Think of a typical healthy dish, and you often picture a veggie-filled salad or a loaded green juice. It’s not often you think of sweets when envisioning the epitome of health, but just because you’re trying to eat healthy doesn’t mean you have to give up dessert.
Sure, you can practice all things in moderation and eat a slice of that chocolate cake here and there, or you can start making some changes to your homemade desserts, transforming them into guilt-free, health foods in disguise.
While you may not want to craft your own raw vegan brownie out of black beans and dates like some hardcore healthy food bloggers out there, you can opt for certain ingredients and ways of preparing your food that will make your desserts more healthy, because everyone deserves to enjoy what they’re eating.
If you have quite the sweet tooth but are trying to eat as clean as possible, try the following seven useful hacks that will help keep your dessert low in unhealthy foods and high in nutritious and delicious ingredients.
1. Switch out your flour
Using whole wheat flour or almond flour in place of processed white wheat while likely have a small effect on the taste of your food but a big effect in healthfulness. Using whole wheat flour increases your intake of fiber, and using almond flour adds protein to your baking, a great option for those who are sensitive or allergic to gluten. Try even using some of both flours for a more reliable consistency and the best of both worlds when it comes to nutrients.
2. Use dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate
No need to ditch the chocolate chips in your chocolate chip cookies — just opt for a darker variety for an increase in antioxidants, fiber, iron, and zinc, among other nutrients. Look for dark chocolate with 70 percent cocoa or higher for maximum health benefits.
3. Make ice cream out of bananas
If you’re a fan of frozen treats, ditch the dairy and processed sugar and create a bowl of ice cream just using frozen bananas. Just freeze bananas overnight and blend in a blender or food processor, mixing in some cocoa powder, vanilla, or fruit to make your own flavors. Then top just as you would normal ice cream, sticking to healthy treats like dark chocolate, nuts, and fruit. You’ll be surprised at how much it tastes like real ice cream!
4. Use coconut oil instead of butter
For any recipe that calls for butter, consider using coconut oil instead. Like butter, coconut oil is solid at room temperature, but coconut oil is lower in sodium. It also contains lauric acid, a healthy saturated fat that has been found to help lower cholesterol as well as aid in weight loss.
5. Use maple syrup or honey instead of white sugar
Sweeten up your treats using more natural options such as maple syrup or honey, which contain healthy vitamins and minerals rather than just empty calories. These sugar substitutes are also easier to digest, keeping your blood sugar more steady and preventing you from experiencing a crash in energy later on.
6. Use evaporated skim milk for heavy cream
Replace high-fat heavy cream with evaporated skim milk, which has the same consistency but much less fat and calories. Use this trick when making pastries like cake and scones, and just substitute using the equal amount the original recipe calls for.
7. Use applesauce instead of oil
That’s right… replace high fat oils like canola and vegetable oil by using unsweetened applesauce. Like oil, applesauce adds moisture and flavor, and it works best in cake, muffins, and breads. By using applesauce, you lower your fat and calorie intake, and up your consumption of fiber and vitamin C. Just use ¾ of a cup of applesauce per every cup of oil for a lighter and more nutritious option.