What makes these red velvet cupcakes healthy?
Making desserts that are truly healthy can be a struggle. There are plenty of recipes online that claim to be healthy, yet are loaded with processed oils and refined sugars. However my recipes are different. Every recipe on my website is whole foods plant based, and therefore super healthy. Basically what I’m saying is you can eat these healthy red velvet cupcakes and improve your nutrition at the same time #GOALS.
What is it that makes the vegan red velvet cupcakes healthy? It’s actually a couple different things. First and foremost these red velvet cupcakes are naturally sweetened! I used one of my favorite plant based sweeteners for this recipe: Maple Crystals! Maple Crystals are essentially a pure form of maple syrup.
This means they contain fiber. It’s SUPER important that when you are looking for a healthy sweetener that you choose one that contains fiber. Fiber helps to not spike your blood sugar, and for the sugars to be absorbed slower. Maple Crystals have a whopping 4 grams of fiber, and contain antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals! That’s not even the best part. Maple Crystals work just like regular cane sugar (melt and everything!), they make healthy vegan baking super simple! I do have a Wilderness Poets discount code: “VEGAN10” for $10 off if you’re interested in maple crystals!
These vegan red velvet cupcakes are also made healthy because they are completely oil-free! I personally avoid baking with oil because it adds unnecessary calories. I’m a volume eater, so I prefer low calorie recipes so I can eat more! These low fat red velvet cupcakes are made with applesauce in place of the oil which helps to make them super moist and low fat!
Last but not least in the formula to creating the best healthy red velvet cupcakes is the frosting. Developing a healthy oil-free cream cheese frosting that is also refined sugar-free has been a struggle! However after years of experiments I have finally created a healthy vegan cream cheese frosting that tasted amazing on these vegan red velvet cupcakes!
Keys to making the best healthy vegan cream cheese frosting:
How do you make oil-free and refined sugar-free vegan frosting? It sounds quite impossible considering that traditional frosting is made of butter and sugar, and vegan frosting is made from vegan butter (oil) and refined sugar. However this healthy vegan cream cheese frosting recipe is made with whole foods plant based ingredients so it is completely free of all the unhealthy ingredients found in traditional recipes.
There are a few key things to keep in mind/do when making this healthy vegan cream cheese frosting recipe. First, choose the right cream cheese frosting. My personal go-to is Kite Hill. I am obsessed with almost all Kite Hill products, but their vegan cream cheese is especially good. It’s super creamy and oil-free (the label is all clean ingredients!). I haven’t tried this recipe with other vegan cream cheeses, but I would not recommend the Miyokos brand, because the taste is very sour, and the texture is too grainy for frosting.
Second, since the cream cheese frosting uses liquid sweeteners and cassava flour instead of powdered sugar I recommend letting it sit (covered) in the fridge overnight so that the flour taste goes away and the icing firms up a bit (this helps to make it more pipe-able). You don’t have to do this step, but I recommend! If you follow these steps I can guarantee that you will end up with the best healthy vegan red velvet cupcakes!
How to make moist vegan red velvet cupcakes:
Making moist cakes/cupcakes can be a major struggle – especially when it comes to healthy vegan baking. It took me a couple tests (no complaints here lol!) to make these refined sugar-free red velvet cupcakes moist, but I finally got it right!
One of my absolute favorite tricks for making cakes moist is to wrap them with aluminum foil right out of the oven and place in the freezer overnight to trap the steam in. It’s a game changer! However this is much harder to do with cupcakes. You can wrap the whole pan with aluminum foil, and place in the freezer overnight, however it’s hard to get an air tight seal. Therefore it is even more important that the ingredients for these plant based red velvet cupcakes work to make the recipe super moist!
Since this red velvet cupcake recipe is oil-free, we have to rely on applesauce. Applesauce works great, but I like to add a few more ingredients to level up the moistness a little more. One of the most crucial ingredients when making anything red velvet is buttermilk. Vegan buttermilk is extremely easy to make, and can be made with any plant based milk.
However if you’re looking to create a moist cupcake I strongly recommend using unsweetened soy milk. I believe that soy milk is the best plant based milk for baking recipes like these vegan red velvet cupcakes, because it has a decent fat content and is oil-free. This will help make your cupcakes moist and healthy at the same time!
It’s also important that you choose a good gluten-free flour for these gluten-free red velvet cupcakes. I’ve played around a lot with gluten-free flours, and I have found that some can really dry out your baked goods, and others work well and make your baked goods more moist than gluten based flours! I like to make my own gluten-free blend sometimes, but I kept it simple for this recipe. I’ll share my recommendations below!
Best gluten-free flours for whole foods plant based vegan baking:
At this point the amount of gluten-free flour mixes out there is simply overwhelming. It honestly kind of bugs me when a recipe calls for “gluten-free flour”, because they’re made completely differentIy. Most gluten-free mixes are starch based and contain very few nutrients. Again, I stay away from these for the most part.
What do I use to make the best gluten-free and vegan desserts? Well, for these Red Velvet Cupcakes I used Sorghum flour! This is one of my favorite gluten-free flours, because it’s light and fluffy, and doesn’t get too dense like some other flours. Not only does it work fantastically, but it is super nutrient dense and has a mild flavor that compliments many desserts!
If you can’t find Sorghum flour you can always use a pre-made gluten-free flour, however you need to keep in mind that it may adjust the texture and the nutrition of the recipe. There are some gluten-free flour mixes that contain less than 1 gram of fiber, and I would avoid these since they are essentially a bleached white flour.
If I’m buying a pre-made gluten-free flour blend I always go with the Bob’s All Purpose baking flour. I like this flour, but I suggest using a bit more liquid, because this flour can dry up your treats.
How to naturally color red velvet desserts:
Red velvet is traditionally colored with artificial dyes. Needless to say artificial colors are pretty horrible for your health, so I strictly avoid them. Most of the time it is very easy to obtain the fun bright colors with natural food colorings.
However, red velvet has been something I’ve struggled with. I love using beetroot powder, because it gives a red hue and even adds a bit of sweetness, however it does not give the bright red color you see in these photos.
To achieve that color I had to bring in backup with the Whole Foods Plant Based Food Dye. If I’m baking for just myself I like to stick to beetroot powder, because it’s simple and tastes the same. However if I’m baking for guests, or photos I’ll use the red food dye to achieve the vibrant color we know and love.
Ingredients For The Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes:
- Soy milk or any non-dairy milk
- Apple cider vinegar
- Vanilla extract
Ingredients For The Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting:
- Plant based cream cheese
- Coconut cream
- Cassava Flour
- Maple syrup
- Vanilla extract
Additional Easy Red Velvet Recipes:
Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes
For the cream cheese frosting:
- 8oz container cream cheese
- 1 13.5oz can coconut cream the white part from the top
- 2/3 cup cassava flour
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tbsp soy milk optional
- Begin by making the frosting ahead of time. Cream together cream cheese and coconut cream*. Add remaining ingredients and mix until smooth. Cover and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours (overnight is best).
- (You can make the cupcakes the same day and freeze them for moister cupcakes) Preheat oven to 350.
- Sift together dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a small bowl combine the soy milk and apple cider vinegar. Mix until it curdles. Add to the dry bowl along with remaining ingredients and mix until smooth.
- Pour into 12 lined cupcakes and place in the oven for 20 minutes. Once done remove from heat and cover immediately. Freeze and allow to cool completely before frosting. Serve and enjoy!
- it helps to refrigerate the coconut cream ahead of time