How to Make Your Favorite Desserts Healthier

Despite what you say...it's the holiday season. And you probably have 17 holiday parties between now and the start of 2018.

While I'm a firm believer in the power of a luscious homemade brownie or a decadent slice of pumpkin pie, all those desserts at all of those parties adds up. Not to mention, the quality of ingredients often used aren't the best. (I'm looking at you, inflammatory oils and GMO wheat.)

Paleo Pumpkin Bars

Wouldn't it be great to munch on a dessert you can feel good about eating? A dessert that's loaded with natural ingredients that serve your body, and won't give you gas, bloat or guilt?

You can easily enjoy the holiday parties without the associated guilt. With some simple tweaks and swaps, you can recreate your favorite baked goods in more healthful and nourishing ways. 

Oils
Certain oils (canola, vegetable) are inflammatory as they are rich in omega-6 fatty acids. The omega-6 fatty acids are prone to oxidation while in the cell members. This causes free-radical chain reactions and can cause damage. Try these substitutions: 
  • Oils like avocado oil, coconut oil or olive oil can be swapped in at a cup-for-cup ratio
  • Swap half the oil out for applesauce or banana 
  • The same amount of mashed avocado is great for brownies or chocolate cookies
RV Energy Balls
Sugars
White sugar is processed and offers very, very little nutritionally. It spikes the blood sugar and often leaves you feeling sluggish a short time later. Sugar may also be addictive. When baking, see if you can decrease the amount of sugar in the recipe. And, try these substitutions:
  • Agave syrup
  • Honey or pure maple syrup (Replace with about 3/4 cup of liquid sweetener)
  • Coconut sugar (dried coconut palm sap)
  • Banana
  • Applesauce
  • Sweet potato puree
Chocolate
Put down that generic chocolate bar. When it comes to chocolate, it's about quality. For powder, look for either organic cocoa powder or organic cacao powder. What's the difference aside from spelling? Cacao powder is pressed at very low temperatures to keep the nutritional benefits intact. When buying chocolate, look for organic and fair trade.

For chocolate bars, you may notice a percentage on the wrapper. The higher the number the purer the chocolate and more caffeine. You want a higher number. Look for bars with at least 72 percent or higher, and be wary of other added ingredients like sugars and milks. Look for bars made with  higher-quality ingredients and mix-ins. 

Flour
White flour is synonymous with baking because it's good for just about anything. But white flour is missing the germ and the bran of the wheat. It's stripped of its nutrition, often enriched with synthetic additives and sometimes bleached. Wheat is often GMO, meaning it's been tinkered with in a lab. 

Organic wheat flour is a good option because it is grown without pesticides and is non-GMO, but it still offers little nutritionally. Some fun flour substitutions include:
  • Whole wheat flour
  • Oat flour/Rolled oats
  • Brown rice flour
  • Gluten-free AP flour
  • Almond meal/flour
  • Chickpea flour
***When changing the flours, you will be changing the composition of the baked good. AP flour is rich in natural gluten--the protein that gives desserts their elasticity and oomph. Start by swapping in small amounts of these substitutes. A combination of low-gluten or gluten-free flours will help with overall consistency. 

Have more questions on what else you can add or subtract from recipes to boost their nutrition? Let me know your questions! And be sure to check out my tasty recipes

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