Healthy Swaps So You Can Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too
March 4, 2015
Trying to bake for your party but want to keep your diet on track? Try these healthy swaps!
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Instead of Baking Chocolate…
Steve Cukrov/ Shutterstock
Nothing says decadence like chocolate. Add some antioxidants and use unsweetened cocoa powder instead of baking chocolate in your next recipe. Three tablespoons of natural, unsweetened cocoa with one tablespoon of canola oil replaces one ounce of unsweetened baking chocolate. Swap out the baker’s chocolate in a batch of brownies.
Instead of Butter…
Butter may make everything better, but, unfortunately, it’s not better for you. Butter adds calories and fats; however, there are many replacement options. Try fruit purées in exchange for butter (added bonus, you can cut some of the sugar, too!). Bizarre as it sounds, avocado purée makes for a great butter substitute. Substitution ratios may require experimentation, but about a 1:1 works for these two. Make your next batch of apricot oat bars or s’mores cake with healthier butter alternatives.
Instead of Chocolate Chips…
What are chocolate chip cookies without the chocolate chips? To help cut down on sugar, try cacao nibs in your baked goods, like chocolate chip cookies, pumpkin chocolate chip bars, and roasted banana chocolate chip muffins. These roasted bits of cocoa beans are less processed and contain fewer additives, and they serve up a beneficial dose of antioxidants.
Instead of Cream…
Heavy cream finds a way into some of our favorite desserts, whether it’s in the cake batter or the frosting on top. Too bad it’s also heavy on the calories and has a high fat content. There are other dairy options, like lower fat milk, but evaporated skim milk might be the best as it has a similar consistency to cream. Try out the swap with a raspberry buttercream frosting or caramel cream cheese frosting.
Instead of Eggs…
Mixing ground flaxseed with water makes its insoluble fiber sticky and a good substitute for a binder, like eggs, when you’re baking. Plus, flaxseed is full of healthful fatty acids and fiber. Use one tablespoon of ground flaxseed and three tablespoons of water per egg in baked goods that can handle flaxseed's nutty taste, like carrot cake and pancakes. Whipped silken tofu’s creamy texture is also ideal for replacing eggs in custards, flan or cakes. About ¼ cup of whipped silken tofu equals one egg.
Instead of Flour…
In baking, you can usually substitute whole-wheat flour for half of the white flour. It adds fiber (which keeps you fuller longer) and other healthy nutrients. Almond flour makes your sweets, like acquainted cookies, gluten-free, while also adding protein and omega-3s. It’s heavier than other flours, so add ¼ cup at a time or increase the amount of rising agent by ½ teaspoon per cup of almond flour. And who knew swapping a 15-ounce can of black beans, puréed, for a cup of flour works particularly well in brownies or chocolate cake?
Instead of Frosting…
It’s hard to imagine that three-layer yellow cake without frosting, but all the butter and sugar weighs goodies down. If life without frosting seems impossible, frost your baked goods with marshmallow fluff. Two tablespoons have just 40 calories, six grams of sugar, and no fat, while the same amount of frosting might have up to 100 calories, 14 grams of sugar, and five grams of fat. Another fat-free option is meringue, made from egg whites. Slather meringue on those cupcakes and torch for a hint of caramelized flavor and decoration.
Instead of Oil…
Oil is another ingredient that adds fat to your desserts. Luckily, it’s quite easy to lighten the load with some healthful alternatives like Greek yogurt and bananas, both of which are nutrient rich. Unsweetened applesauce also gets the job done in quick breads, like cranberry orange quick bread, muffins, or cakes. However, applesauce is wetter than oil and can make batter soupy. Try using half as much applesauce as oil and mix it with two tablespoons of oil to start. You might need to adjust the proportions, but your waistline will thank you later.
Instead of Shortening…
Shortening sounds old-fashioned, but it’s still a main ingredient in baking that can pack on the pounds because of its trans fats. Coconut oil, a plant-based fat, is a great trade. Even though coconut oil is high in saturated fat, it may be the good kind that helps to reduce waist size and increase calorie burning. It also contains helpful antioxidants. Substitute it one-for-one for shortening in baking, especially in things like pie crust and Snickerdoodles.
Instead of Sugar…
A spoonful of sugar may make the medicine go down, but it also makes the numbers on the scale go up. Cutting down on sugar in recipes will easily reduce calories, but adding more spices will make sugar harder to miss, like in a red velvet or a sweet and salty cake. Doubling the cinnamon or adding extra vanilla enhances sweetness with far fewer calories. Replacing sugar with puréed fruit has benefits like fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Again, ratios can be tricky, as some fruits are sweeter than others, Fruit also has higher water content, so you will probably want to reduce the liquid
Instead of Syrup…
An intense drizzle of sweet syrup makes that sky-high stack of pancakes at Sunday brunch scrumptious, but also adds sugar. Sweeten those flapjacks, waffles, you name it with warmed puréed fruit and a bit of honey. You’ll get the added benefit of the vitamins and antioxidants in the fruit, while reducing sugar.
Get Your Sweet Fix While Staying Healthy!
The kid in all of us probably wants to indulge in such yummy treats, but our adult selves know better. We shouldn’t be eating all the cookies at our youngster’s bake sale, or devouring that second slice of oh-too-tasty birthday cake. We should make more responsible sweets decisions, and it is possible.