Guest Blog: 5 Baking Hacks to Make Desserts Healthy

Friday, August 26, 2016

Chef Vanessa Musi
Desserts don’t have to be fattening or full of sugar. Pastry chefs around the world are discovering that the fourth course can be just as delicious without processed, high-fructose ingredients. Chef Vanessa Musi of Austin, Texas is one such baker. As the first healthy pastry chef since 1994, she’s been redefining the way we make desserts by adapting them for hypoglycemic, vegan, paleo and gluten-free diets. The hacks below are some of Chef Musi’s favorite ways to adapt everyday sweets into wholesome, yet heavenly pastries.

1. Ditch the White Flour

Flour power, not so much. While you probably know by now that white flour is devoid of any nutrition, you might not realize that it can actually increase your risk for diabetes. Yikes. Although wheat flour is the obvious substitution, you can make desserts paleo and gluten-free by using almond flour or coconut flour instead. Chef Musi likes to use a combination of the two for optimal texture and flavor. Check out this paleo pumpkin cake recipe as an example of the two-flour technique.

2. Substitute Peanut Butter

Need a guilt-free version of the peanut butter cookie? Swap out the P for almond butter – it’s higher in healthy fats, vitamins and fiber. And in addition to all those benefits, almond butter has the same thick, creamy texture as peanut butter, so you won’t miss a thing. Want to get more experimental? Try tahini. It’s made from sesame seeds and has lower sugar and saturated fat than peanut butter. Healthy pastry chefs are going nuts for it right now.

3. Heal With Lavender

Sweets don’t have to make us feel sluggish. In fact, they can soothe us. After all, we’re most likely to eat a dessert right before bed, so why shouldn’t it have some calming properties? Lavender is becoming popular in healthy pastries because it’s good for our well-being. Among its many health benefits are reducing stress, improving sleep and balancing blood sugar. All are good things. Lavender has a strong taste, so you’ll want to use it sparingly and combine with other flavors like lemon. Take a peek at this lemon lavender spelt cake that does just that.

4. Add Superfoods

Who says you can’t sneak a few nutrient-rich spoonfuls into your sweets? Try mixing wholesome ingredients into your desserts for extra energy and vitality, like hemp seeds, turmeric, cinnamon, and maca powder. Chef Musi likes to toss in golden berries and cayenne pepper for an extra healthful boost and savory taste.  This paleo phat fudge recipe is so full of superfoods that you could eat it as a post-workout recovery snack.

5. Leave Out Sugar

Sugar is kind of the worst; we know that. But what to use instead? Maple syrup is a slightly healthier substitution, but still has a moderate glycemic impact. If you really want to cut out the sweet stuff, try brown rice syrup, which is even lower in fructose. It can be difficult to bake with, however, so you’ll need to warm it up before using.  If you have a restrictive sugar-free diet, you can also try a natural sweetener with no artificial ingredients or preservatives, like Swerve.

As with everything, eat sweets in moderation, even the healthy kind. Be sure to pick up your Livliga LivSpoons to create mouthwatering desserts for guests at your next dinner party.

About the Author

Avery Shackelford is a writer and creative consultant living in Austin, Texas. Her favorite food is definitely pizza, and she likes to think that adding a heap of vegetables on top makes it somewhat healthier. Give her a shout at

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