How to "Healthify" Your Desserts
Our clients are constantly asking us if we ever eat dessert, if so what it looks like, and most, importantly, if they’ll ever be able to “have their cake and lose weight too”. And our answers are quite simply:
- Yes definitely- just not every day. Desserts should be mindful indulgences, enjoyed in moderation, preferably in the company of family or friends!
- We are equal-opportunity sweets lovers- cookies, brownies, chocolate “bars”, you name it- but we always give them a healthy “glow-up” so we can enjoy all of the taste with none of the guilt.
- Yes – but not right away. After all, a brownie is still a brownie, no matter how much you “healthify” it. If you’re serious about losing weight, we always recommend eliminating all sugar (except for low-GL fruits) for at least 28 days. This helps to heal the GI tract, stabilize blood sugar, curb cravings and reduce inflammation.
Ok- so how exactly do we “healthify” our desserts? Here are our top five ways to clean up some traditional sweet treats:
- Replace processed white or “whole-wheat” flour with a grain-less option such as almond flour. Almond flour is simply almonds that are skinned, blanched and ground into a “flour” consistency. This will have just a minor impact on taste but packs a big punch in terms of healthfulness. Almond flour is a particularly great option for people with Celiac or gluten sensitivity/intolerance, and provides an added boost of protein, Vitamin E, calcium and other essential minerals. We love Bob’s Red Mill or Whole Foods 365, but there are so many options out there to choose from. Just make sure to look for “finely ground” and “organic” on the label.
- Substitute butter with coconut oil or palm shortening. Coconut oil is solid at room temperature, heat-stable and resistant to rancidity so it makes for an excellent replacement. Unlike butter however, it is a plant- based saturated fat with many medicinal properties, and may also aid in weight loss. Unrefined (virgin) and refined coconut oils are both great sources of healthy fats with nearly identical nutritional profiles – the difference lies in the flavor and smoking point. Palm shortening is also great because of its firm texture and high melting point
- Swap sugary milk chocolate for high-quality dark chocolate (preferably containing at least 70% cacao). Organic dark chocolate boasts an impressive nutritional profile: it is low in sugar, rich in fiber, iron, magnesium and zinc and is one of the best sources of antioxidants on the planet. When consumed in moderation, it can also provide incredible health benefits such as lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, improving blood flow and brain function, reducing risk of heart disease and helping to protect skin from sun damage. We recommend brands free of soy, dairy and gluten such as Choczero, Lily’s and Hu.
- Replace whole milk for an unsweetened plant-based alternative such as almond, light coconut or macadamia milk. This reduces the sugar, fat and calorie content (if you’re into counting), and is a great option for people with a dairy/lactose allergy or sensitivity. It’s also an excellent way to sneak in a boost of calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12 and other nutrients. Sometimes we are ambitious and like to make our own (thank you, Almond Cow!) but there are tons of compliant store-bought brands available as well. Just make sure to always choose unsweetened, carrageenan-free, with the least number of ingredients.
- Swap peanut butter for unsweetened raw almond butter. It's still creamy and nutty, without all the sugar. It also packs four times the amount of Vitamin E and double the Iron!
- Swap out refined white sugar with more natural, lower-GL (glycemic load) alternatives such as maple syrup, coconut sugar, coconut agave, or our personal favorite - ChocZero keto Maple Syrup. This isn’t going to have an impact on calorie or sugar count, but it’s much better for your overall health in terms of effect on blood sugar, gut flora, inflammation, cravings, mood and hunger! Raw organic honey in particular is a powerful energy and immune booster, and is much easier for the body to process and absorb. Also, Choczero syrups are excellent sweeteners for anyone following a “keto” lifestyle, and is full of fiber to enhance digestion.
The bottom line is, there are plenty of ways to enjoy occasional sweet treats even when following a grainless, dairy-free, refined sugar-free, Paleo, keto or plant-based lifestyle. The key is to making reasonable substitutions or modifications whenever possible, choosing indulgences mindfully and purposefully (and hopefully enjoying them in good company) , and most importantly, to remember that guilt, scale-phobia, and living life in a constant state of depravity is way worse for your health than that piece of cake ever will be.