By: Denise Mijares, RND
Valentines is just around the corner, but so is summer! Most of us may think that Valentine's Day is a strict dieters nightmare, with all those treats, sweets and chocolates? Gosh! None of us is mentally strong enough to resist those sweet treats. And the thing is, only a few weeks from now, summer is also coming; some of us might even have signed a membership to the nearest gym in preparation for summer and or started your Paleo diet already.
Roses are red, violets are blue...
Sweets will be everywhere, but you must stick to your diet too!!
Let’s just take the flowers, okay?
Sweets doesn’t necessarily have to mean chocolates loaded with preservatives, calories or dairy (a no-no in Paleo diet). You might be thinking, “chocolate is definitely out of the equation”. Nope, that’s where you are totally wrong. In fact, why not treat yourself, your loved one or may be everybody (yey!) this Valentine's season?
But....scared of breaking or stalling your (or someone else's) weight-loss progress? We're here to the rescue! We only have a month or two before summer, let’s all achieve the beach bod we want to add on our Instagram feeds.
Here are our Top 10 Guilt-free and Paleo-Approved (aka guilt-free sweets) Valentine's treat ingredients you may use this month of love!
Yes chocolates, you read that right! The Paleo Diet allows chocolates as long as it has which are at least 80% cocoa (aka Dark Chocolate) and is unsweetened. Dark chocolate is essentially chocolate without or with minimal milk solids and other ingredients. Take note also that not all “dark Chocolates” are Paleo-approved since technically you can say a chocolate is “dark” with even just 35% cocoa, which is WAY far from the 80% we’re looking for. Sorry to say guys, but regular chocolates that you can buy in the groceries are unfortunately off the equation.
You may find Paleo-approved chocolates in baking stores or even groceries in products such as our very own Davao Malagos chocolate, Bensdorp cocoa, unsweetened cocoa powder, tableas (locally available too), raw cacao nibs and some well-known brands which offers usually have 85% cocoa chocolate.
2. NON-REFINED SUGAR
Since Paleo-approved chocolates are obviously bitter since it has having less than 20% non cocoa compounds, you may use Paleo-friendly sweeteners such as honey, coco sugar, coco nectar, artichoke syrup, lacuma powder, pure maple syrup, stevia, monk syrup, yacon syrup and other natural sweeteners. Most available sweeteners are honey, coco sugar and maple syrup which is more on the expensive side. If you’re familiar with the Cadbury crunchies bar, the honey and coco sugar combination is for you.
Here’s a link to a recipe I happened to find way last year: https://wholefoodsimply.com/not-quite-crunchie/
You can use dried and fresh fruits to top off baked goods and base for other sweets like bliss balls and energy bites. You may check out recipes in the internet, or better try our very own bliss ball recipes such as chunky monkey bliss balls, cranberry vanilla bliss balls, lemon bliss balls and raw cacao bliss balls.
As we have mention bliss balls, nuts also serve as base for bliss balls and energy bites and are very good addition to baked goods and topping for your sweet yet Paleo safe chocolates! You could try pulling off a healthy granola bar and maybe add chocolate nibs or dip it in chocolate.
Okay, enough of the bliss balls! (sorry I can’t help it they’re really good, try it!) If you’ve already enrolled with us, please look forward to our Choco Banana Bread in our first day PM Snack. You may also try our Dates and Cashew bar for February 12-16 menu too, those are really good as well *wink*.
5. FLOUR ALTERNATIVES
Since wheat and grains are not allowed in the Paleo diet, for baked goods—people often use flour alternatives such as almond flour, cashew flour, coconut flour, desiccated coconut, cassava flour and other non-wheat flours available in the market. They’re not as easy to use as the normal wheat flours out there, but when you get used to it, making baked goods for the holidays and other occasions will just be an easy task for you.
6. FLAX SEED, SUNFLOWER, PUMPKIN SEEDS AND OTHER SEEDS
Same as with nuts, seeds can be used as toppings and base for baked goods, chocolate and other paleo sweets you could think of. You can add it to granola bars and snack bowls, roast them with spices or dip it with just chocolate. Flax seeds can be made into pie crust as well.
NOW THAT THE BASIC INGREDIENTS ARE ALREADY MENTIONED, LET’S MOVE ON WITH THE MOST COMMONLY USED FLAVORINGS.
- VANILLA, CINNAMON, CARDAMOM AND OTHER SPICES
To add more kick to your sweets, you’ll definitely be looking for additional spices such as vanilla (non processed vanilla extract or might as well use the raw one), cinnamon, cardamom, chili powder and other spices.
2. COFFEE AND TEA
Of course we shouldn’t forget that! Good news to all the coffee and tea lovers out there, coffee and tea are totally fine in the Paleo diet! Just make sure the coffee’s 100% made of coffee beans only, having no sugar nor cream in it. Same as through with tea, you can experiment from green tea matcha to those black teas you really like, just explore making sweets and Paleo recipes with them as much as you like.
3. MILK ALTERNATIVES
MILK ALTERNATIVES! The Paleo diet may be missing on the dairy products, luckily we have plant based milk alternatives such as coconut milk, coconut cream and almond milk. You can use it for making your regular Paleo favorite recipes, baked stuff, sweets and use it for paleo icing & frosting alternatives. Coco milk or cream will also improve the texture of your chocolates too.
4. ALCOHOLIC DRINKS
And last but not the least (dun-dun-duuuun!) ALCOHOL! Although there were no written nor documented alcoholic cavemen from the Paleolithic era, some Paleo dieters allow a few variety of alcohols. Not saying that it is 100% Paleo, but some alcohols considered to be in the “GREY AREA” of Paleo diet. Meaning it’s neither allowed nor restricted in your meal routine. Some suggest limiting it to 1-2 shots of hard liquor drinks just for you not to feel guilty of breaking your strict paleo diet lifestyle. Examples of these liquors are wine, tequila, sprits and other drinks without refined sugar or grains.
And there you have it! The Paleo diet may seem very restrictive at first, but when you get used to it, it’s not that hard at all. With a bit of creativity, willpower and LOVE of course, things can be really sweet this Valentine's Day!
About the writer:
Denise got her degree in Nutrition and Dietetics in Centro Escolar University. She has passion in cooking, which makes her a perfect fit for her work as a Production Officer. Aside from curating daily menus, there's really more to our Denise than what just meets the eye. She's a very creative person (she actually designed the interior of our washroom!) and enjoys doing calligraphy during her free time. Some people say there's no such thing as coincidences, well in that case, the whole Paleo Manila Team had been truly blessed to have crossed paths with Denise, our 'frieeeeeend'.
Malagos Chocolate (2018, January). Retrieved from Malagos Chocolate Website: http://malagoschocolate.com/malagos-chocolate/
Honey Comb Recipe (2016, July). Retrieved from Whole Food Simply: https://wholefoodsimply.com/not-quite-crunchie/
Chocolate, Coffee and Alcohol (2018). Retrieved from Paleo Leap Website. https://paleoleap.com/chocolate-coffee-alcohol/
Justin Miller, (October, 2013). Ultimate Paleo Guide to Alcohol