Treats when abstaining from sugar and deep fried foods
February 14, 2021 9:31 AM   Subscribe

For health reasons, me and most of my family members have been trying to eat well. We are all abstaining from refined sugar, deep fried food, and most processed foods, since it's been easier to abstain entirely rather than moderate. But it's been difficult to find pleasure in foods for special occasions (e.g. we'd normally indulge in chocolates for V Day). Suggestions for how we can bring treats back into our lives?

One example that has worked well: for a recent birthday, we decorated a half melon with lots of berries. It was actually quite refreshing and delicious, and the act of decorating it made it more special than day to day fruit-eating.

We would like to avoid sugar substitutes.

We don't drink or eat meat.

Please, no diet advice (I know an occasional sweet treat is no big deal, but we really are trying to abstain for now, and it's temporary).
posted by redlines to Food & Drink (59 answers total) 70 users marked this as a favorite
Really high quality mixed nuts often hit that same mark for me. If you’re doing cheese, excellent cheese can feel very special, and combining it with fruit (pears, apples, mangoes, dried dates and apricots, etc) makes it feel more substantial and dessert-like. Fresh bread with olive oil is pretty amazing too and flips some of the same switches as fried food for me, though that may not be something you’re wanting to eat a ton of right now.
posted by obfuscation at 9:37 AM on February 14, 2021 [15 favorites]

How about a platter of fruits you don't eat on a regular basis? I love starfruit, dragon fruits, kumquats, and fresh figs but all of those fruits are expensive at my local stores so it feels like a real treat to indulge in them.
posted by RobinofFrocksley at 9:38 AM on February 14, 2021 [10 favorites]

Would something like bircher muesli work? It's creamy and tasty but also has a lot of fibre and you can add fruit and nuts. That particular website has a lot of variants and you can use dairy/non-dairy yoghurt or milk.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 9:40 AM on February 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

I wonder if some really good balsamic vinegar- maybe even reduced down to be even more syrupy- would be a nice way to fancy-up any of the above suggestions - fruit, cheese, etc.
posted by misskaz at 9:42 AM on February 14, 2021 [4 favorites]

One thing I've wanted to make for a while is baked potato chips with a variety of favorite spices. You can make them extremely savory, without adding a lot of fat.
posted by LSK at 9:43 AM on February 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

For a more savory option... popcorn + spices...
posted by oceano at 9:49 AM on February 14, 2021 [9 favorites]

Popcorn! Make it at home with an air popper and use interesting toppings, and it's amazing. Two recent threads for topping ideas.
posted by cgg at 9:50 AM on February 14, 2021 [5 favorites]

I treat myself with some really good olive oil enjoyed with some some perfect, fluffy, crunchy bread and a sprinkle of sea salt (or, I did before gluten went out the window). Also, fat, sticky medjool dates, rather than the cheaper, less indulgent variety that are a cupboard staple. Good quality dark chocolate too, which is probably less sugary than fruit, and means I've ended up finding normal chocolate overly sweet and oddly unappetising (yes, I've become one of those people).
posted by FifteenShocks at 9:53 AM on February 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

Fat is indulgent: Avocado, perhaps in the form of guacamole? If you eat fish, fatty fish, like salmon?
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 9:54 AM on February 14, 2021 [3 favorites]

I don't know if this is too far outside your actual question, but I've found that replacing the sweets with another activity besides eating is often more successful for me than finding a non-sweet thing to eat. I am waaaay into sweets and occasionally go on sugar fasts. During the fasts, I give myself permission to do other things that feel indulgent like nap, buy myself flowers, read on the couch midday (instead of just before bedtime), binge watch a show, take more baths (and also use stuff like epsom salts, bath bombs, etc.). Each of you probably have different things that feel special and that distract you from sweets, but it's another avenue to try. If you want to keep it centered on meal-time enjoyment, you could look into getting nice/special/new plates that each of you love, or lighting candles, or playing board games during meals.
posted by cocoagirl at 9:59 AM on February 14, 2021 [13 favorites]

I have pivoted to stuff more like appetizers that generally stick to our usual macros for treats and special occasions, something about the bite-size format and presentation always helps it feel special. Grape tomatoes partially-halved (pac-manned, basically) with a bit of goat cheese or supersharp cheddar pressed in, roasted or pan-blistered shishito peppers (or green beans!) tossed in a tiny bit of sesame oil and topped with good salt, plant-based meatballs (Aldi makes some that are not super-carby with fillers) tossed in a little sugar-free BBQ or teriyaki sauce.

