The dreaded sweet tooth strikes again. Most of us know sugar isn’t the healthiest food item alone, but the risks go way beyond a sugar crash. Artificial sweeteners can sometimes add even more calories to a meal. Desserts, snacks, muffins and cakes can still be filled with healthy goodness if you add some special ingredients and remove some culprits.
INSTEAD OF GOING COLD AND SUGARLESS, TRY SOME OF THESE HEALTHIER SUBSTITUTIONS:
Instead of a half-cup white sugar in a batch of oatmeal cookies, swap in an equal amount of applesauce. The natural sweetness from a Golden Delicious or Fuji apple is perfect in an after-dinner treat. Purchase the no sugar-added kind, or make some at home.
For a creative spin on things, blend a cup of raisins in a food processer. With antioxidants and fibre, these little dried grapes add a kick to any baked good.
A bunch of dates for an extra boost of antioxidants in the next baking experiment. With a low glycaemic index and some subtle sweetness, it may be perfect for a brownie batter or the base of homemade granola bars. Substitute two-thirds cup for one cup of regular sugar.
In the next loaf of banana bread, try using extra-ripe bananas and eliminating the sugar. The fruit naturally becomes sweeter as it ripens, so there’s no need for extra sugar.
SPECIAL INGREDIENTS TO ADD INTO MUFFINS, RUSKS, COOKIES AND CAKES:
- Nuts and seeds – Add some sunflower seeds, linseeds, sesame seeds and poppy seeds to your cakes, rusks and cookies for extra fibre and healthy fats.
- Carrots – Grate a few carrots for a moist, soft texture and fibre. This is a good way to get vegetables into those picky eaters.
- Apples and bananas – they are sweet and full of fibre, and help you decrease the sugar content to 2/3. This will decrease the energy content, increase the vitamin, mineral as well as fibre content.
- FUTURELIFE® Smart food™, HIGH PROTEIN or ZERO Smart food™ – replace 1/3 of the cake flour you would have used with the exact amount of FUTURELIFE® in your rusks and cookies. You can also reduce the sugar to 2/3 of the amount. This will increase your fibre, protein, vitamin and mineral content of your rusks and cookies. Lower the GI and energy. FUTURELIFE® is wheat and gluten free, making it perfect for gluten-free recipes.
- Canned butter beans – puree some canned butter beans to add to any baked product. This will increase the protein content, make it lower in GI, increase the fibre and make it a whole lot more filling. This works perfectly in chocolate cakes and muffins.
- Digestive bran – for a product high in fibre (especially if you bake a lot and still want your gut to take advantage of the home-made goodies.)
When baking, play around with the ingredients. Do not be scared to make healthy additions and reduce the “unhealthy culprits”. Play around with what you know is good for you; this is great for picky eaters, lunch box snacks and desserts – which can easily turn into an unhealthy game. Instead, turn it into a healthy game of hide and seek.