FAQ

The purpose of this page is to answer the questions I have received about the Desserts with Benefits® blog and me over the years  🙂

 

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Click on any of the links below to skip to its location on this page:

1. Why do you weigh your ingredients?
2. You go through many trials in order to perfect your recipes.  What do you do with the failed batches?  And do you eat the desserts you make?
3. Do you take the pictures on this blog?  What camera and lens do you use?
4. Do you have a cookbook?
5. What is your opinion on butter?
6. Can I republish your recipes? Your images? Your posts?
7. What program do you use to make your nutrition labels?
8. Can you provide more information on the sweeteners you use?

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1. Why do you weigh your ingredients?

This is the scale I use.

Weighing ingredients uses less material (mixing bowls, measuring cups, measuring spoons, utensils, etc.).  For example, honey.  Measuring three tablespoons of honey is a pain, even if you spray the spoon with cooking spray, it is so sticky.  With a scale, you just squeeze the bottle into your mixing bowl, no spoons or cooking spray needed!  Less dishes to wash?  Yes, please.

Healthy baking is a difficult thing to do, and getting unpleasant results is discouraging to someone new to it. There is nothing worse than seeing mouthwatering pictures on a blog, but when you make the recipe, it looks nothing like the photo.  Baking is a precise practice.  For example, flour.  Flour is a temperamental ingredient — one cup of flour will weigh a certain amount on a humid day and a different amount on a dry day.  When I make a recipe by weight, the results I get in my kitchen should be almost identical to the results you get in yours, if you were to follow the recipe by weight as well (and if our ovens are both calibrated and altitudes are the same, of course)

I can make accurate nutrition labels.  Many product nutrition labels are not accurate when comparing the portion size to weigh.  For example, 1/4 cup of cocoa powder will weigh 36g on my scale instead of the 20g it is supposed to weigh.  With a scale, you can calculate the correct number of calories, fat, fiber and protein.

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2. You go through many trials in order to perfect your recipes.  What do you do with the failed batches?  And do you eat the desserts you make?

Healthy baking is a difficult thing to do, sometimes there aren’t easy substitutions for flour, butter and sugar.  I don’t give up hope though! I don’t waste my failed batches, especially with the high-quality ingredients I use.  If I over bake my cookies I’ll crumble them up and eat it like granola or use it in overnight oats.  If the cookies were not sweet enough, I’ll spread some 100% fruit spread on it or blend them into a cookie milkshake.  It depends, but wasting is not an option for me.  Every batch is an experiment and every bite tells you how to make the next batch better.

Yes, I eat the desserts I make.  I would never provide a recipe or share a dessert that I would not eat myself.  I want others to be healthy, too!

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3. Do you take the pictures on this blog?  What camera and lens do you use?

Yes, I take all the photos on this blog.  I use a Canon Rebel T3i with a 50mm Lens (best birthday gift ever!).
EDIT: I just recently started using a 100mm Macro Lens.
I honestly don’t know much about cameras, so I’m not the best advice-giver when it comes to photography  😉

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4.  Do you have a cookbook?

Yes! As of early November 2014, I have published my very first cookbook. After months and months of recipe development, recipe testing, eating, photography, editing, formatting, proofing, blah blah blah, I finally published a protein bar cookbook.

It’s called DIY Protein Bars and it’s a collection of 48 easy, healthy, homemade, no-bake treats that taste like dessert, but just happen to be packed with protein!

The book is available on Amazon.com and CreateSpace.com

See this page for more info and some sneak peaks!

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5.  What is your opinion on butter?

Quite honestly, I don’t have a problem with butter… as long as it’s organic and made from grass-fed cows! The main reason I don’t use butter in my recipes is because the majority of people do not seek out organic/grass-fed butter. Most people buy whatever is cheapest, aka conventional butter. Butter is high in cholesterol and saturated fat, so it is not recommend for people who are at risk (or have) heart disease, and people who struggle with keeping their cholesterol levels in check. However, I don’t think that everyone should avoid butter. I use organic/grass-fed butter from time to time because I have good cholesterol levels and am in overall good health. But I could give it up any day if I wanted to… it’s not 100% necessary for desserts to taste good! Coconut oil, non-hydrogenated shortening, organic grapeseed oil, nut butters, mashed avocado, fruit purees, and so on, can all replace butter (really depends on the recipe, though)
Overall, I believe that butter should be consumed in moderation, just like every other food. If you are unsure of whether or not to use butter, meet with a registered dietician and see what he/she recommends! They will most likely request that you get some bloodwork done (a lipid panel) and you can both go on to make your decision from there.

