If there’s one thing that can send me down the path of too-much-of-a-good-thing, it’s sweets. Cookies, ice cream, chocolate covered things — nuts, coffee beans, fruit, you name it — I love it. I work on reserving sugary treats for special occasions, but I’ll admit I’ve been known to overindulge from time to time. This weekend we had family in town, and ice cream, cookies, budin, and cake were had by all. It was a deliciously fun weekend, but admittedly I went a little overboard, so today I wanted to share a dessert that fits into a healthy lifestyle while still feeling decadent and delicious.
No Sugar Added Dessert
“No Sugar Added” doesn’t mean there’s no sugar at all. Fruits contain naturally occurring sugar, as do starches and even some vegetables (like carrots and peas). The idea behind creating a “No Sugar Added” dessert without the addition of artificial sweeteners is to avoid refined sugars and additives while allowing the natural sweetness of the whole food (fruit, sweet potato, etc) to shine through.
There’s an adorable little shop on the main drag in Murphys, CA called Marisolio that sells artisan olive oil and balsamic vinegar. You can go in and taste as many flavors as you’d like, either in a tiny plastic cup or on a bite of bread. They recommend amazing combinations that can be used far beyond your average salad dressing — on popcorn, as marinade, on pancakes, on ice cream.
One of the ones I adored was the maple balsamic vinegar. They paired it with a buttery olive oil for me to try, and I felt like I had a bite of pancakes in my mouth! I used this special vinegar to add just a touch of maple flavor to this recipe, but it’s just as delicious to add the standard balsamic if you aren’t privy to this artisan flavor (you might consider ordering some though! It’s delicious!) or leave out the vinegar entirely.
Balsamic Vinegar and Health
Balsamic vinegar does have a slight amount of residual sugar from grapes in it after fermentation, however it actively stabilizes blood sugar, so the effects of the residual (naturally occurring) sugar are mitigated. (Read more about how balsamic vinegar can positively affect cholesterol and blood pressure.)
I chose to use balsamic vinegar in this recipe instead of maple syrup to keep the glycemic load down but still add some flavor. Admittedly, we’re still talking about a dessert — bananas do contain sugar. But the glycemic load (GL) of a banana is still considered low, and the GL of blueberries is lower still.
A side note about maple syrup. It’s my absolute favorite way to sweeten things, and while it IS a natural sweetener, it’s still sugar and calorie-dense. I’m not generally one to count calories or worry too much about a little maple syrup here and there, but this recipe is specifically a “no sugar added” dessert, so I’ve chosen to use this vinegar instead and feature the sweetness of the fruit rather than the sweetness of the syrup.
The “Single Guy Recipe”
I referenced this style of dessert-making before when I shared another small batch recipe for persimmon pudding. The Single Guy Recipe is an homage to comedian Bill Burr, who lamented on his podcast the fact that cookbooks always give you recipes that make too much of everything, especially desserts, for the single guy. I love the idea of the Single Guy Recipe, because in my house, if dessert is just lying around, it can be a problem. I like to make desserts on the stove top so that I can just make exactly what we’re going to eat right then and there with zero leftovers. It helps to have some fresh fruit at home to cook up, but frozen works well too. The one I’m sharing with you today has both.
- 2 banana
- 1/2 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen - I had frozen at home)
- 12 pecan halves, chopped
- 1 tbs coconut oil
- 2 tsp maple balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbs coconut milk
- Melt coconut oil on a warm skillet
- Add frozen blueberries and cook until thawed before adding sliced banana
- Once the fruit has softened, stir in pecans, coconut milk and balsamic
- Stir to incorporate all ingredients and coat the fruit with the sauce
- Allow to reduce slightly (another minute or so)
- Turn off heat and serve warm in two ramekins
- Adding whipped cream would be phenomenal. It would add a bit of sugar (I use maple syrup in my whipped cream).