One of my favorite hobbies is baking. I find it relaxing, even calming, and, of course, I love the end result: warm, delicious, gooey baked goods. I know a lot of people associate baking and sweets as something that can’t be incorporated into a healthy diet, especially when you want to lose weight, but I knew that I couldn’t eliminate dessert forever, so I started to “healthify” my baking with lower-calorie and more nutritious ingredients so I could still enjoy these treats.
I used to be intimidated by baking because it’s more of an exact science than cooking, but even with simple swaps and adjustments the recipes still taste delicious. Here’s how I “healthify” my baking:
Start with a previously successful recipe
I’ve had plenty of cooking disasters, but I try to prevent this by using a recipe that I know turned out well before to guide my baking experiment. I then make small changes and substitutions with my measurements and ingredients. I increase my chances of an edible treat, and I don’t end up wasting food!
Reduce sugar by a quarter
An easy way to cut calories from my baked goods without sacrificing taste is reducing the amount of sugar that the recipes calls for by one-fourth. Most of the time, I don’t even notice a difference. Additionally, I’ll substitute in a more nutritious ingredient that has some natural sweetness like flavored yogurt, applesauce, or prune puree.
Replace fats with healthy alternatives
Fat creates moisture and richness in a recipe, but it also adds loads of calories. Omitting all of the high-fat ingredients can yield boring and even inedible results, so I do keep some, but the rest I replace with nutritious and lower-calorie ingredients. For instance, if a recipe calls for a stick of butter, I’ll use half of a stick and replace the other half with a ripe banana, canned pumpkin, or Greek yogurt. I’ve even used canned chick peas! Pretty much anything that adds moisture with a bit of texture works well.
Add fiber and omega’s with flaxseed
In baking, eggs help baked goods rise and become light and fluffy. They’re also needed to prevent the baked goods from crumbling or falling apart. However, if you’re watching your cholesterol or simply want to reduce calories and fat, ground flaxseeds are a great way to add healthy fiber and omega-3 fats to your recipe. When mixed with water, they become great substitution for eggs in baking. Just combine one tablespoon of ground flaxseed with three tablespoons of water for each egg.
Next page: Taste-test the batter