Desserts are almost considered the definition of a high calorie food: huge amounts of sugar, sometimes paired with fats (butter and oils) and extra carbs (wheat flour).
But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can have your cake and be healthy too. With a few simple substitutions you can cut the calories in your desserts up to a half.
Here are some of my favorite healthy ingredients and how to use them:
Fruit and veggie purees
Ingredients like applesauce, mashed banana, and all natural pumpkin puree are great to replace fat in baked goods. They also introduce some sweetness, allowing a reduction in the amount of sugar used.
In baked goods, you can substitute fat with the same volume of fruit or veggie puree (1 cup fat = 1 cup puree). You can substitute the fat completely or partially. The results will vary depending on the recipe, your personal taste, and the amount of calories you want to cut. Experiment until you find the right proportion for you.
You can completely or partially replace the sugar in desserts with artificial sweeteners.
Although you can pretty much use any sweetener of your liking in desserts that don’t require cooking, such as milkshakes, mousses, and parfaits, you need to be careful when choosing an artificial sweetener to cook with.
Some sweeteners are appropriate for baking and cooking and others are not. Be sure to read the product label before baking with sweeteners. Also check the label for the sugar amount conversions.
If you’re unsure of what of what sweetener to choose, National Geographic has an in-depth article describing the use and results of several common sweeteners used in baking. According to this article, xylitol will give you the best result as it looks and tastes like sugar, but has 40 percent fewer calories. In baking, it behaves like sugar, giving cakes a tender texture.
Like fruit and veggie purees, you can use greek yogurt to substitute fat in baking. Swap half the amount of fat (butter or oil) with the same quantity of greek yogurt.
Given its tangy flavor, you might not want to completely substitute fat with it, as it will change the flavor profile of the dessert. Try using it in conjunction with fruit puree, maybe half yogurt, half applesauce. Experiment with your recipes until you find the flavor you love.
Greek yogurt can also be used as a substitute for whipped cream as a topping. Mix it with a splash of vanilla extract and/or some artificial sweetener to tone down the tanginess of the yogurt.
Dates are very sweet and have a complex flavor that will add to the overall flavor profile of your dessert. They are great for adding sweetness to pie crusts. Blend them in a food processor and use instead of sugar. They’re also great to replace sugar in baked cookies.
Place 15 dates in a food processor with 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder. Blend, shape into balls, and you’ve got yourself some delicious and healthy chocolate truffles.
A few years back Filipa decided to change her bad eating habits and improve her health. Because she has a bit of a sweet tooth, having healthy and delicious desserts is a big priority. Filipa created her blog Easy Low Calorie Desserts to share those yummy treats she creates.
Stevia photo credit: joloei/Shutterstock.com