Everyone who desires an improved & healthy diet or body needs to make lifestyle changes that are permanent & gradual, not go to extremes with fad diets & eating programs which are harmful & often result in failure. Making minute changes over a long period of time to what you choose to put in your body will always result in the most effective & successful physical & mental transformations. It is important to eat balanced, but also to not restrict yourself so strongly that you are miserable without those treats that you love. For me that is sugar, which I try to eliminate as much as possible. When I do enjoy myself I eat nonprocessed organic hombaked goodness that my family & I enjoy typically after dinner. However, too often I found myself consuming far too much of the yummy dessert I made & feeling guilty, questioning why I could not abstain from indulging. While part of my personal solution for this was adjusting my diet to include a healthier balance of greens, proteins, physical activity & meal regularity, the other portion was an improvement to the way I assemble & bake my recipes so I could feel better about what I put in my body.
Below are Mama Nature’s tips & tricks to creating the healthiest desserts without sacrificing deliciousness!
First a side note to help your ingredient ensemble. When baking it is important to pay close attention to the liquid and dry components of your recipe. That is why often you will notice that recipes ask that those ingredients be mixed separately & combined in specific ways. These substitutions below at times may exchange a dry for a wet ingredient or vice versa. If you choose a alternative ingredient as such be sure to include it with the other ingredients in the recipe that are of the same consistency when mixing wet or dry. In addition, if adding excess liquid be sure to cut back on liquid or add extra dry ingredients. Or if using excess dry ingredients be sure to add in some additional liquid. This is a process and chemistry that improves with practice. When I first started baking everything was precisely measured and substitutions often didn’t come out so good. However, from all those experiences I was able to get a feel over time for what final consistency to expect. Now my baking is a fun unmeasured experiment with a dash of this and that, that almost always results in something yummy which never is wasted or left uneaten for very long. The best part is with my adulterations I can feel much better about what I consume because I know there are so many healthy goodies nestled within.
I’m not going to explain the negatives of sugar which are plentiful and well known, but if you want more information check our this article by Wellness Mama:
Also honey is not included in my list of substitutions because one of the worst things you can do is heat it by baking at high temperatures for substantial amounts of time. Some minerals will remain, but the living enzymes available in raw honey are all destroyed by heat. To make things worse honey that has been heated is actually mucous-forming in the body. That means it can contribute to congestion, weight gain, respiratory problems, skin conditions including acne, & blood glucose imbalances.
I’m not a fan of agave or stevia either, here is why:
1 c. White Sugar Substitutions (note for smaller or larger than 1 c. portions add or subtract amount proportionally as needed)
½ c. Maple Syrup
1 c. Coconut Sugar (if using & white sugar is the only sweetener in the recipe use ½ c. maple syrup)
1 c. Applesauce (not as sweet a final product if used)
3 Bananas Mashed - adds moisture to the recipe
½ c. Pureed Dates
1 c. Brown Sugar Substitutions
½ c. Maple Syrup
1 c. Coconut Sugar (if using in a predominantly brown sugar recipe to have the same sweetness you may if desired also add an additional ¼ c. maple syrup)
½ c. Pureed Dates
Hemp Protein – may replace about ¼ of the total amount of flour called for in the recipe without being overwhelmingorCoconut
Almond Flour – Absolutely delicious, but costly or time consuming to make; use 1:1 for flour
Shredded Carrot or Coconut – A fantastic healthy addition to replace about ¼ to ½ of the flour called for, especially great in combination with Hemp Protein. If using carrot keep in mind it does have a degree of moisture which will make the final consistency of the baking moister, so adjust accordingly as desired. Coconut is also even yummier toasted first!
Whole Rolled Oats – May replace ½ of flour called for in the recipe
Flax - The basic ratio is 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds & 3 tablespoons of water to replace 1 egg, it helps to let the flax absorb the moisture for a few minutes before incorporating.
I try to avoid using olive oil because it begins to burn & turn into a carcinogen around 350°. If I use butter I make sure it is organic & pasture raised & even better if I can find it local!
Coconut Oil – I use coconut oil 1:1 for whatever oil required in baking. The main thing to have success is to keep in mind what state (solid, softened, melted) the oil called for in the recipe is & match the coconut oil accordingly. This might mean refrigerating the coconut oil a little in the middle of summer or heating in winter.
Milk & Cream Alternatives
Coconut or Almond Milk – Use 1:1 for regular milk. Use as a liquid addition to adjust recipe if using extra dry ingredients. You could even use it instead of water to soak your flax.
Other Nutricious Add Ins
Chia Seeds – I just pour a bunch into whatever I am baking, usually around ¼ - ½ cup, use as desired. They will absorb some excess moisture from the recipe.
Cacao Powder – Add in ¼ to ½ cup to any recipe to add a chocolaty kick or more to taste! Keep in mind this will add dryness to the recipe adjust accordingly.
Hemp Seeds – Use like chia seeds.
Cinnamon – The highest antioxidant value of any spice, shown to reduce inflammation, lower blood sugar & blood triglyceride levels, & aid in fat burning. It provides manganese, iron & calcium. Incorporates great into almost nay recipe so why not! I use 1 – 2 tbs, but I LOVE cinnamon, you could use less to taste.