December 08, 2011

Sugar-free Christmas Baking: Spiced sweet potato tarts

The recent happenings (moving house, work, etc.) have made me realise why some people might find it so hard to stay on track with their healthy eating and exercise. As soon as life gets busy - you're travelling, working long hours or there is something new happening in your life, you start taking short-cuts and sacrifice your healthy routines. Often people find it easier to stick to their healthy habits when they have time to really focus on making conscious choices of what and how to eat, exercise and get enough sleep. As soon as other things get on the way, they lapse and might find it hard to get back on track.
I think the only thing that can keep you always on track is that those healthy habits are so established in your life that they are part of your lifestyle and thus you make the right choices subconsciously.  I'm often told how healthy I am or how 'good' I am because I exercise daily, but for me it's just my lifestyle, the way I've chosen to live. I don't have to think about it, healthy eating and exercise are part of my everyday life. When I started the sugar-free challenge it took me about two weeks to break the habit of having sugar in my diet. I actually had to concentrate on not grabbing a fruit to eat as a snack or adding honey in my tea. After the first two weeks, however, I had established the new eating habits and didn't have to make a conscious effort to exclude sugar from my diet.

Another way to stick to your diet is to stay organised and plan ahead as much as possible. When we were moving house, I knew I wouldn't have time to cook, so I prepared us meals beforehand, and had sugar-free snacks and plenty of water at hand. I do this even when we are travelling or when I know I have a long working day ahead. I always pack lunch and snacks and lots of water with me, so I don't have to sacrifice anything even during the busiest of times.

This Christmas, I am planning to stay sugar- and dairy-free. I don't see why I should change anything now that I've established this diet as part of my lifestyle. There are plenty of options available, so I don't feel like I am missing out on anything. These spiced sweet potato tarts are definitely going to be part of my holiday repertoire. I've used my favourite grain-free crust and topped it with spiced sweet potato purée. The warm spices and the coconut oil combined with the sweet potato make these tarts perfect for your Christmas dessert table.

Spiced sweet potato tarts
(makes 10-12)


200g almond meal
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of sea salt
1 large egg (organic, free-range)
2 tablespoons good olive oil


400g cooked sweet potato (about 1 medium sized)
2 tablespoons coconut milk or almond milk (my recipe here)
1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground licorice
1/2 teaspoon ground clove
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground bitter orange peel powder, optional
pinch of sea salt

almond slices, toasted, to serve

1. To make the crust, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and lightly knead into a smooth dough. Divide the dough into 10-12 equal portions. Press each portion into the bottom and the sides of small cupcake molds. Leave to chill in the fridge for 10-20 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 180C.

3. Place all the ingredients for the filling in a food processor and purée into a smooth paste. Set aside.

4. Bake the crusts in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and fill each cup with a portion of the sweet potato filling.

5. Lower the temperature to 150C and continue to bake the tarts for a further 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack before sprinkling with toasted almond slices.


  1. I bet they taste divine with all those wonderful spices!



  2. This looks great, Maria! I am looking into healthy dessert alternatives this holiday season and these look great! :) I am still intrigued by the ground licorice which I have get to come across.

  3. These look so cute and surely are delicious!

  4. So true what you're about getting organised about snacks and meals if you're busy Maria! These little tarts look delicious, are better for you than the other stuff and they're gluten free (bonus - but none-the less bookmarked for future bake-a-thon). Yes there are a lot os sweets at this time of year, but I give so much away that I don't really notice that I have boxes of cookies around the house!

  5. Exactly, people shouldn't be amazed at someone eating right and exercising daily, that should be the norm. I get annoyed at people commenting about the healthy look of my lunches at work yet not doing anything to correct their habits and worse, complaining about their health and weight issues. This recipe goes straight to my to-do list, thanks!

  6. Love this idea for the holidays! I totally am the same way about diet/lifestyle and get the same thing from people (you're so good!) but it doesn't ever feel like I'm being "good" it just makes me feel good and I like keeping my body healthy.

  7. they look really great! in my head i was thinking they're savoury though, but you serve them as desserts? I should give them a shot, seeing as one of my favourite desserts that I make is a sweet potato cheesecake!

  8. Yum, yum, yum! I have an unhealthy obsession with pumpkin pie (actually a very healthy obsession now that I make it without sugar!) and this comes very close!

  9. OOh! maria these look really fantastic. I love sweet potatoes and the falvor in gives to baked stuff. Must try!

  10. These look delicious. I only found out how "fructose is poison" this last week and was quite shocked. As Christmas is a hard time for making dietary changes (also going on holiday to visit family and being vegetarian is "weird" enough for them) I am just trying to reduce my sugar for now. Keep the recipes coming - I'll need all the help I can get.

  11. Yum! This is definitely will be on our holiday menu! :)

  12. I could eat 10 of those in one sitting!

  13. I like this recipe because it seems to be a very natural fit for tasty sugar free dessert. Sweet potato has a lovely flavor and almonds for the crust have their own sweetness too. Great idea!

  14. oooh these look and sound delicious, I'm going to try them out for sure. I'd love to know if you have more ideas for a sugar free christmas! x

  15. Yum!! Who needs sugar when you have these??


  16. These look Divine! I'll be baking extra sweet potatoes next time for dinner! Happy New Year:)

  17. Have emabarked on Sarah's IQS program as well as part of my NY resolutions and so wish I had come across youer blog earlier! Will definitely try these out :)

    Thanks for the great recipe!


Thank you for your comment!