In the final blog of our baking series I’m covering how to ‘pimp your baking’ and some add extra nutrients. This could be anything from vegetables in your cookies or cakes, antioxidants in your puddings and pies or adapting recipes to help them fit your macronutrient needs. Once you have experimented with alternative flours and different healthy sweeteners, the icing on your bake is to add some nutrient dense foods like spices, cocoa and coffee to make your recipe comply with your own personal nutrition needs. Here are three simple steps to pimping your bake:
1) Add Veggies To Your Bake
Veggies can be an great addition to any dessert by offering fibre and added vitamins and minerals making them more hormone friendly and replacing more refined ingredients like sugar and flour.
Carrots, beetroot, parsnips, butternut squash and courgettes all add flavour and texture to cakes, keeping them moist. Carrots are one of the most obvious options and we have an awesome Carrot and Ginger Loaf you can test out, perfect warm from the oven with a little butter. Parsnips are a little more unique and might not be everyone’s choice, but they work well with dried fruits, ginger and cinnamon. Courgettes are ideal for a light, moist cakes and muffins. Sweet potatoes are fantastic as their sweet, rich flavour decreases the need for added sugar, like carrots they pair well with cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.
Beetroots are an awesome superfood, especially when it comes to performance nutrition. The benefit is thought to be related to the nitrates in beetroot which turn into nitric oxide and improve stamina and exercise tolerance. Beetroots also offer betaine which helps protects cells from environmental stress and fight inflammation. The betalin pigments in beetroot also support the body’s phase 2 detoxification process. Beetroot pairs wonderfully with chocolate and can be used to make a moist, fudgey chocolate cake (we’re working on a yummy recipe for our second Fitter Food recipe book which we can’t wait to share with you!).
2) Add Antioxidants
Carotenoids are one of the most studied groups of antioxidants and these include beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin. The beneficial effects of carotenoids are their antioxidant capacity and ability to quench free radicals which damage our cells and lead to inflammatory diseases and ageing. Beta-Carotene can also be converted to vitamin A. One of the best sources of lycopene are tomato and tomato products, however, a variety of fruits and vegetables also contain lutein. Egg yolks are a highly bioavailable source of lutein and zeaxanthin.
Lycopene: protects against prostate cancer, heart and lung disease.
Sources: guava, melon, strawberries, mango and grapefruit.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin : is highly concentrated in the structures of the eye including the macula, retina, lens and optic nerve. It helps block out blue light which is the principle cause of light-induced damage to the eyes. It helps prevent vision loss and lower the risk of cataracts.
Sources: egg yolks, kiwi fruit, grapes, spinach, courgettes and butternut squash.
Vitamin C is an important antioxidant but increasingly important within our nutrition to support detoxification and adrenal health. Our adrenals need vitamin C to function optimally and as we continually overwork these tiny glands with stress hormone production and energy output our need for this vitamin is ever increasing. Easy bruising and bleeding gums is a common sign of vitamin C deficiency (scurvy). One issue with vitamin C is that it degrades easily, once you cut the fruit or vegetable and expose it to oxygen the clock is ticking (so don’t buy pre-chopped fruit or vegetables, they’re pretty much devoid of vitamin C). Heat will also destroy vitamin C so the easiest way to add this to your desserts and bakes is to have a side of some fresh berries or slice fresh fruit on top of a mousse, trifle or tart after it’s been cooked. Also squeezing fresh lemon or lime juice into cream or coconut milk to top your dessert is a delicious vitamin C hit.
The best fruit based sources of vitamin C include papaya, strawberries, pineapple, organges, kiwi or freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice.
Other Ace Antioxidants
The following are also packed with antioxidants and easily lend themselves to various bakes, biscuits and bars:
- Green or black tea
- Ginger (fresh or powder)
- All spice
- Black pepper
3) Make It Fit Your Macros Or Elimination Diet
You can easily make a few simple swaps to any standard recipe to help it serve your macronutrient needs. This includes swapping in some protein powders in place of flour. We’ve done this with our Warrior Loaf recipe and Breakfast Power Muffins.
Sunwarrior rice protein powder (rice I repeat the RICE one not the cranberry warrior blend) lends itself really well to recipes as it’s sweetened with stevia there’s little need for added sugar. You can use any unsweetened varieties and select your own sweetener as per our guide. As protein powders are missing gluten which acts like ‘glue’ and helps to bind ingredients you can use tapioca flour instead to fulfill this role if making cookies or a loaf.
You can also transform a baking recipe into a high fat, lower sugar version by changing a grain based flour to ground almonds, flaxseeds or coconut flour, we’ve done this with our Cookie Dough Bites and Chocolate Chip Almond Cookies.
If you are following a low carbohydrate diet then liquid stevia, xylitol and erythritol would be your preferred sweeteners. If you wanted a liquid sweetener to replace honey you can use Vitafiber a low calorie sweetener that is predominantly fibre.
Also if you are following an elimination diet to resolve some food allergies or digestive issues you can make the following swaps from common allergenic foods to alternatives:
Cow’s milk: swap in coconut milk, almond milk or goat’s milk
Cream: swap in coconut cream (or pop a tin of coconut milk in fridge to thicken) or cashew butter
Butter: Swap in cashew, almond or coconut butter (coconut butter is flavourless we use Tiana)
Wheat: See flour alternatives, rice, buckwheat, tapioca, chestnut or potato flour are most popular
Eggs: Swap in 1tbsp ground flaxseed and 3tbsp water or 1/2 pureed banana or 1tbsp gelatine and 3tbsp warm water or 3 tbsp of pureed fruit (applesauce is one of the best) or 2 heaped tbsp potato starch.
Cocoa: swap in carob as an alternative.
So that pretty much concludes our Fitter baking series but fear not we’re always busy working away behind the scenes developing new healthy recipes based on nothing but awesome ingredients.
If you’ve enjoyed this series and are looking for more recipes and information on elimination diets, macronutrient guidelines, fat loss coaching, improving gut health or hormone balancing check out our brand new membership site Fitter 365. Your first month’s membership is just £1 and you get a FREE copy of our smoothie ebook which includes lots of advice about how to pimp a smoothie into a healthy nutrition hit. Grab a copy today, you won’t regret it!