Baking without sugar may sound tough, but it’s not an impossible task. Of course, sugar is most often the main ingredient that gives baked goods their sweet taste, but unfortunately some people cannot enjoy sugar due to dietary restrictions of specific illnesses and ailments. The good news is that sugar-free desserts are becoming more readily available as retailers are paying more attention to those with certain dietary restrictions. In addition, there are plenty of great recipes and sugar substitutes that can be used to replace sugar altogether, yet still allow a recipe to retain its great taste.
The Dangers of Sugar to the Body
Everyone knows that white refined sugar is nothing more than toxic to the body. There really are no health benefits to ingesting this ingredient. Not only that, but certain people, like diabetics, can have extremely adverse reactions from the consumption of sugar.
Sugar is referred to by nutritionists as a source of “empty calories”, considering it is completely devoid of any essential vitamins and minerals. Considering the amount of calories contained in this substance, there is absolutely no nutritional value attached to it. This is why nutritionists encourage people to only consume calories that provide their bodies with some type of nutritional value.
Sugar has been known to have adverse effects on bodily functions and metabolism, and is also linked to numerous diseases and ailments. In order to avoid sugar altogether and still enjoy your baked goods and treats, try this delicious sugar-free recipe:
Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cookies
Peanut butter and chocolate go so well together. With this recipe, you can savor this combination without the added calories and sugar content. This recipe uses agave nectar and stevia, a natural sweetener made from a plant, in place of standard white sugar. The result is a delicious and healthy chocolate and peanut butter cookie that will be sure to melt in your mouth.
1/4 cup organic dried cranberries
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 cup canned white cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup low-fat peanut butter
2 tablespoons agave nectar
3 large egg whites
4 packets powdered stevia
1/4 cup puffed millet cereal
1/4 cup peanut butter chips
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper sprayed lightly with cooking spray. Add the cranberries to a small bowl and pour in hot water to cover and allow to soak. In a food processor, combine the vanilla, cocoa, cannellini beans, peanut butter, and agave nectar, and blend until the mixture is smooth, for about 3 minutes. In another bowl, beat the egg whites until they firm up and form soft peaks. Gradually mix in the stevia, and continue to beat the egg whites until they are creamy and nearly stiff. Add one-third of this egg-white mixture to the cocoa-bean mixture, and blend to combine. Fold the lightened cocoa mixture into the egg whites in 2 batches until they are almost fully combined.
Drain the liquid from the cranberries and then add them to the batter, as well as the millet cereal. Fold the batter until the cranberries and millet are mixed in well. Drop spoonfuls of the batter onto the prepared baking sheets, and spread the batter out to form cookies about 2 inches in diameter. Sprinkle the peanut butter chips on top.
Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, and make sure to rotate the pans 180 degrees halfway through baking.
For an idea of where to buy some of the healthy ingredients listed in the above recipe, see our buying guide below:
Where to Buy Healthy Recipe Ingredients
Cranberries have long been valued as a healthy antioxidant. These dried cranberries are hand harvested, infused with organic apple juice concentrate, and slowly dried. There are no sulfites, preservatives or refined sugar. They are deliciously sweet and mildly tangy, making them the perfect addition to cereals and baked goods. Buy these Organic Dried Cranberries for $3.83 at EdenFoods.com.
This MaraNatha Organic No Stir Creamy Peanut Butter is available at VitaCost.com for $5.70. It is certified organic, low in fat, and contains no trans fats. It is also high in protein, gluten-free and cholesterol-free. This low fat peanut butter brings a hint of sweetness, and is great on breads, muffins and baked goods recipes.
Agave nectar is a great healthy alternative to sweetening recipes with white sugar. It is all natural, and provides the ultimate in sweetness without the negative effects of granulated sugar. Buy this Swanson Organic 100% Certified Organic Agave Nectar for $6.99 via SwansonVitamins.com.
Stevia is a natural sweetener made from the leaves of the stevia plant. These leaves are very sweet and contain no calories or sugar. Stevia is a safer option to other artificial sweeteners for substituting white sugar in beverages and recipes. Satisfy your sweet tooth with this NuNaturals, NuStevia, White Stevia Powder, available at iHerb.com for $5.74 iHerb.com.
Millet is the smallest of all grains, and is a complete protein and low in fat composition. This is the perfect substitute for wheat for those with gluten allergies. Buy this Arrowhead’s Puffed Millet Cereal for $2.99 via DrugStore.com.
