The phrase “healthy baking” may seem like an oxymoron to some. Baked goods are supposed to be crunchy, sweet and filled with fat and sugary calories. Even the zucchinis in zucchini bread are making a questionable compromise. So, can any baking be healthy? Well, it can definitely be healthier, and still taste great.
If you want to test out the potential for making healthy substitutions in your baked goods, here are a few ideas to get you started, along with some videos that have even more suggestions.
Applesauce in Place of Oil
Replacing oil with applesauce is a great substitution because applesauce has no cholesterol and is much lower in fat. According to a baking for beginners article on The Kitchen Community, the substitution will work in most recipes that call for oil, and will not affect the flavor. There's no need to get special applesauce for baking, but if you're trying to be healthy, go with an unsweetened style. If you want to save even more calories, you can make your applesauce at home with just a few simple ingredients. The replacement ratio is 1:1, so if the recipe calls for 1/2 cup of oil, use a 1/2 cup of applesauce.
Mashed Bananas for Brown Sugar
While you may know bananas can be used to sweeten oatmeal or yogurt, they also replace brown sugar particularly well in baking recipes. Bananas are also a great source of two essential nutrients: potassium and fiber.
Make sure to use ripe bananas for this substitution — they’re sweeter and will work better in baked goods. If you want to preserve the banana flavor, you can add a little lemon. Since bananas are moister than sugar, use about half the amount of bananas to replace brown sugar in a recipe.
Avocado for Butter
You can cut the fat content of a baked good almost 40 percent by swapping out the butter for avocado. Keep in mind that avocado doesn’t melt the same way as butter, so if you replace all of the butter with avocado, you may need to increase the amount of wet ingredients a little. Another option is to replace only half the butter with avocado, so the consistency remains similar. You can use avocado to butter in a 1:1 ratio. The approach works particularly well in chocolate baked goods that hide the green of the avocado.
Oat Flour for All-Purpose Flour
All-Purpose Flour is one of the most common ingredients in baked goods, and yet can be easily replaced. Oat flour substitutes for all-purpose flour at a 1:1 ratio. Also, you can make oat flour by grinding oats in a food processor until it has a powdery, flour-like texture. In particular, the substitution works well in muffins, pancakes, cookies and brownies, and will add a little bit of nutritional value to your baked goods. Be warned, though, the change won’t work in breads or bread-like products such as a cinnamon rolls because they require gluten to make the dough rise. Oat flour has no gluten.