How to make traditional Arabic sweets healthier
No one can blame you for indulging during Eid Al Adha, it is a celebration after all. But, there are certain steps you can take make sure that you’re sweet tooth habit is on the healthy side.
Ghada Makarem, founder of The Healthy Treats, knows a thing or two about creating the most indulgent treats, minus the guilt. She launched the first online concept to offer healthy Arabic sweets including Dates Maamoul, Basbousa and Sfouf, using unprocessed components. Her approach is simple, focus on the best ingredients, cut out unnecessary steps and work with big flavours.
Trust us, with her approach to baking you’ll barely notice a difference from the original Arabic sweets. Take it away Makarem…
Stay away from non-processed ingredients by substituting refined sugar with healthier options like honey or maple syrup. These substitutes do not only add a silky sweet quality to any treat, they also induce a gooey consistency, making each cookie or cake soft rather than hard and crumbly.
Switch it up
Avoid processed white flour and use natural almond flour or oats instead. Too much processed flour can increase your risk factor for high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, inflammation and obesity thanks to the high dose of carbs you take in and lack of nutrition. Therefore, it’s vital that you take into account what you can do to modify your baking recipes in order to help ensure that you are doing all that you can to eat great and stay healthy. Whilst almond flour is much higher in total fat content than most other flours are, you’ll get a great dose of unsaturated fat, so not something to shy away from completely. Meanwhile oats and oat flour offers a much slower and nutrient dense source of carbohydrates, giving you more energy that burns slower throughout the day.
Keep it natural
Swap unnecessary fats for ingredients that are natural and nutritious. Not every cake and cookie need heaps of butter, refined sugar or heavy cream – in fact, some of the best cakes remove these completely! Apple sauce or mashed banana can make a great substitute for anything sweet whilst yogurt is a great option to replace cream. Are you a vegan? Then swap your eggs with flax seeds. Whether you sneak in a few spoons of ground flaxseed into your batters or craft a flaxseed egg in place of real eggs, incorporating this superfood into your baking will turn a regular cookie into a super healthy treat. Flaxseeds promote healthy digestion, help lower cholesterol, and also cut your risk for diabetes.
Retain the flavour by using Arabic favourites like pistachio and dates. Dates give everything a delicious caramel taste and texture whilst pistachios offer a sweet and nutty consistency. They also offer great source of healthy fats, fiber, protein, antioxidants, and various nutrients, including vitamin B6 and thiamine.
Add cardamom to your Dates Maamoul – this will only make the recipe more nutritious but will also give the cookies a special taste that goes brilliantly with coffee or karak.
For more information and sweet inspiration, visit The Healthy Treats Instagram page
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