Making Desserts with Less Processed Sugar

Almost all of us love desserts!

Desserts are often loaded with processed sugar, making them a not-so-healthy treat. But there are ways to make desserts using less processed sugar, without sacrificing taste. Here are some tips for making healthier desserts that the whole family will enjoy.


Cut back on your processed sugar intake by incorporating delicious, unrefined sugars (naturally smart sugars) in your desserts. Natural “smart sugars” like coconut sugar, maple syrup, honey, dates, sorghum and molasses are all delicious and nutritious alternatives to overly processed white sugar. These delicious natural sweeteners can enhance the flavor of baked goods and give you a more wholesome treat. Plus, they often contain valuable nutrients such as zinc, potassium and magnesium that when consumed in moderation can help satisfy cravings without filling you with empty calories. So why not try using less processed sugar (naturally “smart sweeteners”) in your favorite desserts? Your taste buds – and metabolism – will thank you!


There are many sugar substitutes out there but most of those are processed also. There have been no studies conducted, at the time of this writing, indicating long-term health effects. Why risk using unknown/new fad sugars? My suggestion is to use “smart sweeteners” which will reduce health risks by consuming excess processed sugars greatly.

One recipe that we will do in the next blog post is mini Pavlovas. I’m actually experimenting with this recipe now so that we can add it to our kids cooking club and holiday baking programs. It is important to note that when using these alternatives, the amount of temperature, the ratio of smart sugar to another ingredient, and the cooking time may be adjusted. But your experimenting will pay off big time. Taste really won’t be affected and you will be a “family hero” just for trying.

Natural wild honey varies in flavor based on where it came from. Let adventures begin!

For example, when substituting honey for sugar in a recipe, use only half or two-thirds of the amount of sugar called for in a recipe because honey is sweeter than sugar. Additionally, if using honey, dates or maple syrup for baking it is important to reduce the oven temperature by about 25 degrees Fahrenheit and increase the cooking time slightly. This will prevent burning the dessert or creating bitter notes.

Cheat Days

I must admit that the idea of a “cheat day” when dieting or building better health does sound intriguing. I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t want to “cheat” one day a week or two weeks from their new eating regiment. The trick is to balance it and not go overboard.

Step 1: What are your cravings and urges? Write them down and decide which one you want to “cheat” on.

Step 2: Only cheat “halfway”. This will keep you from going overboard in your indulgence!
For example, I had a date night with my wife and we split a $15 hamburger. They actually split it in the back and gave us two full salads instead of French fries. I thought that was great! My wife was happy and her comment was “It has been a while since I have had a really good hamburger. The size was just right.”

Step 3: Don’t be alone. No sneaking and piling a buffet plate 12 inches tall with stuff that you know most of it will end up in the rubbish heap. Have someone with you who can just be there to be sure you are enjoying the “cheat”.

Step 4: Enjoy the Cheat day! Honestly, one cheat is worth it. But more than that, again, go to Step 3, have someone with you to be sure you don’t decide that inflation is on your side with this “cheat day” session.

Step 5. Trust the process and commit to your new eating plan/regiment. Expect a day or two backward on the scale or being the same weight for a few days, but you may find you are happier and more committed to developing better health knowing that it’s OK to cheat once in a while.

Chef Scott is not a dietitian or nutritionist. He is a chef and educator. Chef Scott feels that people should try to enjoy what they are doing even if it first seems like “ugh” weightless or diet or eating healthy. Those kinds of lifestyle changes take time to develop.

Chef Scott and his wife, Sarah, have gotten into the plant-based food movement such as “Forks over Knives”. They won’t give up all meat proteins at this time, but they eat 95% less fried foods and have found that there is a way to enjoy more plant-based participants in their meals. The result has been they are losing weight and are healthier.

Sprouting Grains Increases Nutrition of Food

One of the hottest topics in culinary is using a technique called “sprouting”.

Sprouting is practiced in many parts of the world to improve the nutritional value of seeds, grains, nuts and legumes. Sprouting is when these food items are soaked between 24 hours and 3 days.

When I was young we learned to germinate or sprout seeds that were going into the garden using this technique.

To sprout seeds, grains, nuts or legumes, place the amount you want to use in a bowl and cover with water. Each day drain, rinse and replace the water with fresh. Usually, 3-5 days is all you need. This process also aids in digestion.

The process of sprouting has been said to increase nutrient content while decreasing anti-nutrients. This should provide many other health benefits. Antinutrients are plant compounds that reduce the body’s ability to absorb essential nutrients.

Antinutrients include calcium oxalate, lectins, tannins, which are a class of antioxidant polyphenols; protease inhibitors and phytate a.k.a. phytic acid.

Soaking and germinating are great methods for reducing these antinutrients. Below are some studies that show soaking will reduce these antinutrients by 9-30% They found this to be true with leafy greens as well, such as spinach.

Boiling, by far was the best technique to lower the antinutrients by more than 60%

Even better, use a combination of techniques like sprouting then boiling which can remove antinutrients by up to 95%.

Fermentation of food products such as yogurt, cheese, coffee, cocoa and soy sauce helps reduce antinutrients. How about making a batch of sourdough bread. Making this effectively degrades antinutrients in the grains, leading to an increased availability of nutrients.

Look at all of these studies showing that sprouting, soaking, fermentation and cooking grains reduce the bad stuff while increasing the availability of good things for our bodies. Plus, these naturally processed foods taste great and can be made with lots of variety.

Explore these food preparations and cooking techniques on grains, nuts, seeds and legumes and give us a response. Your body will thank you for it, especially your taste buds.

Sprouting instructions

NIH article about how our bodies digest quinoa

Soaking, boiling, and antinutritional factors in peas

Phytate in food and significance for humans

Making bread with sourdough

Germination and fermentation of cereals

Effects of germination on soy-beans