Staying Away From Sugar While Baking
Considering the health detriments of white refined sugar, it is always a good idea to severely restrict this substance, or cut it out of the diet altogether. There are many other alternatives to sugar for recipes, like agave nectar, stevia or honey, just to name a few. There really is no need to sacrifice taste in the name of good health – just be creative and you can enjoy any baked goods with healthy ingredients!
Gluten is a protein that occurs in grains of wheat, barley and rye. Conventional wheat bread also contains gluten. It is the gluten protein that provides bread with its pleasing elasticity and texture. This ingredient is present in abundance of many processed food products.
Those who have a gluten allergy, such as those with Celiac disease, have adverse reactions when consuming gluten, which is why it is necessary to avoid this product. However, doing so can be quite challenging, considering how abundantly this ingredient seems to be in many foods and recipes.
Baking Gluten Free
Many times it is best to prepare your own meals and desserts so that you are sure that the ingredients used in these recipes are gluten-free. The good news is that there are many options nowadays for those who suffer from gluten allergies. Substituting ingredients in baked goods does not have to mean substituting taste and great flavor.
The following are two delicious gluten-free recipes that will be sure to make your mouth water.
Quinoa Raisin Cookies
1/2 cup unsalted room temperature butter
3/4 cup palm sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons water
1 cup gluten-free quinoa flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup quinoa flakes
1 cup raisins
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F, and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Cream the butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the palm sugar in 2 additions, letting it mix in thoroughly before continuing to add more. Add the egg into the mixture, and blend until uniformly combined, followed by the vanilla extract and water. In a small bowl, mix the quinoa flour, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt together, then add it to the butter mixture until thoroughly combined. Add the quinoa flakes, then add the raisins and mix until they are evenly distributed.
Use a cookie scoop to drop the cookies onto the prepared cookie sheet. Bake one sheet at a time for 12 – 14 minutes, and rotate the baking sheets 180 degrees halfway through. Once the cookies start to get light golden brown around the edges, they are done. Allow the cookies to cool on the sheet for a few minutes, then allow the cookies to cool by transferring them to a wire rack.
Cranberry Walnut Cookies
¼ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup non-hydrogenated shortening
1 cup palm sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons orange zest
¾ cup millet flour
¾ cup garbanzo-fava bean flour
¼ cup tapioca starch
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup fruit-juice sweetened dried cranberries, chopped
¾ cup toasted walnuts, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 350F, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Beat the butter and shortening on medium high with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the palm sugar in three additions, allowing it to mix in before continuing to add more. Beat for 5 additional minutes until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until it’s fully mixed in. Add the orange juice and zest. In a separate bowl, mix the millet flour, garbanzo-fava bean flour, tapioca starch, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt together. Add the flour to the wet ingredients with a mixer until nearly combined. Add the cranberries and walnuts.
Drop the dough onto the cookie sheet with a spoon or scoop about 2 inches apart. Roll them into balls with wet hands, and use a wet flat-bottomed glass to press the cookies flat. Lightly sprinkle the tops of the cookies with palm sugar. Bake for 8 – 10 minutes, and rotate them 180 degrees halfway through.
Where to Buy Gluten-Free and Other Healthy Ingredients
The above recipes use a variety of ingredients that are either gluten-free or conducive to a gluten-free diet. Below you’ll find a variety of these ingredients, and where to purchase them:
Palm sugar is nature’s perfect sweetener. It is low on the glycemic index and high in nutrients. Palm sugar is a pure and simple cane sugar alternative that provides the energy and nutrition your body needs for a healthy lifestyle. Use it in any of your favorite dessert or cake recipes and flavor it without the harmful effects of classic white refined sugar. Buy this Sweet Tree, Organic Coconut Palm Sugar for $4.29 at iHerb.com.
Quinoa flakes can be used for baking muffins or cookies, as well as a nutritious hot breakfast cereal or in pancakes or waffles. This Ancient Harvest Organic Quinoa Flakes is gluten-free and certified organic. Buy it for $5.11 via VitaCost.com.
Garbanzo and fava bean flour is perfect for all sorts of baking, including cakes, cookies, breads and pizza. Use in place of other flour products in any of your favorite recipes. Bean flours provide protein for amazing gluten- free baking. Buy this GF garbanzo fava flour for $20.71 at Bob’s Red Mill.
