Is this healthy for me?
I completely understand that the occasional heavy indulgence is very necessary. After all, you guys know that I believe that everything is ok-- in moderation. But many of the portion sizes of sweets nowadays are completely ridiculous, along with the lack of healthy thought that is put into making them. So while I am all for going to that coffee shop once in a while, it is always nice to have some healthy baking tricks up your sleeve so you can enjoy the decadence of sweet delights without running your body down.
Below, I've outlined a few basic tips on how I personally like to bake. I bring my baked goods to my friends and family weekly, and no one can ever tell that they are lightened up. They still taste decadent and delicious, and are incredibly satisfying. And I am satisfied knowing that my loved ones are enjoying the taste and reaping the benefits. Because after all, if it doesn't taste good, then why eat it?
All the photos on this post are real photos of sweets that are actually healthier. Best news of the day, right? Easy and delicious just got better for you!
Tip # 1: Unsweetened Applesauce
Applesauce is pretty much what I like to call a universal replacer. It can replace butter in cake recipes, oil in brownies, and about 75% of the margarine in cookies. This cuts down on huge amounts of fat while lending a subtle sweetness and a wonderful texture. Usually, I use an equal amount of applesauce when butter is called for, and I replace about 85% of any oil called for with applesauce (because butter is saturated ["bad"] fat, while many oils are not). I've also heard it is quite popular to use avocados, but applesauce is certainly a more neutral flavor.
Tip # 2: Nonfat Yogurt
An alternative to applesauce, yogurt keeps the texture of baked goods the exact same as if using butter, and is incredibly healthy (plus packed with protein!) Nonfat is, however, essential if you want to keep the calories down. One downside: you can't use it in cookies because they will not spread properly.
Tip # 3: A mix of eggs and egg whites
Obviously, fat is often flavor. That's why a lot of the goal is simply to reduce it-- which is exactly why I tend to only use 1 egg and replace the rest with egg whites. The main use of eggs is usually as a binder-- and egg whites work perfectly for that.
Tip # 4: Whole wheat flour
Whole wheat = more fiber and nutrients = score. It's usually best to do about half whole wheat and half all-purpose, to avoid any possible denseness. Its absolutely wonderful, and has a better flavor than all-purpose anyways!
Tip # 5: Spices, Fruits, and Extracts
When taking away fat and some sugar, it's important to keep a balanced flavor by adding a touch of something special. I love adding vanilla and orange extracts to cakes and muffins, while just a touch of cinnamon can bring warmth and beautiful aromas to brownies or pastries. And can I ever begin to cover the wonders of fruit? There is so much research that color creates more appetizing, satisfying dishes, and fruit not only adds color but also adds sweetness!
Tip # 6 (the most obvious): Low-fat and sugar-free products
I know, I know. For some reason, people tend to fear the idea of using "low fat" cream cheese, or milk, or cheese, or... well, or any other "low fat" thing. But when opting for "low fat" instead of "fat free," the richness of a full-fat product is not actually lost. I have never once in my entire cooking career had anyone notice when I replaced full-fat cream cheese with reduced-fat, or when I used light margarine instead of butter. I have even used fat free cream cheese for cheesecakes, and they bake up wonderfully. It's been the exact same experience with sugar-free baked goods and sweets. I use Splenda constantly, and even a guy I know who claims he can "taste the difference in any sugar that isn't honey or agave" has never noticed that I use Splenda.Trust me guys, it works.
Tip # 7 (and often the hardest): Having realistic portions
I know it can be tempting to cut that cake into just four slices instead of the intended twelve, but doing so is not going to be doing yourself a favor. Instead of cutting a larger slice of cake, pick a smaller plate and add on a side of sweet fruit. You will be just as satisfied, because let's be honest: after the 10th bite, even the best sweet loses a lot of its "wow" factor.
These are simply a few of my favorite tips and tricks, and I hope they help you in your baking adventures!