Make Your Favourite Recipe Healthier!!

September 14, 2011 by in General / 0 Comments

Do you have a favourite cake, cookie or casserole?  Your most treasured comfort food?  Does it make you cringe when you gobble down a second portion because according to the “powers that be” it’s full of artery clogging ingredients?  Or is it full of nothing but empty calories?

There is a way to modify your recipe so that it becomes more nutritionally dense.  I was more than shocked when the flavour factor of my prized Banana Chocolate Cake was bumped up after I altered the ingredients.  I now NEVER make it the “old fashioned” way!

How can a cake be healthy?  I am proposing that you still shouldn’t sit down and eat a whole cake folks.  It’s still cake for heavens sake!  However by increasing the amount of fibre and decreasing the amount of sugar, using organic ingredients and substituting gluten free options your “family favourite” can still be delicious and certainly more “nutrifying” for your body.

Here are some suggestions….

Substitute organic whole spelt flour for wheat flour.  That increases the fibre content as well as all of the nutrients that are lost when we remove the grain’s seed coat.  Spelt flour also has less gluten and is therefore easier on the digestive system.  For a gluten free option use brown rice flour. There are tons of different flours out there.  You can even experiment with grain free flours by grinding up almonds, filberts or other nuts.
Tip:  It may be challenging if the thing that you are making has a dry consistency already because rice flour results in a “short” dough therefore your end result is more crumbly.  With my cake which is moist and dense to begin with the results are fabulous!

Work with your sweetener.  White sugar has been shown to have detrimental effects of your teeth and pancreas.  Artificial sweeteners are a whole other bag of tricks.  Right off the bat I decrease my sugar by 25% and potentially work down from there.    The easiest thing to do is to buy an organic cane sugar and use as little as you find palatable.  To get more adventurous look for a sweetener that is more natural like honey, maple syrup or that has a lower glycemic index like rice syrup, stevia and the newest arrival coconut sap!!
Tip:  All sweeteners have a different “sweet factor”.  For instance honey is sweeter than conventional table sugar so therefore you don’t need as much.  With the liquid sweeteners it adds more moisture to a recipe containing rice flour to counterbalance the “shortness” effect.

Use a healthier fat:  Remember that fat doesn’t make you fat by default!  We need fat for our brain, for our skin, for our hormones and neurotransmitters (substances that allow cells to talk to each other).  It’s still not good to eat fat by the pound but fat is essential in our diet and there are better choices out there.  When baking there are times when I use BUTTER!!!  It’s delicious and in moderation with an active lifestyle I have the belief that the spiritual experience of eating a butter cookie outweighs all else.  What are some other options?  Olive oil has had tons of press but there are other less know oils that are worthy of attention.   Grape seed oil which is really light in the flavour department is produced right here in Canada.   Coconut oil is extremely beneficial both inside and out – it can be massaged into your skin with great benefits.  All of the nut and seed oils although expensive are ideal for raw applications like salad dressing and bread dipping.
Tip:  for the liquid and moisture factor that fat provides you can substitute ingredients like applesauce and mashed banana while the healthy fats can be provided by adding nuts and seeds to your recipe for instance walnuts, pecans, sesame or the latest and greatest… hemp seed.

My biggest suggestion is get creative.  Sometimes your creation might not look so pretty but rarely is it inedible.  You can always cover it with a yogurt or sour cream substitute for whip cream.  😉

Send me your modifications!!  Post them in “Comments”.  I love to learn from others’ creativity!!
I’ll answer question as best I can.Happy cooking!

Here’s what I did…

Sheryl’s Famous Banana Chocolate Cake 
***My substitutions are in the column on the right

Original Ingredients                        Substitutions 


1 cup white sugar                               3/4 cup organic sugar
1 cup mashed banana                         same
1/2 c butter                                        1/2 cup organic butter
2 eggs                                                2 omega eggs
1 1/2 cups wheat flour                        1 1/2 cups organic brown rice flour
1 tsp baking powder                           same
1/2 tsp baking soda                            same
1/4 tsp salt                                         1/4 tsp Himalayan salt
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips              1/2 cup bitter sweet chocolate chips
                                                         1/2 cup pecans

1. Cream butter and sugar
2. Add beaten eggs and mashed banana
3. Separately combine all dry ingredients and fold into wet
      Don’t over mix.
4. Pour batter into pan – I usually use a bundt.
5. Bake at 350’F until top springs back and tooth pick comes 
     out clean – around 40 minutes