There was once a commercial where it was a boy's birthday and the mom was such a health nut that instead of a birthday cake she served him a beautiful birthday cauliflower with candles in it. While I'm not that bad, I do prefer to bake my own healthy birthday cakes than buying one from the store, as it's impossible to find one that is half decent. Once I tried to find a black forest cake for my brother's birthday made with real whipped cream and I had to go to about six stores before I found one.
I love baking. I have some amazing recipes that I still love to make (lemon squares are a favorite). The trouble I found was that when I started to review my old recipes, I didn't like a lot of the ingredients. What I realized, though, was that I could still make great healthy desserts by substituting some healthier ingredients. There are lots of easy substitutions with things that are new staples in my cupboard.
Changing some of the ingredients may alter the taste or texture of the dessert, so you will need to experiment. I once tried to make my lemon squares with whole-wheat flour for the bottom crust and it didn't taste as good, so I varied the ratio of white flour to whole wheat flour until I found the right balance.
Here are seven things you can change in your favourite recipes... and then you will be baking healthy desserts!
1. Choose organic ingredients.
Organic milk, eggs, flours etc. When you choose certified organic products, you will know that it is more natural, as organic foods are not allowed to contain genetically-modified ingredients. Genetically modified ingredients contain organisms whose genetic DNA has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating or natural recombination.
According to the article, "Lack of GMO Labeling Turns Canadians Towards Organic Foods,"
by Neville Judd, consumers, environmentalists and some scientists worry about risks to human health and the environment. Among their concerns are that GM crops that rely upon high amounts of pesticides and fertilizers could cause toxic or allergenic effects and large-scale elimination of indigenous agricultural and natural species.
2. Change the flour.
There are so many different types of flour available, including whole-wheat flour, spelt flour, bean flour, rice flour, potato flour, hemp flour and more. As you can see from the lemon square example earlier, you cannot substitute white flour for an alternative flour 100 percent. Each flour has a different taste, density and amount of gluten, which will affect the recipe. You can typically substitute up to 50 percent of a recipe's flour for an alternative flour. I would start with whole wheat or spelt flour first before venturing to other flours. They tend to blend in better. As you get more experience you can be more adventurous and add other flours.
I have an amazing recipe for multigrain pancakes. The original recipe called for two cups of white flour, and I just tweaked the recipe each time I made it until I got just the right combination. I knew the recipe was perfect when my cousin tried them and said, "These are the best pancakes I've ever had!"
Now, if you want to make healthy gluten-free desserts, that's a bigger challenge. I was able to make the lemon squares with rice flour,but that was because the base of the squares are dense, and it doesn't rise. You can't simply change rice or bean flour for white flour; it won't work. For easy, healthy gluten-free recipes, I suggest a good cookbook like the Complete Gluten-free Cookbook by Donna Washburn & Heather Butt.
3. Change the oil.
If your recipe calls for butter, I would leave it (unless you have a dairy or lactose intolerance). If your recipe calls for margarine, canola oil or vegetable oil, I would change it to ghee (clarified butter- when you melt butter it separates into a creamy layer of milk fat and a yellow liquid which is the ghee), coconut oil (if this flavor will go well with the recipe) or grapeseed oil (this is a great, light-tasting oil -perfect for baking).
4. Change the sugar.
There are so many sweeteners available in place of sugar. I would NEVER choose an artificial sweetener. I would use a natural option like organic cane sugar, stevia, agave nectar, honey, maple syrup or brown rice syrup. You can do a straight substitution for white sugar with organic cane sugar. Other substitutions will require some experimentation. Honey, for instance, is sweeter than white sugar, so you would use less.
5. Go Aluminum Free.
Choose an aluminum-free baking powder. Also try using bakeware without aluminum. There is circumstantial evidence that links aluminum to Alzheimer's disease. Enameled bakeware or ceramic or glass bakeware would be better choices. If you must use aluminum bakeware, or if you are not sure, consider lining them with parchment paper to help protect yourself. It also makes clean-up easier.
6. Choose the real deal.
Use fresh, natural ingredients instead of artificial ones. For instance, if a recipe calls for lemon juice, use freshly-squeezed lemon juice. Or if you need vanilla, use real vanilla instead of artificial vanilla flavoring.
7. Add some healthy extras.
Consider adding some extra-healthy ingredients to your recipes to give them a nutritional boost. What you add will depend on the recipe, whether it is baked, cooked, refrigerated or frozen. Some delicious add-ons could include: Acidophilus (for refrigerated items like a pudding), hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds or nuts.
For healthy desserts that are easy to make, check out some of the recipes on my blog!
Link to blog: http://www.livhealthy.tv/blog.php