Baking at home isn’t exactly the easiest. When it comes to savory cooking, it’s easier to swap ingredients or alter spices without destroying the integrity of the dish. Unfortunately, it’s much more complicated to make alterations to baking recipes without potentially altering the chemistry and, with one little change, your cake is a dense flat brick stuck to the bottom of your pan rather than the airy cloud of angel food it was supposed to be. This can be pretty problematic when trying to take those beloved family treats – you know, the ones loaded with butter, sugar, and cream – and turn them into diabetic-friendly or heart healthy desserts.
Never fear! There are a few tried-and-true tricks you can use to cut down the sugar, fat, and/or carbohydrate content in most recipes without horribly altering the recipe or spending hours trying to figure out how to balance out the change. So, if you have a few family favorite treats, try these swaps to give you healthy dessert ideas that actually work!
Cutting Out Fats and Oils
Butter is delicious, but sometimes, for health reasons, we need to (sadly!) cut down our fat intake. This means nixing the butter and reducing or replacing oil in a recipe. Start with smaller changes – instead of trying to cut out oil entirely from a recipe, try replacing it with a healthier option; that means exchanging the butter or vegetable oil for coconut, walnut, or grapeseed oil.
If you need to nix the fats in a recipe altogether, try one of two things. For chocolate-based or heavily spiced recipes, you can do a 1 to 1 swap of the fat/oil for canned pumpkin. However, be sure you’re grabbing plain, unflavored pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling. For those lighter flavored recipes, one of our favorite healthy dessert ideas is to swap the fat or oil for plain Greek yogurt! Either of these options will give you delicious heart healthy desserts with minimal fuss – and you’ll probably end up with a more moist dessert!
Reducing and Replacing Sugar
Cutting down or removing the sugar content is often the hardest trick when baking. Many healthy dessert ideas cut down carbs, which helps, but don’t do much, if anything, to cut down on the sugar itself because that’s what makes a dessert so delicious! However, if you’re dealing with health concerns that mean watching your sugar intake, this is a vital step to still enjoying dessert! One very simple way to get low sugar recipes is to simply reduce the sugar you put in. Professional bakers suggest you can remove up to a quarter of a cup of granulated sugar and not affect the recipe. Another alternative is to remove two tablespoons per every cup of sugar and add an extra half-teaspoon of vanilla.
Some options for replacing sugar with healthy sweetener options to give you healthy low sugar desserts include using sugar substitutes and sugar alternatives. Exchange corn syrup or sugar for natural alternatives like maple syrup, honey, or agave nectar, which are a bit lower on the glycemic index and will give less of a sugar spike. You’ll want to use less quantity overall and may want to reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe. Or, to really bring down the sugar content, one of the best healthy dessert ideas is to swap out the sugar for unsweetened applesauce. You can do this in a one-to-one ratio, but you will need to reduce the liquid by a quarter-cup for every cup of applesauce you use.
Think About Your Additives
What are chocolate chip cookies without their chocolate chips? A travesty. However, if you’re looking for healthy dessert ideas, the best way to make simple swaps in your baking is to focus in on all those additives that make your treats special. Now, we’re definitely not saying you need to say no to chocolate in your favorite recipe, but those bags of milk chocolate morsels are packed full of sugar. If your goal is to make healthy low sugar desserts, going high-quality with your ingredients can really help. Generally speaking, the more expensive an ingredient, the less likely it is to be packed full of unhealthy filler ingredients like corn syrup. If you need healthy dessert ideas without a lot of ingredient swapping, do an even exchange of ingredients, but splurge on the high-end ones.
Or, if all of the above sounds like too much work, shop Lord de Pastry! We have a range of healthy low sugar desserts and heart healthy desserts that work for any occasion. Find the Lord de Pastry supplier nearest you here!