Millet, the “Little Giant” and smallest of all grains, has been cultivated for centuries. This grain is 100% wheat and gluten free, making it ideal for recipes for those with gluten allergies. Arrowhead Mills Millet Flour is naturally nutritious, low in fat, gluten-free and high in fiber. Buy it for $4.39 at VitaCost.com.
Xanthan gum is a natural fermented polysaccharide. The bacteria from the fermentation of this product forms a slimy substance that acts as a natural stabilizer or thickener. It is a rather new thickening agent similar to corn starch or guar gum. Those who suffer from gluten allergies should look for xanthan gum as an ingredient on the label of many prepared foods. Xanthan gum is used by people who are allergic to gluten to add volume to gluten-free baked goods. Buy this Xanthan Gum for $4 via Barry Farm Foods.
Baking Gluten Free Doesn’t Have to Be a Chore
Although those with gluten allergies have to be more diligent and conscious of what they are eating, they don’t have to give up their favorite desserts. Luckily, many gluten-free products exist on the market today to use as a substitute for products that are abundant in this protein. Give the recipes above a try today, and satisfy your cravings for delicious baked goods!
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Most people have a sweet tooth, and enjoy indulging in some of their favorite desserts and baked goods. However, we all know that many of these sweet treats are often loaded with sugar and fat, making them treats that should probably be avoided most of the time, or at least consumed in limited to moderate amounts. The good news is that there are subtle ways in which you can lighten up your desserts, cutting out much of the fat, refined sugar and other hazardous ingredients that many recipes include. The following are some tips for lightening up your favorite treats:
1) Reduce the Fat Content
Cutting the fat content in recipes is easier than you may think. For recipes that call for whole milk, cream, or any other heavy dairy product, there are healthier, lower-fat substitutions that can be made in their place. For example, try using light yogurt, fat-free milk or even milk substitutes in your recipes. In place of whipped cream, try using fat-free frozen whipped dessert topping instead.
2) Add Whole Grains
Rather than using conventional all-purpose white flour, try substituting this ingredient with healthier, whole grain flours, like oat flour, barley flour, or even quinoa flour for those with gluten allergies. Adding whole grains to your diet and eliminating white flour can have great health benefits for your body.
3) Include Fiber
Everyone knows the dietary advantages of fiber on the body. It helps with digestion, and creates an overall feeling of satiety and satisfaction. Add fiber to baked goods recipes, like flax seeds, or fruit peels, which can even provid some added flavor to the recipe.
4) Avoid Frostings
Rather than top your desserts with fattening frostings, opt for a dollop of low-fat yogurt instead.
5) Add More Flavor Without the Fat
Many recipes call for fattening and sugary ingredients to provide flavor. Instead of using these fatty items, try adding citrus peel, spices or flavoring extracts to add flavor without the added fat.
To test out these ingredient substitutions, try one of these two amazingly delicious recipes that include healthy ingredients, and will satisfy your sweet tooth without the added sugar and fat content:
Delicious Light Baked Goods Recipes to Try
Healthy Chocolate Cake
3/4 cup sugar cane juice crystals
1/2 cup water
4 ounces chopped organic dark chocolate
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
5 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup Amaranth flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup apricot spreadable fruit
2 tablespoons chopped and toasted sliced almonds
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and grease and flour a baking pan. In a medium saucepan, mix the sugar cane juice crystals and water until the sugar cane dissolves and the mixture almost boils. Remove from heat, then add chocolate and stir until melted. Place the egg yolks into a large bowl, and gradually stir the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Then stir in the vanilla and set aside.
In a smaller bowl, mix the amaranth flour, cocoa powder, flax seeds, and baking powder together. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, and whisk until smooth. In a medium bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer on medium speed until stiff peaks form. Stir a small amount of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten, and fold the remaining egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Spread in the prepared pan.
Bake for 30 minutes. After the cake has cooled, transfer it to a cutting board. Cut 6 pieces from the cake with a cookie cutter. Stir together the spreadable fruit and 2 tablespoons almonds in a small bowl. Spread the mixture on top of half of the cut-out cakes. Place the remaining cut-outs on top of the apricot filling on the cakes.
