Written by Reya Borbridge
Most people love desserts or want them at some point during the week. But why restrict yourself if that sweet tooth craving can actually be guilt-free AND indulgent!! This blog post is all about sweet desserts that are secretly packed with protein, fruit, or other healthy ingredients so you don’t regret eating that brownie after a couple of bites. Today's post I will talk about healthy baking swaps, recipes that I love making, and smart choices for when you want something on the more sweet side.
I for one am vegan and mostly gluten free, so when I bake my desserts I always make them vegan and gluten-free. I also try for the most part to use a healthier sugar choice, opposed to plain white sugar or brown sugar. Along with this I don’t use butter or vegan butter for the most part when baking so really when I bake I’m creating alternative swaps that are not only better for me health-wise but cruelty free.
For baking, I try flours. I like to stick to a few staples: Oat flour (blended up oats in a food processor or you can buy this premade in a store), I also use rice, coconut, almond, and quinoa flour based on different recipe needs. All-purpose gluten-free blend which is essentially different gluten-free flours such as oat, rice, quinoa, and tapioca starch mixed together to create a “flour consistency” is a very basic flour that is used in most baking recipes is a great swap option!
For an egg replacement, there are many options, however this is of course optional as eggs are really healthy, and most people are not fully vegan. I typically use apple sauce, mashed banana, flax seeds, or chia seeds mixed with water to create a vegan egg, or sometimes recipes just use milk or something else that doesn’t need a full egg replacement. This is usually a very easy swap!
The most important swap for me when baking desserts that are healthy is the sweetener. This is a large part of the reason that people are so afraid of sweets. For me, I always like to use a healthier sugar option such as coconut sugar, maple syrup, date syrup, dates, agave, or mashed ripe bananas. I rarely use real sugar in recipes as I just find it unnecessarily unhealthy. There are so many food bloggers that would agree with this and have created incredible recipes using a healthy swap such as this.
When talking about dairy and looking for a butter swap, I usually use coconut oil; It's not that great for you, but it works pretty good for this situation and it's perfect for those with lactose intolerance. When I use added chocolate/ chocolate chips I prefer to use dark chocolate or 70 percent or higher and always make sure they are milk/dairy-free.
Alright now that we have talked about healthy and easy swaps let's talk more about recipes themselves! On our Instagram we have a few recipes posted such as healthy beet brownies, a raspberry crisp, truffles, a raw cashew cheesecake, smoothies, and healthy sugar free granola. These are just a few recipes I love to create and feel guilt-free indulging in them. What I love about all of these recipes is that they either sneak in healthy fruit or veggies such as beets or raspberries or use a crust made from nuts, dates, coconut, and other natural ingredients. This is key for a dessert that is healthy, using wholesome ingredients that are nutritionally good. I love adding almond butter to granola, brownies, muffins, raw dessert crusts, etc. since it provides healthy fats, has protein, and is something that is good for you!
My favorite recipe to make that most people love is banana bread or banana bread muffins. These are so good, so easy, and can be really healthy, vegan and gluten-free if you want them to be. I make these monthly and they are usually gone within a day. For this recipe I use only a few ingredients that are wholesome and not hard to find or expensive, which is what most people assume healthy baking is. This recipe is great for when you have a few bananas sitting around that you forgot to eat and are a bit too spotty to use. However banana bread needs super ripe bananas so you're in luck!
Vegan Banana Bread
3 ripe bananas
2 1/2 cup Rolled Oats, divided (not Instant)
1/2 cup Coconut Sugar
1/4 cup Nut or Seed Butter*
2 tbsp Ground Flax OR Ground Chia Seeds + 6 tbsp Water
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract (Optional, but recommended)
1/2 tsp Salt
Preheat your oven to 350F.
In a small bowl, combine the Ground Flax OR Ground Chia seeds with 6 tbsp water to form an “egg.” Stir and set aside for 5-10 minutes.
Add 2 cups of the Rolled Oats into a blender or food processor and blend until they form a fine flour, about 45-60 seconds.
Place the Oat Flour into a medium sized bowl and add the Baking Powder, Baking Soda, remaining 1/2 cup of Rolled Oats, and Salt. Mix well and set aside.
Add your ripe Bananas to a separate, large bowl, and mash with a fork until they form an even, runny texture. Add the Nut Butter, Coconut Sugar, Apple Cider Vinegar, Vanilla Extract, and Flax or Chia Egg to the bowl. Mix well.
Slowly incorporate the dry flour mixture into the wet Banana mixture, stirring well and until all clumps have dissolved.
Pour the batter into a parchment paper-lined or greased 8″ bread pan, smoothing the top off with a spatula.
Bake at 350F for 60-70 minutes, or until the top is golden brown, and a toothpick comes out cleanly or with minimal crumbs. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove from the pan and allow to cool completely before slicing.
Store in a container at room temperature for up to one week.
So now that you know baking can be fun, sustainable, healthy, and guilt-free, go ahead and try a recipe from our instagram, this banana bread recipe that is being posted this week, or a new one that you have been wanting to experiment with! I hope this post was helpful and remember to follow our instagram for more information and recipes @slugsinthekitchen_ucsc