You can have your cookies and feel good too, when you use these tips for healthier baked goods.
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Recently, the trend has been turning toward gluten-free and all-natural diets. And while those are good, and I agree with them entirely, the truth is that everybody has their vices and problems. Not everyone can turn their back on gluten and goodies without a backward glance.
Baking will always haunt those true kitchen junkies. No matter how healthy you eat or whichever diet you pursue, those cookies in the good ol’ jar will hauntingly stare you in the eyes every time you pass by your pantry.
A lot of people do not realize how easy it is to make your favorite treats better for you though. It just takes some creativity and determination to be able to make any baked good into a healthier alternative.
Everything in moderation!
By balancing out the recipes of your baked goods, you can still add a handful of your favorite chocolate chips or sweet additives to satisfy the underlying sweet tooth that you have been trying to avoid so desperately.
5 tips for healthier baked goods
Healthier Fat Replacements
Most recipes, especially for cookies, call for a large amount of butter or some other fatty ingredient that helps as both a binder and a flavor maker. If you get creative with adding oils you can avoid the unneeded trans-fats that you are ingesting regularly if you use just your run of the mill cookie recipe.
If you want to take it a step farther, you can look into the health benefits of specific oils and try to cater the inclusion of those oils specifically to your recipe.
Canola oil has no saturated fat, which makes it a heart-healthy fat. Developed here in Canada from edible rapeseed oil, it is extremely healthy. Canola, in fact, comes from CANadian OiL (because there are plenty who would refuse to buy edible rapeseed oil based entirely on the name). The only problem with canola is that many of them are genetically modified to be Roundup ready. It is possible to find organic, non-GMO canola, but it can be difficult to find in stores.
For brownies you can substitute 1 cup of flour with 1 cup of mashed black beans. Beans have much less impact on blood sugar levels and they are gluten free.
Swap oil for equal amounts of pureed fruits and vegetables in muffin, cookie and cake recipes.
Swap 1 cup flour for 1 cup dried pureed black beans in brownie recipes.
Pureed Fruits and Vegetables
If you know how to alter your recipe in the right way, this can be one of your most beneficial tools in terms of healthy substitutions.
Pureed vegetables can substitute for the qualities of egg as a binder. The best part about it is it works for a binder and as an ingredient. For example, you could take pureed apples and add them to your cookies with a dash of cinnamon and you already are on your way to success.
My own little personal secret for this is using zucchini as a binder in brownies. The flavor of the cocoa is so strong that you do not even taste the zucchini and if it is blended right, you won’t notice the texture either. This is perfect for kids and adults alike that don’t want to voluntarily eat healthy!
Get Creative with Your Flours
There are plenty of healthy substitutes to your general all-purpose flour. With the whole of the western world being on a gluten free kick, it won’t be that hard to find the substitutes you need.
If you want to think small, go for adding some whole wheat flour in with all-purpose so that you can get some fiber and nutrients. Store-bought whole wheat bread is one of those foods that looks healthier than it is, but adding whole wheat at home is a good idea.
If you want to go big with this, try looking into alternatives like chick pea flour or almond flour, which, has only a fraction of the bad carbs that are in white flour.
Bear in mind though, that too much of one of these can overpower the flavor, especially something like chick pea flour – it has a strong taste! That means you’re going to have to experiment a little bit before you get it just right.
Watch the Sodium
This one is rather easy compared to the other steps, simply watch the amount of sodium in your recipes.
Sometimes recipes call for a larger amount of sodium than is necessary in your daily diet. You can cut that down if you wish, but beware because removing too much can affect the rise in baking.
We have an interesting problem at our house. EJ has high blood pressure and must have a salt-free diet. On the other hand, I have low blood pressure and must maintain a steady supply of sodium in my diet! To compromise, I cook without salt (and deal with the diminished rise) and keep my sea salt handy at the table.
Steer Clear of Artificial Additives
Some recipes call for trans-fatty synthetic alternatives but those are never good for you in terms of diet.
If you have recipes that call for margarine, unless you’re under strict doctor’s orders to use it, you can safely use either butter or oil.
I’ve never accepted the idea that margarine was healthier than butter, and the evidence is starting to back me up.
Vanilla extract is another one – make your own or buy pure vanilla extract instead of imitation flavouring.
Basically anything that contains trans-fats or synthetics additives and flavorings is never good for you, so avoid these.
Healthy Version Recipes
In the end, baking is always an experience of its own.
So when trying some of these substitutions it’s not going to be extremely smooth at first. You will have to go through some trial and error to ensure that everything tastes and looks the way you want.
Keep in mind that there are plenty of healthy versions of your favorite baked goods online and in specialty recipe books. When you find that perfect recipe, imagine how impressed your friends and family will be when they find out that their favorite sugary snack of yours is actually relatively healthy for them!0