The worst health offenders in children's diets are processed sweets made from refined sugar. Not only are they bad for teeth, they can cause more serious problems in children such as subclinical deficiencies or hyperactivity, and in adults can contribute to the development of degenerative diseases such as diabetes, arthritis and coronary heart disease.
However, trying to get children to give them up is like pulling teeth from a hippopotamus. Far better to give them a wholesome alternative to replace those chocolate bars, biscuits and cakes.
Here are some recipes for fruit desserts and all sorts of sweet treats, each made from nutritious ingredients - nuts, seeds, dried fruit, coconut, carob and honey - which can be served at tea time with one of our delicious shakes or smoothies, or taken to school in a lunch box to snack on. They are as tasty as they are wholesome, and they are uncooked to supply your child with the highest level of life order possible. Use them for tea and for snacks and parties.
The easiest way to make sorbets is with a sorbetière - a special machine which stirs the sorbet or ice cream as it freezes it. I have survived for many years without one by improvising...
Juice 6 oranges and then combine in a food processor with 2 juicy seedless oranges which have been peeled and quartered. Add enough honey or natural stevia to sweeten, and some nutmeg or ginger if desired. I sometimes like to add a grated peach or two to give the sorbet texture. Pour the mixture into ice-cube trays or a plastic lunch-box type container and freeze. Remove from the freezer and leave to thaw slightly for about ten minutes. Blend the mixture again immediately before serving, and spoon into glass dishes or into empty halved orange shells.
strawberry or blackberry sorbet
Combine 3 cups berries with 2 bananas and a little honey. Follow the method as above. The bananas give a creamy texture to the sorbet.
carob and honey ice cream
This recipe is one of my family's favorites. The combination of carob and honey I find unbeatable.
2 pints (about a liter) milk (we use goat's)
2 egg yolks
3 tbsp granular lecithin (optional but very nice since it gives a creamier texture)
1 cup unheated carob powder
1/2 cup clear honey
1 tsp pure vanilla essence
We use goat's milk but raw cow's milk is good - if you can get it - or sheep's milk or buffalo milk. Sheep's milk makes wonderful drinks and desserts, and it usually comes in a convenient powder.
Freeze the milk in a low flat plastic container. When frozen, remove from the freezer and let sit for about half an hour until it is just soft enough to slice into pieces. Put the egg yolks into the food processor, add about a cup of the frozen milk, the lecithin, carob powder, honey and vanilla, and blend thoroughly using the blade attachment. Add the rest of the frozen milk and continue to blend until it is just mixed. (Don't overblend or you will make the ice cream too liquid.) Should it become too liquid simply return to the freezer for a few minutes then stir before serving. Serve immediately.
cherry whip (for 1)
1 cup natural yogurt
1/2 cup pitted black cherries
2 tsp honey or natural stevia to taste
Double cream (optional)
Blend the yogurt, cherries and honey or stevia and pour into a tall glass. Top with a spoonful of double cream and garnish with a pair of cherries hung over the edge of the glass. As a variation, use strawberries or raspberries instead of cherries.
raspberry fruit freeze pie
There are many variations that can be made on this theme - using different berries and fruit to fill the pie base.
1 cup pitted dried dates
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup oat flakes
1 tsp honey or natural stevia to taste
A little water
Grind the dates and almonds as finely as possible in a food processor. Add the oats, honey (or stevia) and a little water and blend again. You need to add the water slowly to get the right consistency. You want the mixture to bind but not be sticky. Remove the base from the processor in a ball and flatten it into a pie dish with your fingers. As a variation you can add a tablespoon or two of coconut.
2 cups raspberries
Honey or natural stevia to sweeten
Peel the bananas and chop into pieces about an inch or so thick. Freeze in a polythene bag with the raspberries until firm. Remove from freezer and blend the fruits together with a dash of sherry and a little honey or stevia to sweeten if desired. Pour into the pie crust and serve immediately, garnished with a few banana slices or raspberries.
strawberries and cashew cream
Make your own non-dairy `cream' from cashew nuts, and pour it over a bowl of ripe fresh strawberries (or any other fruit).
1 cup nuts
1/2 cup water or orange juice
1-2 tsp honey or natural stevia to taste
Blend the nuts and liquid as finely as possible in the blender or processor. Add a little honey, or stevia, and nutmeg and use as a topping for any fruit.
These attractive little sweets can be wrapped in colored paper and given in boxes as gifts for Easter, Christmas, etc.
1 cup mixture of almonds and hazelnuts
1 cup mixed dried fruit (such as date and apricot, peach and raisin, or sultana and pear
1 tbsp honey or natural stevia to taste
Juice of 1 orange or 3 cups apple juice, dash of orange liqueur (optional), coconut flakes and sesame seeds.
Put the nuts and the dried fruit in the food processor and chop thoroughly. Add the honey or stevia and enough fruit juice to make the mixture bind, plus a dash of orange liqueur if desired. Remove from the processor and roll into spheres the size of large marbles. Sprinkle a plate with the coconut flakes (toasted if desired) and sesame seeds and roll the balls in either one or both. Chill in the fridge and serve on a platter decorated with fresh fruit.
rocky road bananas
This is a great recipe if you have too many ripe bananas on your hands. Once frozen, the bananas will keep for weeks - unless they are eaten immediately as in my house!
4 ripe bananas
1/2 -1 cup coarsely ground Brazil nuts
Simply peel the bananas and skewer onto kebab or ice lolly sticks. Roll in honey and then in chopped nuts. Put on a freezer-proof plate and freeze until hard. Eat straight from the stick. If you prefer you can first slice the bananas crosswise, coat in honey and sprinkle with nuts, then freeze to make bite-sized treats.
As a variation try mixing a few tablespoons of carob powder into the honey to make chocolate coated bananas and then roll them in coconut, dates or nuts...or all three!
The best ice-lollies are homemade. You can buy ice-lolly molds and sticks in most department stores. Mix a large bowl of plain yogurt with some frozen concentrated orange juice, then pour the mixture into the lolly molds and freeze. You can also add fresh fruit and honey to natural yogurt and blend it together to use, or simply freeze fresh fruit juices such as orange, grape, apple and pineapple.
1 cup rolled oats
1/4-1/2 cup blanched almonds
3 tbsp almond or cashew butter or 1/3 cup ground almonds
1-2 tbsp honey
Handful of raisins
Handful of dates
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of allspice
Finely grind the almonds, raisins and dates in the food processor. Add the nut butter, honey, vanilla and spices and combine well. Mix the oats with the rest of the ingredients. Form the mixture into flat cookie shapes in the palms of your hands (you may need to add a few drops of water) and place on a baking sheet. Refrigerate until firm.
Once chilled, these wonderful fudge balls have the texture of ordinary fudge, and their carob flavor makes them ideal chocolate substitutes.
1 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup dried coconut
1/2 cup carob powder
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
Grind the seeds very finely in the food processor. Add the other ingredients and process again. Form the mixture into little balls and chill.
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup carob powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
A little apple juice
Finely grind the sunflower seeds and mix with the carob and cinnamon. Add a few drops of apple juice, just enough to make the mixture bind. Form into a roll about 1in/2.5cm thick, chill and then slice. Alternatively, break off little bits and press them into coin-size wafers and chill.