Are Vegan Treats Healthier ?

It is obvious by now that I have a passion for healthy baking and creating new recipes or twisting existing recipes created by talented bakers to make them allergy friendly and enjoyable for everyone including people who do not have any food allergies, but simply want a healthier treat.  

I get many questions regarding vegan and gluten free baking; the most common ones are usually whether vegan cakes are healthier and have less calories and fat than normal ones.

Here is what I think about it; vegan baking can be really healthy… Only if you want it to be!

Vegan diet simply means : no animal products – Vegan is not the synonym of healthy –  Just like non-vegan goods, some vegan options are healthy and some are not. 

You might find the label “vegan” on your dessert, and think it is healthy but I recommend checking the ingredients before judging.  Some vegan desserts are loaded with unhealthy ingredients like corn syrup, sugar, unhealthy oil , margarine which have palm oil and so on … Vegan sugar is still sugar and vegan butter is still fat, so consume them the same way you would have traditional baked goods ;  with limited quantity.

Try to stick to the simple rule of ; what you see is what you get . We should make responsible choices about what to eat and how much as long as we are not consuming things without realizing it – hidden sugars, hidden salt and hidden ingredients that we can’t even pronounce. There is nothing wrong with eating sweet treats, as long as we know what they are and we enjoy them as such.

On the other hand, Vegan treats are healthier for the environment and they generally contain less saturated fats than non-vegan treats. Vegan baking allows us to experiment with healthy replacements to traditional ingredients that we are used to, like eggs, butter, whole / dairy milk and sugar.

I will compare each of the common traditional ingredients with their equivalent healthy vegan replacement;

1. Eggs vs flax seeds or chia seeds; flax seeds contain less fat than eggs and the fat that they contain is healthy unsaturated fat. They are also a great source of Omega-3 fats with is good for the heart. Same for chia seeds often referred to as “superfood”; they have a massive amount of nutrients and high in fiber. 

2. Whole milk versus almond/ coconut or other non-dairy milk   ; Dairy milk can provide essential proteins as well as vitamins and minerals but it is high in fat. Almond milk is lower in calories, fat and cholesterol (as long as you use the unsweetened) and it is a good source of vitamins A and D. Same for Soy Milk, which is made from plants  (soybeans). Coconut milk is higher in fat and calories than almond or soy milk but it is a great option for those have nut or soy allergies. 

3. Butter; butter is around 80% fat. It is high in saturated fat and calories. One tablespoon of butter is approximately same calories as medium size banana. Butter is known to be a high fat food that should be consumed with limited quantity. For healthier vegan replacements, you can substitute butter with coconut , olive or other vegetable oil (1 cup of butter for ¾ cup oil)

4. Refined sugar is addictive, so if you have sweet tooth, it can be hard to stay away from sugary treats and regulate your intake. For healthier options, you can replace the sugar with maple syrup, date sugar, coconut sugar, molasses or fruit sugar.

The bottom line is; the list of ingredients is the determining factor in whether or not a dessert is healthy. The key is a balanced diet, which means don’t eat cake too often like me 🙂 

A healthy diet is not about restricting ourselves from certain foods; it is about being mindful and conscious of what we eat.

Happy Baking xxx

Elly

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