I love to bake during the cooler seasons, and I have specific ingredients to bake with that I always keep in my cupboards so I’m always prepared the healthy way. Baking doesn’t have to be a process that avoids producing treats with lots of sugar, salt, and fat. In fact, baking can be a great way to start eating healthier foods, if you know what the best ingredients to bake with are. My favorite baking products are sugar-free, high in fiber, not highly processed, not artificial, and they are also additive free. And yes, if you’re wondering, they produce wonderful baked goods that taste amazing! I hope you enjoy these as much as I do!
1. Oat Fiber
This is one my latest favorite ingredients to bake with of all. Oat fiber is not the same as oats, oat bran, or even oat flour. Oat fiber is actually just the fiber derived from oats, and it is calorie free! It only contains 3 grams of fiber and nothing else. This means you could use a cup of it, for no calories, and get the same effect as using regular flour or oat flour. Because it is high in fiber, it will absorb liquids the same way as gluten-filled flours, yet it won’t cause the digestive issues gluten can, or pack on the pounds. I like NuNaturals Oat Fiber, which sells out almost everywhere it’s carried online. You can use oat fiber anywhere you would use regular flour and it can be used the exact same way, cup for cup. It also has a mild, nutty taste that’s really nice to stir into oatmeal in the morning for extra fiber, or to add to a smoothie.
2. Coconut Flour
Coconut flour is by far one of my favorite foods. It’s nothing more than finely ground coconut and the result is actually a wonderfully high fiber flour that you can use less of, and get the same results as regular flour. It does require adding more eggs, egg whites, or egg replacements, or more liquids, but I love how tender of a crumb it produces in baked goods. It’s also low in fat, contains 6 grams of fiber per tablespoon, and 3 grams of protein. It’s been linked to lower weight and better blood sugar regulation in multiple studies as well.
I am a stevia fan for life, and it has transformed my sugar-free baking in the kitchen. I’m very careful about what stevia products I choose though. I like NuNaturals baking stevia, white stevia powder, and liquid stevia to bake with. You need much less, and can use it anywhere sugar is called for, yet in much smaller amounts. It will not produce a bitter taste, so long as you choose a good quality brand. I’m not affiliated with NuNaturals, but can tell you that their products really do work the best of any I’ve had. For my non-baked goods, I only use their pure stevia extract, but for baking, I use their white stevia powder, liquid stevia, and their baking stevia, which are less expensive per serving. Most stevia forms from NuNaturals can be substituted by using 1 tbsp. of stevia product wherever 1 cup of sugar is called for. If you use pure stevia powder, which is a very fine stevia power that is stronger, only use 1 tsp.
4. Canned Pumpkin
Canned pumpkin is another fabulous ingredient to bake with. It's low in calories, low in sugar, fat free, and full of fiber, potassium, tryptophan, and Vitamin A. You can sub 1/2 cup pumpkin for 2 eggs and 1/2 cup oil. This is a great way to make any baked good healthy and delicious!
Unsweetened applesauce is another great low sugar ingredient to bake with. You can sub oil or butter for applesauce and sub eggs for applesauce as well! Unsweetened applesauce is also full of fiber and Vitamin C. It makes great muffins, pancakes, and baked oatmeal!
6. Quinoa Flakes
I love quinoa flakes and they look a lot like instant oatmeal and cook the same. They have all the benefits of quinoa but just cook quicker. You can use them anywhere you would use rolled oats.
7. Rolled Oats
While we are on the topic of oats, let's talk about baking with them! Oats are great to add to muffins, quickbreads, and pancakes. They also make delicious waffles with just rolled oats and egg whites! You can also use them to make cakes, pie crust, and cupcakes! They work much better than instant oats in recipes since they soak up more liquids and produce a heartier baked good.
8. Shredded Coconut
Shredded coconut is such a tasty addition to any baked good. I use it as a direct replacement for flour and it works great with any other ingredient.
9. Coconut Oil
I use a little coconut oil to grease all my pans with instead of nonstick sprays or butter. Nonstick sprays are full of chemicals and coconut oil, unlike butter, is cholesterol free.
10. Vanilla Extract
I'm in love with vanilla extract! It makes a great addition to whatever you bake and enhances the flavors of all your other ingredients, while also adding a delicious warming taste to your goodies! It also adds a natural sweetness. Just be sure to choose a top quality brand. I choose Rodelle brand, which is the preference of many chefs as well.
11. Dark or Regular Cocoa
Let's not forget about chocolate! I adore dark, or Dutch, cocoa. My favorite is Hershey's dark and it's like eating an Oreo cookie, it's so rich! I love Rodelle's Dutch cocoa as well and use it in all my baked foods. You can use cocoa to enhance any recipe or even use it in replacement to flours in a one to one ratio. It's low in calories, has no sugar, and is full of fiber, plus antioxidants.
I put cinnamon in nearly everything! It makes a delicious sugar free way to sweeten recipes and it also aids digestion and regulates your blood sugar.
13. Egg Whites
Lastly, I'd like to mention egg whites due to their high protein and low calorie profile. I typically buy the carton of egg whites so I don't waste the yolks and save whole eggs to eat, however I love to bake with only egg whites. They puff up your baked goods and lower the calorie content. They're also tasteless so they won't affect what you're making, but will help to hold everything together.
You should try adding some nuts or nut products to your baked foods for a yummy flavor as well, along with flax and chia as a good source of fats. Other than that, these are my top 13 ingredients I like to bake with, but what about you? What are your go to baking ingredients?