Healthy and Sane

Preparing for a sugar detox (with walnut brownie dough!)

December 15th, 2010 · 28 Comments · baking

I have a serious sweet tooth – that’s no secret. It’s something I’m happy about (I swear someone like Adam can’t experience the joy of an incredible cookie the way that I do… and I don’t know if I’d want to give that up) but of course it has is (kind of obvious) downfall. I’m a sugar ADDICT. Once in a while I can enjoy something super sweet and move on but more often, I want more. A lot more. Sometimes that leaves me in a fetal position with a stomachache and a sugar high. No bueno.


I’m contemplating a short sugar detox. The holiday season isn’t the right time to start this but I’m already starting to play with recipes for unprocessed sweets that I can reach for if I get the shakes Winking smile

How about some brownie bites? [Christie told me about this recipe but she wasn’t sure where it originally came from. Let me know if you are or know of the master mind behind this one. Smile ]


  • 1 cup dates
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup high quality cacao powder* (or more if it has lower cocoa content)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • dash of salt


1. Soak dates in water for about 20 minutes


2. Process walnuts until an almost flour-like consistency



3. Add dates (reserve the liquid), vanilla and salt.




4. Add cacao powder




Add reserved liquid from the dates if necessary. I didn’t need to do this for my batch.


5. Form into little balls.


I got nine 1.5-tablespoon sized bites.


Store in refrigerator.

These seriously taste like rich brownie batter. LOVE them!!


Do you have any recipes for sweets without processed sugar?

*I received the cacao powder in the above picture for free at the Whole Foods Whole Body event. It’s incredibly chocolaty and I’m a big fan already!

PS – Don’t forget to enter the Three Sisters Cereal giveaway!

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28 Comments so far ↓

  • #1 - Kelly

    Yum. I think we definitely have different food preferences. I am much more of a savory girl myself. I realized it too when I was looking through past blog posts. I hardly post about desserts, probably because I rarely make them!

    Those balls look very fun though. As for detoxes, I’m a bit skeptical of them from a health/weight loss perspective. Everything I’ve read suggests our body does a pretty good job naturally of ridding it of what it doesn’t need. That said, I can see why they would work from a mental perspective because they have a tendency to signal that a change in behavior is coming.

    I guess my only question to you is that if they are something that gives you so much joy and satisfaction, why cut them out completely? It seems like it could only set up cravings. That said, I’ve never done a detox and I am sure there are commenters who have who can give you some pointers. :-) For me personally, I could never cut out things I love.

    Oh and thanks for the email on the kitchen remodel, sorry I haven’t replied yet. It was VERY helpful and I loved hearing your experience and the pointers. Still haven’t found any condos I love so remodeling is very much just a fantasy at this point but we shall see. I will admit I’ve been watching a lot of DIY network lately. :-)

    • #2 - Elina

      Yay – I love long comments :) I don’t plan on doing it for weight loss purposes but rather to get some sugar out of my system to see if I crave them a bit less (even these guys I’d like to limit but I figure it’s better than “real cookies”. I love sweets but I would like to be in a place where I can enjoy them in moderation without getting the crazy sugar highs and wanting more. I’m not sold on the detox idea but I’m willing to give it a go… and only for like 3 days. Nothing major – I don’t want a binge to follow this.
      PS – We’re starting to think about redoing our bathrooms so soon our DVR will surely be filled with home improvement shows. It’s kind of fun though! :)

  • #3 - Michelle

    I am totally going on a low-carb plan for January as I’ve been digging into way too much pasta, pizza, and breads!

  • #6 - Lauren at KeepItSweet

    these remind me of the chocolate chip brownie larabars, minus the chips. definitely a great idea to ease out of a cookie baking and eating marathon:-) I’ll keep this in mind for the next time my sweet tooth gets out of control!

  • #7 - Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic

    Looks good, and yes, agree with Lauren that they remind me of Larabars. I also have a huge sweet tooth!

  • #8 - Julie (A Case of the Runs)

    Yeah, I do that every few months, and I think it’s a good opportunity to eat healthfully for a while and then not miss the sugar. I will go on one after this Friday once work lets out for the year… work is THE only place I have issues controlling my sugar intake.

  • #9 - Lauren

    These brownie bites sound fantastic! I am in agreement with Lauren & Bianca – they are reminiscent of Larabars, which I love.

    I am also a dessert junkie, but I have “trained” my sweet tooth to be satisfied with less-sweet treats. I have dessert every single night, but it is almost always a homemade goodie made with a low amount of sugar. I never bake with white sugar, preferring to use less-refined sweeteners such as evaporated cane juice, Sucanat, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, etc.

    I also have a few favorite sweet treats that don’t use any type of processed sugar at all, which would work for your detox:

    Roasted Banana Soft Serve
    Pumpkin Pie Pudding
    Raw Vegan Chocolate Pudding
    Pecan Pumpkin Pie Bites
    Peanut Butter, Date, & Oat Bites
    Tropical Dried Fruit and Cashew Butter Bites

    Good luck!

  • #10 - Lauren

    Oops… I thought those copied & pasted links would work. They’re all on my “recipe” page!

  • #11 - Elizabeth

    I am definitely going to need some sugar detox after the holidays. Anything with fruit, dried fruit and nuts is good if you’re looking to avoid refined sugar. I think you’ve remarked on this before, but the longer you go without it, the less you crave it. It’s just that initial hump you have to get over.

  • #12 - MelissaNibbles

    I don’t think you should limit anything out of your diet, it only leads to binging. Creating low sugar recipes that taste just as sweet would probably satisfy your sweet tooth and indulging every now and then isn’t a bad thing. Eating healthy isn’t an all or nothing thing.

