Chocolate Truffle Cake, White Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Filling, Sweet Potato Pie, Cake Truffles, and the list goes on. No doubt these heavenly treats along with many other sweet seductions can bring a smile to a dessert lover’s face. On the flip side they can also bring about extra pounds and a few health concerns if not eaten in moderation. Here are a few reductions that allow you to have your cake and eat it too.
If you search for healthy or low fat desserts inevitably you will come across many suggestions that recommend just having fruit. I’m in no way implying that this suggestion shouldn’t be followed. I indulge in fresh fruit daily and I enjoy it. That being said sometimes you want that fruit wrapped in dough, and drenched in butter and sugar. Just sayin.
In an effort to help you, and I, satisfy our sweet cravings without risking health problems or the size of our jeans, I have a few ideas that may help.
Let’s start with my all time favorite, cake. When it comes to cake I have a hierarchy of calories and fat. At the top of the list, layer cakes with frosting. The more you add on or in a cake the more the numbers go up. Instead of a multi layer cake, bake one layer and frost it lightly. One layer means less fat, sugar grams and calories. Applesauce, bananas, yogurt, prunes can also be used as a fat substitute. Will these give your cake the same taste and mouth feel as using butter? Nope.
You can slightly up the ante on health benefits by using oil instead of butter. Butter is saturated fat oil isn’t. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature for example, butter, shortening and lard. Oils are not. Too many saturated fats have the potential to raise the level of bad cholesterol (LDL) and lower the good (HDL). Canola and lighter olive oils are best for baking. At the end of this post I’ve listed a butter/oil substitution chart.
Another alternative for cake lovers is to bake a pound cake. No frosting or glaze is required. A light dusting of powdered sugar or cocoa can be enough to enhance the flavor. This is another cake where it is wise to use add-ins like nuts, dried fruit and chunks of chocolate sparingly.
How adorable are cupcakes with festoons and swirls of frosting piled on top? Once again this is a case of less is more. Frost or glaze your cupcakes lightly and don’t add anything else on top.
Then there are pies. An endless variety with buttery flaky top and bottom crusts sometimes sprinkled with sugar and or glazed. To lighten them, bake your pies sans the top crust and you’re on your way to lower calories and fat grams. Here’s where you can also have a field day with fruit fillings. Go easy on the sugar by using the sweetest fruit available. This often means using fruit that’s in season which is likely to be sweeter. If sweeter fruit isn’t an option or if fruit based pies aren’t your thing, reduce the amount of sugar that you use. Many recipes call for adding butter to pies before baking. Leave the extra butter out there’ll be no harm done. For custard baked pies and fillings, substitute evaporated skim milk or 2% milk to lower the fat.
When it comes to feeding your inner Cookie Monster, try baking cookies with half regular and half whole wheat flour. Whole grains have the added benefit of fiber. A dolled up sugar cookie during the holidays is a time honored tradition in most families. To keep the family healthier reduce the amount of frosting, or skip it altogether and hold the sprinkles. If that isn’t an option make smaller cookies.
There is so much conflicting information about the use of sugar substitutes that it’s hard to know what has merit and what doesn’t. On occasion I have used Splenda which comes in brown and white forms and the taste wasn’t bad. I just prefer to use the most natural options when baking and cooking.
In a nutshell here’s the lowdown on making your desserts a tad more heart and waistline friendly.
- Use low fat dairy products. No-fat dairy will not always give you good results.
- Use a single crust for pies.
- Reduce sugar whenever possible
- A light glaze or dusting of powdered sugar or cocoa is a great icing on the cake.
As I said earlier you can substitute olive oil for butter most any recipes. The listing below shows the substitution amounts for butter in imperial and metric measurements.
|Butter||Olive Oil||Butter||Olive Oil|
|1 tsp||¾ tsp||5 mls||3 mls|
|2 tsp||1 ½ tsp||10 mls||7.5 mls|
|1 TBS||2 ½ tsp||15 mls||12.5 mls|
|2 TBS||1 ½ TBS||30 mls||22.5 mls|
|¼ cup||3 TBS||60 mls||45 mls|
|⅓ cup||¼ cup||80 mls||60 mls|
|½ cup||¼ cup + 2 TBS||125 mls||90 mls|
|⅔ cup||½ cup||160 mls||125 mls|
|¾ cup||½ cup + 1 TBS||185 mls||140 mls|
|1 cup||¾ cup||250 mls||175 mls|
|2 cups||1 ½ cups||500 mls||375 mls|
I hope I’ve given you some options that will allow you to have your favorite treats in moderation and without guilt. If you have any suggestions or tips please share them. Speaking of sharing, I’m taking these tips to the following blog parties this week.