Conventional Butter:
-contains antibiotics, growth hormones and estrogen
-contains an unbalanced ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids (an unbalanced ratio of too much omega-6 to omega-3 causes inflammation within the body, and high inflammation levels (CRP) has a strong correlation to disease/cancer)
-cows are fed a horrible diet**

Organic/Grass-Fed Butter:
-contains a balanced ratio of omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6 fatty acids (1:1)
-contains a high vitamin A content
-cows are fed the diet cows are meant to eat (grass, hay, roughage)

**Basically fed our leftovers (mostly unsold loaves of bread, bakery items such as cookies/muffins/cakes, along with food that has been dropped on the floor that cannot be sold to customers), along with genetically modified corn (cows’ digestive systems cannot digest corn, causing gastrointestinal distress and inflammation)

In University, I had the privilege of taking a Dairy Science class where I learned the ins and outs of the dairy industry. As much as I would like to say the class made me think better of the dairy industry, it didn’t. It was clear that my teacher was rooting for the opposite of me (yes to corn-fed, yes to GMO-feed, yes to cramming them in, yes to milking them to death…), but this didn’t change my mind at all. I’m no PETA member, but cows do feel pain, they have lives. Cows ought not to be manipulated for our gain (oh great, now I’m incorporating my Ethics class into here too)!

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6.  Can I republish your recipes? Your images? Your posts?

No, everything on my website (photographs, writing, text, posts…) is copyright protected. Please do not republish my recipes (copy/pasting into Pinterest/other websites/your blog, etc.). If you have specific questions regarding my preference, please contact me on the Contact Page.
Desserts with Benefits® is a registered trademark.

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7.  What program do you use to make your nutrition labels?

I use this program.

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8.  Can you provide more information on the sweeteners you use (i.e. how to use them or substitute them, if they’re natural or artificial, the nutrition info, etc.)?

Stevia? Erythritol? Sucanat? Truvia? What the heck are these things???

No need to be afraid! These might be new to some people and yes, they might have strange names, but don’t let that deter you (Just like how we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, we shouldn’t judge a sweetener by its name. In most respects, I’m all for the quote, “If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it!” But that isn’t necessarily 100% true. I can pronounce “trans fats” and “hydrogenated oils” and “Red 40” but that doesn’t mean I should eat them. It’s good to try new things and add some variety to the diet!)

I have received this question a countless number of times over the years and thought it was about time to answer it. I put as much information as I could into a single chart. This comprehensive chart compares the majority of sweeteners available to us today, but it does not include them all. I spent a lot of time researching to provide an accurate chart, but just know that companies change, nutrition labels change, practices change, etc… and this will affect the chart’s accuracy.

Let me know your thoughts and if you have any suggestions/additions!

To enlarge the image, open it in a new tab or window. Each topic is separated by two bold black lines:

Desserts with Benefits Sweetener Comparison Chart -- a comprehensive guide on how to use and replace/substitute sweeteners!

Stevia Extract is all-natural and non-GMO (I buy SweetLeaf Stevia, which is also organic).

Erythritol is all-natural (I buy non-GMO erythritol. I know its name is a little chemical sounding, but rest assured, it is only the name (pronounced: ear-ith-rit-all). We shouldn’t judge a food by its name or the fact that we have trouble pronouncing it… after all, we can pronounce “trans fats” and “ hydrogenated oils” and “Red 40” but those things aren’t good for us!).

 

If you have any additional questions, just leave a comment below!

 

32 comments on “FAQ

  1. Hi Jessica! since you don’t have a “photography” section, do you mind if I ask you what camera and lens you use? Your pictures are stunning!

