By Solana Nolfo, NLC
Want to take your baking up a nutritional notch? Here’s a super simple healthy baking hack: Add vegetables!
Baking is a creative and meditative activity that truly nourishes the soul—and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t nourish your body, too.
Maybe you’ve already replaced white flour with nutrient-dense flours, like those made from almonds or coconuts. Maybe you’ve already switched to healthier sweeteners like coconut sugar, dates, or raw honey.
Well, now that you’ve taken the unhealthy stuff out, it’s time to add nutritious ingredients in.
Here are some of my favorite ways to add healthy and delicious vegetables into your creations. Don’t worry—you don’t have to sacrifice a bit of sweetness.
Those roasted beets in your fridge (or even the canned ones in your pantry!) are pure magic when puréed in a food processor and blended with dark chocolate.
Consider them nature’s red velvet, versatile in cakes, cupcakes, bars and even pancakes. Beets lend moisture—which means that you can dial down the oil or butter—beautiful color, and natural sweetness. They’re also loaded with vitamin C, antioxidants, fiber, and other minerals and nutrients.
I love keeping baked sweet potatoes in the fridge to have for breakfast or to add to my salads. But when the baking mood strikes, I take one out, mash it up, and get happy.
Loaded with vitamins A, C, and plenty more (fiber, too!), sweet potatoes can be incorporated into desserts incognito, as they are in these chocolate cupcakes. They can also take center stage, as they do in these sweet potato pie cookies.
Zucchini is delicious roasted, baked, and noodled. But grate it and mix it into brownie batter, and you’ve got a real winner.
Just add about 1–1 ½ cups of grated zucchini to your favorite brownie recipe (making sure to squeeze out all of the excess liquid, first). They will probably be on the fudgier side and will still taste amazing, plus you’ll get added essential nutrients and antioxidants.
Of course, you can also make a delicious zucchini bread. Here is a favorite (which also uses sweet potato!).
Consider cauliflower the tofu of the easy-to-bake-with veggies. It really takes on the flavors that it’s exposed to.
It also works especially well as a substitute for sour cream or cream cheese in recipes that call for those ingredients (like coffee cakes).
Just add some fresh squeezed lemon juice to puréed, steamed cauliflower—around 3 tablespoons per cup of purée along with a drizzle of coconut oil or milk—and you’ll have power cream instead of sour cream.
Happy (veggie) baking!
Solana Nolfo is a holistic health coach and wellness advocate who is Nutritious Life Certified and also certified by The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She is an active baker who enjoys developing recipes for empowered baked goods that feature nutrient-rich, real food ingredients. Solana also has over 15 years of expertise in marketing and communications. She received her BA from Barnard College, where she was an active student leader and graduated with honors. She credits her San Francisco-based mom with encouraging her to live a Nutritious Life; she used to be embarrassed of her school lunches (seaweed, always!) but is now proud of her trendsetting roots. Solana lives in New York City with her husband and cookie-loving twin sons and bakes something with bananas almost every weekend. For baking inspiration, follow her on Instagram at @solanastar.The Healthiest Zucchini Bread Ever (Grain-Free!)
Introducing the healthiest zucchini bread ever: it’s the perfect breakfast to serve when you’ve got house guests (or are just sick of the same old everyday Greek yogurt).
The grain-free, Paleo-approved recipe was created by Solano Nolfo, NLC, a holistic health coach and baker who’s a graduate of The Nutrition School and is also certified by The Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
Here’s why this zucchini bread has got health benefits for days.
While whole grains can definitely be one part of a healthy, balanced diet, this recipe is grain-free, so if you’re skipping gluten due to Celiac disease or any other reason, you’re in the clear. Nolfo uses almond, coconut, and cassava flours, which are way more nutritious than white flour.
Last but not least, it packs a protein punch from hemp seeds that will help you start the day off feeling full and energized.
Sweet potatoes are a healthy staple that land on your grocery list regularly. You’ve roasted, mashed, and baked them, but have you used them in…cupcakes? Yes, sweet potato desserts are actually delicious and can be amazingly healthy.
You’ve already ditched all-purpose flour and begun baking with healthier flours, but maybe it’s time for you serve the tasty tubers in a whole new way?
She dreamed up the recipe for these Chocolate Sweet Potato Cupcakes, which also happen to be gluten-free (in case your mother-in-law has Celiac Disease, naturally) and are packed with other nutritious ingredients.
While the sweet potatoes provide powerful antioxidants like beta-carotene, you’ll get servings of healthy fats from both the coconut oil and almond flour. Not to mention the presence of cacao, that magical food linked to cardiovascular health, stress relief, and so much more.
Of course, you can keep all that to yourself if your family is really just interested in biting into and savoring the sweet, gooey goodness. They won’t even know you’ve baked a health boost into their sweet potato dessert.
You may also want to keep this one on hand for your gluten-free girlfriend’s upcoming birthday (just add candles).