Now that we are all at home confined by the situation of the coronavirus (COVID-19) , the bakery can become the perfect ally to spend a fun afternoon with the family. Generally, the confectionery tends to carry high amounts of sugar, refined flours and poor quality oil. But don’t worry because I’m going to show you several tips and ideas so that you can prepare delicious, easy and healthy pastry recipes without adding large amounts of fat or sugar.

What healthy options can I substitute for sugar?

We add sugar to our desserts to give flavor, color and texture and thus achieve greater acceptance of the product. However, we must also look at the other side of the coin. Sugar, according to the WHO, increases the total caloric density of the diet and endangers its nutritional quality because it provides us with a lot of energy, but few nutrients . This translates into an increase in weight of the population that ends up leading to high rates of overweight and obesity. It also contributes to the increase in non-communicable diseases such as dental caries, the most prevalent non-communicable disease worldwide 1 .

But we can ask ourselves, are all sugars the same? The answer is no. The WHO recommends a reduction in free sugars in the diet, understood as “monosaccharides (glucose and fructose) and disaccharides added to food and beverages , and the sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and juice concentrates. of fruits ” 1 . These free sugars are the ones that are added (sugar, honey, glucose, syrups…) to confectionery and pastry preparations, both homemade and artisanal, as well as those made industrially. Therefore, these types of sugars are the ones that we must learn to reduce and replace with another food that gives us a sweet taste without compromising the quality of our diet.

Here are some tips that you can put into practice if you want baking at home to become a healthy option:

1.Reduce the amount of sugar in recipes: in this way we will educate our palate not to need such sweet flavors. In addition, we can also make healthier sweets, with less added sugar, but just as rich!

2.Use fruit to sweeten: whole fruit, both fresh and dehydrated, gives us sweetness thanks to the healthy sugars found in the fruit. These types of healthy sugars are different from free sugars, which are those that are added externally. This will allow us to reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe, but without giving up the sweet taste we want.

Date paste: this healthy date cream will allow us to sweeten our desserts without the need to add sugar to our recipe. In this way, we will educate our palate to appreciate the sweetness of food without the need to add large amounts of sugar. In addition, it will also provide us with fiber, minerals and vitamins. It is important to bear in mind that, although it is a healthier sugar, its energy density is high . For this reason, its consumption should be moderate , within a varied and healthy diet.

Ingredients: 200g dates and 300ml of water.

Preparation: Remove the stone from the date. Chop the date into 2-3 pieces. Place it in a bowl and cover the date with hot water. Let it hydrate for about 20 minutes. Then, with the help of a strainer, strain the water and beat the dates until you get a paste. Add the water you need depending on how thick you want your date paste. Store in an airtight glass jar and use the date paste in the fridge for 3-4 days.

3. Add spices that increase the sweetness: there are countless spices that will help us give our desserts sweetness, and will allow us to reduce the amount of sugar . Like, for example, cinnamon sticks or powder, vanilla sticks or the essence, nutmeg, anise, turmeric, ginger, white pepper, cardamom, saffron …

4. Take advantage of the sweetness of vegetables and greens: Vegetables also contain healthy sugars that are present naturally. So they are also a good ally when it comes to adding flavor, texture and moisture to our desserts. We can add sweet potato, carrot, pumpkin, zucchini, potato … Imagination to power!

What oil should I use?

To make pastry recipes it is recommended to use a softer and more neutral oil. In general, we would use extra virgin olive oil or high oleic sunflower oil . Other oils such as virgin coconut or seed oils, although they are not as common in our more traditional recipes, could also be used and would provide a different and interesting flavor.

As for the type of olive oil, each one has its own particularity. In this case, we are interested in buying one with a mild, fruity and sweet flavor . Among the different varieties that we can find, the Arbequina variety is the one that stands out for having a sweeter taste and fruity aromas, which makes it perfect for baking.

Any type of flour worth?

