Autumn Desserts Ought’ To Be Healthy: Smarter Sweet Tooth Options

recipe-for-delicious-gluten-free-vegan-pumpkin-donutsNow that fall has officially arrived, it is now the season to bake. Crisp weather, falling leaves and warm, sweet, delicious treats almost go hand-in-hand. For a majority of the population though, indulging in desserts is simply not an option. Whether the excuse is a diet, weight watching, or just wanting to maintain healthy and wholesome eating habits, many will exclude desserts completely. Fortunately though, there are ways to satisfy your sweet tooth without compromising your diet. That's right; baking does not have to automatically mean "bad for you, off limits, or fattening."

Sometimes overlooked is the fact that many fresh, healthy, and even organic ingredients can be used in baking recipes to create tasty treats. Fall is the ideal time to take advantage of that while they are in their prime season.

"Healthy desserts can be simple to create as well as very satisfying to enjoy. I recommend using whole food ingredients to create delicious desserts... Again, it's about sticking to ingredients that are in their whole form or at least completely natural," said Mary Harris, a specialist communication professor and a certified holistic health coach and specialist.

Some examples of these ingredients include fresh fruits, veggies, nuts and plants or spices.

"For me, I love fall baking the most because it's completely guilt free. I can completely indulge in something rich and sweet and not be afraid to step on the scale and be ten pounds heavier afterwards. I'm pretty sure apples, cranberries, almonds or pumpkins never hurt anyone's figure." said Kelly McConnell, a senior criminal justice major.

Dessert does not have to mean a sugary cake or cookies. It can just as easily mean crisps, breads, tarts, muffins or melts.

Looking for some inspiration? Try some of these tasty, and healthy, fall dessert ideas. One word: apples. Apples can be baked in a variety of ways with a range of other ingredients. They are dynamic yet delicious.

For example, try apple spice cake, which is made with fat free cream cheese, low-fat buttermilk, cloves and plenty of cinnamon. Other examples are maple-cinnamon applesauce or pear and apple muffins.

The best part about baking with apples besides their juicy, sweet flavor is that they are rich in antioxidants and fiber. According to Sarah Klein in an article published by the Huffington Post, some health benefits of apples include their ability to lower cholesterol, promote a slim figure, and decrease the risk of diabetes.

Some other healthy fall ingredients include pumpkins and many types of nuts. Some of the recipes that contain them are paleo pumpkin pie muffins, which are gluten and dairy free, chocolate chip pumpkin bread made with coconut flour and sweet dried dates, or vegan pumpkin quinoa muffins.

According to, pumpkins are a good source of vitamin A and iron, which makes them good for eyesight and oxygen circulation throughout the body.

Other fruits, vegetables, etc. that make yummy fall desserts include cranberries, pears, lemons, oats, honey, berries and even squash. Bakers who use such products can ensure their desserts will be packed with phytonutrients and phytochemicals, flavonoids, vitamins and protein.

Some unhealthier ingredients that are typical for most desserts can creatively be substituted for much more wholesome ingredients that are lower in calories, fat and sodium. Applesauce can be used in place of oil and eggs or sugar, pureed avocados can be used instead of butter, and nuts or whole wheat flour can be swapped in place of regular flour.

"I always suggest natural sweeteners such as organic coconut sugar, applesauce, dates, or maple syrup in place of processed and artificial sweeteners," said Harris.

Ashley Vaccaro, a senior psychology major, said, "I think a lot of people are kind of scared to actually try and use certain substitutions or healthier options since some of it sounds strange at first. But they really work, and my recipes always taste the same, if not even richer and better when I use the healthier ingredients like quinoa and coconut flour."

You do not have to compromise your love of baking or avoid indulging in delicious fall desserts for the sake of health. As the trend continues to shift toward fresh, natural and more nutritious lifestyles and habits, baking is adapting and shifting the same way. So this season feel free to catch the fall goodie fever, free of guilt, and enjoy all the desserts your little baking heart desires.