by Niki Konkoly
For some of us, dessert is the bejeweled crown of each meal; a divine celebration of life, family, and friendships. For others, it’s the tummy-upsetting devil in a silky, chocolatey disguise. Luckily, in this age, the pinnacle of dinner no longer has to be the bogeyman robbing us of our health, but a little everyday miracle putting a smile on our face and happiness in our bellies.
Years ago, I saw a movie in which the protagonist’s quirky, witty love interest had a very serious commitment to starting every meal with dessert. Rather than a political statement or medical condition, it was her means of ensuring that if she dies while eating her entrée (or if an asteroid comes hurling down onto the restaurant) she won’t miss out on her one last indulgence.
This struck a chord with me. While vegan soups and mains make me giddy with joy as well, desserts do have a special place in my heart.
For centuries, cakes, pastries, ice cream and chocolate have been serving as a bond between friends and family members. The heavenly abundance that springs from the marriage of peanut butter, chocolate and bananas can make an ordinary Tuesday feel like Christmas. The intensity of a dark chocolate ice cream helps a broken heart heal ten times faster. Feeling the warmth of coconut oil while kneading the dough with your bare hands, or the act of gently placing slices of strawberries on a tart is a form of self-care, and even meditation, for some. Dessert is a ceremonial tradition smuggling a little miracle and happiness into our everyday lives.
Yet, it is common for sweets to get intertwined with a sense of guilt. It is even trendy to refuse dessert, or ask for ‘only a thin slice’ of a birthday cake, wildly gesticulating a balloon-like belly. With all the addictive sugar, dairy and gluten causing troubles for many, and pointless suffering animals have to go through just so we can momentarily satisfy our sweet tooth, it’s no surprise people started ditching dessert.
But luckily, the times are over when indulgence equaled animal cruelty and health problems, and so is the age of health foods of a concerning shade of brown, resembling a dry sponge in taste. Vegans and health-conscious bakers around the globe are now creating endless recipes for sweet treats that leave us feeling energized, and warm and fuzzy on the inside rather than bloated and remorseful. I’m talking about the decadent brownies teeming with protein-rich black beans, cakes overflowing with the health benefits of nuts, or a berry crumble with antioxidants aplenty. Hungry yet? How about trying one of our recipes, such as this soul-warming pumpkin muffin that feels more like fall than a waltz of golden leaves in the October wind does?
They say not to keep your beautiful lingerie for special days; wear it, and make today that special day. I say the same applies to dessert – don’t wait for a special occasion; live your life through desserts, and let them create those special occasions for you.