  • #13 - Corey @ The Runner's Cookie

    The ingredient list reminds me of larabars, which I love, so I’m sure these are delicious!
    It does seem like it would be tough to totally eliminate sugar this time of year, but replacing at least some of it with treats sweetened with unprocessed sugars (like dates) seems like a good idea to me!
    Bananas in baked goods also provide a lot of great, natural sweetness.

  • #14 - Tracy

    Hi Elina, I’m currently on Day 2 of a sugar/gluten detox. I’m just like you in that I have a MASSIVE sweet tooth, and when I start, I just can’t stop. Chocolates, candies, cakes, ice cream, anything sweet, I will eat. I even have a candy drawer at the office filled with cookies, ‘dessert’-y granola bars, chocolates, wafers, you name it …

    After reading the South Beach Diet book and researching other low-carb diets (like Atkins, etc), I’ve learnt that a lot of these diets address ‘carb & sugar addicts’ like us. Now, please don’t quote me on this, but it seems that our bodies are so used to the high amounts of sugar we feed it that it develops a physiological addiction in terms of rapid insulin release. (add in some high GI/low GI stuff that I don’t fully understand) Most sugar-detoxes address this by eliminating said offender completely from our diets for 1 – 2 weeks and drastically reducing our blood sugar levels. Phase 2 of the South Beach and Atkins advocates adding carbs and sugars slowly back into your diet at a pace that will not trigger said cravings.

    In any case, I believe that the ‘all-or-nothing’ aspect comes down to your personality (and Myer-Briggs type) … if you’re an N, then the ‘all-or-nothing’ approach CAN be effective, but less so for an S-type. After following your blog for a while, I definitely think you succeed better in extreme short-term diet changes rather than longer sustained periods simply because you seem to get bored easily and crave new things. (This is probably a common characteristic for you finance professionals :) )

    Good luck with whatever you decide! I’ll let you know how my detox affects my sugar addiction when it’s over.

    • #15 - Elina

      Tracy – I think your assessment was spot on (can I blame my sweet tooth on finance? lol). Good luck with your detox. I’m going to start mine after Christmas and make it short! Hopefully just a few days will teach me some lessons. Let me know how yours goes…

      • #16 - Tracy

        Hey Elina, wanted to give you an update on my sugar detox. So I went 6 days without any added (non-natural) sugar (not even honey) and near the end of it could really feel my natural addiction to sugar subside! Grapes and bananas became almost too sweet, and the thought of eating milk chocolate made me sick to my stomach. Without any added sugar, the natural sweetness of fruits and veggies definitely became magnified! It was great.

        However, the not so great part was the sugar binge that occurred after I came off my diet. I blame it somewhat on the fact that this coincided with the day I returned home from uni for the holidays and face-to-face with a cupboard full of chocolate bars, cookies, and misc. asian treats I have not seen in years. Last night all hell broke loose and I ate an entire milk chocolate bar before bed. I told myself that it wasn’t a big deal, but this morning after breakfast I found myself reaching for more chocolate and eating 3 Lindt squares, and two thinsations cookie packages! My body feels really lousy from this sugar OVERLOAD after so long without … my downfall is definitely not having a planned ‘exit’ treat so if you do decide to do a sugar detox, make sure you have a worthy reward planned at the end to prevent random post-detox munchies!

        • #17 - Elina

          Tracy – Thanks for sharing! This kind of bingeing/sugar overload is what I’m afraid of. That’s what happened every time I’ve tried restricting anything from my diet. Definitely something to consider…

  • #18 - Kristina

    Just like you, I can’t get enough of sweets. Thus the broad hips. I’d make me some choco truffles!!!! Oppps no….

    Going on a sugar detox is what I need! But your photos are enticing…. aahhhhhhh

  • #19 - Bridget

    Those sound like a perfect idea! I don’t think I could do a detox…well maybe after Christmas, but I have found myself craving more sweets than usual lately! I do want to at least cut down on the sugar after the holidays…gotta remember this recipe!

  • #20 - Cara

    I’ve made something just like this but with peanuts instead of walnuts – perfect if you want a peanut butter cup-like treat! It’s been too long though, thanks for the reminder :)

    One of my Hanukkah presents from my parents is a clean-eating cookbook with some really interesting sounding desserts (in terms of ingredients). Can’t wait to try them out.

    And lastly I think it’s really admirable that you’re going on a “detox” during the holidays. My goal is always to limit myself during the week (from all the goodies people bring in to the office) and allow for some splurging during the actual holidays, but I haven’t been great at it. Not terribly overindulging, but a little here and there all add up. Perhaps if I really try to make it a hard rule it would just be easier!

  • #21 - Shannon

    yeah, i’m the same way, one piece of candy or bite of a sweet totally makes me crave more. and since i haven’t had the will power to say to to that one little bite, i’ve been od’ing lately. i’m trying to make a conscious effort to have other snack options around when i get hungry, preferably protein-rich ones (yogurt, hummus & veggies…) to see if I can break this cycle.

  • #22 - CaSaundra

    I’ve seen alot of recipes that involve soaking dates–I’ve never made one though. These sound good though, and yes, perfect for those holiday sugar highs!

  • #23 - Kerstin

    These would be great with a little protein powder too!

  • #24 - Jayna

    I’ve tried to make similar recipes by always end up burning out my dinky food processor.
    I’ve found that just the medjool dates alone are enough for my sweet craving….though I tend to have the same problem–I always want more!

    this recipe looks really similar to the ‘fudge baby’ recipes by ChocolateCoveredKatie or she might have changed her blog name to ChocolateCoveredHealthy…she has a ton of different variations that you might like to try

    Anyway, I just found your blog and it’s great reading! thanks for all the interesting posts :)

  • #25 - fzyf

    this is amazing!!! I just made three batches for upcoming dinners! delicious! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

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