Plant-Based Alternatives to Dairy and Sugar
So we’ve got a conundrum. Chocolate is a healthy substance. But the ways we consume it are not. Are there alternatives that can let us have our (healthy) chocolate cake and eat it too? Knowing about the detrimental effects of dairy and sugar, what can you replace them with in plant-based desserts?
Ten years ago, my answer would have been much shorter and far less satisfactory. But in the last decade, the world of plant-based dairy alternatives has undergone a revolution. The production methods have become more sophisticated, the quality has increased, and the market has exploded. Even mainstream supermarkets are starting to carry plant-based milk made from soy, oat, hemp, coconut, rice, and almond.
If your recipe calls for butter, you can get the same creaminess from avocado, or from unrefined coconut or olive oil. Nuts and nut butters can also add healthy fats to dairy free chocolate desserts. Coconut cream replaces heavy cream. And plant-based yogurts or a simple preparation of silken tofu with lemon juice can substitute for sour cream or milk-based yogurt.
The world of sweet and healthy sugar substitutes has also grown in the last few years. While fruit (fresh, frozen, and defrosted) remains the best option to sweeten desserts naturally, you can also use:
- dried dates
- date paste and date sugar
- yacon syrup (which comes from a sweet Andean root that resembles a sweet potato)
- sugar alcohols like xylitol (which can be good for dental health)
- stevia (a calorie-free sweetener that has some downsides for your health).