Ever wish you could have your cake and eat it too? By that I mean, do you ever wish you could still eat delicious and indulgent treats on a regular basis without compromising on your health and wellness goals? Well, friend, I’m right there with you and there is certainly a way to have both!
If you’ve been around for a minute, you probably know how my fitness journey started. For as long as I can remember until today, I’ve always had a sweet tooth. I remember carefree childhood memories of sitting on the couch snacking on Oreos watching Spongebob Square Pants and licking the bowl clean while my sister and I baked those boxed Betty Crocker vanilla cakes for any and every family celebration. For too many years, I was numb to the effects of consuming loads of these refined sugars and processed ingredients. It wasn’t until I was overloaded with weight gain, acne, and gut distress in my teens that I became enlightened to make some serious changes to my lifestyle.
Through years of fitness education, coaching clients one-on-one, and experimenting with my own cooking – I’ve cultivated my own nutritional philosophy on how to transform those craveable and (previously) off-limits sweets into high energy, nutrient dense superfoods. I don’t know about you, but I can be a little greedy. I was determined to find a way to simultaneously fuel and nourish my body in a tasty way without skimping on my health. I believe when we choose the best quality ingredients and prepare them in a thoughtful way, we can absolutely achieve flavor and satisfaction while staying on track with healthy habits. Here are a few ways you can begin to enjoy your sweets in a savvier way.
Vegetables are magical nuggets we could all probably use more of in our diet. Yes, they’re jam packed with vitamins, minerals, and essential micronutrients to keep us energized and boost our immunity – but there’s more! The key to enjoying sweets more regularly largely depends on moderating your portion. How do you do that in the most effortless and natural way possible? More vegetables. Grate some zucchini into your banana bread or add some roasted squash into your muffin batter. The veggies provide significant fiber that fill you up and satisfy your appetite for much longer than blowing through a bag of powdered doughnuts. By sneaking in a veggie into your sweet treats, there’s less space and need for processed flours and processed ingredients that creep into traditional desserts that only cost you an unhappy tummy and empty calories.
One of the first nutritional habits I tackle with just about every client is increasing their protein intake. This is probably the most influential macronutrient in our diet, yet it’s frightening just how protein deficient most people are. Protein is the foundational fuel to feed, strengthen, and maintain your lean muscle mass. The more lean muscle you have on your body, the healthier and leaner you are. If you want to enjoy the finer things in life (like sweets), add in extra eggs, collagen, or protein powders into your recipes. Similar to the effect of veggies, additional protein satisfies hunger to keep portion control at bay. Each bite of your protein-rich snacks ensures you are working towards more nutrient balance with each bite as opposed to maxing out on all sugar and carbs – which result in blood sugar spikes, energy crashes, and weight gain.
Fatten It Up
Are you ready for a myth buster? Plot twist: eating fats doesn’t actually make you fat. In fact, I will argue eating the highest quality fats can accelerate your fat loss and boost your metabolism. The problem with most store-bought and packaged sweets is their use of cheap, poor quality, hydrogenated oils. Beware of ingredient labels containing soybean, canola, and corn oil. These bad boys are prevalent in just about any kind of packaged food and are to be avoided like the Plague as they cause cardiovascular disease, IBS, Type 2 Diabetes, and worsen mental health illness. I love baking with organic, unrefined coconut oil and ghee as they are high smoke point sources of fat. That means, when they are cooked at high heats in the oven, their chemical compounds stay intact without damage so our bodies benefit from the highest nutritional value. Unlike the hydrogenated oils, these fats aren’t a superfluous shelf-life extender in your recipes. Rather, they actually enhance your food with cell-boosting energy and rich flavor!
Skip AP Flour
If you’re catching the theme here, the idea is to add in more of the good stuff and minimize the ingredients that don’t serve a purpose for your goals. For the majority of traditional sweets we deem as “unhealthy”, the ratio of nutrient-poor flours to refined sugars is shockingly high. Recreate your favorites in a healthier way by using more whole food-based flours. Some of my go-to’s are cassava flour, tigernut flour, and coconut flour. These are minimally processed with zero fillers. They offer more energy and fewer empty calories. All-purpose flours are also high in gluten which, for most, is highly-inflammatory causing gut discomfort, pain, and other unwanted symptoms. Alternative whole food flours eliminate this issue entirely so you can live your best life!
Leave a comment and let me know which of these tips stood out the most for you? Have you already incorporated some of these twists into your recipes? If you’re ready to get baking, be sure to check out my E-cookbook with sweet recipes galore here!