6 Healthy Baking Alternatives

We all get those cravings for a sweet indulgence every now and then. But no fear! A baked goods delight doesn’t have to throw off a wholesome meal plan. Decadent cupcakes, brownies, and cookies DO have a place in a healthy diet. The secret? Sneak tweaks that bring your baked goods out of guilt-inducing territory and into a whole new light.

And if you think slashing major calories and fat from baked goods will sacrifice flavor or texture, think again. Bonus: Beyond the mega calorie savings, many of these substitutes also deliver notable nutritional perks!

Just remember … Lower fat batters tend to cook quicker and can easily become dry when over-baked. So stick to the toothpick test and poke your baked goods before the timer goes off, and again every couple of minutes thereafter until cooked through.

1. Whole Wheat Flour: In most recipes whole wheat flour can be substituted one-for-one for all-purpose flour, but just know that it will change the flavor, texture and density of the pastry. If you are making cake or muffins, or other recipes that should be light, try using whole wheat pastry flour instead.

2. Applesauce: A great way to ensure moist, delicious baked goods while saving tons of calories is opting for applesauce. It‘s a fabulous swap when baking sweet recipes because it adds moisture and fiber to your treats. For the best texture, start by using ¾ cup unsweetened sauce for every 1 cup of oil called for. You can also use equal amounts of applesauce for the butter called for in your recipe.

3. Greek Yogurt: When you’re looking to add protein and moisture to your baked goods (not to mention an extra dose of bone-building calcium), without a ton of extra calories and fat, Greek yogurt is the answer. Try cutting the oil in your recipe back by substituting ½ of the amount of oil with ¾ the amount of yogurt. For example, if your recipe lists 1 cup of oil, try replacing ½ cup of oil with ¾ cup of yogurt. If the batter seems too dry after mixing, stir in additional yogurt. You can also use ½ cup of yogurt for every cup of butter required. Dannon has also provided more Tips for Cooking With Yogurt.

4. Avocado: Avocados are packed with loads of nutritional benefits, no matter how or when you eat them! So what’s not to love about incorporating them into your baked goods? You can swap out all of the oil called for with a mixture of 1 large avocado and ½ cup yogurt for added moisture. Purée the avocado in a blender or food processor along with the other liquids (yogurt, water, eggs).

5. Black Beans: Asian recipes often call for beans in desserts, but whoever started using them in classic brownies is a genius! When making your brownies, the secret is to use one cup of puréed black beans instead of one cup of flour. Blend the beans beforehand by putting a 14-ounce can of salt-free black beans, not drained, in a blender or food processor. You can also try a mixture of black bean purée and yogurt for a complete oil or butter replacement. You won’t be able to taste the beans, and they give the brownies a terrific fudgy texture.

6. Pumpkin Purée: Coffee cakes and muffins are the perfect place to swap in a pumpkin puré Not only will you benefit from the added nutrients (such as vitamin K, potassium, and fiber), but you will also add delicious flavor into your baked goods. Use ¾ cup of pumpkin purée for every cup of butter called for, or swap in equal amounts of pumpkin for oil.

Want to try your hand at baking delicious treats using healthy alternatives? You will love:

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