Making Healthier Dessert Options

Using Lighter Ingredients for Appetising Dessert Options

By now, many people have thought about what they would like their New Year’s resolutions to be, a lot of which likely have to do with eating healthier and changing their habits. But making the full dietary transition can be difficult, seeing as eating healthy can be more costly, require more effort, and many are under the impression that healthier food just doesn’t taste good. However, there are a lot of ways to eat healthy when it comes to making dessert. Through simple substitutions of ingredients and looking at what makes certain desserts particularly unhealthy, we can still satisfy any sweet tooth without sacrificing the health initiatives of our consumers.

By substituting healthier ingredients to replace the fats and sugars in your dessert recipes, you’d be surprised how delicious your best-selling treats can still be. When we look at a recipe, whether it is for a cake or cookies, an easy ingredient exchange to replace common fats like butter, margarine, or shortening could be to use apple sauce or puréed prunes. The general rule for substituting butter with one of these ingredients is to use half butter and apple sauce or prune purée as the remaining amount. Because these ingredients have a lot of fibre, moisture, and sweetness they make a great substitution to replace fat in your favourite recipes without sacrificing flavour. Fats in other forms such as eggs can be easily replaced with extremely healthy ingredients such as puréed flax seeds or puréed tofu in baked goods such as brownies. By using a ratio of one-to-one to replace half of the fat in the original recipe you increase the amount of protein and calcium, making for a sweet and nutritious dessert. Beans are another great ingredient that can replace half of the shortening in a recipe. For instance, if one wanted to make a cake with less fat, they could purée cannellini beans, black beans, or lentils in a food processor with a little water which in return could replace half the amount of butter or shortening in the baked good without sacrificing moisture, where fat plays a key role.

In regard to replacing sugar — perhaps the biggest culprit when it comes to unhealthy eating — the options for making healthier desserts are plentiful and pretty easy. Sugar in almost any recipe can be reduced slightly without affecting too much of the original taste and structure of the baked good. The real health problem with sugar is that it has been processed and re ned to the point where all nutritional value has been removed. The simple solution to this would be to use alternatives such as brown sugar or unrefined sugar that is more nutrient-rich. Additionally, natural sources such as honey, agave, maple, or coconut increase the sweetness in pastries and creams. Spices such as vanilla, nutmeg, and cinnamon, when added to baked goods, tend to intensify the sweetness of the ingredients without having to add excess sugar. Puréed fruit or low-calorie, sugar-free syrups can also be used in desserts without affecting the flavour and sweetness too much. Beets are another great option to add sweetness and moisture without reducing the flavour of the original dessert. Add two-thirds of a cup of finely grated raw beets to a brownie batter to reduce the sugar by up to a quarter cup.

Flour is an ingredient that is not typically associated with unhealthy eating, but replacing one cup of white our with whole wheat our adds up to 10 grams of heart-healthy fibre to any baked good. Although a gluten-free diet is perceived to be healthy, if not essential, a gluten-free diet can lack vitamins, minerals, and fibre. In any case, if gluten-free baking is your preference, there are many great options to allow baking your favourite treats. Gluten-free flour blends usually contain xanthan gum, potato starch, rice flour, tapioca starch, or garbanzo bean our in order to recreate the gluten structure that is missing.

Typically, healthy desserts tend to have a bad rap. Most people associate them with dry, less flavorful, barely sweet pastries and baked goods, but that notion couldn’t be farther from the truth. Providing healthier options doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice quality, and it doesn’t have to happen overnight, but with small steps and simple substitutions, you can improve your nutritional offerings to create a healthier menu.