Who can resist a delicious treat fresh from the oven? No one! From pies and tarts, to cakes and muffins, there are so many goodies to indulge in. But with the fat, sugar, calories, allergens and other less-than-healthy things that come with your favorite baked goods, dessert can take a toll on your health.
Nobody likes to say “no” to dessert, so we’ve gathered up some healthy baking substitutes for some of the more troublesome ingredients. Have your cake and eat it, too, without the guilt!
Whether you’re diabetic or just trying to cut back the calories, decreasing the sugar content in baked goods is a good first step toward making them a little healthier. Give these options a try in your next recipe.
Xylitol: A sugar alcohol found in various fruits and vegetables, this natural sweetener looks and tastes a lot like regular sugar, but has a third fewer calories. Plus, while you worry about the effects of too many sweets on the health of your teeth, xylitol can actually support oral health by denying plaque bacteria the sugar it needs to erode tooth enamel. How’s that for a win-win?
Stevia: Most often available in liquid form, stevia comes from the leaves of the stevia plant and has no calories and a zero glycemic index, making it perfect for diabetics. Up to 300 times sweeter than ordinary sugar, a little goes a long way!
Corn Syrup Substitutes
Plenty of sticky and delicious treats call for corn syrup. Not only is it devoid of nutritional value, but it could be even worse for your health than regular sugar, especially with the prevalence of GMO corn. Fortunately, there are easy ways to keep it out of your recipes.
Maple Syrup: Straight from beautiful maple trees, maple syrup is a perfect swap. It’s a natural source of minerals and is available in different grades to meet your individual taste preferences, from light to dark. Be sure to avoid syrups labeled as “pancake” or “breakfast” syrups. These are typically corn syrup with added color and flavoring.
For deep, rich flavor, get this Grade B Maple Syrup.
Honey: You’ve probably heard lots about the natural wonders of honey, so what are you waiting for? With small amounts of natural enzymes, vitamins, minerals and proteins, it’s an obvious choice.
Agave Nectar: Perhaps lesser known than maple syrup, agave nectar comes from the agave plant and is slightly sweeter than sugar, but has a lower glycemic index.
Vegetable Oil Substitutes
To cut out the unhealthy fats of vegetable oil from your baked goods, swap it for an equal amount of applesauce or fruit puree. While applesauce has a mild flavor that blends well into most recipes, using other fruits can lend a unique twist. Try a blueberry puree in lemon goodies or raspberry in chocolate cake. For another neutral option, try zucchini. To minimize its appearance, be sure to peel it first.
Like vegetable oil, butter adds fat to recipes, so some of the same alternatives work, including applesauce and some fruit purees (prune puree is a popular choice). These options are great if dairy is an issue, as is canola oil. Of course, you could give coconut oil a try, too!
One more dairy-free option is the almighty avocado. Substitute half the amount of butter with nice and ripe mashed avocado.
If dairy isn’t an issue, and you want to add a little protein, try Greek yogurt, replacing half the amount of butter with half the amount of full-fat, plain Greek yogurt. It works great in cookie recipes.
Heavy Cream Substitutes
Cut back on fat and calories – and dairy if that’s an issue – by swapping out heavy cream. Half and half is an easy lighter sub, as well as Greek yogurt. If you need to cut out the dairy and you’re not opposed to soy, used a combination of tofu and soy milk blended smooth.
You can even cut out heavy cream or artificial whipped toppings and still give pies and other desserts the perfect finishing touch with a dollop of whipped half and half or skim milk and ice cubes fluffed up in a blender. Or try this Whipped Coconut Cream.
Eggs are a great source of nutrition, but if you really want to lighten up a recipe, or if you can’t have eggs due to allergies or dietary restrictions, we’ve got options for you.
In addition to using ground flax seed and water, you could also use chia seeds and water. We like these options because both flax seeds and chia seeds are nutritious ingredients with omega fatty acids and other good stuff.
There you have it! Some healthy swaps to take your baking to a new level! Let us know your hacks in the comments below.
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