4 Tips for Making Healthier Desserts


Almond Joy Candy Bars

Healthy Desserts.

Is that really possible?

For those of us with a sweet tooth (or shall we make that “teeth”), sweet treats derail the best laid plans for staying or getting healthy.

Ideally, limiting sweets or getting them out of your diet entirely is a great way to go, but I know that’s a pretty tall task for most of us.

So, in the interest of setting reasonable goals, I am going to share with you all today:

  • ways to make your current dessert recipes healthier
  • some healthy dessert options from my recipe box
Of course, these tips can be modified depending on needs and desires, but basically, there are three steps to take when making a dessert recipe healthier

1.  Cut the Sweetener

Start by cutting 1/3 of what the recipe calls for and step it up to 1/2 if you are feeling adventurous!  You’ll most likely be surprised by how good your desserts still taste!

2.  Try a Healthier Sweetener

If you are able to eat sweeteners with a higher glycemic load (that’s the effect that food has on your blood sugar) then:

  • sucanat
  • honey
  • agave
  • maple syrup would be better choices than white sugar.

If, however, you really need to stay away from sweeteners that raise your blood sugar or that feed candida, then choose sweeteners like:

  • stevia (Stevia extract is super sweet!  1/32 tsp = 1/2 – 1 Tbsp)*
  • erythritol
  • xylitol
  • vegetable glycerine and
  • yacon syrup
  • palm and coconut sugar (both have quite low glycemic indexes and taste great)
Substituting sweeteners can be a little tricky.  I’ve got a post on Substituting Sweeteners in Cooking and Baking that should give you a good start.
*A note on stevia:  It really matters which stevia you get.  Some brands are really bitter.  One of the brands I like is NuNaturals.)

3.  Use More Whole Grain Flours

Just making a move in the direction of more whole grains is a great step to take.

Try substituting 1/3 – 1/2 of the flours in your recipes with whole grain alternatives.  Eventually you can make the move to more and more whole grains.

4.  Use Natural Fats

There’s a lot of debate about which fats are healthier, but an easy move to make is away from margarine and processed fats to fats in their natural state.

Good choices would be:

    • coconut oil
    • butter
    • olive oil
    • palm shortening

A general rule of thumb is to use 7/8 the amount of olive oil in a recipe calling for a solid fat.

When baking with coconut oil instead of butter, sometimes a 1:1 substitution works.  I don’t have the substitutions figured out completely here, but I’m working on it!

I hope this gives you inspiration to take some of your dessert recipes and give them a healthy makeover.

You may notice a change in flavor or texture, but over time, you will appreciate the healthier, heartier taste and the blessing of knowing that you are doing your family a favor with healthier choices.

Here is a list of some of our family favorites–the ones that get requested over and over again.

They all have special diet options included.

Enjoy–in good health–from my family to yours.

Which step will you be taking next?
Shared at Permanent Posies, Tammy’s Recipes, At Home with K, Cooking Traditional Foods, Grocery Cart Challenge, The Finer Things in Life, Creation Corner, It’s a Hodgepodge Life, Simply Designing, The 21st Century Housewife, Alli-n-Son, Allergy-Free Vintage Cookery, Jill Conyers, Food Renegade, Thirty Handmade Days, The Shabby Nest, Whipperberry, I Should be Mopping the Floor, Delightful Order, A Glimpse Inside, House of Hepworths, Beyond the Picket Fence, Allie Makes, Somewhat Simple, Real Food Whole Health, Real Food Freaks, Rattlebridge Farm, Butter Believer, 11th Heaven’s Homemaking Haven, and Learning the Frugal Life.
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  • http://joggingstrollers.org/ Lou, Fitness Space

    Brilliant post, thanks for the info on the artificial sweetners. I always try to avoid aspartame because it has so many negative health effects. Cheers

    • http://wholenewmom.com/ Adrienne @ Whole New Mom

      You’re welcome! The sweeteners listed are considered to be waaaay more natural and healthy than aspartame. I avoid it like the plague as well. It gave my insomnia when I was a waitress downing Diet Coke. :-(.

  • Home Cooked Healthy

    Great tips and great to find you. We eat gluten-free, sugar-free and organic. Was so difficult starting out but over a year later on our journey and we are THRIVING! I am amazed how we can change up recipes that we used to love and make them in a healthy way now. I also used to think that low-fat and artifical sugars were the way to go. After so much research and studying for our families health I realize that if you eat the right foods for your body the weight comes off (and stays off) without dieting and our immune systems go through the roof. Our family is battling cancer only using nutrition and suppliments and it is totally working. Everyone is amazed and so are we. Who knew that what you eat makes that much difference in your health and healing? Look forward to connecting.

    • http://wholenewmom.com/ Adrienne @ Whole New Mom

      Thanks for sharing! I so hope you keep in touch. What a wonderful story about cancer. I would love to hear more. Take care!

