One of the best parts about cooking and baking recipes yourself is the ability to tailor it your needs and preferences. Unbeknownst to most people, it is possible to cut down on calories, sugars, and fats from almost any baked good without sacrificing flavor or texture. Modify your favorite recipe with these 5 Healthy Baking Swaps to boost the nutritional profile and still satisfy your sweet tooth.
- 100% whole wheat flour: For every 1 cup of white flour, you can substitute with ¾ cup of wheat flour. White flour is stripped of its nutrients, adding only empty calories and refined carbohydrates to a recipe. Instead, make the switch to wheat flour for an added fiber, protein, and nutrient boost. And you’ll use less product.
- Bananas and avocados: At room temperature, the consistency of mashed bananas and puréed avocados is ideal for equally substituting oils or butters in a recipe. The creaminess and subtle flavor of avocados allows it to be an ideal substitute for butter, which optimizes your intake of heart-healthy fats. Bananas provide additional nutrients like potassium, fiber, and vitamin B6.
- Unsweetened applesauce: While 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce contains about 80-100 calories, 1 cup of sugar can pack over 700 calories! Equally swap 1 cup of sugar with 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce to cut more than 80% of the calories, but maintain the flavor and add fiber. Due to the high-water content of the applesauce, however, reduce the amount of liquid in a recipe by ¼ for every 1 cup of applesauce used in order to maintain the texture of the baked good. Check out this Applesauce Banana Bread recipe. It’s a staple in our home.
- Chia seeds or ground flax meal: If you’re looking for a plant-based option to replace eggs in a baking recipe, chia seeds or ground flax meal are the way to go. Simply add 1 Tablespoon of either to 3 Tablespoons of water and allow the mixture to sit for approximately 15 minutes before adding to your batter. Both are great sources of fiber and omega-3 fats.
- Greek yogurt: If a recipe calls for sour cream, slash calories and fat by substituting with plain non-fat Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is high in protein and lower in calories than other dairy products. The texture is similar to sour cream, so you’ll never taste the difference or miss out on those empty calories.
With these 5 healthy baking swaps in hand, experiment with other replacements that you can use to create alternate versions of your favorite desserts. All foods, including desserts, can be enjoyed in a healthy diet with moderation. Know that you can have your cake and eat it too, with just a few healthful substitutions.
Alexa Tiletile, Dietetic Intern