Baking is a great way to connect with family and friends, show your gratitude for others and relax a little. But while it may be great for the mind and spirit, it doesn’t always deliver the best health benefits. Many baked goods are high in sugar and fat, which are big no-nos when you’re focused on whole health.
Luckily, with a few simple substitutions, you can boost the nutrition of your favorite recipes. With a few tweaks here and there, you’ll be able to enjoy family and holiday favorites without sacrificing taste — or your waistline.
5 Healthy baking substitutes to try
Baked goods are full of eggs, flour, sugar, and butter. Try these simple swaps next time you’re in the kitchen.
1. Egg substitutes
Eggs are a good source of protein but also contain cholesterol. High levels of cholesterol can lead to heart disease. Instead of using whole eggs, substitute one whole egg with two egg whites or ¼ cup cholesterol-free egg substitute.
You can also swap one egg for half of a medium banana, mashed. Use 1 ½ tablespoons of vegetable oil, 1 ½ tablespoons of water and 1 teaspoon of baking power per egg for leavening.
2. Healthy alternatives to butter
Many baked goods feature butter in a starring role. While butter can add a lot of flavor to recipes, it can also add to your waistline. Instead, try substituting half the amount called for with applesauce, mashed avocado or pureed prunes.
3. Cut back on the sugar
Sugar may be tasty, but too much is definitely a bad thing. Sugar has been linked to diabetes, weight gain, heart disease, acne, and even cancer. Fortunately, most recipes only need half the amount of sugar listed. You can also use an equal amount of no-sugar-added applesauce or 2/3 cup pureed dates for each cup of sugar as a healthier alternative.
4. Reduce salt to boost heart health
Americans eat about 3,400 milligrams of sodium every day — more than twice the ideal amount outlined by the American Heart Association. Watching your salt intake can help protect your heart against disease. Cutting back the amount called for in recipes is just one simple step to make recipes heart healthy. Try swapping salt with herbs and spices or use citrus juice.
5. Get the benefits of dairy without the fat
Dairy is a good source of calcium, vitamin D and other nutrients important to your health. However, dairy can also be high in fat. Swap whole milk in recipes for 1 percent or skim milk with one added tablespoon of vegetable oil. Many recipes can also use soy, rice, or almond milk instead of cow’s milk.
So keep health in mind the next time you’re baking for friends and family. You’ll be showing them extra love with treats that are not only delicious, but also nutritious.