5 Insanely Simple and Surprising Ways to Make Your Baked Goods Healthier
If you've come to the conclusion that eating healthier desserts is a smarter long-term move than cutting out sweets altogether, thumbs-up emoji to you. As anyone who has tried to quit sugar can probably attest, nothing gets you obsessing over a doughnut more than the thought that you can Never. Have. One. Again.
But after trying out the whole wheat flour substitute thing, what else can you do to make your treats less bad for you? Turns out, plenty. Here are our favorite easy, unexpected ideas for cleaning up your cookies, cakes, and more—that won't leave them tasting like total garbage.
1. Use natural food coloring.
You don't buy packaged foods with red 40, so why would you add the stuff to your homemade red velvet cupcakes? Using all-natural food coloring won't make your rainbow-rific baked goods any less caloric, but it will help you avoid unnecessary chemicals.
MORE: This New Flour Cuts Calories By Over 25%
2. Swap out your white flour for something totally different.
Whole wheat flour is great, but it's not the be-all and end-all of healthy baking. Instead, experiment with subbing some of your all-purpose flour for things like:
•Oat flourA cup of the stuff packs 12 g of fiber to help you feel fuller longer. And you don't need to shell out for a bag of the stuff, since you can just grind rolled oats in the food processor. Oats don't contain gluten, so they can't replace all of your all-purpose flour. But you can use it to replace up to ½ c of the white stuff.
•Ground flaxseed or almond mealReplace ¼ c of white flour with flax or almond meal (more than that could make your baked good heavy). Both give baked goods an extra boost of protein and a richer, more buttery texture. Ground flaxseed delivers omega-3s, too.
•Banana or tiger nut flourBoth gluten-free flours deliver resistant starch, an indigestible form of fiber that gives you bulk without the calories. And since resistant starch soaks up a lot of liquid, you can usually get away with using less flour overall—so your treats end up having fewer calories.
MORE:3 New Gluten-Free Flours That Burn Fat—And How To Use Them
3. Use Greek yogurt or fruit purees instead of butter or oil.
Yogurt, mashed bananas, and unsweetened applesauce provide moisture for fewer calories than butter or oil. (And if you use a fruit puree, you might be able to get away with using less sugar, too.) Still, it's a scientific fact that fat-free cookies and cakes are basically hockey pucks. So for the sake of your taste buds, don't get rid of the oil and butter completely. Start by subbing half of the fat for yogurt or fruit puree instead.
4. Upgrade your add-ins.
Chocolate chips or peanut butter chips are delicious, but they're basically empty calories. Instead, trade them in for sweet dried fruit like cherries, blueberries, or chopped dates, which add flavor, texture, and fiber. Or ditch the sweet add-ins altogether in favor of chopped toasted nuts like hazelnuts or macadamias.
5. Cut some of your sugar with powdered milk.
You can swap up to one-quarter of the white sugar in most baked good recipes for an equal amount of powdered milk. Yes, the stuff still contains sugar, but it's from the lactose that occurs naturally in milk, not empty-calorie sucrose or fructose. Plus, you'll add some extra protein—a cup of powdered milk packs 24 g of the stuff.
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