Wellness & Education

Wellness & Education

This Not That: Substitutions for Healthier Baking

Many of our favorite holiday traditions begin in the kitchen. Baking goodies and dusting off family recipes is one of the joys of the season, and it’s the reason holidays have a reputation for being unhealthy. But there are some great techniques for trimming the fat and sugar in your favorite recipes. Try a few of these easy substitutions to make your sweets a little healthier.

Regular Flour Substitutions

Healthy Baking SubstitutionsIn just about any recipe, you can substitute 1 cup of whole wheat for 7/8 of a cup of regular (white) enriched flour. This extra fiber aids digestion and adds a little more nutritional value to your cookies and cakes. If you’re feeling more adventurous, consider these:

  • 1 cup of pureed black beans for 1 cup of flour in brownies; 
  • 1/4 cup of almond flour + 3/4 cup whole wheat flour for 1 cup of enriched flour in sweet breads, cookies, and cakes; 
  • 1/3 cup of coconut flour + an extra egg for 1 cup of flour in pancakes, cookies, and cakes—though be warned! You may need to reduce baking time, so keep an eye on your oven.

Sugar Substitutions

One cup of sugar contains over 770 calories, and many baking recipes call for more than just one. You can curb that without sacrificing sweetness. Replace or at least reduce some of the sugar with a few of these easy substitutes: 

  • 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce for 1 cup of sugar in almost everything, especially oatmeal cookies; 
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract for 2 tablespoons of sugar in cookies, cakes, sweet breads, and brownies; 
  • 1 teaspoon of stevia for 1 cup of sugar in cookies, cakes, and sweet breads.

Butter Substitutions

Bakers swear by butter, and for a valid reason: it packs in great flavor. It also packs on saturated fat—184 grams per cup, to be precise. That adds up quickly in any recipe, so try to limit the amount of butter you use by replacing it with some of these options: 

  • 1 cup of pureed avocado for 1 cup of butter in brownies and chocolate cookies; 
  • 1 cup of mashed bananas for 1 cup of butter (or oil) in brownies and cookies; 
  • 2-3 tablespoons of chia seeds + 1 cup of water (soaked for 10-15 minutes) for 1 cup of butter in cakes, muffins, and breads.

Icing and Filling Substitutions

Icing, added as an afterthought, can add enormous amounts of sugar and fat to any baked good. Reduce those extra calories and use one of these substitutions instead: 

  • Marshmallow fluff instead of frosting has 60% fewer calories, grams of sugar, and no fat, offering a similar (but healthier) texture to the tops of cakes and cookies; 
  • Meringue instead of frosting reduces the fat and some of the sugar; 
  • Evaporated skim milk instead of heavy whipping cream has the same consistency without all of the fat; 
  • Natural peanut butter instead of reduced fat peanut butter might actually have a few extra grams of fat, but it’ll have less sugar—and fewer unhealthy additives.

Eating Healthy - Women's Health SpecialistsWe at Women’s Healthcare Associates know eating healthy is one of the most important parts of a healthy life. We also know the holidays and the foods that come with them should be enjoyed! If you’re interested in talking more about maintaining a healthy lifestyle during the holidays and after them, contact a provider here today!

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