There’s nothing like making something sweet and satisfying to enjoy for dessert, especially if you know it’s healthy for you. The best part is, healthy sweet treats are also very simple to make thanks to natural sweeteners, (so there’s no need for refined sugar), and thanks to plant-based alternatives to eggs (which cuts out the cholesterol.) There’s also a few other simple tips you can try to make delicious, sweet treats a success, whether they’re no-bake, baked, or even 100 percent raw.
Give these tricks a try in your kitchen this week; they’ll make you healthier and satisfy your taste buds at the same time!
1. Go Oil-Free
Some oils such as coconut, flax, hemp, and olive oil all have their place in a person’s diet in small portions, however, one of the simplest ways to make treats healthier, is to eliminate the oil altogether. Oil is often used in baking to create a dense taste and provide moisture. Luckily, a few things can easily replace the oil and lower the fat and calorie content at the same time. Good options include: unsweetened applesauce, mashed ripe bananas, pureed pumpkin, pureed prunes (which are delicious!), pureed dates, or even mashed, ripe avocados (which will provide fiber and nutrients that oils don’t.)
Try using applesauce to make a healthier, vegan chocolate cake!
2. Use Stevia in Place of Sugar
Stevia can easily be used to replace the sugar in your recipes, but be sure to use less since it’s much sweeter than sugar. You can also buy baking forms of stevia, which are made to act as a one to one replacement, or you can simply use liquid stevia as the healthiest, least processed option. Stevia is sugar-free, natural, and has no effect on the glycemic index, nor does it contain calories so long as you choose one without fillers.
3. Use Cocoa Powder in Place of Flour
Cocoa powder makes a perfect replacement to flour in a recipe because of the natural acidity it contains. It will fluff up a baked good the exact way flour will, and reduce the calorie and carbohydrate content at the same time. It’s absolutely perfect for brownie recipes, but can also be used as a thickener in raw dessert treats such as raw energy bites, truffles, or cookies.
4. Use Flax Instead of Flour
You can also use ground flax seeds as a lower carb replacement to flour. Flour from wheat is essentially void of nutrition because the grain has been so processed, nothing remains but simple carbohydrates that spike your blood sugar and cause you to become hungrier, quicker. Ground flax on the other hand, is full of fiber, omega 3 fatty acids, and contains other nutrients. It also yields a delicious, nutty flavor when used in place of flour in recipes or even when used in raw desserts in place of nuts. You can use flax as a one to one replacement for flour, though it will yield a much denser result. If you want to lighten up the texture, a touch of baking soda can easily help “fluff” up the recipe. Don’t use whole flax seeds, however, since they won’t yield that same “flour” feel for your recipes that ground flax will.
5. Buy Stevia Sweetened Chocolate Chips
You can now buy vegan, sugar-free chocolate chips instead of vegan chocolate chips sweetened with evaporated cane syrup (which is nutritionally equal to regular sugar.) Using stevia-sweetened chocolate chips eliminates the amount of sugar in your diet and is a much better option than artificially sweetened sugar-free chocolate chips. You can find stevia sweetened chips online and they also carry them at Whole Foods. They contain no chemicals or anything artificial and are also lower in fat than other types of chocolate chips too.
Try them out in some flourless vegan chocolate chip cookies!
6. Use Coconut Flour in Place of Flour
Coconut flour is the most unique grain-free baking flour you’ll ever use. It’s so thick and dense, that it creates a marvelous, cake-like flavor and texture to any recipe you use it in. It can be used in place of flour for pancakes, muffins, cookies, raw desserts, or can be used as an instant thickening agent anywhere else you want. It can also be added to a smoothie to ramp up the protein content and makes for a delicious, thick shake. Use half the amount of coconut flour that you would for other types of flour since it absorbs water quickly due to the high amount of fiber it contains.
This Single Serving Peanut Butter Cake is a great recipe to try out coconut flour with!
7. Use Shredded Coconut or Oats in Place of Flour
Just like flax seed, oats or coconut shreds (unsweetened) can also be used to replace the flour in your recipes without sacrificing taste. They will lend a denser texture but will also provide more fiber and nutrients. These can both be used to make a healthier, lower calorie crust, for things like Raw Coconut Pie or Raw Chocolate Cheesecake with Peanut Butter and Coconut. You can also use coconut shreds and oats in brownies, muffins, and cookies. You’ll never go back once you try this tip out – the flavor is impeccable!
8. Use Unsweetened Almond Milk
There are many types of non-dairy milk you can use on the market today in any one of your dessert recipes, however, unsweetened almond milk is a top pick for a few reasons. First, it’s free of sugar (major bonus), and next, it’s lower in calories, but still has a very nice flavor and texture, so it won’t cause your recipes to taste bland. It can be used in place of any liquid called for in your recipe, which also makes it extremely versatile.
9. Ditch the Eggs
Try the many egg-free baking options you have available to you instead. This will cut down on the cholesterol in your recipes and won’t affect the results of your baked goods. Try using one tablespoon of flax or chia with three tablespoons of water for every egg called for in your recipe. Some recipes that call for applesauce, banana, and pumpkin will also support your egg-free baking quest since they act as a natural binding agent the same way eggs do.
10. Use Almond Butter or Coconut Butter in Place of Oil or Butter
Let’s face it, sometimes we just need some flavor from fat in our recipes, and almond and coconut butter are two great options. Both are low in carbohydrates, cholesterol-free, and high in fiber. They’re also whole foods unlike oils that have the fiber stripped away. You can make your own or buy them from the store, but try to buy those without added ingredients like sweeteners or excess sodium.
Try using almond butter or coconut butter (melted to room temp) in brownies, cookies, or even some cake! Feel free to substitute any oil called for in a recipe with either one of these options as a healthier, yet still delicious choice.
Give these tips a try and let us know how they work for you! For lots of vegan desserts to try out or modify with the tips above, check out our wide variety of vegan dessert recipes!
Image Source: Heather McClees