Utilizing Lighter Ingredients for Appetizing Dessert Options
The desire to live a healthier life-style has become a growing trend. People are making a bigger effort to analyze what they eat, trying to choose lower calorie and more nutritious food items. But making the 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 make healthier choices 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 pureed prunes. The general rule for substituting butter with one of these ingredients is to use half the butter stated in the recipe and applesauce or prune puree as the remaining amount. Because these ingredients have a lot of fiber, moisture, and sweetness they make a great substitute for replacing fat in your favorite recipes without sacrificing flavor. Fats in other forms such as eggs can be easily replaced with extremely healthy ingredients such as pureed flax seeds or pureed tofu in baked goods such as brownies. 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 puree 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 refined to the point where all nutritional value has been removed. The simple solution to this would be to use alternatives such as turbinado or muscovado which are 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. Pureed fruit or low-calorie, sugar-free syrups can also be used in desserts without affecting the flavor and sweetness too much. Beets are another great option to add sweetness and moisture without reducing the flavor 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. White flour is another ingredient easily replaceable for a healthier option. Using one cup of whole wheat flour, instead of white flour, adds up to 10 grams of heart-healthy fiber 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 fiber. In any case, if gluten free baking is your preference, there are many great options to allow baking your favorite treats. Gluten free flour blends usually contain xanthan gum, potato starch, rice flour, tapioca starch, or garbanzo bean flour in order to recreate the gluten structure that is missing.
The truth is that healthier desserts tend to have a bad rap. Most people associate them with dry, less flavorful, barely sweet pastries and baked goods, but it 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.
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