Cupcakes are everywhere these days. In NY they are on every street corner. There are whole TV shows dedicated to them, and cupcake shops are popping up like mushrooms.
Please understand that I’m not against the occasional sweet treat. They are part of life; I understand! And there are plenty of Beauty Detox treats, as well as other versions of not-so-bad treats out there (coconut ice cream, dark chocolate, etc.). But let’s be real. Cupcakes are smallish and cute, but they are by no means harmless. Even one here and there, week by week does add up, and is doing far more damage to your attempts to have great skin and a beautiful body inside and out than just a few extra calories on a splurge day. Which, by the way, isn’t actually a few… the average small cupcake has 585 calories and a whopping over 770 in large one (!!).
Let’s take a look at some of the common ingredients in cupcakes:
Bleached, enriched all-purpose flour:
Refined flour has been stripped of its nutrients in the process, leaving you with the starchy endosperm to eat, but not the other nutrients found in the germ and bran. White and wheat flours include the pesticides in your cupcake to go with it. Wheat is also one of the most heavily sprayed crops, and as if that weren’t enough, the length of time it can be stored can allow mold and fungi to grow in it and contaminate it—and your cupcake. So there’s no nutritional value in the flour to begin with, and you get toxins on the side. Gluten, too, which is found in wheat products, can cause inflammation in the intestinal tract. From the beginning, that cupcake is a recipe for stealing your Beauty Energy. Coconut, brown rice and almond flours are options if you’re making your own, though you may need to experiment with the amount of liquid you use in your recipe. Coconut flour in particular is especially absorbent (so you’ll need extra liquid) and is often used in conjunction with other types of flour rather than alone.
Though organic eggs are the lesser of the evils when it comes to animal products, they’re still acid-forming in the body, high in saturated fat, and take a lot of energy to digest once they are cooked and move from a liquid form to a hardened form. I guarantee they ‘aint using organic eggs at the typical cupcake store (though maybe some much more rare organic stores will). They most likely are using eggs from chickens that have been fed a poor GMO-based diet laced with antibiotics, which you will then make its way into your body. If you’re making your own desserts, you
can try using the Ener-G Egg Replacer, flax seeds, or chia seeds (one tablespoon of flax or chia seeds mixed with three tablespoons of warm water take the place of one egg).
So much dense fat! At least this fatty dairy source doesn’t have all the casein protein found in milk and milk products, but it is the combination of so much fat with so much refined carbohydrates that is part of the reason that cupcakes are so fattening. And again, the butter is in most all accounts, not organic.
Sugar, especially the refined white sugar that shows up in most cupcake mixes and recipes, is quite the thief when it comes to Beauty Energy. Even organic cane sugar is…refined sugar! It’s one of the most aging products you can put into your body, and it contributes to wrinkles, dark under-eye circles, dull hair, and inflammation. Other cupcakes may add agave, claiming it’s a “healthier” treat, but we all know the truth about agave. Some cupcakes are almost too pretty to eat—but they won’t make you pretty! Try using stevia and/or raw coconut nectar (which is low fructose/low glycemic and contains minerals and amino acids), though you may need to adjust the amount instead of using it as a 1:1 replacement for the amount of sugar a recipe calls for.
Dairy is a no-no. It’s not natural for humans to be consuming in the first place, and is acidic, highly mucus forming and difficult to digest. If you want to know more, check out the whole sections of my books that I dedicate to it. In place of cow’s milk, you could try almond milk (and you should learn how is almond milk made), hemp milk, or rice milk. Dairy is also frequently found in the frosting, so watch out for it there, too.
Like flour, cornstarch is made from the endosperm, this time from the corn kernel (and that corn is potentially genetically modified from the start). That means it’s stripped of some of its nutrients and all you’re left with, again, is the starch. GMO ingredients have their own set of health issues. It’s a highly processed ingredient, not something you’d find in nature. It’s fairly dense in calories, but hey who’s counting now, when the average tiny cupcake is ringing in around 585 calories (and 770 for a large) anyway! In some recipes, you may be able to substitute almond flour or arrowroot powder.
