There are plenty of tips for making winter desserts healthier. The winter season is usually a time of comfort food, baking, and lots of sweets like cookies and cakes. But don’t think you can’t indulge wisely at this time of year. The key to making healthy desserts in winter is finding some simple substitutions that will keep your desserts moist and scrumptious without adding a ton of refined sugar, fat, or excess calories. These tips for making winter desserts healthier are super simple and easy. Better yet, you don’t need to use these tips only in the winter—they work year round!
1. Use Whole Grain Flour or Flour Substitutes
The number one problem with desserts is their excessive use of white/refined flour. This flour is pretty much void of all nutrition and fiber, leaving you hungrier than before you ate that cupcake or cookie. Instead, try swapping some or all of the white flour for whole grain flour. This is one of the easiest tips for making winter desserts healthier. If you follow a gluten-free/grain-free diet, there are plenty of flour alternatives you can use that will still lead to tasty and delicious winter desserts.
2. Substitute Applesauce or PURÉED Pumpkin for Less Sugar
I especially like to use this tip in the winter because foods like apples and pumpkin are naturally in season around this time of year. Applesauce or puréed pumpkin still yields a sweet taste and will elicit a moist texture without a ton of sugar. There are numerous recipes online that use fruit purées instead of sugar. Try one out and see how much you like it!
3. Use Dark Chocolate or Raw Cacao Nibs for More Magnesium
Most chocolate used in baking recipes has almost no nutritional value and is pretty much a fancy word for sugar mixed with butter and the tiniest hint of cacao. Use dark chocolate which has considerably more flavonoids. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, try raw cacao nibs instead. Raw cacao is actually one of the richest sources of magnesium on the planet!
4. Use Coconut Sugar Instead of Refined White/Cane Sugar
If you don’t like the idea of using fruit purée in your desserts, another option is to find a better sugar alternative. I personally love using coconut sugar. Its rich, caramel flavor is very similar to brown sugar, and it can be used like you would traditional white sugar. You can substitute up to half of the refined white sugar in a recipe with coconut sugar.
5. Make Mini-Muffins, Cupcakes, and Breads for Portion Control
Let’s be honest. There will be times when you can’t bear to change a recipe and make it healthy. Maybe it’s a brownie recipe that you absolutely love, or maybe you don’t have time to recalculate the amounts of all the healthy ingredients you’ll need. When all else fails, portion control is an excellent tool to make winter desserts healthier. Bake all of your muffins, cupcakes, breads, and even cookies in mini or small portions to avoid overeating. This way you’ll be able to enjoy these traditional recipes without feeling the guilt.
6. Add Grated Carrot and Zucchini for Moist, Dense Cakes and Breads
Surely you’ve heard of carrot cake, but did you know veggies can be included in other winter desserts for a moist, rich texture? Zucchini and carrot are two of the most popular veggies to use, but I’ve seen recipes where even sweet potatoes and beetroot are incorporated. Don’t be shy when trying new dessert recipes! It’s important to get creative and be open-minded, especially when you’re looking for healthy alternatives.
7. Serve Cakes and Pies a La Mode with Banana ‘Ice Cream’ Instead of Regular Diary
For those of you who don’t do dairy, I’ve got some great news for you! Try making an ice cream alternative out of frozen bananas! It will taste almost exactly like vanilla ice cream, making it the perfect a la mode accompaniment to all your favorite cakes and pies.
Healthy winter desserts are definitely possible this year. All it takes is a little research about substitutions to make your favorite cookies, cakes, and other sweet treats healthy. What are some of your favorite healthy dessert tips?