Healthy Baking Shortcuts

Can you enjoy your muffin without looking like one, too?

“Healthier” versions of baked goods often get a bad rap — and for good reason — as gummy, rubbery, tasteless impersonations of desserts. The key to maintaining taste while improving the nutritional stats is to make small substitutions without overhauling the entire recipe. Try these ingredient swaps and modifications to cut the fat without getting rid of the flavor.

Eggs: Swapping egg whites or egg substitute for whole eggs doesn’t affect the flavor or texture of the finished product, so this is an easy change that will lower the fat and cholesterol content of your dish. Substitute two egg whites or ¼ cup egg substitute for each whole egg the recipe calls for. Or, for vegan options, try ¼ cup silken tofu or ½ of a ripe mashed banana with ¼ teaspoon baking powder for each egg.

Oil: Applesauce and canned pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie mix) can be substituted in equal parts for oil, though it works best in bread and muffin recipes. Or, since many recipes call for more oil than you need, another option is to just cut the oil by one quarter to one half.

Buttermilk: If you’re out of buttermilk or you just want to cut the fat, add a tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to enough skim or low-fat milk to equal one cup and let stand for five minutes. Then, use as much of the buttermilk substitute as the recipe calls for. 

Sugar: Many recipes call for more sugar than necessary, so you can often cut the sugar by half or a third without affecting the flavor. Sugar substitutes like Splenda and Stevia are also sweet substitutes, and they don’t leave an aftertaste. Splenda can be substituted cup for cup in recipes, while Sweet and Low should be used for half of the required sugar amount. 

Diet Soda: Sure, baking with diet soda feels kind of a science experiment-y, but it works, especially if you a.) have little time and even fewer ingredients or b.) are seriously jonesing for a cupcake — now. Just add a can of diet soda to a box of cake mix and bake as directed. Try diet cola for chocolate cake and diet lemon-lime soda for white or lemon cakes. 

Gluten-Free Baking, Starting with the Basics

Click here to see the Banana Pineapple Muffins recipe.