Those red velvet cupcakes may look appealing at first glance, but when you think about how that cake got to be that color, you may change your mind. Food dyes come with risks like hyperactivity in children, allergy-like symptoms, and sometimes even tumors. There are natural alternatives, like beet juice or spirulina, to make your food look pretty.
People tend to get too many omega-6 fatty acids and not enough omega-3 fatty acids, and omega-6s are found in vegetable oil. An off-balance combination of omega-3s and omega-6s can contribute to heart disease and other health and beauty issues. Many cupcakes contain large amounts of vegetable oil! In some recipes, you can use coconut oil instead of vegetable oil.
High-fructose corn syrup is ubiquitous when it comes to processed foods, and those cupcake kits and tubs of frosting generally contain it. Scientists at Princeton University conducted an experiment that involved feeding rats high-fructose corn syrup and monitoring their weight, triglycerides, and body fat levels. What they found is that the rats that consumed the high-fructose corn syrup showed even more negative effects than the rats that were fed table sugar. The rats “showed characteristic signs of a dangerous condition known in humans as the metabolic syndrome, including abnormal weight gain, significant increases in circulating triglycerides and augmented fat deposition, especially visceral fat around the belly.” Those effects could lead to diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and high blood pressure. You won’t usually find high-fructose corn syrup in grocery stores (though it’s still an ingredient in some of those packaged mixes and frostings–and far too many other things to count), but some recipes call for corn syrup, which you can get almost anywhere. In some cases, you may be able to substitute honey or maple syrup.
It’s Not Just the Ingredients—Cupcakes Don’t Combine Foods Properly
When it comes to Beauty Food Pairing, cupcakes are a digestive disaster. They combine protein from eggs and dairy with refined starches from the flour and cornstarch, and through a ton of dense from from oil or butter, or both on top of all of that. So in one “harmless” (not!) little cupcake, your energy is being sucked up, as it creates skin-damaging inflammation in your body, and toxicity that continues to amass, due to really poor ingredients. Ever wonder why you feel tired and bloated after eating one? Or if you are a regular eater- why your skin looks patchy, dull or blemished? There isn’t anything good about them…cupcakes should be avoided.
What If You Need a Sweet?
There are ways around some of the hazardous cupcake ingredients if you’re making them yourself, especially if you feel comfortable whipping up treats in the kitchen and bake frequently. However, getting a cupcake recipe you love right using the potential substitutions could be a long, frustrating, and expensive trial-and-error process, especially if you’re trying to make completely “clean” cupcakes rather than substituting for an ingredient or two. If you’re just experiencing a craving for something sweet, you can make a dessert that contains Beauty Foods that will boost—not drain—your Beauty Energy, like:
- Raw Chocolate Ginger Cake with Cacao Frosting, which incorporates Beauty Fats like avocado, Beauty Nuts like almonds and walnuts, and healthier sweetener options like coconut nectar or maple syrup.
- Raw Pecan Love Pie, which again incorporates nuts, fruits (like raisins and coconut, two of the best Beauty Fruits), and is sweetened with coconut nectar or maple syrup.
- Thyroid Boosting Coconut Macaroons, which are incredibly yummy and call for coconut oil, organic cacao, and coconut flakes.
- Raw Cacao Truffles, which use several of the same ingredients as the macaroons. The macaroons and the truffles need to be frozen for a few hours or overnight, so as soon as that sneaky little craving starts to show up, get to the kitchen and whip up a batch of one or the other!
- Dark chocolate, when you’re out or on the go. You can keep one in your purse or car to avoid succumbing to a (dangerous) cupcake craving. Choose organic when possible.
There are plenty of options for healthy and good desserts. You won’t even be tempted to reach for the cupcakes, these treats are so good. And if you’re in charge of taking desserts to a party, make one of these instead of cupcakes and know that you’re making your friends and family eat Beauty Foods that have some ingredients that are beneficial- and not harmful to their health.
Cupcakes are so awful for you and, to be honest, I don’t even understand why people like them so much. They’re so sickly sweet! I would take one of your decadent homemade desserts any day over a cupcake.
