There are few things as delicious as fresh-baked pastries and desserts, but if you are trying to get your family to eat healthy, you may wonder if you should ban these treats. While cookies, brownies, and cakes are all delicious, their ingredients call for fats and different types of sugar and according to statistics released by the American Heart Association, children in the United States already eat three times as much sugar on a daily basis than is recommended. However, there are several surprising substitutions to add into your recipes to help make them as healthy as they are tasty.
One the main attractions of any baked good is their sweetness, and if you have a sweet tooth, they can be difficult to resist. However, there are ways to give sugar the boot while making brownies or cookies, and one of the most surprising is by using grated beets in place of sugar. Beets have a sweet taste and when finely grated, they have almost the same texture as granulated sugar and give your baked goods the moistness that makes most pastries so desirable.
To cut the sugar from brownies or cookies using beets, use a blender to finely grate two thirds of a cup of the root and replace the brown or white sugar in the recipe with it. Be sure to take the time to grate your beets properly to avoid clumping.
Many cookie recipes call for shortening or salted butter, which can greatly increase their fat content. Many shortenings contain trans fats, which are unsaturated fats that have been proven to cause high cholesterol and heart disease, which is currently the leading cause of death among adults in the United States. If you want to make a tray of brownies but want to cut back on the shortening, consider replacing it with beans.
There are a number of different types of beans you can use that will not alter the taste of your brownies, such as lentils, black beans, or cannellini beans. Puree them in your blender with a few tablespoons of water, note how much shortening your recipe calls for, then replace half its amount with the beans. This will cut back on the fat content of your brownies but not on the flavor.
3. Whole Wheat Flour
While white flour may look pure and powdery, it is not the healthiest option for baking because it has usually been heavily processed and may contain additives such as artificial preservatives and high fructose corn syrup. This can result in your family ingesting much more sugar than is necessary. To avoid this, substitute whole wheat flour for white flour when you bake. Whole wheat flour contains fiber, which supports healthy digestion and may give your baked goods a less heavy texture.
4. All-Natural Cookie Dough
Many commercial doughs that you find in your local grocery store’s dairy section may be convenient when it comes to whipping up a quick batch of cookies, but they also may contain artificial ingredients and added sugar that makes them a questionable option when it comes to healthy eating. If you need a batch of cookies for a bake sale and are pressed for time, consider shopping for an all-natural cookie dough for your fridge or pantry instead.
If you are looking for a dairy free, low-sugar cookie dough that is also free of preservatives, consider using Hampton Creek Just Cookie Dough, which contains only eight grams of sugar per servings. This mixture also contains unsweetened chocolate chips and wheat flour, not white, which helps cut down the fat and sugar content, not on the taste.
5. Low-Fat Milk
If you are making a homemade pie crust, you can cut back on butter by substituting it with a few tablespoons of low-fat milk instead. This will result in a crust that has fewer calories and less fat overall. The moistness of the milk will help the crumbs stick together, eliminating the need for butter.
To make this pie crust, grate six ounces of honey graham crackers in a blender and then add two tablespoons of low-fat milk and blend them until the crumbs have a paste-like texture and you can press them into the pie tin. Add the milk gradually so the mixture does not become too runny.
Cookies, cakes, brownies, and pies made with these ingredients can help you achieve that balance between healthy eating and indulgence that the whole family will be able to appreciate.