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5 Easy Ways to Make Your Favorite Desserts Healthier

The following post is from Amy of Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free:

source: Amy Green

Summer is right around the corner, which means summer clothing and yes, bathing suits. I don’t know about you, but looking fabulous in a bathing suit has never been able to motivate to me to give up dessert entirely. There’s just too much really good summer food I’m not willing to miss out on.

But, it does motive me to eat healthier. I don’t mind indulging in dessert when I know that it won’t end up around my waist.

Here are five simple ways I make my favorite desserts healthier.

1. Reduce the fat content with fruit purees or low-fat yogurt.

If your favorite cake recipe calls for a cup of butter, replace 25 – 50% of it with your favorite fruit puree or yogurt. Baby food works  great, too. Just remember that the flavor of the fruit will likely impact the flavor of your dessert. Unsweetened applesauce has a neutral flavor and always works well. Other options include prune, pumpkin, and winter squash purees.

My apple & carrot breakfast cake is always a hit, as is this blueberry crumble cake.

 2. Make dessert with beans.

Beans are high in fiber, contain protein and are digested slower which helps support overall digestive health. Instead of traditional brownies, why not give these flourless black bean brownies a whirl? Or, maybe these chocolate truffles? You’ll find they are moist, smooth, and decadent.

3. Combine full-fat and low-fat ingredients.

I have never been a fan of very low-fat desserts. I find the texture to be unappealing and often, they require much more sugar to make up for  the lack of fat. Instead of using all low-fat ingredients, try using part full-fat and part low-fat ingredients. This is my trick to super-smooth, healthy homemade ice cream. It also works when baking cakes, cupcakes, and muffins.

4. Add flavor and texture instead of more calories.

When a recipe calls for a cup or two of raw nuts, try using 25% less and roasting the nuts before adding them to the other ingredients. Roasted nuts have more flavor. Another trick is to throw in some juice-sweetened dried cranberries or blueberries, or even unsweetened coconut for part of the chocolate chips.

These honey sweetened macaroons are a fun dessert with a lot of texture.

5. Use nutrient dense, whole foods.

I often think about how to get more moisture and sweetness into my desserts without using more sugar. Again, this is a great place to add juice-sweetened dried fruit. Pureed bananas,avocados,  zucchini, and even spinach are great additions to chocolate desserts. And, never underestimate the impact fresh-squeezed lemon, lime, or orange juice can have on a dessert. The corresponding citrus zest is a great addition, too.

Try double chocolate zucchini bread,  avocado-banana smoothie, no-bake chocolate coconut cookies, or 3-ingredient peanut butter banana ice cream .

What are your favorite, healthy summertime treats?

A stay-at-home mom, wife, and passionate cook, Amy strives to make each meal healthy and delicious. When she’s not doing laundry, dishes, or caring for her son, she plays around with food in the kitchen developing new recipes, which she shares at Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free. Amy also publishes The Balanced Platter and authored the book Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free: 180 Easy & Delicious Recipes You Can Make in 20 Minutes or Less.