There are hundreds of thousands of recipes around the web. A lot of them sound really delicious but not all of them are healthy. What’s the fun in enjoying the taste of food if you know it’s adding to your waistline, damaging your heart or other organs or sapping your energy? The good news is, if you can eliminate a few key ingredients from your food, you can make ANY recipe healthy. And sometimes the little things can make a significant difference!
Oh, how we love our sugar. Cane sugar, high fructose syrup, corn syrup and a host of artificial sweeteners that are even worse than actual sugar. We put them in all sorts of food and condiments. And most of them are just plain awful for our hearts, for our waistlines and for our blood sugar.
But most people, when they think about switching to a lifestyle of healthy eating, say they can’t go without sugar. Followed closely by pasta and alcohol. So, how can you easily make baked goods healthier?
Replace any sweetener with coconut sugar
Coconut sugar is low glycemic (meaning it won’t raise your blood sugar levels high or quickly). It has good minerals like zinc, calcium, potassium and iron. It also is a good source of inulin, a prebiotic that supports gut health, helps your body metabolize fat and improves immunity.
It’s still a sugar so eating a lot of it every day isn’t going to be nearly as healthy as eating fruits, vegetables or good fats from coconut milk. But if you’re baking, it’s better to use than a chemical sugar alternative or cane sugar.
It’s also easy. You can make a 1:1 replacement of white sugar or brown sugar with coconut sugar.
Flour is in everything from pastas to breads and crackers and snack bars and cakes and so many pieces of most base foods.
It’s also horrible for you.
Nevermind that bleached flour is most often made with CHLORINATED GAS, it significantly contributes to heart disease, has been linked to some cancers and is terrible for your waistline.
Buying gluten-free alternatives are one way to eliminate wheat flour (bleached, unbleached, enriched and all purpose flours) from your diet. And if you’re making a recipe yourself, you want a good alternative to standard flour.
Coconut flour is much denser than standard flours so DON’T use a 1:1 replacement. (I did once with muffins and ended up crumbling them into a bowl with a lot of coconut milk to eat more like oatmeal.)
Use about 1/3 cup coconut flour to 1 cup standard flour.
You also need approximately 6 eggs per 1 cup of coconut flour.
With those two simple alterations you can replace the flour in almost any recipe with coconut flour. This is a significant step in making your meals much healthier. Coconut flour is a good source of lauric acid which supports your immune system, thyroid and your skin. It also has manganese which helps you better utilize other nutrients like choline and biotin (in eggs) and supports bone health, your nervous system. And coconut flour is low glycemic so it supports healthy blood sugar levels.
It’s really absorbent though, so with more delicate or sophisticated baked goods you’re probably going to have to experiment a little.
Almond flour is another good option to replace standard flour. It’s not as dense as coconut flour so you can use a 1:1 ratio. Though you still may need to add an egg or two to bind the batter without gluten.
Some things may still require a little experimentation but it’s fairly simple way to make baked goods healthier.
Olive Oil and Coconut Oil
Any time you see a recipe call for shortening, cooking spray, or any other sort of chemical greasening (Grease Lightning!), fatty thing replace it with either olive oil or coconut oil. Each has a slightly different flavor. So, you’ll definitely want to use one over the other depending on the recipe.
Olive oil has a bit more of a savory flavor for dinner dishes – chicken, beef, pork or anything where you might add salt.
Coconut oil isn’t sweet but it will compliment baking dishes better from cakes to pies and anything with chocolate!
I also like grass fed butter which is a healthy alternative to artificial or chemical shortenings. It tastes great with egg dishes and also baked goods.
Not everyone is dairy free but there are some great reasons to replace cow’s milk with coconut milk.
Pasteurization destroys a lot of the nutrients in milk. So, there isn’t much benefit to including cow’s milk in recipes.
Coconut milk, however, is full of healthy fats (great for your brain and improves heart health) along with lauric acid (which is converted to monolaurin which has antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties). Finding ways to integrate it into your recipes is a simple way to improve your health without altering the flavor of favorite dishes.
While there are plenty of chemicals and artificial ingredients in some recipes (like food coloring or packaged spices with awful preservatives) replacing sugar, flour, shortenings is an easy way to start making any recipe healthy.
What are some of your favorite replacements to make recipes healthier?