Sweet Science: Using “Metabolic Power Ingredients” To Create the Healthiest and Most Decadent Desserts!
New York, NY (PRWEB) September 06, 2012
Kelley Herring of the Healing Gourmet, is the world’s leading provider of organic, sustainable gluten free recipes and meal plans for health and weight loss. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of a four-book series published by McGraw-Hill including: Eat to Fight Cancer, Eat to Beat Diabetes, Eat to Lower Cholesterol and Eat to Boost Fertility. For more than 10 years, Healing Gourmet has provided life-saving education to readers about the benefits of a natural diet… and the proven power of foods and nutrients to promote health and protect against disease.
In her dessert book, Guilt Free Desserts written with today's health conscious consumer in mind, one will find how to :
- Sweeten naturally with erythritol, xylitol, stevia and palm sugar
- Create grain-free desserts that have all of the feel-good flavors and comfort qualities, with none of the fat-storing carbs or allergens.
- Use the healthiest fats to create meltingly moist treats that fight free radicals
- Replace grain-based flours with nut flours and beans
- Bind your desserts without eggs, making your treats vegan and allergen-friendly too
- Make delicious ice creams and creamy desserts… without the use of dairy
- Reduce the calories in your healthy desserts using veggie & fruit purees.
Healthy Flours: Better for Blood Sugar & Gluten Free Too
The first step in making healthier baked goods is to take a close look at the flour you use, according to Herring. Many bakers now choose whole grain flours over refined white flours. However, whole grain flours are still very high in carbohydrates and score high on the glycemic index. High glycemic foods cause your blood sugar to spike, raising insulin levels. Your blood sugar is directly linked to nearly every chronic disease including diabetes, cancer, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, obesity, macular degeneration, PCOS and many more.
And because insulin is the “fat-storage hormone”, eating high glycemic foods promote weight gain too. To avoid that “muffin top” then stay away from grain based flours. And here’s another reason to avoid traditional flours: Most are made from wheat and contain gluten – an allergenic protein that causes health issues for many people.
Unfortunately, most gluten free flours and pre-made gluten free baking mixes use a combination of high glycemic ingredients like rice flour, potato starch, tapioca flour and sorghum flour. So while the gluten is missing, all the blood sugar-spiking effects are still there.
There are healthy, low glycemic, gluten free option to use: Nut flours. Nut flours are surprisingly versatile and lend buttery richness to all kinds of baked goods – from biscotti to cupcakes. And unlike grain-based flours, they are gluten free and low carb too. Here are the best nut flours to use in your baking according to Herring.
- Almond Flour: This staple flour can be used to create everything from fluffy pancakes to crispy cookies. Opt for “blanched” almond flour which contains no skins. Unblanched almonds can add an unpleasant aftertaste when baked.
- Coconut Flour: Coconut flour might look light and fluffy, but it is actually a dense, fiber-rich flour. A good rule of thumb is to use one egg for each tablespoon of coconut flour recipes.
- Hazelnut and Pecan Flour: These are richer nut flours that can be used in combination with almond flour to punch up the nutty flavor. They are great in pie crusts and cookies of all kinds.
Not only are most nuts an excellent source of protein and fiber, but research shows they can help with weight loss and diabetes too. In fact, research shows that eating as little as 70 calories from nuts can go a long way to prevent overindulging. That’s because eating good fats stimulates the production of a hormone called cholecystokini that tells the brain it's had enough to eat. It also keeps one feeling full by slowing the emptying of the stomach.
Almost any nut can be ground into a “flour”. It’s a great way to boost the nutrients and help to reduce the glycemic impact of your favorite desserts.
And nut flours aren’t the only low glycemic flour substitute to use...
Beans: A “Stealth” Ingredient for Springy, Moist Cakes
Yellow cupcakes made with cannellini beans… and a chocolate cake made with chickpeas?
Beans are one of the “secret” ingredients you’ll find in many of Herring's Gluten Free Desserts. Used properly, they provide light, springy structure, moisture and tenderness to baked goods. One word of caution: Baked goods made with beans can have a slight “beany” flavor for up to 12 hours after baking.
When using canned beans, opt for an organic brand that is in BPA-free cans such as edens Organics.
Along with canned beans, bean flours are another good option to have on hand.
Here are the most popular bean flours and how to use them:
- Garbanzo Bean Flour: Use 7/8 cup to replace 1 cup of wheat flour in baked goods.
- Black Bean Flour: Use as part of your baking mix for chocolate cakes and brownies.
- White Bean Flour or Fava Bean Flour: Mild in taste, white bean flour or fava bean flour are suitable for use in most recipes calling for white flour. Substitute 1/4 of the white flour for bean flour.
There is room for creativity with canned beans, bean flour and nut flours in baking!