  2. Giulia, good question! I actually don’t know much about photography and cameras, so if my answer is not very specific, just let me know. I use a Canon Rebel T3i with a 50mm lens. I will add a photography section soon 🙂
    -Jess

  3. Hola! Had a question/suggestion for a future post or perhaps another tab? So, I would love to cook and bake more the way you do and less the way everyone else does. However, I am a bit overwhelmed by all the options and beginning financial constraints. So – If you had to create a lists of ‘couldn’t live without/bake without’ what would be on it? Or, what are the 10 essential starter items. You know, special flours, natural sweeteners, extracts and the like. I would appreciate it greatly <3

  4. Nicola,
    Very true. I use many healthy ingredients and I know that it can be overwhelming at times! To buy items at a lower cost, look for coupons (they may not be easy to find, but they are there), buy in bulk, and buy from Amazon (they have a program for students where you can get free shipping!). If really in a pinch, bring out the calculator and choose the product with a cheaper cost:weight ratio.
    Here is my Top-10-Ingredients List:
    1. old-fashioned rolled oats
    2. whole wheat pastry flour
    3. stevia extract
    4. honey, maple syrup and/or agave
    5. sucanat
    6. natural peanut butter (no sugar/salt/oil added)
    7. coconut oil
    8. dark chocolate bars and cocoa powder
    9. whey protein concentrate
    10. flavored protein powders

  5. Wow I cant believe I read all this….but it was so interesting I had to read it all 🙂 anyways I want to be a RD and I’ve researched it and the internet told me a lot of things about what to major in to be a RD but for graduate school and I’m going to enter undergraduate….are you in graduate? And even if you are do you know what I should major in to help me enter graduate school to become a RD?

  6. Joy-
    Thanks for reading 🙂 I am an undergraduate and still thinking about whether or not to go to grad school. I am in the Dietetics option for the major, which doesn’t require you to go to grad school. I would enter in the Nutritional Sciences option (or at least, that’s what I did), but I think you should talk to an academic advisor to make this decision, though. They might have other helpful information that you need. Plus, my university may be different than yours… all I know is that both options have a lot of science… A LOT. Like biology, microbiology, nutritional biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, metabolic biochem, and so on, so I hope you like science lol 🙂 Anyways, good luck with your decision! I hope you end up where you are supposed to be.
    -Jess

  7. Hi! I had a question I hope you don’t mind me asking…I was wondering why you use protein powder in so many of your recipes? I’ve never tried it before and was wondering what the purpose was and if the recipe would be affected if I omitted it. Is it just to bump up the amount of protein? Thank you!

  8. Hi Steph!
    I use protein powder in my dessert recipes because protein is something that sweets often lack. I try to make desserts “nutritionally balanced” (with healthy fats, slow digesting carbs, fiber and protein) so they can be enjoyed as an everyday snack or meal, rather than a once in a while treat.
    Not only does protein powder provide great taste, protein is the most satiating element a food can have (so you won’t get hungry again in 20 minutes). It’s easy to eat a box of Oreos because it is purely fat, carbs and sugar, but it’s hard to eat more than 2 slices of any of my cake recipes due to the “balance.”
    I actually use protein powder as a last resort protein source, as I would rather use whole food proteins such as yogurt, eggs, grains, etc, but it gets the job done in quick, no-bake recipes!
    As for replacing/omitting the protein, it really depends on the recipe but I would recommend keeping it in. In my baked goods, protein powder has a drying/firming effect, so omitting it would cause the cake to be too soft/moist/mushy.
    I hope I answered your questions! 🙂
    -Jess

  9. How can i calculate Nutrition facts of my recipes? ( like on your “nutrition facts” label) do you use some kind of calculator application which i can use too? 🙂

  10. Thank you so much!

  11. So what exactly do you do for exercise? Do you exercise daily? For how long? How many calories do you try to burn? Any fitness advice?

  12. I don’t usually exercise to burn calories, I exercise to stay fit, maintain muscle mass and keep my metabolism high. But I usually do cardio (spin classes usually, I don’t like running) and strength-training. I try to workout 4-5x a week but sometimes I get busy and can only do 2-3x.
    Depending on the workout and how I feel that day, I try to exercise for 30-60min, or until my muscles are tired and know I’m going to be sore the next day 🙂 If you are just starting out, I think short workouts here and there would be good!
    I love:
    http://www.BodyRock.Tv/ http://violetsage.wordpress.com/tag/lazy-girl-fitness/
    http://pinterest.com/all/?category=health_fitness

    Hope this helped!

