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The (Baking) Substitute Teacher

By Kathy K. Downie, RD, LD, January 29, 2014  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Kathy K. Downie, RD, LD

Thankfully, it doesn’t take a chemistry degree to make healthier changes in many recipes: subbing nutty brown rice for white in a stir-fry or making your own salt-free chili powder with ground dried chiles.

But when it comes to baking, going rogue on recipes can turn cookies into hockey pucks or tender quick breads into paperweights. You don’t have to derail your healthy eating at breakfast, dessert or snack time: try these baking substitution pointers for sweet success.

Banana Oatmeal Snack CookiesGluten Free Jalapeno Cornbread

Choose fabulous fat stand-ins

Fat not only adds great flavor, but the (caloric) baking workhorse provides moisture and keeps proteins in flours from becoming too tough.

If you take out fat, other liquids must be introduced. Fruit purées work wonders in this department, which is why these superfast cookies are a great option to up the health ante in the cookie jar. All of the fat is replaced with a double-play of mashed-up fruits, and to great effect. (The whole-grain oats and omega-3-fats-heavy walnuts boost the nutrient quotient, too.) The moist cookies are the perfect dessert or after-school snack with the oats and nuts. We also love using applesauce and almondmilk to add richness to this zippy cornbread recipe.

If you just can’t give up butter, choose a nut butter. Sure, nuts are calorie-dense, but they offer more of the good types of fats than, say, dairy butter’s sole saturated type. Plus, nuts and seeds offer some fiber and plant-based compounds that may boost health, too.

We love these quick, no-bake treats at my house, and I don’t hesitate when my son asks for seconds.

Banana Cocoa Snack CakeLightened Whole Grain Morning Glory Muffins

Go with the (whole) grain

All-purpose flour may not have the best rep from nutritionists, but it’s a baking staple for its, well, all-purpose utility. Experiment with other flours by swapping out one-fourth of the all-purpose flour for a more nutrient-packed type (think rye flour, oat flour or whole wheat flour).

This adaptable quickbread is a great example of using some regular flour with a heartier one, and it’s a go-to at our house when we’re craving a not-too-sweet snack. Bonus: it’s made with fresh and dried fruit. Try this easy snack cake, too.

Whole wheat pastry flour is tender and light enough to make 1 to 1 substitutions a snap. Try your favorite pancake mix with whole wheat pastry flour instead or try these muffins for a guaranteed good start to your day.

Whole wheat pastry flour is easy to use, with a very mild (we might even say undetectable) flavor that allows for a just-sturdy-enough treat, while the applesauce, sweet potato purée and honey add moisture and sweetness without any fat.

Carrot Oat CakeFlourless Brownies

Reach for veggies

Although carrot cake sounds like it would be good for you, the traditional cream cheese frosting and oil-rich batter negates any carotene benefit you’d gain. Thankfully, this carrot-stuffed snack cake is full of good things: a blend of hearty oats, walnuts and whole wheat pastry flour is grounded by plenty of grated carrots, which keep the mix moist along with some maple syrup (and no oil or eggs). I like a piece with my morning coffee.

And on occasion I like to cap off my day with a fudgy, decadent brownie. I don’t have to tell anyone the brownie’s secret weapon is a can of fiber-filled beans, which stand in for nutrition-poor all-purpose flour.

How do you have your nutritious cake and eat it, too? Share your tips, ideas and suggestions below. 

Category: Food & Recipes

 

5 Comments

Comments

doniquebrinkley says ...
Hello, How would one prepare delicious cookies, and brownies without the sugar, and still get the super taste? Thanks again!
01/30/2014 7:45:24 PM CST
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@DONIQUE - You can run an advanced search on our recipe site for sugar conscious recipes. You can find dessert options at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/search/%20?f%5B0%5D=field_special_diet%3A137&f%5B1%5D=field_recipe_course%3A828.
01/31/2014 4:01:16 PM CST
dorthy says ...
I am looking for potato starch need it for backing do you carry?
02/02/2014 11:17:05 AM CST
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@DORTHY - Our items differ so check with your local store to see if they have this in stock!
02/03/2014 1:06:52 PM CST
Jess says ...
Thanks for the great ideas! Here are some of my tricks to lighten up my treats... -Use brown sugar and at least half the sugar called for. -Boil dates and purée them and use in place of sugar. -Use yogurt instead of oil or butter. -When you decrease sugar, add a chopped fruit to add a hif flavor and sweetness. -Lemon zest goes a long way in adding flavor. I use it liberally in many baked goods! -Use the fruit "waste" from your juicer to add no-fat moisture and flavor. Thanks again!
02/05/2014 3:40:11 PM CST