6/7/13

How to make baking healthy...



Healthy baking recipes often get a bad rap—but can be really delicious! The key is knowing what, when, and how to make small adjustments to boost the nutrition of your recipes!

Some of the most common ingredients in baking are butter, sugar, eggs, and flour. There are lots of ways to work in these ingredients, while also lightening your baking results!

Butter
What does butter contribute in baking? Butter helps make foods brown, crisp, flavorful and tender. Butter is what makes cookies crisp, cakes light and soft, and croissants delicate and flaky.

Can you bake without, or with less, butter? Yes! Here are some ideas:
  • Try combining half butter and half applesauce in recipes for cakes, quick breads (like banana bread), and soft cookies
  • Try applesauce or pumpkin puree (canned) as a substitute for butter or oil in quick breads, muffins, and cupcakes
  • Applesauce and pumpkin puree contribute lots of moisture and tenderness to soft products, sometimes even more so than butter!
  • You can make fat free cupcakes with two simple ingredients! Mix together diet soda with one box of cake mix and bake!

Sugar
Why is sugar necessary in baked goods? Like butter, sugar helps with browning, so that your cakes and cookies don’t remain white, even after baking. This helps sweet treats look more appealing! Also, sugar provides structure to baked foods. Sugar allows cakes, muffins, and quick breads to rise in the oven, making the end result fluffy and soft.

Though sugar substitutes can be used in baking, it is a bit more challenging to adjust recipes in this way. Using sugar substitutes in “regular recipes” can sometimes yield results very different from the original recipe. Sugar substitutes do have an effect on the end product when baking, however, and so this is important to keep in mind. They can decrease how much baked goods rise, and consequently, can make the product more dense and ‘heavy,’ than it would be with sugar. Sometimes, sugar substitutes alter texture overall, making the baked good drier, less tender, and somewhat dense.

Oftentimes, the best results with sugar substitutes are with recipes specifically formulated for them. Manufacturers of sugar substitutes often have tasty recipes that have been tested and tweaked for their inclusion.

Ideas for where to look for good recipes using sugar substitutes:
 
 
 
Flour
What does flour contribute to baked goods? It helps provide structure to baked goods—making them rise and remain fluffy after baking.

Flour is necessary for most baked goods, but there are some useful substitutions that can be made to make baked goods a bit more nutritious. Some ideas are:
  • Use half whole-wheat or oat flour and half all-purpose flour, this will add fiber and vitamins
  • Add in some ground flaxseed or chia seeds to your quick breads or pancakes for added fiber and healthy fat
  • There are lots of flour options available now, such as soy flour, buckwheat flour, and rice flour that contribute unique nutrients
 
If you are following a gluten-free diet, but want to enjoy baking, there are ways to do that, as well:
  • Choose recipes that include lots of ingredients with natural moisture—such as pumpkin, zucchini, low fat sour cream, carrots and milk. These ingredients will combine well gluten-free flours
  • Sugar also helps hold moisture in baked goods—so be careful about experimenting with low sugar recipes.
  • Gluten free recipes generally require some practice to get the results you want—do not get discouraged if your first batch doesn’t come out perfectly! You will learn the right balance of moist ingredients and flours to yield a delicious result!
Try this healthier baking recipe: Moist Brownies made with applesauce!

Ingredients: 1 package of brownie mix (22oz), 1 cups of unsweetened apple sauce, 1 egg, 1 cup walnuts (chopped)
Directions: Mix together brownie mix, apple sauce, egg, and walnuts (batter will be lumpy). Spread evenly in greased 13”x9”x2” baking pan. Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool and cut into bars. Makes 16 servings.
 
 

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