In a varied and balanced diet, the consumption of whole grains and whole grains should be guaranteed . What does this mean? That in general you include wholegrain products in your diet (wholemeal bread, brown rice, wholemeal pasta, wholemeal flour …). One way to introduce this type of whole grains into your diet is to substitute the usual refined refined flour with whole grain or whole grain flour , whichever cereal you prefer. Remember that there is a world apart from wheat flour and there is a great variety of cereals apart from wheat, such as spelled, oats, rice, corn….

A whole grain cereal is a nutritional wonder. It stands out for having a high content of fiber, antioxidants, B vitamins and vitamin E, phytonutrients and minerals such as iron, zinc, copper and magnesium . These nutrients are found in the 3 layers that make up the cereal: the bran, the germ and the endosperm. To transform a whole grain into a refined cereal, what is done is to eliminate the bran and germ layer, leaving only the endosperm. This causes much of the fiber, vitamins and minerals of the cereal to be lost, and therefore it loses nutritional quality.

Next, I am going to give you a series of healthy recipes in which you can introduce these ingredients. They are perfect to do these days at home with the help of the little ones in the family. Take advantage!

Healthy crepes with strawberry cream 

Ingredients for healthy crepes (4 people): 2 ripe bananas, 160g rolled oats, 3 medium eggs, 200 ml of milk or unsweetened vegetable drink, 1 tablespoon of date paste, ½ teaspoon of salt, 200 ricotta cheese , 200 g strawberries.

Preparation of healthy crepes: In a bowl, mix the bananas, oatmeal, eggs, milk, salt and sugar. Blend it well until it is a smooth mixture. In a frying pan, add a few drops of oil and spread with a brush. Next, prepare the crepes. Use a ladle as a measure and when the pan is hot, add the batter. When it starts to bubble, flip it over. So on with all the crepes.

To make the homemade strawberry cream ; in a bowl put the ricotta. Wash and chop the strawberries. Add them to the bowl and beat well with the help of a blender. Reserve cold until you are going to eat it. You can let your imagination fly when filling the crepes

Homemade Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Muffins

Ingredients (10 homemade muffins): 500g of sweet potato, 100 g of dates, natural yogurt without sugar, 120 ml of milk, 20 g of olive oil, 2 eggs, 1 packet of baking yeast, 1 coffee spoon of salt, 100 g of chocolate chips with a minimum of 72% cocoa, 250 g of whole spelled flour.

Preparation of homemade muffins: Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Pit the dates and in a glass cover them with hot water and let them hydrate for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, roast the sweet potato and reserve. Grind the dates without the water. In a bowl, add all the liquid ingredients (sweet potato, natural yogurt, date paste, milk, olive oil and eggs) and with the help of a hand mixer, blend well, until a homogeneous dough is left. In another bowl, add all the dry ingredients (yeast envelope, salt, chocolate chips and spelled flour) and stir with the help of a spatula. Then mix the two masses. Paint the muffin molds with a little olive oil and fill them with the batter. Bake for 30 minutes at 180 ºC.

Healthy apple cake 

Next I am going to propose a different, healthier version of the typical yogurt cake. We have already shown you healthy cake options before, like this healthy kiwi cake . In this case, to version the traditional sponge cake we will use whole wheat flour, date and apple paste. The reference measure will be the yogurt container. On other occasions we already show you how you cover. 

Ingredients for the homemade apple cake (4-5 people): 3 large eggs, 1 creamy natural yogurt without sugar, 1 measure of olive oil, 1 measure of date paste, 3 measures of whole wheat flour, 1 coffee spoon of salt, 1 sachet of baking powder, 1 dessert spoon of vanilla essence and 1 apple.

Preparation of the healthy apple cake: In a bowl put all the liquid ingredients (eggs, yogurt, oil, vanilla and date paste). Beat them with the help of a hand mixer. Add the dry ingredients, first of all add the flour, use a strainer to sift the flour. This will prevent lumps from forming. Then add the salt and baking powder. Mix it well until it is a homogeneous mass. Paint the container that you will use to make the cake with a little olive oil. Take a tablespoon of date paste and toss it into the bottom of the container, like a caramel. Peel and cut the apple into 0.5 cm slices and place them at the base of the container. Add the dough and bake for 170 about 25 minutes.

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