22 Aug 2016

Make your Cheat Days a Little Healthier

Nutrition Advice

Chocolate releases one of the more unique neurotransmitters called phenylethylamine, which causes changes in blood sugar levels, leading to feelings of alertness and excitement.

Cheat day treats are OK then, right?

With the rates of obesity in Australia (and the ramifications to our health) continuing to rise, the media sphere is continually littered with nonsensical food fads, quick-fix diets and not-so-healthy meal choices. Many of us have taken positive steps towards rectifying our relationship with food but still feel that guilty twang when our yearning for a sweet treat kicks in.

Healthy Desserts Aren’t an Oxymoron

Leading nutritionists believe that it is possible to reduce kilojoules, unhealthy fats and sugar from desserts without sacrificing flavour or texture. Spend wisely on quality products that add flavour like organic fruit, dark chocolate and ‘good oils’, and you’re also less likely to miss any of those nasty weight-gaining ingredients. There are loads of indulgent recipes out there and healthier substitutes you can consider that allow you to celebrate sweet treats as part of a balanced diet. Here are a few thought (and tastebud) starters:

Guilt-free alternatives

Try substituting butter with silken tofu (it sounds weird, but it’s taste-neutral) in your fudge – it’s got half the fat and is high in protein and calcium.

Add raw beetroot to your brownie batter – it adds sweetness and moisture and can reduce the sugar by (cup) loads.

Muffins or biscuits made with gluten-free alternatives (like almond flour) are health-conscious without scrimping on the flavour. Alternatively, replace white flour with whole-wheat flour, and you’ll be adding essential fibre to the mix.

Curb kilojoules in your cheat day treats by pumping up the produce in your batter. Add extra fruit to your banana bread or add pureed vegetables (or some finely grated turmeric) to your recipes.

Use skim milk in your smoothies, puddings and custards.

Opt for non-dairy frozen desserts and enjoy fresh fruits (like antioxidant-rich berries) with a dainty dash of low-fat cream or yoghurt and a sprinkling of nuts.

Dark chocolate – the darker, the better – can reduce cholesterol and lower blood pressure. Raw cacao power is also a great alternative and both are delicious full-fat substitutes.

Cheeky ingredients

Trim kilojoules in your cheat day treats by substituting egg whites for whole eggs.

Compared with sugar, rice malt syrup not only has a lower GI value but is fructose-free (great for those who are gluten intolerant). Manuka honey can also add a sweet kick (and is great for your immune system).

Different oils have different ‘smoking points’ (the temperate at which they begin to break down and lose flavour and nutritional value) and suit different cooking methods. For baking, olive oil, coconut oil and butter are best.

Sweet spices like cinnamon, nutmeg (buy whole and grind them up in your mortar and pestle), and vanilla bean are also wonderfully fragrant additions.

Like to boost your nutritional know-how? Find out the real facts on food with our 10967NAT Diploma of Nutrition.

Get in touch with AIPT today.

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