It’s a couple of weeks into 2015, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve had trouble sticking to your resolution of eating healthy and getting fit this year. That’s why I’ve revamped one of my favorite dessert recipes into a healthy food you can indulge in—on occasion that is. This is my personal take on how to make banana bread. Better yet, this recipe is also gluten-free!
Fruit and nut breads can be both a blessing and a curse all at the same time. Sure, they can be a great source of fiber and healthy fat. But let’s be honest; you’re kidding yourself if you think eating banana bread is a substitute for bananas or carrot cake is a substitute for carrots! Ultimately, I’d prefer for you eat fresh fruits and vegetables. On the other hand, I understand that sometimes, we’re simply craving a little sugar. And that’s totally okay!
How exactly should you work healthy desserts into a healthy lifestyle? Here are simple tips so you can have your cake and eat it too (literally)!
How To Make Banana Bread (And Other Desserts) Part Of Your Everyday Healthy Diet
- Go For Quality—I’ll be honest when I say that for years, I used to constantly deprive myself of dessert. I was that token girl at a dinner party that wouldn’t dare touch the cake or ice cream that was served after dinner. In a way, not much has changed. I still try not to eat dessert on a regular basis. BUT when I do eat something sweet, I make sure it’s worth my while (and calories). I’ll often choose desserts are pretty complicated, things I wouldn’t really attempt to make them on my own (for instance, creme brulee), or I pick something that’s literally divine. I was in New York City once, and I don’t know how this happened, but I ended up at a ritzy dinner where one of the guests ordered a sundae that cost 2,000 dollars. Yes, 2,000 dollars. Apparently the sundae was coated in edible gold. Do you think I really passed up on that culinary experience? I enjoyed a few bites, marveled in the fact that that was probably the most expensive thing I ever had eaten (and will eat), and moved on with my life. The point is, go for quality. Don’t settle for some crappy milkshake at a fast food joint. Go for the real thing that might cost more, but totally be worth it.
- Strive For Balance—Most desserts are simply overloaded with too many sources of sugar. Take a slice of apple pie. Do you really need ice cream? Would you be happier with the pie, the ice cream, or maybe a smaller portion of both? Does that recipe really need chocolate chips AND coconut AND raisins AND three types of nuts? Chances are, not really. When eating dessert, strive for balance in the choices you make. Having pound cake with a little whipped cream and fresh fruit, for instance, is a much better choice than pound cake with ice cream and hot fudge.
- Moderation Is Key—Like I said earlier, I really don’t eat dessert that often. Sometimes I do struggle with sweet treats that are kept in my house for other family members, but for the most part I try to stay clear of the cookies or cakes. With that said, denying yourself of something you’re craving is no good either. Research shows the more you resist a food, the more you end up wanting it. So have dessert. But do so in moderation. Not every day. For some of you, not every week. Sugar has this nasty little habit of becoming addictive if you eat too much of it. Pick your battles and portion out your treats accordingly throughout the week/month.
- Experiment With Different Recipes—I learned early on that depriving myself was getting me nowhere when it came to dessert. In fact, often I’d reach a breaking point, binge on a massive load of sugar, then hate myself for a couple of days because of all the junk I ate. These days, I try to make healthy alternatives of some of my favorite desserts that I can enjoy in moderation (see guideline above). By adding more fruit instead of sugar or a milk/butter substitute, I feel more in control of what I’m eating. I’m no longer a victim to that sumptuous cookie laying on the kitchen counter. Healthy alternatives are a great way to work treats into your healthy eating plan without going totally off track.
- Make Changes That Don’t Affect Taste—Do you really need to use heavy cream in that recipe? Or could you get away with a little reduced-fat milk? When baking, you obviously don’t want to make any changes that significantly affect the quality or taste of what you’re making. But it doesn’t hurt to make changes that won’t take the overall taste or quality of the dish. I can often cut the sugar in a recipe by 1/3 and no one notices the difference. I also sometimes use coconut oil instead of butter. Experiment until you find the perfect healthy recipe that works for you
- Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff–So you lost control. It happens. Own it and move forward. I learned in my yoga class the other day that people spend so much time either dwelling in the past or thinking about the future. They rarely enjoy the present. And when you guilt-trip yourself over food or calories and all that other crap, you’re doing just that. So eat it, own it, and move forward. Don’t let an inanimate object like food hold you back from living your life.
Okay, so that about finishes my rant! And now, the recipe you’ve all been waiting for!
This banana bread is actually gluten-free! Because there’s so much natural fruit/sugar in this, it actually yields a very moist cake despite the flour alternatives. I like to use a combination of different flours, for the record, because I notice this is what creates the best taste and texture. Play around with different ratios of different flours if you’d like until you find the combination that suits your preferences. If you don’t have a gluten allergy, note that you can use 2 cups of all-purpose flour instead of the flour substitutes I have listed.
What are some of your favorite tricks to make desserts like cakes, cookies, brownies, and other delectable treats better for you? Comment below and let me know!