I’m sure that most people would think that ‘healthy’ and ‘baking’ are complete oxy-morons. BUT, they really aren’t. There are plenty of healthy recipes out there, some are really good, some are just ok and sadly, some taste like you’re eating cardboard. However, if you have a really super delicious recipe that you want to make a bit healthier, like one that calls for buttermilk, you can substitute it with plain yogurt or add a tablespoon of lemon juice to regular milk (let that stand for about 5 minutes first before adding it to your recipe). Or instead of using white sugar, you can substitute organic sugar, packed brown sugar or even coconut sugar. There are copious substitutions available, but I thought I’d compile a list of 10 of the more popular ones:
- replace white flour with whole wheat flour – for every 1 cup of white, use 7/8 whole wheat. Whole wheat has more fiber than white, which not only helps with your digestion, but it can also lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes
- unsweetened apple sauce for oil or butter – using a ratio of 1:1. This works really well in breads, muffins and cakes because it provides similar consistency, without the fats you will get in oil or butter. In case you’re wondering – 1 cup of butter has 1600 calories whereas 1 cup of applesauce has 160 calories, you do the math!
- avocado puree for butter – using a ratio of 1:1. When used at room temperature, the avocado has nearly the same consistency as butter and adds the same creaminess, again, without all the extra calories. Avocado also has the natural good fats that your body needs (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats), AND they are cholesterol and sodium free
- mashed banana for butter is another great substitution if you’re not an avocado fan! A ratio of 1:1 works well and bananas will give you some key nutrients your body needs, like potassium, fiber and vitamin B6
- natural peanut butter for “reduced-fat” or “fat free” peanut butter. This is a big one for me, as these altered PB’s may not have as much fat, but they have way more sugar, not to mention oodles of artificial additives. Next time you’re at the grocery store, take a look at the ingredients in a jar of reduced-fat or fat-free PB, how many can you pronounce? Or even recognize? Natural PB adds the same consistency and sweetness, just without all the extra junk in it
- honey or maple syrup for corn syrup. Corn syrup is a liquid starch made from maize, so not the best for you and recent studies show it is actually more unhealthy for you than over processed white table sugar. Other good substitutes include rice syrup and agave syrup
- 2 egg whites for 1 whole egg. For those that are keeping an eye on their cholesterol, replacing a whole egg with 2 egg whites will still keep the texture the same in any recipe. Plus, even without the yolk, egg whites still contain riboflavin, selenium and potassium, which are key nutrients your body needs
- chia seeds for eggs – yup, chia seeds, those same seeds that grow what resembles hair or fur out of a clay figurine “Ch-ch-ch-chia!” Combine 1 tbsp of seeds with 1 cup of water, let it sit for about 15 minutes and voila – egg subsitute!
- graham cracker crumbs to replace a cookie base. Instead of the traditional sugar cookie or Oreo crust for a pie, try using crushed graham crackers. Typically, they have half the calories and are just as tasty. If you really NEED to have chocolate, you can always add a tbsp of cocoa powder the graham crumbs!
- Cacao nibs for chocolate chips. Yes, I know that chocolate is an immensely delicious ingredient in lots of yummy recipes, (believe me, I use it a lot!), but were you aware that the bag of those chips actually started off as cocoa beans before getting smooshed in to chocolate? So why not opt to just use the rawest form of them? They’re tasty, less processed AND they provide you a big, healthy dose of antioxidants
As I mentioned, these are just a few healthier substitutions that you can use to bake with, there are countless others and even more that can be used with regular (non dessert) cooking as well!