7 Healthier Baking Swaps You Should be Making Today

Written by: on Saturday, December 21st, 2013
Cut-out cookies

With a few simple swaps, you can make your holiday cut-outs healthier…without sacrificing taste.

I’m getting ready to do a bunch of holiday baking with my kids this weekend and early next week. While it’s easy to just make the recipes exactly as they’re spelled out in the cookbooks we’ll be using, I researched some healthier swaps — that I’ll sneak in when the kids aren’t looking.

I also got a chance to talk to Debra K., a health and wellness expert who’s the host and executive producer of the TV show, the Journey Into Wellbeing. As part of this show, she writes a Recipe Redo Blog. “The concept is to take traditional recipes we all know and love and ‘redo’ them in a manner that is healthier and tastes great. This is something I have always done on my own, so I thought it would be great to create a site that features recipes that everyone can feel confident in preparing. We have already received recipes from chefs all over the country who are creating healthier recipes of their state’s top foods.”

Bottom line: With these swaps, no one (my kids included) will ever notice the difference…in taste. But I’ll know the difference…in that the foods we’ll be cooking will have less fat and fewer calories—along with a few added nutrients.

Here are the recipe swaps I’ll be trying this weekend:

Applesauceforbaking

Add some applesauce to your brownies, cakes, and sweetbreads, and you’ll be adding vitamin C.

1) Substitute an equal amount of fruit puree (e.g., applesauce) for oil in cake, brownie, bread, or muffin mixes. The fruit adds flavor, moisture, and tenderness to baked goods when the oil is omitted. You can also substitute canned pumpkin (rich in vitamin A) for fat in spice breads, spice cakes, or chocolate desserts like brownies. I also like to add canned pumpkin and cinnamon to chocolate-chip cookies (and to pancakes and waffles) as they add great nutrients and honestly, the kids never notice the difference (except that they taste really good).

Debra K. recommends swapping out only half the oil with the fruit puree for best consistency and taste. For example, if your recipe calls for 1 cup oil; use only ½ cup oil with ½ cup fruit puree.

2) Use two egg whites or one-quarter cup egg substitute in place of one egg and you’ll trim about 60 calories and six grams of fat from your treats overall. The only recipe I won’t be using this in is our cut-out cookies—as my recipe only calls for only one egg and I don’t want to mess with the consistency of cut-out cookies, particularly when you’re doing it with three young kids!

EnjoyLifeChocolateChips

These are great chips for those who don’t eat dairy—and now they come in dark chocolate!

3) Substitute one cup of mini chocolate chips in place of two cups of the regular kind to slash 1,120 calories and 64 grams of fat. If you can’t find mini-chips, cut the amount of chocolate chips you use in half—and add pecans or walnuts (if your kids can eat them) to the mix for healthy fat, healthy protein, and nutrients. I would also add here: if you can use dark chocolate chips instead of milk chocolate, you’ll be upping all-important antioxidants in your baked goods too! We use (and love) the chocolate chips by Enjoy Life since they’re dairy-, nut-, gluten-, and soy-free.

JulesGlutenFreeFlour

I swear by this flour; it makes the best cut-out cookies! Go to julesglutenfree.com to buy (and get recipes).

4) Replace one cup of white flour with whole-wheat flour to add 10 grams of heart-healthy fiber. Debra K. also recommends trying a combination of gluten-free flour (if you’re gluten free) and oat flour instead of wheat. If you are gluten-free, I’d highly recommend the Jules Gluten-free Flour; it’s simply the best flour I’ve ever tried in consistency and taste.

5) Substitute low-fat cream cheese and milk in place of full-fat varieties to reduce fat. (Don’t use nonfat products, though, as you need some fat to get right texture.) If you’re avoiding dairy, Debra K. recommends substituting coconut or coconut almond blend milk for dairy milk in recipes. I also find that rice milk and almond milk work in a direct substitution if the recipe calls for milk; you really don’t sacrifice anything in consistency or taste. (Note: we love the Organic Unsweetened Almond and Rice Milks from the 365 Whole Foods Brand.)

6) Cut back on the sugar in any recipe by 25 percent—and you’ll reduce calories and sweetness—without sacrificing flavor. So if the recipe calls for 2 cups of sugar, you can easily use 1 ½ cups of sugar. I am definitely going to be doing this with our sugar cut-out cookies!

EarthBalanceSpread

My entire family (including my kids) loves this stuff…and you honestly cannot taste a difference when you use it in baked goods.

7) Swap out butter with healthier options like Earth Balance or Smart Balance. We alternate between the Earth Balance products (I like the soy-free product) and the Smart Balance Organic Buttery Spread because they both contain 0 grams of trans fats and are dairy free, vegan, and non-GMO (genetically modified ingredients). Honestly, there’s no reason to use artery-clogging butter anymore!

