Part of the course involved studying a disease state that could be managed and/or treated by nutritional intervention. I chose to study Graves’ Disease, an autoimmune disease which attacks the thyroid gland (more about that below). I then had to create a recipe that would be supportive for a person with Graves’ Disease. Here is that recipe, one that I enjoyed creating and eating and wanted to share with you. This dessert can and should be enjoyed by everyone!
How often have you been told that it’s ok to eat dessert? That you should eat dessert, by a Registered Dietitian, no less. If you haven’t heard these words in the past, then it’s time to hear them now. You should eat your dessert. But not any dessert – it’s time to use your discernment and judgement. I want you to eat this dessert.
The inspiration for creating this decadent dessert came to me while researching Graves’ Disease, an autoimmune disease which attacks the thyroid gland, for my Culinary Nutrition Expert program. I had an interest in better understanding Graves’ Disease, since both my maternal grandpa and my mom had the disease, and I wondered what could’ve been done to alleviate the symptoms and severity that each of them had encountered. Along the way, I learned more about the specific foods and nutrients which are beneficial for Graves’ patients to consume; so many of these foods were already a part of my daily meal plan, while others needed a way to be added. Once it was time to put my understanding of the disease together with my recipe creating abilities, I knew that a dessert was the best possible way to showcase the healing foods for Graves’ disease. Most people don’t associate desserts, especially chocolate ones, with health and nutrition, but I’m here to prove them wrong!
Can food be medicine? Of course!
The blueberries and raw cacao are both excellent antioxidant sources, which is important for anyone with an autoimmune disease.
The raw cacao is also rich in magnesium, known as the “anti-stress mineral”.
Almonds and chia seeds are full of calcium, an essential mineral for bone formation/maintenance and for muscle contraction. Graves’ Disease is the leading cause of hyperthyroidism, a condition where the body can waste due to increased metabolic activity, so maintaining bone and muscle health is crucial.
The walnuts are high in Omega-3 fatty acids, critical for keeping the body healthy, strong, and decreasing inflammation.
This recipe is full of heart-healthy nuts and is an excellent source of plant-based protein. Graves’ patients may have increased protein needs to help rebuild the muscle which is often lost during the uncontrolled weight-loss phase of the disease.
The salt provides a source of iodine, a critical mineral for thyroid health; however, if the Graves’ patient is instructed to avoid salt due to iodine balance issues, the salt in this recipe can easily be omitted.
Most importantly, this recipe is rich and full of flavor, promoting a feeling of calmness. Anyone suffering from disease can be emotionally tense, which doesn’t help with healing. Enjoying a healthful and nutrient-dense dessert is the perfect way to calm anyone’s nerves and promote a sense of well-being!
Deliciously Decadent & Nourishing Blueberry Cacao Tart
Ingredients: (use organic whenever possible)
1 cup raw almonds
1 cup raw walnuts
1 cup pitted dates (I used Deglet Noor)
1/4 teaspoon Himalayan salt
1 tablespoon raw cacao powder
1 tablespoon coconut oil (to grease tart pan)
3 cups frozen blueberries (fresh if available)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon arrowroot powder (if needed)
1 tablespoon chia seeds
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/4 cup raw cacao powder
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Make the raw crust. Put the almonds and walnuts into food processor and pulse until coarsely ground. Add the dates, salt and cacao powder and continue to pulse until a uniform mixture is formed. Soften coconut oil and grease a 9” springform pan and place on a baking sheet.
Pour the crust mixture into the greased pan and press evenly onto the base of the pan and gently up the sides of the pan. Once the crust is formed, place the baking sheet into the freezer for 2 hours to set crust.
Make the filling while the crust freezes. Place the frozen blueberries in to a heavy-bottomed sauce pan and simmer gently until thawed and juicy. Add maple syrup and stir until berries are coated with the syrup. Continue to simmer blueberry mixture until the liquid begins to thicken. If there is a lot of liquid, pour off some of the juices into a small bowl and add the arrowroot powder. Stir until arrowroot powder is completely dissolved, then pour arrowroot powder mixture back into the pan. Continue to simmer the berries until thickened. Remove from the heat, place in a bowl, cover and chill for several hours. After the mixture has cooled, stir in the chia seeds.
Make the ganache once the crust has chilled completely. In a small saucepan, melt the coconut oil. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the cacao powder until smooth. Add the maple syrup and continue to whisk until thickened. Pour half of the ganache onto the tart crust and distribute evenly on the bottom of the tart. Place in the freezer to set the ganache.
Assemble the tart. Once the crust has chilled, remove it from the freezer. Spoon the blueberry mixture into the tart; avoid getting too much of the thickened juices into the tart (use a slotted spoon, if needed). Gently reheat the remaining ganache and drizzle it over the top of the blueberries. Chill the tart in the refrigerator until the ganache has hardened. When ready to serve, remove the sides of the pan, cut into slices and enjoy.