cup orange juice (freshly squeezed with no added sugar)
    • 1 tablespoon orange zest
    • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
    • 1 1/3 cups water
    • Raspberries for garnishing (optional)
    • Almond flakes for garnishing (optional)

 

Instructions:

      • Cook quinoa for 15-20 minutes (until it no longer looks wet) in 2/3 cup of water.
      • In large bowl, combine cooked quinoa, raw cacao powder, orange juice, orange zest and maple syrup. Mix well.
      • Pour in water and continue to mix until cacao powder is dissolved.
      • Cover bowl and let chill in refrigerator until mixture is cool and at desired consistency (chill longer for thicker consistency).
      • Divide the mixture into two serving glasses or bowls. Top with almond flakes and raspberries before serving (you can substitute your favorite nuts and fruits as toppings).

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Chocolate Frozen Bananas

 

Bananas contain high amounts of rutin, a compound that complements the activity of vitamin C, helps maintain strong, flexible blood vessels and possesses antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Medjool dates are high in antioxidants including flavonoids, carotenoids and phenolic acids, and have identified for anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and brain-protective properties. Desiccated coconut is an ultimate source of healthy fat that contains no cholesterol and contains selenium, fiber, copper and manganese. One ounce of desiccated coconut contains 80 percent healthy, saturated fat. Also in the coconut, selenium is a mineral that helps the body produce enzymes and enhances the immune system and thyroid function.

Ingredients:

    • 12 ounces dark chocolate
    • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
    • 3 large bananas, cut into thirds
    • Popsicle sticks
    • Desiccated coconut
    • Cocoa nibs
    • Dried and finely chopped dates
    • Chopped almonds

 

Instructions:

      • Melt chocolate and coconut oil over a double boiler. Stir until smooth, glossy and entirely melted.
      • Put a popsicle stick into one end of each banana piece.
      • Dip each banana into the warm melted chocolate. Shake off excess chocolate over the bowl.
      • Sprinkle chocolate covered bananas with desiccated coconut, cocoa nibs, dates, chopped almonds or any combinations thereof (dates give a natural sweetness boost to these treats).
      • Using the popsicle stick us dipped bananas into a piece of polystyrene. Place in the freezer. Once set remove from the freezer and enjoy.

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Apricot Turmeric Lemon Bars 

 

Citrus fruits, including lemons, are a rich source of Vitamin C, necessary for the synthesis of collagen, which helps build and repair blood vessels, tendons, ligaments, and bone. Apricots contain the plant-based chemical beta-cryptoxanthin, which studies have shown may help prevent osteoarthritis as well as inflammatory forms of arthritis. They also have high levels of magnesium, which strengthen bones and may ease pain, too. Medjool dates are high in antioxidants including flavonoids, carotenoids and phenolic acids, which have been studied for their anti-inflammatory, anticancer and brain-protective properties. Steel-cut oats are an excellent soluble fiber to add to the diet that also acts as a prebiotic food, beneficial to promote anti-inflammatory integrity in the intestinal bacteria, are less processed than old fashioned rolled oats and have a lower Glycemic Index. Like cinnamon, turmeric is an anti-inflammatory spice popular to use in cooking due to the active compound curcumin which gives the spice its distinct color and flavor and the anti-inflammation benefit.

Ingredients:

    • ¾ cup dried apricots
    • ¾ cup pitted chopped dates
    • 1 cup gluten-free steel cut oats
    • ½ cup walnuts
    • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
    • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
    • 2 teaspoon organic lemon zest – divided into 1 teaspoon and 1 teaspoon
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 ½ teaspoons ground turmeric
    • Pinch of black pepper (this enhances absorption of turmeric’s anti-inflammatory compound curcumin; does not alter taste of bars)
    • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
    • ¼ cup shredded coconut, for dusting
    • ¼ cup cacao nibs for dusting

 

Instructions:

      • Soak dried apricots in hot water for approx. 5 – 10 minutes. When they’ve softened, drain and in put in food processor.
      • Add all other ingredients to the food processor except the 1 teaspoon of lemon zest, coconut and cacao nibs. Blend until mixture turns into a dough-like consistency.
      • Line an 8 × 8 dish with parchment paper, add mixture and press down to distribute evenly.
      • Top with coconut, remaining teaspoon of lemon zest and cacao nibs.
      • Refrigerate for 2 – 3 hours, serve once firm.
      • The bars should be soft and sticky. Store covered in the refrigerator.
Article Author
Arthritis National Research Foundation
arthritisresearch@curearthritis.org

The Arthritis National Research Foundation's mission is to provide initial research funding to brilliant, investigative scientists with new ideas to cure arthritis and related autoimmune diseases. There are several ways to support research through the ANRF. Find out more and donate today.

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