As I mentioned in an earlier post, in December I completed a 21-day no sugar challenge. During those three weeks, I cut out all sugars, including those from fruit and sweet potatoes (with the exception of a daily granny smith apple), while maintaining strict paleo + dairy diet. It was an interesting experiment but I doubt I will ever repeat it. Cutting back out natural sugars made me feel restricted and a little preoccupied with brownies. And ice cream. And cookies. I definitely had more sugary treats than usual in the month following the end of the challenge.
Just finally this week, I feel like I am settling back into my normal, comfortable paleo ways. When I‘m buzzing along, I seem to naturally fall comfortably into eating about 90-95 percent paleo, but allowing myself to indulge in a really good dessert about once a week. When I’m in this groove, it feels easy and natural. I don’t worry much about my food, my health, my workouts or my treats. I just eat and enjoy life — which is really the point of eating well.
If you have read this blog for any period of time, you know I am a dessert girl. I grew up having a sweet treat after lunch and dinner. That’s how you end a meal, with a dessert. Although I avoid daily desserts, I still long for that “finisher”, that extra something to satisfy some primal part of my brain that thinks every meal should end with a treat. Having a post-meal finisher helps me know the meal is done.
I like the finishers to be primal (meaning paleo and occasionally a little dairy) and exclude paleo-ized versions of anything — no paleo cookies, primal cupcakes or low-carb fudge. These treats have their place but, for me, that place is not on a Tuesday when I am eating lunch at my desk.
What I prefer for every day meal finishers is a little simpler. I want whole foods with no added sweetener. And I want foods that required minimal preparation, other than perhaps a bit of chopping and/or reheating.
Here are 12 post-meal finishers that I like – nine that I would call strict-paleo and three that include dairy. I’d love to hear about your favorites as well. If I missed a must-try, be sure to leave it in comments below so I can add it to the rotation.
- Kiwi with nuts and raisins and coconut milk: This is perhaps my biggest go-to meal finisher. I’ve been into kiwi lately, but this also works with most fruits. Berries are other favorites of mine. I like the raisins for sweetness and the nuts for crunch, but you can leave them out if you prefer.
- Sweet potato and cinnamon: This is a winner. Every paleo friend I talked to had a variation on this theme. I microwave a sweet potato and add cinnamon and perhaps a dash of coconut milk. My friend Petra recommended thinly sliced butternut squash, baked and sprinkled with cinnamon. The key here is the cinnamon, which makes this a satisfying end of meal treat.
- Herbal tea: This is a winter-only treat. In the summer, I want nothing to do with hot tea. But for 6 months a year, a big mug of a fruity, herbal tea is the perfect way to close down the meal. By the time I take my last sip, I’m satisfied and not at all interested in more food.
- Orange: Simple and fantastic! There’s something about the citrus that kind of wraps up the meal well. There aren’t a whole lot of flavors I want when my mouth is citrus-fresh. Plus, it takes a few moments to peel and remove the pith, so you have time to feel full and satiated if you just scarfed down your meal quickly.
- Almond butter and apple: I’m actually a little over almond butter at the moment. It might have something to do with the jar-a-week habit I used to have. But this is a favorite for many folks. Just take care not to eat a jar each week or you too may need to back off for a while.
- Prunes: Have you had prunes lately? You should. They are super yum. I’ve tried dried apples and dried mango, but found they are so sweet I just keep eating. Prunes, on the other hand, seem to do the job well. Nobody wants to overeat on prunes
- Winter breakfast bowl: This was a wonderful discovery from my no-sugar challenge. To see the recipe, click HERE. I ate this every night for a week straight. Delicious and highly recommended.
- Dates stuffed with macadamia nuts: Love, love this! Because macadamias are so pricy and I tend to consume every nut I buy in one sitting, I consider this one more of a treat. Maybe like for an “I’ve had a rough week and need something indulgent but want to stay paleo” kind of occasion. Those nuts tuck into the dates so perfectly, it’s like it was meant to be.
- Frozen bananas: Here’s how this works. Peel a banana and freeze it. Then, after your meal, mash up the banana for a cold, sweet treat. If you crave a little texture, like I do, add a few sprinkles of nuts and enjoy.
Here are three bonus options if you are eating dairy. Because I don’t each much dairy, it always feels sort of indulgent and satiating. Of course, if dairy isn’t for you, stick to the options above.
- Whole fat Greek yogurt with chopped granny smith apple and cocoa nibs: Whoa – love this! Of course, you can skip the toppings or add different ones but I think this is absolutely perfect. I had forgotten about raw cocao nibs, until a reader (Thanks Jennifer!) was awesome enough to remind me what a treat these unsweetened cocoa nibs are. I’m going to buy more next week.
- Cheese: If you don’t go eating a cow’s worth, an ounce or two of sharp, quality cheese can be a great post-meal finisher. Plus, you can feel sort of fancy and European. “Yes, I’ll have the cheese plate, please.”
- Latte: This is for sure my go-to dessert option at a restaurant, if I decide not to just order dessert.) I usually go with whole milk because it ups the satiation factor for me. It’s also a good one because most of the time your non-paleo friends won’t give you a hard time about skipping dessert.
On a related note, I just want to say THANK YOU to everyone who has taken the time to comment or e-mail or like something on my Facebook page or retweet one of my tweets or let me know in person that you liked a recipe or a post. If you have a blog, you know how much it means. If you don’t have a blog, let me tell you – it means a tremendous amount. Seriously, I so appreciate your feedback. It’s incredibly meaningful to know that you are enjoying the blog. Thank you!