If I can figure out a way to make a recipe healthier, I’ll do it. My sweet tooth is huge, so finding better-for-you ways to indulge is a passion. Whether you’re baking dessert for a whole party or whipping up something small for the family, here are a few of secrets to making some sweet – and healthier – treats.
Try adding ingredients to increase the nutritional value:
- Instead of using all-purpose flour, try wheat or almond flour, which provide fiber and other vitamins and minerals. The fiber makes your dessert more filling and helps aid in digestion.
- Swap out full-fat for low-fat dairy products. Instead of cream cheese, 2% milk or cream, try using 1% milk, low-fat or Greek yogurt. This helps cut the calories and fat in half and, if using Greek yogurt, doubles the protein.
- Add fruit or vegetables to really bump up the nutritional value. To sneak veggies for kids, try shredding carrots or zucchini and adding them into your favorite bread. Use mashed up bananas, apples sauce or pumpkin puree or prunes to add sweetness and moisture to cakes and cookies. In some recipes, these ingredients can even replace some of the butter or oil.
Reduce saturated fat and added sugars:
- Swap butter for heart-healthy oil. You can try using canola or avocado oil in place of some of the butter, or choosing nut butters such as cashew or almond. Not only will this reduce the saturated fat content, but it increases protein and fiber.
- Simply use 25% less sugar than what your recipe calls for. In general, you can reduce the sugar in recipes without noticing too much of a difference.
- Use chia seeds or flax meal instead of eggs. Easy and vegan-friendly, chia seeds and flax meal are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and contain both fiber and protein.
- Try using natural sources of sugar, like honey, agave or maple syrup which provide antioxidants. Keep in mind that these ingredients still contain sugar and should be consumed in moderation.
The thing to remember is that moderation is key. Keeping your portion size in check is the best strategy for incorporating baked goods into a healthy lifestyle. Make sticking to portion sizes easy by cutting cakes, brownies and bread into small, bite-size pieces, and use a 1” scoop when making cookies. With these hacks, you can have your cake (or cookies, or pastries) and eat it, too.
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Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.