Banana-Oat Muffins – Dairy and Egg Free
Nonstick cooking spray
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons flax seed meal
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 ripe banana, cut up
1/4 cup rice milk
1/4 cup of whipped silken tofu (egg substitute)
1 tablespoon canola oil
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, and lightly coat six muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, oats, brown sugar, flax seed meal, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and set aside. In a food processor, combine the banana, rice milk, silken tofu and oil. Cover and blend it until the mixture is smooth. Add the banana mixture all at once to the flour mixture, and stir just until moistened. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups about three-quarters full. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes until lightly browned.
Where to Buy These Healthy Ingredients
Find some of the ingredients used in the above healthy recipes here:
Evaporated sugar cane juice crystals can be used just like sugar for sweetening foods and recipes. Unlike refined sugar, it retains most of the nutrients found in raw organic sugar cane. This Raw Organic Sun Dried Sugar Cane Juice Crystals are a healthy alternative to refined sugar. Buy it for $7.99 via ZNaturalFoods.com.
This NibMor Organic Dark Chocolate can be bought for $29.35 at NibMor.com. Made with organic ingredients and organic agave nectar (a low-glycemic natural sweetener), this product provides a true dark chocolate experience with a balanced mix of bitter and sweet.
Bob’s Red Mill whole Grain Amaranth Flour has a mild but distinct, sweet, nutty and malt-like flavor. It is kosher, all natural and gluten-free. It is a great way to provide flavor to baked goods and is very easy to use. Simply substitute your recipe’s flour ingredient with Bob’s Red Mill Whole Grain Amaranth Flour. Buy this organic amaranth flour for $7.12 via VitaCost.com.
This Mori-Nu, Silken Tofu is available for $1.69 at iHerb.com. Silken tofu is a great egg substitute for those who want to go egg free. Baked goods will be very moist and heavy with this ingredient. This product is dairy free and gluten free, which is perfect for vegans or those who have an allergy to gluten.
Rice milk is slightly sweet, therefore making it ideal for dessert recipes. This Good Karma Foods Organic Rice Milk is $34.15 at FoodServiceDirect.com. This product contains all the natural bran, bran oils and other naturally occurring nutrients contained in whole grain brown rice. Organic whole grain rice milk is smooth, creamy and delicious.
Lighten Up Your Baked Goods With Healthy Substitutes
As you can see, there are plenty of options available to substitute the more fatty, sugary ingredients in many recipes. Not only are they healthier for you, but they are able to retain the flavor of the recipe to help satisfy your cravings. If you love desserts and sweets, eating healthfully doesn’t mean taking all your favorite delectables off the menu. Use these tips to give your desserts recipes a lighter spin.
Believe it or not, some types of chocolate are actually good for you. Considering the fact that chocolate is derived from plants, it has some of the health benefits of some dark vegetables. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids that act as antioxidants. The benefits of antioxidants on the body are numerous, including the ability to protect the body from damaging free radicals which are known to cause cancer and heart disease. In fact, dark chocolate has up to 8 times the amount of antioxidants found in strawberries!
The flavonoids found in dark chocolate help to reduce heart disease by lowering blood pressure, and lowering the amount of cholesterol in the blood. Both of these factors combined have a great impact on preventing heart disease, or reducing symptoms that may arise as a result of heart disease.
In addition, the flavonoids found in dark chocolate have also been found to balance hormone levels in the body. In particular, dark chocolate helps to stimulate endorphins, which invoke a feeling of pleasure and satisfaction. Dark chocolate also contains serotonin – which acts as an anti-depressant – as well as theobromine – which acts as a stimulant.
Baking With Dark Chocolate For Health Benefits
Including dark chocolate in some of your favorite baked goods recipes can make the recipe both healthy on your heart and taste good. When baking with chocolate, keep the following tips in mind:
- Use chocolate in limited amounts to balance out the calories – chocolate is calorie-dense, so be conscious of how much you are using;
Use dark chocolate only – this has more antioxidants;
Avoid milk chocolate – this type of chocolate can inhibit the absorption of the antioxidants naturally found in chocolate;
Avoid nougat – dark chocolate that is pure has the most health benefits and least amount of sugar.
