3 tricks for healthier baking
It is possible to add fibre and lower the fat content in cakes, squares and cookies with simple baking substitutions and add-ins
1. Boost fibre
Whole-wheat flour is a healthy alternative to white. To increase the fibre content of your own recipes for simple cakes, muffins and cookies, try substituting half of the all-purpose flour with whole-wheat flour. (Some grocery stores now stock Nutri Flour Blend by Robin Hood, which bakes up like all-purpose flour but is actually a blend of regular flour and ground wheat bran.) Bags of whole-wheat flour should be stored in the freezer to maintain freshness.
2. Reduce fat with healthy butter
Reducing fat in baking is easier than you think. Consider this: One tablespoon (15 mL) of butter contains a whopping 11 grams of fat and 100 calories. Compare that to zero grams of fat and a paltry 30 calories for the same amount of apple butter (a highly concentrated, spreadable form of applesauce). Keep in mind, however, that this healthy butter works for cakes, loaves and cookies but not for pie crust, which depends on a certain percentage of fat to achieve a flaky rise.
If you’re making chocolate desserts that call for butter, substitute half with puréed bananas, prunes, plums or dates to halve the fat content.
3. Add some seeds
Simply adding sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds to your baking is a fast and easy way to make it more wholesome and nutritious. Seeds, either ground or whole, are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids that may help lower bad cholesterol, ward off diabetes and combat the effects of aging. For instance, flaxseeds, when ground, are one of the best sources of omega-3s as well as both soluble and insoluble fibre. Keep seeds stored in your freezer because they go rancid easily due to their high fat content.
This article was originally titled "Treat yourself to healthier baking" in the November/December 2009 issue of Best Health. Subscribe today to get the full Best Health experience—and never miss an issue!—and make sure to check out what's new in the latest issue of Best Health.