I’m totally with you on this one. I think that cupcakes are disguising. They are way way way way way too sweet. Blah! I’d choose an apple over a cupcake anyday
Great article Kimberly! It’s so true that even just one tiny cupcake/ dessert is harmful and can do damage. I notice it myself- especially with my skin- when I eat an unhealthy dessert (which I try not to). So glad you wrote about this and shared such great info, along with awesome recipes and alternatives!
Thanks for everything! -Melissa
I agree with your article and would like to add a remedy/suggestion to being able to have your cupcake treat while avoiding all those harmful ingredients that the average cupcake contains. There is a cupcake bakery called Babycakes NYC that sells gluten free treats.
With agave syrup and sugar cane… Threy are a no-no…
It’s a very common misconception that gluten-free means healthy. Gluten free flours are often refined–white rice, potato starch, cornstarch, etc–and use sugar and other sweeteners that raise your blood sugar. Remember, high-glycemic means inflammation and WRINKLES!!!
Kimberly, I like how you highlighted the dangerous ingredients, but gave us possible substitutions!
Problem + possibility = solution! Thank you 🙂
I love your book (which is extremely well written) and have just begun incorporating the smoothies and more of the foods you suggest into my diet (and my family’s) with amazing results! Please consider doing a cookbook for infants and small children . . . .
+1 on this! I’d love more suggestions from Kimberly for feeding babies, children & for pregnant women.
I am a big fan of your Beauty Detox Foods book. Your theory corresponds with all the books that I have read about nutrition.
I have one problem: The more I drink Glow Green Smoothie the more I see age spots or blemises on my face skin. I don’t know what to do about this. Could you email me and tell me what you think.
Thank you very much.
you are most likely detoxing – the first month that I added the GGS i broke out like crazy, it took about 3 months for me to level out & my skin looks so much better!
Wow…. this is so good to know. I usually don’t eat cupcakes, but every once in awhile i pop one in my mouth. Thank You Kimberly!! Goodness….. thats horrible. Guess These cupcakes are on the “bye-bye” list.
Can you write a blog on all the foods that are most hazardous to our health and beauty?
Any clean cupcake recipes that you recommend? 🙂
I found a great ‘cupcake’ recipe on Fully Raw Kristina – she has a you tube sight as well where you are able to find all of her recipes.
I think there are great alternatives to ensure that people can still enjoy cupcakes and stay physically fit. People put too much effort into cutting everything out that is ~bad~ for you and not enough time figuring out new ways to enjoy what you love. That’s exactly why people yo-yo diet and fall off the bandwagon. Eating healthy is about making a lifestyle change to do better for yourself for the rest of your life. Good tasty food can live in harmony with healthy food, and it’s OK to treat yourself sometimes too.
As for the skin issue I’m sure that’s true for some people. I have always had great skin and I’ve lived as a meat eater for most of my life (and I ate a lot of sugar back then), then I stopped eating meat and was still trying to find balance in my diet, to the young woman I am now – a vegetarian – and I still enjoy whole baking, whole cooking, and eating all that I enjoy in moderation and in consideration for health. I still enjoy cupcakes but I have adjusted recipes to ensure that they’re as healthy as the can be (and again those are enjoyed with moderation in mind. )
I enjoyed reading this.
Thank you so much for this very comprehensive article and all of the alternatives you have given.
Kimberly just letting you respectfullyknow that butter is made from milk and is therefore a ‘milk product’.
I am thrilled to say that I haven’t touched a cupcake in over 10 years! Those mini cakes are repulsive and should be OUTLAWED! Unfortunately, the people who make the laws in this country… Love these things, so they never will be on the illegal list, lol.
Should we be concerned with rice consumption or rice flours? I heard that iris picking up arsenic founding the soil . Thank you!
Hi Kimberly, I do long distance running and I use energy gels. My problem is, when I do, my body craves sugar during the week. Is there a replacement energy gel that is natural that you know of? Something that will get to the muscles within 15 minutes so that the muscles can continue to function?
Thanks so much, Anna
I love using Energybits to replace gels for long running, they’re little spirulina tablets that are organic, raw, vegan, etc. and they work really well!
Anna, you may want to try Brendan Brazier, a vegan tri-athlete. His books have recipes for make your own healthy gels and food that will help you with optimal recovery.
