When you are cutting calories to get to a healthier weight, do desserts always have to go? The answer is NO, yay! You can still eat desserts as long as you don’t eat them in large portions. Besides watching portion sizes with desserts, another way to cut down on calories, especially with baked goods, is by substituting empty calories in your recipes for healthier ingredients.
This benefits you and the people you share your desserts with including your children, other family members, your friends, and your co-workers. Most people won’t even know that you have substituted out a less healthy ingredient for a healthier one. Here are some healthy baking tips:
Healthy Ingredient Substitutions
- Use applesauce, non-fat buttermilk, or nonfat plain yogurt instead of some of the fat in the recipe. Use half of each ingredient (ex. Instead of using ½ cup of butter, try ¼ cup butter + ¼ cup applesauce).
- Replace some of your hard fats (butter or shortening) with heart-healthy oils like olive or canola oil. You can also do this at 50% each. The oil will make your cookies a bit crisper, so you will need to store them in an air tight container to avoid them drying out too quickly.
- For chocolate, like brownies or chocolate cake, you can substitute some of the base with prune puree mixture.
- Try using mashed bananas or even fruit baby food to substitute for the fat in cakes or muffins. When fruit replaces the fat, your product may be chewier and softer.
- For eggs, especially if you are watching your cholesterol, replace 1 whole egg with 2 egg whites.
- If milk is an ingredient in your recipe, use skim or 1% or even fat-free half-and-half.
- Add fiber to your cookies – switch to using whole-wheat flour, whole-wheat pastry flour, whole cornmeal, and/or oatmeal. You can get as much as 4 times the amount of fiber in each batch! You can also try using half whole wheat and half all purpose.
- Use nuts in reduced amounts. If the recipe calls for ½ cup of nuts, only use ¼ cup.
- With regards to salt/sodium, aim for ¼ tsp. – ½ tsp. or less of salt per batch of cookies.
- Although this doesn’t reducet calories, consider limiting artificial ingredients to your baked goods like food dyes.
By baking your own products, you have control of the ingredients and are avoiding most if not all of the processed ingredients found in many products in the grocery store. Always remember when you substitute, it’s best to start with a small amount and then gradually substitute more. The flavor may change a bit so find what you like best!
If you have a recipe that you just can’t substitute ingredients with, here are a few tips to help you still aim for healthier after dinner options.
Healthier After-Dinner Options
- Choose desserts that include a fruit or vegetable as one of the main ingredients.
- Cut servings into smaller portions and share – this is sometimes all that’s necessary to lower calories.
- Buy healthy or light cookbooks or magazines such as Cooking Light.
- Check our Pinterest page for some healthy recipe ideas.
- Google ‘healthy’ or ‘light’ recipes to find some tasty and new dessert recipes on the internet.