Health Advocate Blog

Healthy baking substitutions

Baked goods have a bad reputation for being unhealthy. While in most cases they’ve earned it, there are ways to make your baked goods healthier and contribute nutrients to your diet rather than being a source of empty calories. In honor of Cake Day on November 26th, we present to you the following list of healthy baking substitutions.

  • Bake with whole-wheat flour rather than refined flour. Since whole-wheat flour is awhole grain, it has greater nutritional value. Whole-wheat flour has significantly more fiber, iron, Vitamin B6, and magnesium, while having 50 fewer calories per cup than refined flour.
  • Ditch the flour altogether. If you’re brave, you can use black beans instead of flour in recipes for chocolate cakes, cupcakes and brownies. For every 1 cup of flour, use 1 cup of black bean puree. Rinse, drain and blend beans in a food processor or blender to make the puree.
  • Butter swaps. It’s hard to find a recipe for a baked good that doesn’t require a significant amount of butter. Luckily there are many options for you to swap your butter for something healthier. Try these:
    • Olive or canola oil: These heart-healthy oils work great for greasing pans and making super-moist desserts. Find a conversation chart here to determine how much you’ll need to swap.
    • Applesauce: Use applesauce rather than butter in your baked goods to add nutritional value and sweetness. There is a 1:1 swap of applesauce to butter, so if your recipe calls for ½ cup of butter, use ½ cup of applesauce.
    • Avocado: This nutritional powerhouse works great in replacing butter in recipes for baked goods and icing. Similar to applesauce, there is a 1:1 swap. You can find some great baked good recipes for avocados here.
    • Bananas: Another nutritional powerhouse perfect for baking. Bananas will add fiber, magnesium and potassium to your recipes. One cup of mashed bananas equals 1 cup of butter.
    • Yogurt: This will add protein to your recipe. You’ll only need half as much yogurt as butter in recipes, so if your recipe call for ½ cup of butter, use ¼ cup of yogurt.
  • Use healthier dairy products. Full fat dairy products can add extra fat and sugar to your recipes. Try these swaps:
    • If you swap your butter with yogurt, you can use water in your recipe instead of milk since you’ll have the creaminess of the yogurt.
    • If your recipe calls for milk, opt for skim or evaporated milk.
    • Recipes requiring cream can be made healthier by using fat-free half and half.
    • Recipes calling for buttermilk can benefit from low-fat milk and lemon juice. For every 1 cup of buttermilk needed, use 1 cup of low-fat milk and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.
  • Sugar substitutes. Many recipes call for multiple cups of sugar to sweeten your treats. Even substituting half of your sugar for a substitute can make your desserts healthier. Common sugar substitutes include:
    • Pureed fruits: Applesauce, blueberries, strawberries, banana and pineapple can add sweetness to baked goods. If you opt for fruit, you may have to add more flour or reduce the amount of liquids to prevent your batter from being too thin. If you swap your applesauce for butter, try reducing your sugar by half.
    • Cinnamon, nutmeg or vanilla: Reduce the amount of sugar by half, and add a tablespoon of cinnamon, nutmeg or vanilla to enhance the sweetness.

For Health Advocate Members

If you’re a Health Advocate member with access to the coaching component of our wellness program, connect with a coach today to learn more tips to help you cook healthier.