CHLORINE IN THE COOKIE?
What about artificial sweeteners such as Splenda?
Because of its staggering popularity in low-carb diets and marketing as a “safe” sweetener for diabetics, is important that to know the truth about the danger of Splenda(sucralose).
The "made from sugar so it tastes like sugar” slogan has made Splenda® the nation’s number one selling artificial sweetener in a very short period of time. In fact, in a one year period, Splenda sales topped $177 M.
While it’s true that sucralose starts off as a sugar molecule, what one should be concerned about is the 5 step patented process that happens in the lab. Three chlorine molecules are added to a sucrose (or sugar) molecule. This type of sugar molecule does not occur in nature. Because of this, the body doesn’t have the ability to properly metabolize it. The manufacturers of Splenda® claim that be- cause of this “unique” biochemical make-up, it is not digested or metabolized by the body, and therefore has zero calories.
Now what about chlorine? While it seems like such a ubiquitous substance would be harmless, you may be surprised to find that the long-term residual effects from chlorine are becoming such a health hazard that the American Public Health Association http://www.apha.org) is urging the American paper industry to stop using chlorine. In fact, dioxin – a toxic byproduct of chlorine—was found by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be 300,000 times more potent as a carcinogen than DDT.
Another reason to be concerned is because few human studies of safety have been published on sucralose. One small study of diabetic patients using the sweetener showed a statistically significant increase in A1C, which is a marker of long-term blood glucose levels and is used to assess glycemic control in diabetic patients. According to the FDA, "increases in glycosolation in hemoglobin imply lessening of control of diabetes”.
Research in animals has shown that sucralose can cause many problems in rats, mice, and rabbits, ranging from shrunken thymus glands (up to 40% shrinkage) and reduced growth rate to fertility and pregnancy problems.
Herring encourages consumers to clear your of sucralose and all artificial sweeteners.
Low Glycemic Sweeteners: Sweetening Power that Won’t Sour Your Health
Who can resist a freshly-baked, meltingly delicious, chocolate chip cookie. The smell wafting out of the kitchen and the sight of their gooey goodness is just too enticing to pass up.
Unfortunately, many go through life indulging, only to suffer from post-dessert guilt and sugar-induced sluggishness. Or it can leave one feeling deprived for the sake of health and smaller waistlines.
But thanks to all natural, low glycemic sweeteners, desserts are back on the menu for the health and body conscious crowd – guilt free!
Unlike the chemical-laden, artificial sweeteners (like sucralose and aspartame) there are alternative natural sweeteners provide a powerful punch of sweetness, without the toxic side effects.
And because they are low glycemic, they won’t spike blood sugar the way sugar does.
Here’s the rundown on nature’s sweetest sugar substitutes:
- Erythritol: Considered the “almost sugar” by health experts and pastry chefs alike. Erythritol is a “sugar alcohol” with a glycemic index of zero and zero calories. It has no effect on blood sugar or insulin levels and is safe for diabetics. Erythritol is derived from corn and should be avoided by those with a corn allergy.
- Stevia: A super-sweet herb native to Paraguay that is up to 300X sweeter than sugar. Stevia is best used to increase the sweetness of a sugar alcohol, like erythritol, rather than the sole sweetener in a recipe. Pure stevia extract can be used sparingly.
- Xylitol: Like erythritol, xylitol is also a sugar alcohol. It has the same sweetness as sugar but with 40% fewer calories and a glycemic index of 11. Xylitol has a number of health benefits ranging from reducing cavities and Candida, to boosting bone health.
As most bakers know, sugar adds much more than just sweetness to a dessert. It provides bulk and moisture; it helps caramelize desserts, and can provide a crisp texture or crunch factor. It also acts as a preservative element, due to its ability to bind water.
Unfortunately, sugar also spikes blood sugar, rots teeth, promotes weight gain and encourages cancer growth.
Until now, replacing the qualities of sugar in dessert recipes has been all but impossible. But Herring has found the perfect formula for sweet synergy—two sweeteners that when combined are sweeter than either alone.
Using a combination of erythritol (which is 70% as sweet as sugar and provides the same bulk) plus stevia (a highly sweet element with no bulk), you can achieve the “sugary” results you desire in your recipes…with none of the guilt.
And it doesn’t just work in the recipes here in our book. You can do the same with your favorite family recipes. You’ll be amazed at the results and can fool even the most discerning dessert lover.
Let’s take a look at how sugar alcohols can be used in your baking.
What are Sugar Alcohols?
The name of these all-natural good-for-you sweeteners is as confusing as their sugary taste.
Sugar alcohols or “polyols” are not sugars...or alcohol. But their amazing no or low-calorie natural, sweetening properties just might leave you a bit giddy.
