In this article we are going to talk about how to make a healthy sweet snack by using healthy flour alternatives, cutting out the sugar, and butter substitute baking. These are the three pillars of making any dessert recipe a healthy sweet snack.
Not Chips Ahoy, Entenmann’s, or Hostess
First off, I don’t want to disillusion anyone here. When you use these substitutions, your cookies are not going to taste like Chips Ahoy Cookies, your donuts will not taste like Entenmann’s donuts, and your cakes will not taste like a Hostess snack. Also, keep in mind all of the processed crap and preservatives and flavor enhancers that these sweets have in them. We are trying to make healthy sweet snacks. When you bake with 100% healthy ingredients, your food will not taste like these familiar over-the-top sweet and buttery desserts. That does not mean it will not be absolutely delicious and make you want to eat the whole batch in one sitting.
Hello. My name is Amanda, and I already ate all of my quarantine snacks.
During the first two months of stay at home orders, I baked 2 batches of peanut butter cookies, 3 batches of chocolate chip cookies, 2 batches of oatmeal raisin cookies, 3 batches of chocolate peanut butter cups, 1 batch of chia donuts, 1 batch of mini chia muffins, 3 loaves of whole wheat sourdough, 2 batches of popovers, one pan of vanilla cherry walnut cornbread, 2 loaves of banana bread, and 3 large garbanzo bean pancakes. I also lost 2 pounds!
The key is that I baked it all with healthy substitutions.
Full disclosure, I never follow the recipe to make a healthy sweet snack.
I should say, I rarely follow recipes to a T. Lol. I almost always make substitutions in recipes. My rule in baking is to substitute all unhealthy ingredients with a healthy alternative. If an ingredient is unhealthy, I always substitute it. This is possible, and actually it is pretty simple!
Never use an unhealthy ingredient again.
There is a short laundry list of ingredients I simply never use because I like my snacks guilt free. All unhealthy butters, oils, all purpose white flours, white and brown sugars are substituted. This is actually quite easy! It is really pretty simple to replace all ingredients that would make a sweet snack unhealthy with an ingredient that will make it healthy, with good fats, whole grains, and no sugar!
Healthy Sweet Snack Secret #1: Replace all bad fats with good fats
We are talking about butter, vegetable oil, canola oil, and the like. This is actually a really easy one! If you are making a cake or brownie, you can easily go fat free by using unsweetened applesauce. Measure for measure.
For cookies and brownies, you can also use coconut oil. Also measure for measure. That is it! So easy. Of course, you can also go half and half to retain a bit more moisture. Concerning flavor, the apple sauce has no impact on flavor at all. Coconut oil can add an extremely light hint of coconut flavor to some recipes. I know some people use chia seeds or flax in some way here, but I have never tried it.
Healthy Sweet Snack Secret #2: Going sugar free
First, if you are trying to become more health conscious, white sugar is something you should simply eliminate from your diet. Period. There really are a lot of different ways to lessen, substitute, and eliminate white refined sugar from recipes.
Sugar Option #1
First, you can replace sugar in most recipes using the 75% rule with agave, honey, real maple syrup, or a combination to improve the glycemic index of a food. Here is a great Spruce Eats article about the 75% rule. Low glycemic index basically means that your body will digest it slower, unlike white sugar which is absorbed quickly, giving you a blood sugar spike and crash.
Sugar Option #2
Also, know that you never actually have to use the exact amount of sweetener a recipe calls for. You can always lessen it 25% or 30% no worries. Your treat will turn out, it will just be less sweet. Here is a great King Arthur lour article about lessening sugar in a recipe!
Sugar Option #3
Finally, I like to take it one step further than a low glycemic sweetener or lessening the amount of sugar. Monk Fruit Sweetener. I will admit it is a little expensive, but worth it, and the bag lasts a long time. I am talking about monk fruit sugar. It works. It is natural. It is zero calories. It is amazing. Try it! Ok, it is like a $10 dollar pound of sugar, but investing money in your health now is money you won’t spend at the doctor’s office later. Spend money preventing illness, or spend money treating illness.
What about brown sugar?
What about the brown sugar in cookies to increase the moisture making them chewy and dreamy? Molasses. Like a tablespoon of molasses to each cup of white sugar (or monk fruit sugar), but I literally never measure it, just a glob or 2. BONUS! MOLASSES IS GOOD FOR YOUR BONES!
Frosting? Glaze? Icing?
Last but not least, frosting on top! I always melt down dark chocolate chips with some peanut butter or coconut oil to create a hard glaze. You can also use just peanut butter with coconut oil to make a slightly softer glaze. Finally, protein powder can also be used to make a healthier glaze. Here is a blog recipe that uses protein powder to glaze donuts!
Healthy Sweet Snack Secret #3: Healthy Grains Only
I never use white all purpose flour, because there are simply so many easy replacements that are more nutritious. I bake almost everything with whole wheat flour. Sometimes I use oat flour. You can also use white whole wheat flour. You could even blend the flours. There are so many alternatives. There is simply no reason to use white all purpose flour.
KAF’s Sprouted Whole Wheat Flour is as healthy as it gets!
What to expect when using AP flour substitutes
First, will whole wheat flour cause noticeable changes in your snack? Yes, a bit. Flavor wise, you will have a slight nutty flavor from the whole wheat flour. I personally love it, but if this really turns you off, then try white whole wheat flour.
Second, moisture-wise, whole wheat flour will absorb more moisture. There are 3 things I do to ensure my whole wheat baked goods keep moisture. First, I put a Pyrex dish of boiling water in the oven while snacks bake to help add moisture to the air in the oven during baking. Second, measure flour by weight. A cup of whole wheat flour and a cup of white all purpose flour do not weigh the same. So, to make sure you are not accidentally adding too much flour, measure by weight.
Third, when storing baked goods in a bag or Tupperware or whatever, throw in a slice or two of bread to keep cookies soft. It sounds odd, but it works. Here is King Arthur Flour’s article about replacing with whole wheat flour.
Last but not least, the final healthy sweet snack hack is protein powder. You can replace about 30% of the flour in any recipe with protein powder to add protein! Here is a blog article that explains how to replace some flour in a recipe with protein powder! If you need protein powder, check out my protein powder review! I tried 5 protein powders and reviewed then on eight different parameters to find the best one!
Best Protein Powders for Baking
I have used each of these protein powders in baking recipes following the 1/3 rule!
That is it! Those are all of my baking tips and hacks. Using these simple substitutes will make your sweet desserts actual food with healthy fats and whole grains, not just empty calories! Pick your favorite dessert recipe and give it a try!