July 29, 2012

The Skinny Baker's Kitchen

With a few simple tricks and ingredient replacements, anyone can transform traditional desserts into healthy alternatives. Cutting calories and fat can be tricky in some recipes as you need to get the balance right to make moist cakes, creamy sauces, puffed meringues and flaky pastry. Once you learn the skinny baking techniques, you will be able to create and make your own healthy treats that taste as good as their traditional counterparts. Here is my list of basic principles that can help achieve success in a skinny kitchen:

1. Use good quality ingredients.
The better quality ingredients you use in your baking and dessert making, the more tasty the finished product will be; it can make all the difference in modifying a traditional recipe. This can mean the ingredients will be more expensive at times but baked goods are often for special occasions and I think feeding your family nourishing food is not something to be compromised. I like to buy my ingredients from organic markets and speciality stores.

2. Your basic alternatives.
There are some foods that make the perfect alternatives to traditional high-fat, high-calorie ingredients like butter and sugar. I like to use Greek yoghurt and low-fat cream cheese to replace butter as they have the same moistening properties, without the fat content. I also use Natvia, a sweetener made from Stevia, which has significantly fewer calories than sugar. In many recipes, you can simply cut down the amount of butter and sugar used to lower calories and fat; I find recipes for cakes often work out with similar results when you use half the recommended butter and sugar. Low-fat milks can be used to add liquid when butter is reduced.

3. Get creative with your ingredients.
I love to add different ingredients to my baking to make a recipe more special - for example, make a cookie recipe with dried blueberries and cherries, add some cinnamon and nutmeg to a fruit loaf, grate orange zest in your custard recipe or top your carrot cake with toasted pinenuts.

Your most important ingredients in the skinny pantry

These ingredients are essential for a skinny chef as they help create the perfect skinny sweet treats.

  • Reduced-fat cream cheese and Greek yoghurt are great replacements for butter and perfect for making guilt-free cheesecakes.
  • Milks - including almond milk, soy milk and dairy skinny milk. These add moistness to recipes without increasing the fat content. 
  • Sugar replacement such as Natvia, which is my personal favourite as it is made from Stevia, a natural sweet plant. It doesn't contain chemicals like many other products.
  • Spices and essences are great ways of boosting flavours in desserts without any effects on fat and calories. Vanilla beans and fresh spices are also nice for special occasions.
  • Sugar-free dark chocolate is a great addition to chocolate recipes.
  • Nut butters are a great base for making cookie recipes. I buy peanut, almond and cashew nut butters.
  • Egg whites are low in calories and fat and don't just create meringues, they help add lightness to cake recipes. 

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