For delicious and healthy chocolate cupcakes, try the following sugar-free, antioxidant recipe:
For those who love their chocolate, including in their baked goods, here is a fabulous chocolate cupcake recipe that is both delicious and healthy. There is no refined sugar in this recipe, nor any animal products, making it great for vegans. In addition, substituting wheat flour for another ingredient can make these gluten-free as well, making this recipe both yummy and versatile for just about any eating style. Check out the recipe below:
1-1 1/2 cups (packed) shredded zucchini
3/4 cup demerara sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tbs instant coffee
3 tbs creme de menthe
1 1/4 cup quinoa flour
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1/4 cup organic cocoa
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
4 oz dark chocolate
1 tbs coconut oil
2 tbs creme de menthe
3-4 tbs honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 tbs canola oil
Preheat the oven of 350 degrees. Peel and shred the zucchini and set aside. Combine all dry ingredients and set aside. In a mixer, combine the wet ingredients (except for the zucchini) and mix until well blended. Lumpiness from the banana is fine. Mix in the dry ingredients, then stir in the zucchini. Divide the batter into cupcake cups using an ice cream scoop. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the cupcakes form a nice dome. Test the cupcakes with a fork or toothpick to see if they come out without batter.
After the cupcakes have cooled somewhat, begin applying the icing. Heat up the coconut oil and chocolate in a microwave bowl for 60 seconds. Mix it, then microwave the bowl for an additional 30 seconds. Repeat if necessary until the mixture is smooth. Mix in the creme de menthe, honey, vanilla, and salt. This icing will be very rich, so only a thin layer on each cupcake is necessary. Applying the icing is an optional step for this recipe.
You’ll be amazed that such healthy cupcakes can be so delicious! This is because many of the ingredients used in this recipe are high-quality and used to help maintain a healthy lifestyle. You can find some of the healthy ingredients used in this recipe below:
Where to Buy Healthy Chocolate and Other Ingredients for Baked Goods Recipes
Organic Demerara Sugar is produced by pressing shredded sugar cane to extract juice, which is boiled to remove water. This leaves behind crystals of sucrose that contain molasses. The sugar is then spun in a centrifuge to get rid of any moisture and plant material left behind. Buy this Organic Demerara Sugar in a 1lb bag for $7.10 at RedOnionSpice.com.
Quinoa flour is a great substitute for wheat flour for those who have a gluten allergy, or are just looking for a healthier substitution to regular flour. This Ancient Harvest Gluten Free Organic Quinoa Flour is gluten-free, wheat-free, 100% whole grain and certified organic. Buy an 18 oz bag for $5.56 at VitaCost.com.
Flax seeds have many benefits for the body, including containing high levels of antioxidants,. They are a great source of good proteins and healthy fats, which are essential for proper bodily functions. They are also high in fiber, making digestion much more efficient. Buy this Sanar Organic Ground Flax Seed Linaza, which is loaded in Omega 3, 6 and 9 for $5.99 at Sanar Health.
Organic Cocoa Powder is the perfect complement to any health-conscious recipe. This can be used in anything from desserts and everyday baking, to a satisfying cup of hot cocoa on a cold winter day. Organic cocoa powder provides a guilt-free way to satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth without the sugar, fat and preservatives. It also contains flavanols (polyphenols), which are super healthy to maintain a healthy, disease-free lifestyle. Buy this Healthy Foods, Certified Organic Cocoa Powder from Now Foods for $7.97 at iHerb.com.
Additionally, anyone looking for delicious healthy chocolate to snack on can find some below:
This Aticoa Super Antioxidant Healthy Dark Chocolate can be bought for $16 at Chocolate.com. This delicious super-antioxidant chocolate has many health benefits and wonderful, rich tastes! These chocolates which are processed in the patented Aticoa process retain much more antioxidants than conventional chocolates.
This Endangered Species Panther Extreme Dark Chocolate can be purchased at NewEgg.com for $21.27. These all-natural dark chocolate squares will be sure to satisfy your chocolate cravings.
These Xocai Chocolate Nuggets are available for purchase at NutriDiabeticDietSystemNBG.com for $38. These Xocai Nuggets of healthy dark chocolate are made with rich, dark, Belgian dark chocolate. Since the Xocai Nuggets are made from dark chocolate, they are suitable for Vegetarians and Vegans.
Healthy Eating, Without Sacrificing Taste
Healthy eating does not necessarily mean that you have to sacrifice taste. By choosing the right ingredients, you can turn any baked goods recipe into something wonderfully delicious. For those who are self-proclaimed “chocolate addicts”, you’ll be happy to know that chocolate has many health benefits, and is actually encouraged by health professionals to be added to a diet in moderate amounts. Enjoy your dark chocolate today, and reap the health benefits while satisfying your sweet tooth at the same time!
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