I am a strong believer that little indulgences such as a spoonful of Tiramisu or a bite of a French Macaroon could help one to deal with absolutely any situation. However, I know how easy it is to lose control while enjoying your favorite dessert. The moment a piece of delicious cake or any other dessert reaches my mouth, I totally forget my New Year's resolutions about eating healthy and staying in shape. Luckily for us dessert-lovers, there are certain tricks out there that can help you to transform your favorite desserts into nutritious and satisfying meals. Try these easy and healthy recipes...
1. Say ‘no’ to flour
White flour is the most calorie-dense ingredient in desserts. One cup of all-purpose white flour contains about 580 calories which is equivalent to two and a half cups of vanilla ice cream or twelve cups of fresh strawberries. By substituting flour with more nutritious ingredients such as yogurt, bananas, peanut butter, almond powder or even oats you are making your dessert much lighter and healthier. However, do not forget to still control your portions: low-calorie cake is still dessert and thus should be consumed in moderation.
A. Try: Chocolate Avocado Cake
2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1. In a bowl, mix cocoa powder with vanilla and pour into boiling water.
2. In a separate bowl, mix almond flour and baking powder; add salt.
3. Combine #1 and #2 mixtures with honey, coconut sugar, and avocados and blend with mixer or food processor. When the batter is smooth, add eggs and mix for another minute.
4. Grease a pan with baking oil spray. Pour the batter into pan and bake for about 50 minutes on 325 F.
5. Cool the cake for about 20 minutes. Decorate with granulated sugar, pieces of fruits, or whipped cream.
2. Use Natural Sweeteners
Another ingredient that you should try to limit or completely eliminate while baking healthier versions of desserts is sugar. Of course, it is impossible to completely avoid sweeteners--otherwise your dish is not really a dessert--but you can use natural substitutes for refined sugar. Look for recipes that incorporate agave or maple syrups, honey or Stevia (plant-based sweetener). These options do not dramatically change the taste of your favorite sweets but they are much better for you than refined sugar.
A. Try: Carrot Muffin Mini-Cakes
1 1/2 cups flour
3 tsp. Stevia powder
1 cup carrots
3/4 cup half & half
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup walnuts
1 tbs. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
oil spray for baking
1. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon, Stevia and salt.
2. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs. Add carrots, raisins, and chopped walnuts.
3. Gradually fold the flour mix into the egg mixture and mix for a minute or two.
4. Grease muffin tins with baking oil spray and pour batter into each tin.
5. Bake for 20-25 minutes on 375 F.
6. Serve chilled or warm. Decorate with whipped cream and walnut pieces.
3. Add a sneaky superfood
If cutting out sugar is not an option for you, try to make your dessert healthier by sneaking a superfood into it. In most cases you will not notice the difference in taste of such superfood-enriched dessert, but it will definitely turn into something more nutritious than just wheat and sugar. Try recipes that incorporate berries (especially such antioxidant bombs as blueberries, cranberries, and goji berries), Greek low-fat yogurt, raw nuts (such as almonds, cashews, and walnuts), cacao, oranges, cinnamon, or even such unusual dessert ingredients such as beets, avocados, beans or kale.
A. Try: Greek Yogurt Cheesecake
3 cups low-fat or 0% Greek yogurt
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (you can substitute them for ground low-fat granola)
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp. flour
1/4 c butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
oil spray for baking
1. In a small pot, melt butter. Combine with graham cracker crumbs and 1/4 cups of sugar.
2. Grease the pan with oil spray for baking (I prefer Pam Baking Spray) and press the cracker crumbs mixture into the bottom of the pan.
3. Combine eggs, the remaining 3/4 cups of sugar, flour and vanilla extract and mix together. When the butter is mixed thoroughly, add yogurt (I prefer Fage Total 0% Greek Strained Yogurt) and mix for another minute or two.
4. Pour batter on top of the graham crumbs foundation (see step 2).
5. Bake 45-50 minutes on 350 F.
6. Refrigerate for at least four hours before serving. Decorate the cake with fruits or berries as per your taste. I particularly like to decorate this low-calories cheesecake with peach slices.
To complete the experience, take a look at these DIY healthy, delicious and hot beverage recipes (e.g., ginger spiced tea and honey cayenne tea). I hope you enjoyed my favorite guilt-free recipes. Please feel free to share your recipes of delicious and healthy cakes.
See more baking ideas on my blog here.