Two other swaps that sound very interesting and worth a try if you’re making brownies: Puree soft or silken tofu (high in protein and calcium), then use it in a one-to-one ratio to replace half the fat in your favorite brownie recipe. Another option (but be careful about consistency if you’re using in the same brownie recipe): Mix in finely grated raw beets (two-thirds of a cup) to brownie batter (they add sweetness, moisture, and antioxidants/nutrients)—and you can cut back the sugar you use by a quarter cup.

 

Hope these recipe swaps help you! Know that these easy substitutions won’t affect consistency or taste, but will keep you  (and your kids) healthier. Happy baking!

 

 

 

 

Who else needs to see this? Share it now.
Facebook0Twitter0Pinterest0LinkedIn0Google+0Email

Healthy & Yummy! Holiday Gingerbread

Written by: on Thursday, December 19th, 2013
HolidayGingerbreadCookies

‘Tis the season for holiday baking! With a few smart substitutions, your treats can be a lot healthier.

Decorating gingerbread men. Building gingerbread houses. Holiday baking with your kids is always special. But these two gingerbread projects can be tricky and time consuming. Since I love gingerbread, I developed this recipe for gingerbread squares. It’s easy and are you ready for this: it’s fat-free. That’s because instead of using shortening or oil, you make a healthy substitution and use unsweetened applesauce. I have discovered that swapping the applesauce for the traditional fat results in gingerbread that is light and moist and nobody seems to notice the difference.

I always make gingerbread squares when I ‘m hosting a party or having a few friends over for holiday cheer.  The sweet gingerbread aroma is so inviting, it will make your home smell like a Christmas bake shop. One whiff and your guests won’t want to leave. (Maybe that is not a good thing?!)  I usually serve the gingerbread squares with a big dollop of Cool Whip or frozen vanilla yogurt. How do you like to eat your gingerbread?

healthy gingerbread Gingerbread Squares

Makes 16 servings

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups whole-wheat white flour

2/3 cup sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon allspice

1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce

1 cup molasses

3 egg whites

light or fat-free whipped topping (optional)

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 325-degrees. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and spices, and stir to mix well. Add the applesauce, molasses, and egg whites, and mix until dry ingredients are moist and combined. Be careful not to over-mix.

2) Coat a 9-X-13-inch pan with cooking spray, and spread the batter in the pan. Bake for 40 minutes or just until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

3) Cool the gingerbread to room temperature and cut into squares. Serve the gingerbread with a dollop of whipped topping if desired.

Nutrition Information: 180 calories, 3 grams protein, 41 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams dietary fiber, 0.5 gram fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 215 milligrams sodium

 

 

Who else needs to see this? Share it now.
Facebook0Twitter0Pinterest0LinkedIn0Google+0Email

Finally! Peppermint Bark That’s Vegan, Gluten & Dairy Free

Written by: on Thursday, December 5th, 2013
NaturalCandyStorePeppermintBark

This yummy peppermint bark is vegan—and gluten and soy free too!

My family loves peppermint bark around the holidays—but since my two sons are gluten and dairy free, we tend not to buy the stuff. But now I’ve found that the Natural Candy Store (my favorite spot to buy candy free of all the typical junk) is now selling Peppermint Bark that’s organic, vegan, and gluten-free. Amazing! Plus, it’s delicious too! (I also bought Surf Sweets Organic Holiday Gummies to decorate the gingerbread houses we’ll be making soon.)

If you haven’t tried The Natural Candy Store yet, it’s a must visit—particularly if your child is allergic to anything (they have special sections on the website that sell allergen-free candy). And while sugar isn’t great for anyone (including kids),  you won’t find things like Red Dye #40 or Blue Dye #1 (which have been linked to ADHD in kids) in this stuff.

This site (and the candy sold on it) is worth a click through. I can definitely vouch for it—and the candy (and even baking decorations) they sell!

 

Who else needs to see this? Share it now.
Facebook0Twitter0Pinterest0LinkedIn0Google+0Email

This Video Showcases the Importance of Organ Donation

Written by: on Monday, December 2nd, 2013

When I saw this video about a mom reaching out to the woman who received her daughter’s heart through organ donation, I realized even more how important this choice is.

Who else needs to see this? Share it now.
Facebook0Twitter0Pinterest0LinkedIn0Google+0Email

Looking for some creative gift ideas?

Written by: on Monday, December 2nd, 2013

healthyholidaygifts

Tired of giving the same old humdrum gifts every year? Or feeling a bit unsure about what to give—friends, loved ones, co-workers? Look no further than these stay-fit, stay-healthy, and stay-inspired gift suggestions (see below)! We put these ideas together based on the things we’d love to get (hint, hint!). Hope you enjoy…and remember: it’s not about the how much you spend, but the thought that counts!

Who else needs to see this? Share it now.
Facebook0Twitter0Pinterest0LinkedIn0Google+0Email