I am right now eating a chaffle with a tomato-cheese quiche puck (my nomenclature, made with these tart pans that produce something the size of a generous egg mcmuffin egg patty), which ticks one of my "special treat" boxes: the top is just perfectly browned, the tomatoes that stick out have caramelized a bit, it looks and tastes "finished".

Other things that strike satisfying notes for me:
enough salt, and if you're going to budget it then save some to go on top where you're going to taste it distinctly
broiling or otherwise caramelizing the natural sugars in foods (broccoli, roasted to more or less burned, serve immediately with lemon wedges; see also cauliflower, squashes, green beans, beets, radishes, carrots and parsnips, mushrooms)
deliberately developing umami through the use of naturally msg-containing foods or using msg
using spices with a somewhat heavy hand and keeping especially volatile spices refreshed (I made something with cumin and mustard seeds yesterday and neither had any flavor whatsoever, I need to start storing my backstock in the freezer)

One of our pandemic indulgences has been a good divided shabu-shabu pot and burner (you really do need a tabletop hotplate, but any old pot will do to start with), which in no way needs meat to be good and is fun for a group. I use Better Than Bouillon for my broth base (the No Chicken and Seasoned Vegetable bases are both great), and I guess you can prepare multiple vegetables but my husband and I would be happy just splitting a head of cabbage and some mushrooms.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:04 AM on February 14, 2021 [4 favorites]

Get a basic dehydrator and make apple chips. You'll love them so much you'll start dehydrating everything in the fridge! I buy markdown produce now that I wouldn't normally get, so I can dehydrate it. I experiment with seasonings and store it in glass jars, I love looking at it. As non-meat-eaters, you will love the chewy jerky that fresh pineapple turns into. And your whole house smells good while it's drying, just sensory goodness from start to finish.
posted by headnsouth at 10:06 AM on February 14, 2021 [4 favorites]

Date and nut balls are yummy as a treat, maybe someone can recommend a good recipe. Avocado toast for me is also treat, with seeded bread, olive oil, lemon juice and some crushed red pepper flakes. Fruit smoothies can be made decadent. Frozen fruit pieces like banana and mango is nice. Salted nuts with dried fruit.
posted by nanook at 10:08 AM on February 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

Hi, I'm doing the same thing as you! My go-to foods for treats are raspberries, blackberries, nuts and really dark chocolate (like, 80% on up) - a couple squares of super-dark chocolate and a handful of almonds make a great mini-dessert. The chocolate does have a little sugar in it so maybe it won't work if you're completely absolutely going without, but if you're trying to keep things low-carb in general it's good stuff.
posted by sencha at 10:20 AM on February 14, 2021 [4 favorites]

Freeze bananas, mix with an equal volume of milk, and use a hand blender (one that uses a pull string) to make ice cream.
posted by metamonday at 10:46 AM on February 14, 2021 [4 favorites]

drizzle some good aged balsamic into half an avocado and grab a spoon. the mouthfeel and creamy richness are, to me, very reminiscent of ice cream with chocolate sauce, except not cold. its high in fiber, potassium and just really satisfying.
posted by supermedusa at 10:52 AM on February 14, 2021 [4 favorites]

During lockdown (now and spring), I've been making this whole wheat banana bread. Next time I bake it, I am planning to make it spicy, because I think that will be interesting, but it is great as is. For spices, I'm going to use cinnamon, ginger, cardamon and vanilla.
A traditional Danish apple "cake" is made with layers of apple cooked to a mush alternating with layers of breadcrumbs roasted on a pan with sugar (you can use any form of unprocessed sugar/honey here and the amount can be minimal). Normally served at room temperature with whipped cream on top.
This is a very elegant salad, good for a starter or as a side. It's a bit faffy, because you want to get all the white (skin and pith) off the grapefruit segments, but I feel it's OK to spend a little time on a treat. The recipe is for one portion.
I've discovered that when I make ice cream from scratch, I can turn down the sugar to a minimum regardless of what the recipe says. I haven't tried making it with honey (I use unbleached organic cane sugar), but I have a sense that a honey and cinnamon parfait would be pretty amazing. When I was ill as a child, my mother would give me hot milk with a spoonful of honey. I can imagine an ice-cream with that taste, and a bit of punch from the cinnamon.
For savory treats, I agree with popcorn. I just pop them on the stovetop and sprinkle with salt. No need for toppings when they are freshly popped, in my opinion. In our family, we also like different variations on crostini. The simplest is to toast some sourdough bread, rub the toast with a clove of garlic(cut off the end), and then with tomato (cut off the end), the toast works like a grater. Sprinkle with a little salt and as much olive oil as you like.
posted by mumimor at 10:57 AM on February 14, 2021 [3 favorites]

