Contrary to popular belief, a sweet tooth and healthy eating aren’t irreconcilable.
Improving your eating habits does not mean you need to deprive yourself of making your granny’s famous carrot cake. Use these five dessert hacks to bake your favorite desserts; you’ll cut calories, fat and sugar without sacrificing flavor or sabotaging your healthy eating habits.
- Cut down the sugar.
Sugar is an integral ingredient for any dessert, but more often than not, the recipes call for way too much of it. Try to decrease the amount of sugar in the recipe by one-quarter, and pay attention to how it affects your finished baked item. You will be surprised to discover that in most cases, you won’t even notice the difference in taste. You can also substitute natural sweeteners such as honey, pureed fruit or agave nectar.
- Power your flour.
Replace part — but not all — of the all-purpose flour with whole-wheat flour. Start with a 50/50 ratio. For example, if the recipe calls for two cups of flour, try one cup of all-purpose flour and one cup of whole-wheat flour. The extra fiber in whole-wheat flour can help aid digestion and may even help lower the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
- Add more produce.
When making banana bread, zucchini bread or carrot cake, add extra veggies or fruit to the original recipe. Instead of baking traditional raisin, walnut and cinnamon muffins, try making bran muffins packed with shredded zucchini and carrots. The extra veggies will provide more fiber and make your muffins even moister.
- Use applesauce instead of oil.
To cut calories and fat from your sweet breads or muffins, replace half of the butter, oil or shortening with unsweetened applesauce. If you don’t notice a difference in your freshly baked goods, try swapping even more applesauce the next time around.
- Go bananas.
If you follow a vegan diet, are allergic to eggs or have been placed on a cholesterol-restricted diet by your doctor, you can replace the eggs in chewy baked goods, such as brownies and sweet bread recipes, with bananas. As a rule of thumb, use one medium-sized, very ripe banana — or about one-quarter cup mashed — for every whole egg in the recipe.
Bottom line: Eating healthfully does not mean you need to give up baking or eating baked goods entirely. If you use the above tips, you can still enjoy your favorite sweet treats (in moderation, of course) as part of an overall healthy diet.