Just because you love to bake doesn’t mean your favorite hobby has to lead to unintentional weight gain – bake yourself skinny by following these ways to make your baked goods healthier! While most baked goods are high in calories, sugar and fat, your favorite baked goods can easily be tweaked to be a lot healthier! These days, sweets are everywhere, so do everyone a favor and start baking yours a tad bit healthier! By incorporating these 7 ways to make your baked goods healthier, you can enjoy your favorite treats for much fewer calories and added fat too!
1. Incorporate Fruit
Using fruit as a substitute is one of the best ways to make your baked goods healthier. Use things like unsweetened applesauce, mashed bananas or pureed prunes and you can cut half of the fat in your baking recipes. Fruit is not only a great source of disease fighting vitamins and minerals, but it is also is high in fiber and much lower in calories than any kind of fat. Added fruit will help keep your baked goods moist and will also add a sweet taste to your favorite goods!
2. Replace Whole Eggs
While one or two eggs a week are okay, egg yolks are still high in saturated fat and cholesterol, two things we should all limit in our diets. One of my favorite ways to trim down the added fat in my baked goods is to replace whole eggs with a flax or chia egg. All you have to do is mix one tablespoon of flax meal or chia seeds with about 3 tablespoons of warm water and allow it to sit for about 10 minutes. Simply whisk the combination with a fork after a few minutes, until a gel is formed and you can use that just like you would a regular egg. Both flax meal and chia seeds are great sources of fiber, protein and heart healthy omega-3s. This is a great egg replacement for vegans who don't get eggs too!
3. Replace Dairy
Whether or not you choose to drink dairy, unless you are choosing the fat free variety, cows milk is high in saturated fat - the kind of fat that has been linked to increasing our bad cholesterol. Cow's milk is also very acidic and several studies have suggested that this acidic environment actually causes calcium to be leached from our bones instead of strengthening tem. Regardless of where you stand when it comes to dairy consumption, dairy-free milks such as almond milk make a great substitution in baked good recipes! It is low in fat, fortified with calcium and provides a creamy taste for your baked good recipes! Try the vanilla option for a even more delicious flavor!
4. Cut down the Sugar
Nine times out of ten, most recipes call for far too much sugar. Usually, you can take out a portion of the sugar without even noticing that it is gone. Another way to decrease the amount of added white sugar from a recipe is to substitute the white sugar for healthier alternatives. Pure maple syrup is one of my favorite substitutes because it still provides the sweet taste but also provides a few health benefits too! Another good option is honey or even natural sugar alternatives like stevia or Monk Fruit in the Raw can be substituted as well.
5. Reduce Salt
Most recipes, not just baked goods, call for far too much salt. Sodium acts like a sponge in our bodies, causing us to retain water and feel bloated. Unless you are making a recipe that includes yeast (the salt is necessary to activate the yeast), you can usually cut the amount of sodium by half without even noticing its absence. If you do feel like your recipe still needs something, try adding herbs, spices or seasonings instead!
6. Go Mini
While we might all enjoy an entire piece of pie, do we actually really need it? It most cases, the answer is no. Usually, after only one or two bites of something, your brain and body is satisfied but you find yourself eating more simply because it is sitting in front of you. Combat this with mini portions of your favorite treats! Mini pies, mini cupcakes, and other mini treats will provide the sweet satisfaction that your body is craving without the added calories, sugar and fat that will lead to unintentional weight gain over time.
7. Whole Grains
One of my favorite ways to make my baked goods a bit healthier is to substitute any white flours for a whole grain alternative. White flours are stripped of their nutritional benefits, while the whole grain substitutes still contain their health providing vitamins and minerals. Whole grains also add fiber to your baked goods, helping them stick with you for a little bit longer without causing your blood sugar to spike! Nowadays, companies are making a whole grain version for just about everything. It might take a little bit to get the cooking part down just right, but the taste is hardly detectable! Teach your kids to love whole grains too!
As a dietitian, I would never tell you to avoid sweets and baked goods entirely; just make them a bit healthier instead! With only a few substitutions, you can enjoy your favorite treats for far less calories, fat and guilt than their less healthy alternative! What are your favorite healthy substitutions? Have you tried any of the ones that I mentioned above.