If it's a holiday weekend, that means it's high time to let loose, and you can probably bet we're doing some baking or having a lick of ice cream. Luckily, satisfying a sweet tooth doesn't have to mean forgoing the health goals we build up during the work or school week. Read on for 8 of our favorite ways to add a punch of nutrition or stave off blood sugar spikes while still indulging in your favorite desserts.
Time to #treatyoself.
8 Ways to Make Your Favorite Desserts Healthier This Weekend
1. Add veggies
Greens like kale or spinach might not seem like they’d go well in a dessert, but their taste is actually masked pretty damn pleasantly by sweet ingredients like chocolate or peanut butter, and not only do they offer added nutrition, they can also add welcome moisture to a denser baked good. Have you ever tried zucchini brownies? They’re a delicious way to use up extra produce from your farmer’s market haul while adding something healthy to your brownies. And we can confirm that they taste amazing. Got extra vegetables or legumes to use up? There are a tonnnn of recipes out there for things like kale brownies, black bean cakes, cauliflower cakes—if you can dream it, you can find it!
2. Add nuts for some protein
The simple addition of nuts, seeds, or nutty spreads can take your kid's birthday party leftovers to a confection worthy of a dinner party with your own friends, by lending maturity to the most basic of sweet treats. Not only do they add protein, but they can also offer fiber, omega-3, healthy fat, and a variety of vitamins and minerals. Plus they look pretty, adding new texture and earthiness to an otherwise boring dish. Don't fancy the crunch of pistachios or almonds? Try drizzling your baked goods or ice creams with nut butter or seed butter instead!
3. Add protein for some protein
This is an especially good option if your dinner was a little, well, lacking. Maybe you ate a bunch of salad greens and veggies, but you didn't have any chicken on hand to top it with, and you worry that you didn't even get enough protein by the time you're craving a little smackerel. Enter the protein cookie or chocolatey bar that happens to have a protein callout. FitJoy's protein bars come in indulgent flavors like Grandma's Lemon Square, Cookies & Cream, Chocolate Peanut Butter, and Cookie Dough Brownie, with only 1-5 grams of sugar ("fun" and "full" sizes). So they taste like....
And look like...
No baking required!
4. Swap in Greek yogurt
If you want to make your desserts way healthier, one easy way to do that is to sub in Greek yogurt, a product you may already have in your fridge for breakfasts or snacks. You can swap Greek yogurt in for buttermilk, heavy cream, mayo, sour cream, even olive oil! Bonus? It helps to keep your desserts delectably moist. Try it in cakes, cheesecakes, frozen yogurt, muffins—practically anything! Depending on what you're substituting it for, you might need to thin it out with a little water. Other than that, you can follow a handy guide like this for measuring.
5. Reduce or replace the sugar
What is dessert if not sweet? Unfortunately, so many recipes call for way more sugar than is actually necessary to achieve a sweet taste. Eating sugar at the end of the day can mess with your sleep, hurt your teeth, spike your blood sugar, and even worsen your skin. The good news is, it’s equally easy to swap it for something else. For instance, banana bread is satisfyingly sweet even though many recipes don't call for any added sugar, just the sugar that naturally comes from the bananas. If you're looking for a baking sweetener that's less processed than sugar, swap in raw honey or agave, and for something with zero calories that won't spike your blood sugar, try erythritol or stevia!
6. Get an oil change
7. Turn fruits into the main event
You could absolutely top each of your cupcakes with half a strawberry for a pretty garnish, but what if you turned the strawberry into the main event and added a touch of spearmint and a dollop homemade whipped cream or a meringue peak on the side? Fruit is already perfectly sweet, plus this way you get the added fiber. Want to keep the refined sugar to a minimum? No need to macerate. Try a watermelon cake, banana "nice" cream, sliced-fruit popsicles, melon ball cake pops, or peaches and cream. Scoop passionfruit pulp over any fruity dish for an instant topping that’s eye-catching, crunchy and tart.
8. Replace your flour
Sugar and butter aren’t the only components of desserts that can pose roadblocks to your better health. That all-purpose flour you’re using can really spike your blood sugar too, ultimately making you hungrier faster and causing you to feel heavy and tired. Try using an alternative flour, like almond or chickpea flour. They’re safe for diabetics and others looking to keep glycemic levels under control.
The FitJoy Team
Our team likes to stay in the know and ahead of the game when it comes to eating, exercise, and wellness in general! We take the latest buzz in the nutrition world and make it easily translatable for your own life.