Try Vega Endurance Gels! they are gluten free, soy free and vegan! They are sweetened with dates.
I have found that I am unable to digest canola oil even though it is being touted as a healthy oil. It has a very dubious history and is a frankenfood if ever I saw one. Genetically modified and probably sprayed with Roundup. Please look into this and let me know if my research is correct. I
Canola oil is as bad as you think. Coconut oil for cooking and good extra virgin olive oil is what I use.
Speaking of flour, what do you think about Ezekiel Sprouted Grain Bread?
I’m allergic to nuts. It seems that most of the raw dessert options are full of them!
Are there any healthy/raw options that DON’T contain nuts??
I have tried every diet on Dr. Oz and beyond.Could you give me a one week diet that I could stick to til I lose my 60 pounds. I need extreme support. Thanks. I hope that you can help.
Read her book, she’s got recipes and a sample diet for a week.
Quit trying to diet and just start eating healthier foods: fruits, veggies, lean protein. Avoid simple sugars, white potatoes, white flour, trans fat and saturated fats. You will need to watch your portions. The kidneys can only handle so much protein at once. Have a deck of card size of protein, 1/2 C of veggies and a green salad for dinner. Lunch could be a 2 cup green salad topped with black or kidney beans. For breakfast have oatmeal (just pour some in a bowl, cover with boiling water and let sit while you get dressed) or a single egg – boiled or poached. Good luck and don’t forget to move your body.
Life is just too short to obsess over an occasional treat. If we are consuming mostly raw organic fruits and vegetables as the bulk of our diets, such as large kale salads for dinner, then that should offset some of the not so healthy occasional treats. Balance and moderation make sense and are reasonable. Who knows, one day we may just find out that the extremely large amounts of vegetables that people were consuming during our century was causing some health problems because we were not made to consume entire heads of lettuce on our own all day long. Just saying, as it goes with science and medicine, one day coffee is bad, another day it is good. There are benefits to having a large variety of natural foods in moderation. While it’s true a cupcake make hardly have any benefits, a once a week treat adds to the joy of life, short as it may be.
Wow omg so right #wisdom
people gotta watch their health more and the health of their friends and family and anyone else in the world too
it really is your life at stake in a sense. over a long period of time you’re going to damage your body and get in a habitual rut
Thank you!… very usefull
I have a question not related to the topic:
I read in heartattackproof.com that Dr caldwell B. Esselstyn does not allow smoothies in the diet of his heart disease patients and he says:
Avoid smoothies. The fiber is so finely pureed that its helpful properties are destroyed. The sugar is stripped from the fruit, bypasses salivary digestion and results in a surge of glucose and the accompanying fructose contributes to inflammation and hypertension.
I have been following your recommendations in green smoothies for my whole family every morning so please I need to know which is the correct information.
I think a lot of it has to do with portion control and how much you actually consume. Many individuals who attempt to cut out all unhealthy things from their diet tend to unfortunately not be as successful as they would like to be. Some diets even recommend that you take a day once a week to eat things that don’t necessarily follow your diet plan.
Apple sauce is a good substitute for oil in baked goods. All the moisture with none of the fat! I love baking and started experimenting with vegan recipes. Some of them are so good that my meat- and dairy-loving mother-in-law asked if she could take home leftovers of a bundt cake I made (I didn’t tell her it was vegan!)
Jennifer, I will never look at cupcakes the same again.
When you break down the ingredients like that it is definitely an eye opener.
We all know that cupcakes are not a health food in any way. I don’t think though that many people think of how bad those ingredients truly are for you.
There are so many ways to humor your sweet tooth that is still healthy and good for you.
Thank you for sharing some of those healthier recipes. They definitely give a great alternative than to reach for a cupcake.
I can’t wait to get a chance to bake and satisfy my love of sweets.
Very informative article about cupcakes. Keep posting.
A fruits on a day is good to me.
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I love this article!! I am so happy you gave me a solution to making healthier cupcakes! I am having to make cupcakes for my class so now I can use these ingredients and put them in my speech thank you so much!
Hi Lauren…thank you so much for your support and so happy to hear you enjoyed the blog. Please let me know how your cupcakes turn out and what you think. Sending lots of love! 😉