I'll be the first one to admit that cutting out sugar and sweet foods isn't fun. I love sweets, and even when I learned how damaging processed sugars are, I was still resentful about giving them up. Fast-forward four years and here I am, enjoying all the desserts that I love.

How is that possible? The key to having your cake and eating it too is in the ingredients, or as I like to call them – food that love you back. Just like you don’t want to have a relationship with a person who abuses you, why would you want to have a relationship with food that make you feel bad afterwards?

To find out if the dessert is good for you, ask yourself the following two questions:

Can I read and understand every ingredient on the label?

It's crucial to read labels. Even if a product is labeled “all natural,” you may discover otherwise once you read the ingredients. Not all sweets are created equal, and conventional ones can often be full of ingredients that aren't even considered “food”.

Rule of thumb: If you can’t pronounce them, how will your body know what to do with them? Your health is too important to sacrifice for a few minutes of taste. Don’t settle for less and choose food that loves you back.

Are there any other benefits to this food besides sweetness?

Choose food that gives you the biggest bang for your nutritional buck. Get sweets that have antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and enzymes that are naturally found in unprocessed and unheated foods. Do keep in mind that when food is heated over 115 degrees, enzymes and vitamins can die. Anything that is considered “raw vegan” still has those nutrients intact and is a better choice than processed.

That said, I want to introduce you to three healthy dessert companies started by local entrepreneurs within the last 12 months. They're committed to bringing you the best tasting treats that are actually good for you. So when you enjoy one of their desserts, you're not only making yourself feel better, you're also supporting your own community. But don’t trust just my words. The proof is in the cake, the cookie and the truffle!

Jodi’s Bites

Jodi’s Bites are delicious sweet treats that you don’t have to feel guilty about. They are bite-sized (hence the name), rich and chocolatey so you can feel satisfied and practice portion control at the same time

Jodi’s Story: Jodi’s business started at a supermarket’s check-out counter. She was hungry, but couldn't find anything to satisfy her. Despite a lineup of at least 20 candy bars staring her in the face, nothing appealed to her. That’s when she decided to create her own raw (except for the truffles), organic treats that are free of gluten, egg, dairy, soy, GMOs and preservatives. You can actually pronounce the ingredients and feel good about putting them in your body.

Jodi’s Bites can be found at: Juice & Java and Juiceateria in Boca Raton, and Fit Food Express in Delray Beach. For the complete line-up, check out: www.jodisbites.com.

Brigitte’s RawFood & Organic Delights

Brigitte’s raw vegan adventure began last March, when she decided to take her life and health into her own hands and eliminate all animal products from her diet. Within a year, she lost 50 pounds and made more than 50 new friends. She also started her own raw vegan food company. Today, Brigitte’s Raw Food & Organic Delights is proud to offer three treats: carrot cake with a hint of orange zest topped with a creamy cashew vanilla frosting, moist decadent brownies topped with creamy fudgy frosting and onion bread crackers.

Brigitte’s Raw Food & Organic Delights are all gluten-free, vegan, raw and most importantly, delicious. You can find them at Juice & Java in Boca, Healthy Bites Grill and Bee Organics. More locations are coming soon.

For more inquiries, contact 561/394-7466 or BrigittesFood@HappyHerald.com.

John’s Bad Ass Power Cookie

Being a fitness enthusiast and trainer, John received many inquires for a recommendation on a non-GMO vegan snack that was not only healthy but actually tasted good.

On a mission to show everyone that a plant-based diet is great for the body and the planet, John decided to start his own product line and created the Bad Ass Power Cookie. Because who doesn’t love a cookie? It comes individually wrapped, so you can throw this cookie in your lunchbox, briefcase, purse or gym bag.

What makes this cookie good for you is the most nutritionally-dense ingredient on the planet - spirulina. Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae that boasts a plethora of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants as well as protein.

You can find the Bad Ass Power Cookies at Swami Juice, Fit Food Express and Infra Sweat in Boca Raton. They are also available on www.badassvegan.com.


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About Alina Z.

Alina Z., aka “The Green Goddess,” is a certified holistic health coach, detox specialist and raw-food chef (she conducts occasional classes at Whole Foods in Boca). Prior to moving to Florida,  Alina hosted her own TV show in Maryland—“Entertaining A to Z”—for people who didn’t have time to cook but wanted to eat healthy. Catch one of her web episodes at eHow.com, visit Alina’s website at alinaz.com, or follow her on Facebook (facebook.com/CoutureFood) or Twitter (@CoutureFood). The Green Goddess blog runs every other Wednesday at bocamag.com.