If you want chocolate flavour but not sugar, try cacao nibs. They have a satisfying nutty crunch. You can eat them as is, or use them as a topping (I love them in muesli or oatmeal).
posted by Too-Ticky at 10:59 AM on February 14, 2021 [3 favorites]

Somebody upthread mentioned date balls, which I came here to recommend. I don't know how exactly you're defining sugar substitutes, but these are only sweetened with dried fruit (dates) and taste to me very much like German chocolate cake (the dates are kind of caramely). I actually use my own recipe which is similar to this one, but I would consider toasting the pecans and coconut ahead of time if you want to be fancy.

I tend to be the cook in my family so ymmv, but I also find a prepared spread of things to choose from pretty fancy. So, even something like a salad bar, but with many different kinds of toppings to assemble yourself can be fun, especially if you can get people into prepping it together.
posted by lgyre at 11:15 AM on February 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

Pineapple carpacccio
posted by essexjan at 11:17 AM on February 14, 2021

Do you eat dairy? Because cheese is the answer. Cheese platters can get really fancy, and making one with all kinds of fun garnishes can be an afternoon’s craft activity. Add nuts, high quality dried fruits, small batch pickles, fancy vinegars and flavored oils, even homemade or otherwise special crackers. Carve some radish roses, make tomato ramekins, use a pepper to corral toasted seeds. Take pictures and post to social media to gloat. On a smaller scale, just having a cheese course in a meal makes it feel more special, but it can just be scaled way down and simple. Just have like, a few pieces of two contrasting cheeses and bread with some cucumber or grapes.
posted by Mizu at 11:58 AM on February 14, 2021 [4 favorites]

The standard waffle recipe our family has used has no sugar. Throw on some berries for a brunch-y treat no different than sugar-eaters eat.
posted by mark k at 12:01 PM on February 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

If a little honey is acceptable as a treat, cheeses with honey is super decadent. I have made a fancy little board for a friend eating similarly, with a row of tiny dessert spoons heaped with goat cheese and dabbed with honey, with strawberries scattered around. Goat cheese + honey tastes almost like cheesecake! Blue cheese is also most excellent with honey.

You can also make some pretty grazing boards just with berries and nuts, or cheeses and veggies and pickles (make your own pickles to make it extra fun when you eat them!).

This may be a stretch, and will depend on whether eggs are acceptable and how strictly you're defining "processed", but deviled eggs are a celebratory food in my world, and you can get pretty elaborate with the garnishes. You can make your own mayo, but the mustard is a little tougher.
posted by rhiannonstone at 12:22 PM on February 14, 2021 [5 favorites]

I make pancakes with three ingredients: a ripe banana, an egg, and some almond flour. It works best when bananas are ripe but not too ripe. Then I eat them with a little super yummy French butter. You could also top with some sugar free jam (or just mashed berries or whatever). Ripe bananas are sweet, and this hits that spot.

Also for me, peanut butter hits the "treat" spot. So much so I can only buy it on occasion. YMMV.
posted by swheatie at 12:36 PM on February 14, 2021

I am a big fan of dutch pancakes which are super simple to make and have a feeling of foods that are sweeter/fried-er without being too terrible for you. The directions I use are basically these with the measurements of 1/4 c flour, 1/4 c milk, 1 egg (and then a T or so of butter cut into chunks in the pan). Serves one in a 7 or 8 inch skillet. Can top with savory (add garlic powder and/or parsley and other herbs to the mix, top with parmesan or other nice cheese) or sweeter (top with berries and/or grated spices or whipped cream).
posted by jessamyn at 12:46 PM on February 14, 2021 [3 favorites]

The standard waffle recipe our family has used has no sugar. Throw on some berries for a brunch-y treat no different than sugar-eaters eat.