  13. Great stuff as always! Have you ever thought of opening a bakery or starting a food line? I think America needs widespread, healthier foods!

    • dessertswithbenefits

      Thanks Nic 🙂 I am committed to earning my degree before anything else, but YES! I want to open up a healthy bakery with all my heart!

  14. Jessica – do you eat what you bake on here? I understand that you have a sweet tooth (as I do – which is why I’m hooked on your blog), you make all these wonderful sweet creations

  15. Hi Christina!
    Yes, I eat everything I post. Even the foods I give away, just to make sure it’s worthy enough for someone else 🙂

  16. Ah now I can totally relate to you! I have changed my breakfast from my normal raw oats with yoghurt, coconut, sultanas and diced apple to your overnight oats – a huge bowl of them, exactly as you make them but with frozen raspberries thrown in to thaw overnight. Very much enjoying them, especially after a good hard Body Rock workout 😛 I have never worked with sugar alternatives (ie stevia) and will need to do some research to see if that’s a swap I want to make. But I do love your recipes and am totally on par with you creating a bakery for glamorous healthy treats. You’d nail that.

  17. Are your recipes compiled in a recipe book? I’d like to purchase one from you.

  18. I’m sorry, I do not have a recipe book at this time. All of my recipes can be found on the site 🙂

  19. Hi Jessica,
    on the “about” page it said: to see a typical “day in the life” of eats for me, check out the FAQ page. But I can’t see that here. Did I take a wrong turn?

    • dessertswithbenefits

      Hi Laura,
      Sorry, I’ll update the About page! I removed my daily eats because it no longer represents what I eat due to my new food sensitivities. I might add it back someday though 🙂

  20. I would like to know whether coconut milk is healthy ?:)

    • dessertswithbenefits

      Hi Aileen,
      Personally, I believe coconut milk is healthy. It comes from coconut, which comes from the earth, just like soy (milk), almond (milk), rice (milk), etc… but just like anything, it should be consumed in moderation (especially for those concerned about saturated fat). If heart/cardiovascular disease or any other health issues run in your family I would recommend meeting with a registered dietician near you to discuss this topic. I love my R.D. and she has helped me with all my questions!

  21. moderation is the key.!!! Thx 😀

  22. Hey Jessica,
    Thank so much for your blog and sharing your story with us. (:

    I’m very inspired by the idea of living healthily all around, yet I’ve never been able to successfully shake my sweet tooth.

    So anyway, looking through some of your recipes I see some ingredients that kind of scare me. Well, maybe not scare me…but I’m just a little skeptical of things like Zytherol or erythritol or whatever it is. Those are the kinds of things that sound really unnatural to me, you know? I guess I just don’t understand how it’s not healthier to simply use pure cane sugar sparingly. Just because something doesn’t have calories doesn’t automatically mean it’s good for you, right?

  23. Would you mind sharing about your daily life a bit more (in this section or in the blog)? 🙂 It sounds like you live a very active, balanced and happy life, and I would love to hear more about it! I loooove your blog, I come here to drool every single day! Unfortunately, living in Europe, I cannot reach all the ingredients you use (especially the SunWarrior protein powders and butter etc. extracts). Do you know any healthy ingredient webstores that deliver to Europe? I guess Amazon doesn’t do that…

  24. Hi Jessica!
    I’m still addicted to sweets and I’m 52! I also grow edamame and sun sugar cherry tomatoes though so they help balance it out I guess, but I like your ideas here on your site!
    I also looked around the site to see if you ever do product reviews? I came up with a brand new idea this past year to save the world from plastic bags (and the cheap reusable ones that are too hard to recycle) — they’re called CRESBI crates and they can also save time and your products at the grocery. There’s a quick video at http://www.cresbi.com, please let me know if you’re interested and I can send you a sample!
    Thanks so much and best wishes!
    Linda

  25. Hi,
    i would like to try your red velvet protein bar recipe, but I have regular rice protein powder, not chocolate. Can I substitute cocoa for part of the protein powder to replace the the missing chocolate flavor? About how much?
    Keep up the good work and thanks!

  26. Where do you get those beautiful little jars you use! I love them!

  27. I am in love with DWB and have made tons of your recipes! In your opinion, what are some of your ultimate favorite recipes??? I sometimes am overwhelmed by all the ideas and would love to hear your best turnouts!!

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