What are healthy alternatives to bread, cakes, or biscuits? This is one of most frequent and reoccurring questions we’ve been getting. People want to know about different paleo desserts, paleo cookies, and paleo cakes. But are paleo desserts healthy? And are they really paleo?
The real answer to this question is: compared to what?
Are Paleo Desserts Healthy?
Compared with starvation or eating donuts, the paleo-friendly dessert alternative is an excellent choice.
Of course, compared with eating almonds or an avocado, a paleo cookie or a paleo cake may not be the best choice.
We must also remember that there is effort involved in making a dietary or nutritional change. Health is much more than what you eat, or what you stop eating.
It is the perception of not living with the constant longing with what you can not eat due to the amount of gluten in it.
In fact, it is in this moment when a paleo dessert substitute can come to the rescue.
If you are obsessing over all the things you can’t eat, it will take an enormous effort to stay on your diet. When you’re obsessing over how good a muffin would be, then it’s time to add in a “paleo cheat,” in the form of a paleo dessert or cookie.
But can a cake be Paleo? Really? And is it healthy?
Are paleo cakes and paleo cookies really paleo?
The simple truth is that there are no real paleo substitutes.
There are no paleo breads or paleo desserts. We’ll need a little explanation to see why.
Scientists have observed an increase in the palatability of our food. Another way to see it: manufactured foods are tastier. In recent years, science has agreed that this is a main factor in the pandemic obesity crisis.
Our like and dependence on a variety of cheap and calorie rich foods that feature high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated soy oil, and other ingredients is fueling this crisis. We’d all agree these ingredients are bad for health, and that dates, or coconut, or almond flour are healthier. But in nature, we wouldn’t sit down and eat 20 dates, or 3 coconuts, or two cups of almonds.
But that’s just what we’re doing when we eat many treats that are made of these ingredients, and it isn’t natural, and our bodies aren’t made to eat food so dense in calories so frequently.
So why do we do it anyway, even though our bodies ultimately know it’s not healthy?
Are Paleo desserts good for you?
Let’s say we’ve created a food that is so tempting that we consume it despite not needing to (study).
Regions in the brain associated with pleasure and addiction activate when you eat palatable foods (see image). This result is new and does not always occur.
We’ve never been able to hunt or collect muffins in our past. Almond, coconut, and cassava nutrients having been in our diets for most of humanity. Despite this, we’ve never consumed them in the quantities needed for their respective flours and resulting paleo desserts.
So are we recommending eating paleo desserts, or not?
As I’ve said, it depends.
If you’re relaxed and adapted to eating a 100% paleo diet, this is best. Don’t change.
But, we also have to be realistic, we live in a world full of stimuli and to resist them all can consume too much energy. In these cases, it’s worth choosing the “lesser of two evils.”
Evolutionary medicine has given us a framework to fill existing gaps in our nutrition. It is almost impossible to isolate the factors that affect our health.
Be it variable nutrition or something else, many authors base their conclusions on the most extensive field study ever conducted: the history of the human being.
Nutrition and its impact on our health is a hard field to study with the scientific method. There are too many variables that we cannot eliminate.
This is why scientist have looked for answers in the biggest experiment ever made: evolution.
Using ethnological studies of different populations, genetic analysis and molecular biology we have unveil many biological mechanisms that help us understand why certain foods feel better than others.
For example, we know that gluten is a protein that affects the health of all people. We also know that there are foods that are full of anti-nutrients or biotoxins. We also know it creates more addiction.
Thanks to this knowledge, we can describe what we must consider to choose our substitute.
The best ingredients for paleo desserts
5 tips to consider when choosing a paleo dessert or paleo cheat:
- Flour: a self-respecting paleo cake can’t contain flour. You can take it a step further and avoid cornmeal. It is a cereal that is often contaminated with biotoxins that can cause you to feel bad. Good choices are coconut flour, cassava flour, and perhaps rice flour.
- Sweeteners: If you want the cake and you want to avoid addiction, you should avoid sweeteners. If you want to add a touch of sweetness: use bananas, dates, or raisins.
- Yeasts: Make sure the yeast is also gluten free or you can use baking powder or baking soda (bicarbonate).
- Avoid anti-nutrients: If you have to use nuts or vegetables in your recipe, treat them to remove the largest number of anti-nutrients. Here is an article on how to do that.
- Nothing worse than eating and feel guilty about it.When you eat a paleo cake, enjoy it!
Finally, here is our finger lickin’ good paleo cake:
Paleo Chocolate Cake Recipe
Paleo cake batter
Combine eggs, bananas and coconut in a large bowl. Mix until a pancake-batter-like texture is achieved. Add remaining ingredients and beat until smooth.
Form the batter into whatever you’d like. Normally, we make blueberry muffins with a chocolate glaze, but we’ve also used the batter for a tasty dark chocolate walnut cake (Add 2-4 tbsp unsweetened, good quality cocoa powder and chopped walnuts).