This reminded me of crêpes. I don't even use a recipe, since every child here has grown up making them. You don't have to use milk, sometimes I use a seltzer instead. They are great for both sweet and savory treats, and in spite of their simplicity, they have a sort of glamour to them.
For a sweet treat, drizzle with honey and toasted almond slivers. Roll up and eat with your hands.
Here's a vegan version. I haven't tried it, but it looks promising.
posted by mumimor at 12:49 PM on February 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

- melons, bananas, kiwi, papaya, etc with tajin.
- medjool dates
- plain yogurt, lime extract stirred in, top with puffed amaranth(scroll down to description. also, there are better, cheaper sources with smaller quantities - i just like this description).
posted by j_curiouser at 1:10 PM on February 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

also... I've been experimenting with vegetarian panna cotta (agar agar, not gelatin). i think honey or agave would be a terrific flavor choice.
posted by j_curiouser at 1:13 PM on February 14, 2021

Do you consider dates a sugar substitute? If not, I recommend this birthday cake recipe that uses dates and almond butter for healthy sugar and fat. I use this recipe for the frosting but omit the maple syrup as I find the sweet potato alone to make the frosting sweet enough for me. I use an Asian Yam (also known as Satsumaimo or Korean Yam), which is sweeter than purple yams, and cook it in a pressure cooker, which any contribute to the natural sweetness.

If sweet potatoes work for you, I also love this sweet potato pudding and omit the maple syrup from the recipe as it’s sweet enough without it.

As you can see, I’m a big fan of Detoxinista’s recipes. She has a No Sugar Added archive that may be worth checking out.
posted by saltypup at 1:18 PM on February 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

No-sugar added frozen fruit - my local store has a tropical blend that has banana, kiwi, and pineapple, as well as a berry blend with strawberries, blackberries, blueberries.

No sugar-added dried fruit (and freeze-dried fruit if you're craving sweet and crunchy) - has the best selection, with some interesting choices.
posted by honeybee413 at 1:21 PM on February 14, 2021

We’ve done various combos of dried fruit, fancy cheese, nuts, berries, and crackers for special occasions. It can be a nice spread!
posted by tchemgrrl at 1:28 PM on February 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

for this type of craving i like to slice up an heirloom tomato with olive oil, salt, and mozzarella or burrata. the heirloom tomato really does taste sweet if you've been avoiding processed foods and sugary foods! or you can do burrata with sliced berries and dates, maybe some nuts. an avocado can go well the with tomato as well.

also you can make popcorn and put various seasonings and nutritional yeast or olive oil on there, that's one of my snack indulgences these days. i like nutritional yeast + parmesan + sea salt and olive oil spray to make it all stick to the popcorn a bit.
posted by zdravo at 1:44 PM on February 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

Smoothie made with almond milk, frozen dark sweet cherries, frozen banana and a tablespoon of cocoa powder - helps with chocolate cravings!


Dates with cream cheese

Oatmeal with raisins, cinnamon and half and half

Flavored seltzer water (no calories, but a hint of some flavor)

Water/plain setter with a squirt of Mio

Popcorn with a variety of seasonings (even a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon)

Frozen banana slices, frozen slices dipped in almond butter and frozen together

Apple leather - dehydrate plain unsweetened apple sauce
posted by Sassyfras at 1:44 PM on February 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

For me, this means fancy cheese, fancy (tropical) fruit, and fancy (bakery) bread - preferably all at the same time.
posted by randomnity at 1:51 PM on February 14, 2021

It's all about presentation. A bag of the cheapest cookies is not a treat and gets eaten straight out of the box in front of a screen and is not noticed while it is being consumed. Instead you want to do things that take much more trouble and display well. Think in terms of bento boxes and jarcuterie, the kind of food presentation that you find on foodie websites. Crackers arranged like canapés with a tiny dab of two different colours alternating on the plate, layered anti-pasto - things like that which you would normally only prepare for entertaining will help fill your need for something special. Then don't ignore the fancy dish, stop and look at it and make eating it a focal point.

Sugar is often comfort food, meant to give a feeling of completion or security. Figure out what are the times you are looking for that sensation and make sure you are not just trying to tough out and ignore those moments when you expect the after dinner cake or the mid afternoon treat. Substitute something with good mouth feel for richness, and which provide you with some carbs to raise your blood sugar, just not to raise it as high as when you're eating actual sugar. Celery is going to leave your blood sugar signaling to you you haven't eaten yet, and twenty minutes later you may feel frantic, but a baked potato has the carbs so that your stomach will perceive that you have been fed and is the better choice over a doughnut.

Try to combine any sugar you do have with some other strong flavour. Better to have five ounces of bitter sweet chocolate chips than two ounces of sweet ones, if you are allowing yourself the two ounces and the total grams of sugar are the same. Make the sugar experiences sensorily vivid so it will stand out. Something sweet and sour like colourful tart preserves will stretch the taste experience more than a smaller amount of plain sweetness. Garlic or spices may create enough interest that you feel satisfied with them and don't need any sugar content in the food at all.