Erythritol's nutritional benefits include:
- All-natural (not an artificial sweetener)
- Clean, sweet taste, 60-70% relative to sugar
- Non-caloric—maximum 0.2 kcal/g
- Zero glycemic index
- Metabolizes independently of insulin
- Can help prevent tooth decay
Stevia: Nature’s Most Powerful Natural Sweetener
Stevia is a naturally sweet plant native to Paraguay. It is all-natural, contains zero calories, and has a zero glycemic index. Stevia has been used as a commercial sweetener in Japan and Brazil for more than 20 years.
Pure stevia extract is 300 times sweeter than sugar and can be used for any sweetening you desire—from your morning cup o’ joe to boosting the sweetness of your favorite brownie recipe.
The Importance of Organics
Organic foods are free of pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) which have a wide-range of health harming effects.
And while buying organic produce (especially the twelve most chemically contaminated fruits and veggies— “The Dirty Dozen”) is important, opting for organic animal products is absolutely essential. That’s because meats, eggs and milk products are a concentrated source of the foods (and chemicals) consumed by the animals that provide them.
For example, pastured eggs are higher in omega-3 and vitamin A than hens raised on grain in coops. Grass-fed dairy products have more beta-carotene and a healthy fat called conjugated linoelic acid (CLA) compared with grain-fed cows.
How about building a lean, calorie-burning, age-defying muscle with a Lemon-Ricotta Soufflé? With 10 grams of protein (and only 1 gram of sugar!) per serving, it can be done.
Why? Because protein stimulates fat burning directly. A high protein, low carbohydrate diet is the best way to activate a compound called glucagon, the “weight loss hormone”. Glucagon is essential for breaking down body fat. And the only way to encourage its production is to eat fewer carbs and more protein
When choosing proteins and fats, make sure they come from organic sources, and in the case of animal products, opt for those raised on their natural diet (i.e– grass-fed beef).
Healthy Fats for Baking: Get Slim By Eating Fat!
Fats provide moisture and tender texture to baked goods. They give rich mouth feel to soufflés, the silky finesse to mousse and golden, flaky goodness to pie crust. But what they do in the body is even more important than what they do in the kitchen.
Fats influence inflammation and metabolism. They affect how cells communicate with each other. They affect how genes express themselves! And when they are used at the wrong temperatures (above their flashpoint) they can cause oxidative damage that can mutate cells and encourage cancer.
But using the right fats, in their appropriate temperature range, is one of the best things to do for health. Healthy fats can help reduce inflammation, boost brainpower, discourage wrinkles and even flip the body’s fat-storage switch “off”.
Stock your pantry with these heat stable, REAL fats for delicious baked goods with benefits:
- Coconut Oil: Coconut oil provides rich, buttery flavor to your favorite baked goods.
Coconut oil is slow to oxidize and resistant to rancidity. It's also rich in medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) and lauric acid which kill a myriad of bacteria, protozoa and fungus, including Candida albicans – the fungus responsible for yeast infections. Because MCTs are not metabolized by the liver, they’re used as energy – not stored as fat. Be sure to buy high quality mechanically expressed virgin coconut oil from a reputable company.
- Palm Shortening: Another great alternative to traditional shortenings (that contain trans fat) or butter, palm shortening can help you achieve light, tender, flakiness you desire in crusts and cookies. Like coconut oil, it is resistant to rancidity thanks to its high saturated fat content.
- Grass Fed Butter & Ghee:
With its creamy flavor, high vitamin A content and versatility, butter can be used in almost any baked good. Be sure to choose organic, pastured/grass-fed butter that contains no hormones and the healthy fat CLA. Buy grass-fed dairy from your local farmer or look for Organic Valley Pasture Butter and Pure Indian Foods Grass Fed Ghee.
- Macadamia Nut Oil & Almond Oil: These light and delicious oils can be used in any recipe that calls for liquid oil (ie- melted butter, canola oil). Plus, they’re rich in inflammation-fighting and belly-flattening monounsaturated fat.
The fats to avoid in your baking include hydrogenated oils/trans fats (like Crisco) as well as fats that are high in omega-6 including: vegetable oil, corn oil, canola oil, peanut oil, grapeseed oil, and soybean oil.
Why avoid these oils? Because omega-6 fats promote inflammation and encourage weight gain. They also oxidize easily, adding a hefty dose of free radicals to your cooking. Stick with the stable, healthy fats we noted above for your healthy desserts.
These are just some of the principles and lessons of how to cook gluten-free, allergen-free with belly-flattening and calorie-torching tips, recipes and suggestions in her online gluten free dessert recipe book by nutritionist Kelley Herring of the Healing Gourmet which lists recipes of gluten free breads, gluten free cheesecake and gluten free scones which are ideal for celiacs and anyone wanting to have a cleaner and more revitalizing diet.