Thursday, March 26, 2015

A Healthier Vegan Frosting

Frosting isn't too hard of a recipe to create, but the trouble comes when you want to make it healthier. For me as a gluten-free, reduced-sugar vegan, the common ingredients of butter (dairy)  powdered sugar (cue crazy blood sugar spike followed by massive headache) and milk (dairy), just don't work.  But now that I have kids and a sweet tooth, I knew I had to come up with a frosting that we could use not only for birthday parties, but for topping other fun desserts like cookies (yes we frost our chocolate chip cookies) and so this recipe came to be.

If you've followed my blog for a while now, you may have seen this frosting recipe from a few years back about how I "Color My Frosting Quickly & Naturally" and in that post I share my favorite frosting recipe that consists of organic shortening, agave nectar, arrowroot powder, and vanilla extract just to name a few. But since agave nectar has come under fire recently as not being the "healthy product" it was once thought to be and instead being "just as bad for your blood sugar as high fructose corn syrup," I knew it was time to find a healthier alternative.

"How to Color Frosting Quickly & Naturally"
That's when I found Lakanto's Sweetener. It's extracted from monk fruit and combined with erythritol (a sugar alcohol made from fermented glucose) to make a natural sugar-alternative that tastes like sugar, looks like sugar, bakes like sugar (can be used cup for cup in recipes). It also does not raise blood sugar, or contribute to candida overgrowth, and it has zero calories. Talk about a good rap sheet. Lakanto came from Japan where it's actually been used for almost 20 years. You can read more about Lakanto and it's story on their website here.

Now all that is well and good with Lakanto, but there is one down side to the product...the cost. It costs about $37 for a 28 oz. bag on Amazon.  Pricey, I know. But ever since I stopped using coconut sugar and xylitol and instead went to using only this Lakanto sweeter and stevia, I feel much better after eating something "sweet" as opposed to the headaches and exhaustion that came from other sweeteners of the past despite being healthier alternatives.

Now since I've made it perfectly clear that Lakanto is my new favorite sugar alternative, the other downside to it is that it's in a granulated form, which makes it difficult to use in a recipe that calls for powdered sugar.

But that's any easy fix...cue coffee grinder. This little guy is going to convert our granulated sweetener into a powder (aka a healthier powdered sugar) all in a matter of seconds. So for this recipe you will need a coffee grinder or spice mill as their sometimes called (here's the one I use that I got off Amazon for around $17).

Coffee grinder will turn granulated sweeteners into a powder form.

Last up in the discussion of healthy ingredients is shortening. Personally I've been a little skeptical of shortening for a long time because of memories of Crisco from my youth and how I swore it off in my quest to eat healthier. And rightfully so, here's a list of ingredients found Crisco's Vegetable Shortening:

"Soy bean oil, fully hydrogenated palm oil, partially hydrogenated soy and palm oils, mono and diglycerides, TBHQ and citric acid."

Can you say...ewww?! But there are healthier alternatives out there these days. The first is Organic Shortening from Spectrum. It's from mechanically pressed organic palm oil, that's been sustainable sourced. It has no trans fats, no hydrogenated oils, it's no-GMO, and organic. The color and texture is similar to good ol' Crisco, just from a healthier source.

And just because more choices are fun, here's a second shortening I like that seems to be a tad bit healthier, from Nutiva that is a combo of coconut oil and red palm oil.  While being a little healthier, it does come with a down side, it has a yellowish tint to it, so you may want to add some natural food coloring to it (which I'll show you how to do later in the recipe). Apparently the yellow tint also adds a little extra nutrition as it's from antioxidant vitamins A & E that are found in the red palm oil. It also contains some healthy lauric acid from the coconut oil. Talk about having your frosting and eating it too! Click here to learn more about it.  (In case you're wondering, I've purchased these products after doing my own research, and these are my honest opinions of them.)

Nutiva's Organic Superfood Shortening

Alright, alright, now I'm finally ready for the recipe...and trust me, it's simpler than the ingredient back-story I've been sharing! It's time to whip up some frosting...

No time for the video? Check out picture steps of the recipe:

"Healthier Vegan Frosting"
Recipe makes 1/2-3/4 cup frosting, so double or triple for a larger batch

  • 1/4 cup Lakanto powdered (with the use of a spice mill/coffee grinder)
  • 1/2 cup organic shortening
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • pinch of salt

1. First pour your Lakanto or other granulated sugar (xylitol or coconut sugar) into a coffee grinder and pulse for 30 seconds until in a powdered form.

The before-shot.

After placing the lid on and grinding it for 30 seconds or so it will be a
powder like this.

I then measure out 1/4 cup of the powdered Lakanto.

2. Next measure out 1/4 cup of the powdered Lakanto and pour it in a medium mixing bowl. Followed by the remaining ingredients of 1/2 cup shortening, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, 1/2 tsp. almond extract, and a pinch of salt.

3. Now stir by hand or you could use a stand mixer, to combine all the ingredients together until smooth. This frosting is thicker than most standard frosting, so it may take a few minutes to get it all mixed together.

4. If you used the Nutiva Superfood Shortening it will be yellow like this, if you like that, great. If not, you could add some color to the frosting. I use these India Tree Decorating Colors, as I mentioned in this post "How to Color Frosting Quickly & Naturally".

5. I add a few drops of the natural "red" color to make it a pink color, a favorite in our house as you can imagine.

6. Then it's done. I usually transfer it from the bowl to a container to keep it fresh until I'm ready to use it.

7. You can then frost your cookies or cupcakes, or any other frosting-worthy treat you would like!

I like these Let's Do Organic Sprinkelz (they do contain sugar).

So there you have it, a healthier frosting alternative. I know it's kind of funny with the powdering of the sweeter and the thicker texture, but for me it's all worth it knowing that I can still enjoy some frosting now and then without sending my health into a tailspin.

What do you like to put frosting on? Do you have a healthier frosting recipe? Share it or your healthier ingredients below.

If you make this recipe, tag me on Instagram @ashleysgreenlife, I'd love to see them. 
See you next week greenies!

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