If you want the richness of deep fried food try to go for a maillard reaction without deep frying. You can add a little baking soda so there is no added sweetener at all. Toss mixed root vegetables in the kind of oil you like, add spices and a tiny bit of the baking soda and bake them until they are browned and softened, stirring as needed to prevent them from sticking. Any natural sweetness in the vegetables will come out and the browning will give you some of what you are looking for when you go for deep fried food.
posted by Jane the Brown at 2:03 PM on February 14, 2021 [3 favorites]

Seconding cgg's suggestion of popcorn -- my go-to snack for this purpose. Instead of an air popper, I use this silicone microwave popper. After popping, spray on a little olive oil (so toppings stick) add your toppings and stir/toss.
posted by JonathanB at 2:14 PM on February 14, 2021

In the summer, I like a small bowl of perfectly ripe fruit (ideally peaches and raspberries) with creme fraiche or whole milk yogurt.
posted by pinochiette at 2:16 PM on February 14, 2021 [3 favorites]

One of the things I personally find most indulgent right now is a hummus bowl (I make the hummus so it's not processed) - a big dollop of hummus, toppings you like (there are tons of recs online but for me it's avocado, tomato, peppers, and picked turnips with some hot pepper oil). If you serve the toppings in a fancy way it reads a bit like a party.

Cheese-stuffed peppers, baked in the oven, also read as a big treat to me.

If you do fish, smoked salmon with capers and onions also reads like a party to me.

Today I made this Vegan Onion Dip. Pretty much anything dip-like reads as a party here. Stuffed anything works too, like stuffed eggplant, etc.
posted by warriorqueen at 2:19 PM on February 14, 2021

very low sugar food luxury:

1. cheese obviously. Not soft cheese, then you will wish you had crackers. Luxurious medium/hard cheeses from your local upscale shop or Whole Foods. Costco sometimes has superb cheeses for a great price but they are big chunks.

2. Nuts. You can make sweet/spicy with a fraction of the sugar that processed sweets would be; or just salted. Trader Joe's has some wonderful spicy flavors like chile lime.

3. Fancy fruit, if your macros can handle. Have you tried Cosmic Crisp apples yet? Trader Joe's has been carrying them - the large ones cost $1.50 apiece, which is ridiculous for an apple, but these are really a special treat. Cut up in thin slices, so good. Or a tasting variety of fancy apples!

4. Deviled eggs. These can be made fancy with smoked salmon or caviar.

5. Upscale smoked fish like trout.

6. Really good olives, and these can also be done as a "tasting." Or you can marinate them in oranges, lemons etc for extreme fanciness.
posted by fingersandtoes at 2:19 PM on February 14, 2021

If you do dairy, whipped cream with cocoa powder (unsweetened, for baking) makes a lovely treat.
When whipping the cream leave out the sugar and add cocoa powder instead, and vanilla if you like.
Or make whipped cream and add mashed ripe fruit. I love rasberries. Basically any fruit that is easy to mash or puree it first.
posted by 15L06 at 2:38 PM on February 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

A company here in New Mexico called Eldora, sells sugar free, non sweetened chocolate bars in several styles(off hand the one I know is Macadamia, but but there are one or two more). This is high quality chocolate (so also read expensive) and it works for me at times when I'm not eating sugar. I also make chocolate chia seed pudding with chia seeds, coconut milk (unsweetened), coco powder (unsweetened) and maple syrup (which, while sweet, is not sugar and does not have the same effect on your blood sugar as regular sugar does).
posted by WalkerWestridge at 2:40 PM on February 14, 2021

Apple and a big chunk of Cheddar. Don't use sliced Cheddar.
posted by Raybun at 2:57 PM on February 14, 2021

Would a mug of delicious tea or coffee hit the spot? Something that feels "fancy" to me is an ice cold sparkling water with a wedge of fruit.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 3:09 PM on February 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

fancy tea is a thing.

some don't care for olives, but I do, like mixed olives in spicy brine.
posted by ovvl at 3:40 PM on February 14, 2021

Gjetost cheese from Norway tastes like caramel; it's a great afternoon treat sliced onto Granny Smith apples.
posted by nantucket at 3:52 PM on February 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

Cocoa nibs and dates
posted by chiefthe at 3:55 PM on February 14, 2021

If a little honey is okay, ricotta with lemon zest and honey and fresh berries is one of my favorite things.

