Like many busy women, author and blogger Ella Leché turned to quick sugar fixes like granola bars to get her through her early years as a graphic design business owner. She ate veggies, exercised regularly, and made time to decompress, so she dismissed her mood swings, insomnia, and inability to focus as symptoms of work-related stress.
But when she had her first child, Leché developed more serious symptoms (think depression and muscle weakness). A diagnosis of myasthenia gravis—a chronic neuromuscular autoimmune illness—forced her to take a closer look at what she was putting into her body.
“I had a hunch that sugar was ruining my health and life,” Leché admits in the introduction to her new cookbook, Cut the Sugar, You’re Sweet Enough. “But I was reluctant to cut it out. So my first step was a sugar detox. I had to face the demon head-on.”
As Leché learned, the sweet stuff has farther-reaching effects than one may realize—from sabotaging skin and sleep to exacerbating more serious conditions such as depression and autoimmune disease. So she devoted herself to a nutritional overhaul that included a low-sugar diet free of wheat, gluten, dairy, and eggs, and rebranded her blog as Pure Ella—which, like her new cookbook, focuses on low-sugar, gluten-free, and plant-based recipes and tips for clean eating.
“My food philosophy is about enjoying delicious, nourishing foods and not feeling deprived,” says Leché. “When you eat well, you feel well. Simple as that.”
Ready to satiate your sweet tooth in a healthier way? Here are 3 desserts to make ASAP—and they all feature 5 ingredients or less!
Superfood Chocolate Thins
Leché says the key to making these thins exceptional is the quality of the chocolate you use. “When you work with pure, high-quality ingredients, you create a treat that’s full of antioxidants, superfood power, and other delicious, natural, amazing things. These are so quick and fun to make (and eat!). But be careful, they can be addictive.” (Here are a few healthy chocolate bars we recommend.)
Pumpkin seeds and shelled hemp seeds
Chia seeds and puffed millet
Sunflower seeds and dried goji berries
Unsweetened coconut flakes and raw cacao nibs
All kinds of chopped raw nuts, such as almonds, hazelnuts, and Brazil nuts
Line a flat tray or baking sheet (that fits into your freezer) with parchment paper.
Using a double boiler, melt the chocolate over low heat. Add the coconut oil and cacao powder and mix until smooth.
Scoop or pour onto the parchment-lined tray and sprinkle with your favorite toppings. To make several flavors in one go, I scooped the chocolate into separate “puddles” and sprinkled on my favorite toppings. Place in the freezer for at least 30 minutes, or until set. Break into pieces and enjoy. Store in the freezer in an airtight container with parchment paper between the layers. Keeps well for up to 1 month.
Makes 30 to 40 pieces
Mixed Berry Crumble Pots
“Berry Crumble is the quickest and easiest dessert you can make,” says Leché in Cut the Sugar, You’re Sweet Enough. “I like to keep a bag of frozen berries at all times just for moments like this when you need a very quick and freshly homemade dessert.”
Preheat oven to 350°F and grease an 8-inch oven-safe deep dish or 4 ramekins.
In a food processor, mix the rolled oats, date sugar, and cold coconut oil for just a few seconds until crumbs form. (You can also mix by hand or use a pastry cutter in a bowl.) To assemble, scatter the berries evenly at the bottom of the dish or in the ramekins and top with the crumble evenly.
Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until the crumble turns golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Serve still hot or cold from the refrigerator. You can also make this crumble in a 6-by-6-inch baking dish, which is better to serve for more people in smaller portions, along with fresh berries.
Two-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cups
These might look like a certain famous candy bar—but the ingredient list is a far cry from what you’d find on a Reese’s package. “They contain only two clean ingredients (plus one optional one),” Leché says. And they’re quick to make, too—meaning that next time you get a candy bar craving, you can whip these up in the time it would take to run to the corner store and back.
7 ounces 72 percent dark chocolate squares, or 1 cup vegan chocolate chips
1/4 cup coconut oil, optional
About 3/4 cup all-natural peanut butter or sunflower butter
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Turn off the heat and leave on the burner to keep warm. (For added healthy fat benefits and a delicious hint of coconut, melt coconut oil into the chocolate. You can do the same with the peanut butter if you like.)
Line a flat dish with 10 to 12 cupcake liners. Scoop a tablespoon of melted chocolate into each. Place in the freezer for about 2 minutes to set.
Remove from the freezer and add a teaspoon of peanut butter in the center and gently flatten with the back of a spoon. Spoon more melted chocolate to cover the peanut butter (1 to 2 tablespoons). Return to the freezer for about 15 minutes to set.
They are best when the peanut butter filling is soft, not frozen, and the chocolate outside is crispy.
Makes 10 to 12 cups
For something a bit frostier, these good-for-you vegan milkshakes should hit the spot. More of a chocolate fiend? These 12 desserts are super indulgent—and also packed with superfoods.
All recipes from Cut the Sugar, You’re Sweet Enough by Ella Leché / Andrews McMeel Publishing