Sacrifice-free indulgence

Down-home cook Paula Deen is adored by fans for many reasons: her vibrant personality, her infectious laugh and her Southern sincerity, to name a few.


But, sorry, Paula-lovers. There is no hiding the fact that moderation is not exactly her forte.

There is a time and place for everything. A pat of butter here or a spoonful of sugar there isn’t going to do much harm in the long run. However, when ingredients in a recipe serve to complement butter or sugar, instead of the other way around, there is something undeniably wrong.

I’ll be the first to admit that a little indulgence should always have a place in life. I’ll also be the first to admit that eating well the majority of the time makes those occasional indulgences all that more satisfying.

Paula doesn’t claim to provide healthy meals—that is, in fact, what many people love about her. She doesn’t make low-fat substitutions, sacrifice any sugar or reduce carbohydrates. She simply sticks with satisfying, rich and sinfully indulgent treats.
I’ll even admit that, I have a strange inclination to plant my boot-ay on the couch every time a Paula-show is on TV. Nonetheless, as she load up every… single… recipe with enough fat to feed half the population of Savannah, I can’t help but think about how I can make my own healthful substitutions.

Some fat and sweetness goes a long way, and should never be totally shunned. But, it can be enjoyed a whole lot more (and who doesn’t like that) if you are willing to play around in the kitchen.

Thanks for the tips Paula, I’ll take it from here.

A few healthful baking tips:
•    Generally one cup of mashed avocado replaces one cup of butter. There may be a greenish hue, but the taste is baked out.
•    One mashed ripe banana replaces one egg. This works really well in cookies. Although the flavor is still mildly present in the finished product, I actually welcome a little bit of banana-depth.
•    Applesauce is an equal substitute for canola oil. I like doing this to lighten up brownies, without sacrificing much of the moistness.

Pumpkin Pie Bites

Recipe adapted from “Fat Free Vegan

Healthful pumpkin pie bites have a place any time of year.

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 1 1/2 C oats (divided)
  • 1 C whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/3 C brown sugar
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 C unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 T water

Filling:

  • 15 oz canned pumpkin, water pressed out
  • 12 oz lite extra-firm silken tofu
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t nutmeg, freshly grated is preferred
  • 1/2 t allspice
  • 1 1/2 t vanilla
  • 2 T agave nectar, pure maple syrup or honey
  • 1 t salt

Topping:

  • 1/4 C oats
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 1/4 C roughly chopped, toasted walnuts
  • 2 T crystallized ginger

Directions:

Crust:

  • Place 1/2 C of oats in a blender or food processor and crush to a fine powder. Pour the oat flour into a medium mixing bowl and add remaining cup of oats and the other dry crust ingredients. Add the applesauce and water and stir until well-moistened. If necessary, add additional water a teaspoon at a time until all flour is moist. Pour it into 9×12 inch pan covered with parchment paper. Press mixture into the pan until the bottom is evenly covered.

Filling:

  • Place all the filling ingredients into a blender or food processor. Process until all ingredients are thoroughly combined. Pour filling on top of crust and smooth with a spatula.

Topping:

  • Mix the topping ingredients together and sprinkle on top of the filling.

Baking:

  • Bake for 40-45 minutes in 375 degree oven, until pumpkin is set in the middle. Remove from oven and run a non-metal knife or spatula around the edges. Cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting into 48 squares.
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