Mixed olives baked with fresh thyme, garlic, lemon zest, crushed red pepper, etc. is much more of an event than cold olives.

Port, Stilton, and walnuts is a timeless winter treat that involves a little sweetness.
posted by HotToddy at 3:57 PM on February 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

If you alternate a delicious fruit like strawberries or cherries with salted nuts, it tastes like pie.
posted by Don Pepino at 4:43 PM on February 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

Stilton (or other blue cheese) on an oatcake with a smear of jam— ideally blackberry, blackcurrant or pear— is my go-to. The jam hits the same taste spot as port, but is non-alcoholic.

Apple butter (southern US style) is also heavenly if you can get it. With cheese, in oatmeal, on wholewheat toast, any old way.
posted by Pallas Athena at 5:36 PM on February 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

Come to think of it, apple butter is also pretty simple to make. Peeling and coring the apples is the hardest part. After that it’s just apples, molasses, ginger and cinnamon. American molasses is unrefined sugar syrup, so it would pass the “no refined sugar” test, and in any case you wouldn’t need much.
posted by Pallas Athena at 5:45 PM on February 14, 2021

I don't usually buy berries because they seem more lavish than other fruits, but I got some strawberries as a gift, and it reminded me of how much I love fresh berries.

A smoothie feels like a treat for me. Some fruit (i like fresh banana + frozen strawberries + mango + plain greek yogurt for the base with some combo of frozen pineapple or blueberries thrown in depending on what I'm in the mood for). The fresh banana makes it extra creamy. I don't add in extra ice when I'm already using frozen fruit.

This would combine well with a waffle or pancake recipe above. Sort of a celebratory brunch feel.

I'm not a big cheese person, but mozzarella combined some good quality olive oil and tomatoes tossed together or maybe served festively on a skewer. Although for me, even better if everything is warmed up a bit.

I agree that presentation + putting in a bit of effort to put it together goes a long way to helping with this.
posted by litera scripta manet at 5:53 PM on February 14, 2021

If it's for a special occasion, have you considered a "Miracle Fruit" party?
posted by Cusp at 7:38 PM on February 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

How do y’all feel about olives? I like getting a variety of the kind of fancy oil-cured olives you see at the deli counter. They hit some of that salty, greasy, this is a savory treat feel, and it’s fun to try all the different consistencies and flavor variations.
posted by ActionPopulated at 8:03 PM on February 14, 2021

Strawberries dipped in melted 100% chocolate.

Broiled saffron dates

Frozen bananas can be made into a decadent ice cream with real cream and cocoa powder
posted by shadygrove at 8:36 PM on February 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

I’m doing this and have decided to get big into coffees and teas, doing research and tastings like fancy people do with wine.

Fruit subscription boxes?

Unfortunately, things like honey and dates only trigger my sugar addiction so though some of these suggestions sound amazing, I know even a taste of something too pastry-like would bring me to the dark place where I go to Walgreens for discount valentines candy and binge it in shame.
posted by kapers at 10:21 PM on February 14, 2021 [3 favorites]

Since you mention birthdays in particular, I accidentally made this cupcake recipe without sugar last night. They look fine if a little short and taste like an extra-vanilla-y pancake. I bet they'd be great topped with some sliced strawberries and unsweetened whipped cream for a sugarless birthday treat.

21 Day Sugar Detox has some treats that are sugar free - frozen greenish bananas dipped in 100% dark chocolate, lemon meltaways (mostly coconut oil that melts lavishly in the mouth).

Date balls as mentioned above - look up homemade Rx bars - are really good if you have a food processor or vitamix.

To the fruit and fruit platter ideas, sliced bananas, granny smith apples and other fruits with dips - unsweeted whipped cream, peanut butter, unsweetened full-fat yogurt.
posted by RoadScholar at 7:52 AM on February 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

I can't remember where I found this substitute for peanut-butter cups, but it's delicious, small, and pretty.

1 Medjool date, halved
Fill each half with 1/2 tsp peanut butter (just peanuts)
Top with 3 or 4 dark chocolate chips
Optional - a few walnut or pecan crumbles
Top with a little fancy salt if your peanut butter is unsalted
posted by Frenchy67 at 6:49 AM on February 16, 2021

Dried figs are delicious and filling.
posted by plinth at 9:16 AM on February 16, 2021

Fudge-like peanut butter fat bomb!
posted by jander03 at 7:42 PM on February 17, 2021

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