With the holidays approaching, you may be looking for dessert recipes that you can share with your family and friends. But how do desserts fit into a well balanced diet? One of the main nutritional concerns with dessert is the carbohydrate content, especially refined sugars. Too much sugar intake has been shown to contribute to a variety of diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. Reducing sugar and incorporating more whole grains in everyday baked goods can help prevent these diseases and add a greater variety of nutrients.
Not only does sugar make dessert taste sweet, it also contributes to the texture by keeping baked goods moist, soft, and tender. Keep this in mind when experimenting with recipes. It may take some trial and error to get the perfect lower sugar dessert!
One simple way to lower the sugar content in a dessert is to simply cut the amount of sugar a recipe calls for by 25%. So that means that if a recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, simply use ¾ cup instead. This substitution can generally be made without any drastic changes to the overall finished product. Brown sugar has a deeper flavor profile, so you can generally use less without sacrificing flavor. If a recipe calls for 1 cup of white sugar, try substituting ⅓ cup of brown sugar. Another method is to use a natural sweetener, such as fruit puree. Fruit contains less fructose than a processed sugar, and it has the added benefit of contributing extra vitamins, minerals, and fiber to your dessert.
Protein in flour provides structure and overall texture. A combination of flours can provide a similar texture as all-purpose flour, without causing a blood sugar spike. Incorporating different flours into your recipe is a great way to increase the nutritional value without jeopardizing the taste. As a general rule, you can substitute up to ½ the required flour amount with alternatives to maintain the same texture.
Whole Wheat Flour
The cost of whole wheat flour is comparable to that of refined wheat flour. The difference is in their nutrient content. Where refined flour is stripped of its fiber and other nutrients during processing, the vitamins, minerals, and fiber remain in whole wheat flour because the entire wheat kernel is used.
You can make your own grinding quick or rolled oats in a food processor. In combination with all purpose flour, you will have similar texture results. Oats are fiber-rich and can reduce bad (LDL) cholesterol levels.
This type of flour tends to be more expensive than whole wheat or oat flour, but it is a great choice if you are looking to increase the healthy fat and protein content of your dessert. It tastes great, too!
Chattman, L. (2009). The baking answer book: Solutions to every problem you’ll ever face, answers to every question you’ll ever ask. North Adams, MA: Storey Pub.
Choose MyPlate. (n.d.). Retrieved November 6, 2018, from https://www.choosemyplate.gov/
Cox, J., RD. (2017). Healthy Baking Alternatives. Retrieved November 4, 2018, from https://www.eatright.org/food/planning-and-prep/cooking-tips-and-trends/healthy-baking-alternatives