  • http://realfoodwholelife.blogspot.com/ Kenedi – Real food Whole Life

    Just found your blog. Great tips. Pure Maple Syrup is another great sweetener option. I just recently made a few different batches of homemade ice cream with maple syrup and it was lovely!

    • http://wholenewmom.com/ Adrienne @ Whole New Mom

      Hi Kenedi! I had a real brain lapse forgetting maple syrup. I’ll go back and add it! Thanks!

  • orchid872

    Geesh, I want to eat this so bad.. Im going to pin this recipe..

    • http://wholenewmom.com/ Adrienne @ Whole New Mom

      You’ll love them. I promise!

  • http://www.TheNourishingHome.com/ Kelly@TheNourishingHome

    Awesome tips, Adrienne! This was the first step I made when we started on our real food journey. And once my family saw that they could enjoy healthier sweets, they were more open to making even more healthy changes. I know the Lord will use this post to help many, so thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with us! Many blessings, Kelly

    • http://wholenewmom.com/ Adrienne @ Whole New Mom

      Thanks, Kelly! We have similar stories. Little by little we changed our diets until we are where we are now. I wish I had made the changes sooner. Blessings on you as well!

  • Kristin

    Anyone used agave nectar cooking?

    • http://wholenewmom.com/ Adrienne @ Whole New Mom

      Hello Kristin. You can for sure use agave as well. I can add that to the post. There are some in the health food arena who think it isn’t very healthy and those who say to use only raw agave. Hopefully someone else can chime in on that. I initially heard that it had a lower glycemic index than other sweeteners, but later heard that it is, in fact, quite high.

  • Ashlyn Bailey

    Thanks for sharing some great tips and recipes! They sound sooo good! I will have to try them out!

    • http://wholenewmom.com/ Adrienne @ Whole New Mom

      You’re so welcome, Ashlyn! I so hope that you enjoy them!

  • http://www.budgetmindedorganics.com/ Laura Black

    I decided a couple of years ago that desserts could do with a lot less sugar. I typically will reduce sugar by 1/4-1/3 depending on recipe. I also do the fat substitution using coconut oil and coconut butter whenever possible. I haven’t utilized the whole grain flours as much as I should, but that is another great idea to implement. My husband and I love our desserts at night, but we keep it dairy free and as low in sugar as we can. Thanks for the great tips and motivation.

    • http://wholenewmom.com/ Adrienne @ Whole New Mom

      You’re welcome! It sounds like you’re doing a great job! Keep up the good work!

  • Amy Anderson

    These are great tips. Now I just need a way to stay out of the candy drawer at work!

    • http://wholenewmom.com/ Adrienne @ Whole New Mom

      I have to keep out of things in the pantry. I think we all have that problem!

  • Lauren

    I do some of these but if you’re working with a heart-healthy diet, things like coconut and palm oil are to be avoided. I almost always just substitute all or most of the oil with fat free yogurt or applesauce. I also use egg substitute instead of ‘real’ eggs and with a little tweaking, we can’t tell much difference when eliminating the oil

    • http://wholenewmom.com/ Adrienne @ Whole New Mom

      Hi Lauren. I know that that’s the common thought about coconut and palm oil but there is a lot of information out now showing that, in fact, these oils are healthy. I personally used to substitute all of my oils (or almost all) with applesauce and found that the fats were necessary to balance blood sugar. And depending on which egg substitute you are using, a lot of them are full of chemicals, so I would be careful with those as well.

      I don’t at all say these things to say that “I am right” — for that is completely how I used to eat. I have done a lot of studying in the past number of years and while I don’t eat a high fat diet now, I am for as natural as possible and try to eat enough healthier, whole fats, to keep my blood sugar at a good level.

      If you have any questions or more thoughts, I’d be glad to hear them – thanks for sharing :-)!

  • http://wholenewmom.com/ Adrienne @ Whole New Mom

    Thanks, Jill! You’re right about that tip being the simplest :-)!

  • http://21stcenturyhousewife.com/ April Harris

    These are wonderful, do-able tips! Thank you for sharing them, as well as your delicious healthier dessert recipes!

    • http://wholenewmom.com/ Adrienne @ Whole New Mom

      Thanks, April! Let me know if you try any of them!

  • http://twitter.com/apriljharris April Harris

    There are some great tips and recipe links in this post. I like that you suggest small steps forward to help make big changes :)

    • http://wholenewmom.com/ Adrienne @ Whole New Mom

      Thanks April. My steps sure were small….wish I’d gone a little faster now in retrospect :-).

  • http://wholenewmom.com/ Adrienne @ Whole New Mom

    I’m just starting to do that. Have you used coconut flour yet?

  • http://wholenewmom.com/ Adrienne @ Whole New Mom

    Thanks. Maybe we can connect about a post in the future. Just had a moment to check out your blog….Thanks for stopping by.

  • http://wholenewmom.com/ Adrienne @ Whole New Mom

    Thanks for stopping by! Sorry – I just saw your comment now. I will try to make it to your hop.