Making cakes healthier

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Just like bread (ranging from croissant to 12 grains), the cake can also be a concorde, or a modest muffin, but with the right coverage, and using ingredients that do well. Ready for this challenge? Everything you need: open your head – and let go! – for some ingredients a little unusual …
When trying to improve the nutritional value of a recipe (and attention: this does not mean reducing calories!), The tips will always be the same: look for sugars and flours that are not refined, add functional ingredients – seeds, nuts, dried fruits – decrease the amount of sugar from industrialized products (such as chocolate and syrups) and, always, add fruit in any remaining corner. These measures will help in several things, some very difficult for many of us, but that make all the difference in a diet that seeks to be healthier: consuming more fiber, more fruit, more protein and less “bad” fats. The tips given here are for cakes, but they are valid for any recipe, especially for breads, pastas and pies.
We can start by replacing a part of the flour. How about tasting a whole wheat today? Or a more exotic flour, like buckwheat or quinoa? “Flour of what” is at your discretion, as long as it is integral: the refined ones, so that they are white, go through processes that remove the husk of the cereals, thus losing a large amount of fiber and other nutrients. Start by replacing half, but if you want, you can increase the quantity! Flours that make great cakes: oats, potato starch (gluten free!), Spelled flour, soy flour …
Like flour, sugar also suffers losses when it is refined… The healthiest product in this category is, of course, brown sugar, which is the closest to sugarcane juice: dark and moist, tastier than the refined sugar, but also less sweet. Therefore, the ideal is to replace only half (and the other half can be replaced by organic or demerara sugar, which will add caramelization properties to your dough, you know, that crunchy cake crust …) – To learn more about all types of sugar, click here.
You can also substitute sugar for honey or agave, but always look for quality products and read the labels to ensure that you are not taking honey with added sugar or syrup, for example. For the famous “bolo de nada”, it pays to replace some of the sugar with honey, and try different flowers: each one will slightly flavor your cake!
Still in the “sweeten” category, something that is very sweet, rich in nutrients, and we ignore it: dried fruits. I’m not talking about the pineapples and strawberries that are even crunchy with so much added sugar, but the good old apricots, raisins, dates… In addition to being a “bomb” of candy inside the cake, when heated, these fruits release all their sweetness whatever is around them. They can be added to any cake recipe, but a combination that is guaranteed success: oats and raisins!
Talking about dry fruits, they are the perfect pair of chestnuts, which, in addition to enhancing your cake, are rich in “good” fats, which help to increase good cholesterol (which helps to eliminate bad and protects arteries). Use sparingly, because, in excess (like everything in life, even whole cake …), it is also harmful.
If you have difficulty consuming pure chestnuts (some people think they are too oily or don’t like the taste, preferring sweet or salty ones, which needless to say they are bad for health AND for the diet), making a cake is a great excuse to devour them: use bites, or use chestnut flour mixed with the dough. Abuse of the classic combinations: apple and nuts, banana and almonds …
Other functional foods that are difficult to consume and that look great in cake form: seeds. The most beneficial are sunflower, sesame and flaxseed. To enjoy the benefits, you can process them in a blender, or simply hammer them a little (or use a pestle, if you have one) to break them up well.
Is this conversation reminding you of your childhood, when your mother wanted to force you to eat vegetables? So, here’s some good news: the cocoa it’s also great for us! But it has to be 100% cocoa powder, with no added sugar. Exchange the chocolate powder or chocolate in the recipes for the same amount of 100% cocoa, which, in addition, will leave your recipe with a much more intense chocolate flavor!
We reached a controversial point: eggs and butter. Abuse of egg whites (that’s right! Egg whites are great, rich in protein and practically contains no fat … besides, when beaten in snow, they add air to the dough and guarantee fluffy cakes, even if they are made with 100% whole flour). If you can, try to take at least one yolk from your recipe (if you are going to use more than one egg), but don’t make a drama about them: think about how many pieces the cake will be divided and you will see that the egg is not a big problem . But as for butter: better not. Always prefer vegetable oils, especially canola, sunflower or corn oils (advice from my Aunt Alice: corn oil is the best oil for making cakes).
Finally, incorporate fruit on your cake – it can be in the dough, in the form of puree, in small pieces in the middle of the cake, underneath or on top of the dough – it gives a very special touch. You can also make a jam, jam or fruit coulis (choose ripe and seasonal fruits and you will see that they hardly need to add sugar) and use as a filling or topping… The advantage of this is that fruits also have a lot of sugar, which is highlighted when they are cooked, that is, more help for make your cake sweeter. Want to take 10 in the natureba item? Cake with vegetables! And I’m not talking about the classic-almost-beaten carrot cake … pumpkin, zucchini and even beet (in fact, for lovers of red velvet …) they give delicious cakes.
My main tip is not to let yourself be carried away by appearances … I know that at first these ingredients that I talked about here are not “pretty”, and some have a very striking taste. So I always recommend that you make gradual substitutions, try one ingredient at a time, so that it is not a shock. Over time, this “brownie” captivated me, and I fell in love with these ingredients with more intense flavors… If you don’t want to commit to a big cake, try this recipe for a 16cm shape: an intimate cookie to get to know new flavors … (And when you fall in love, just double the recipe).

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