My favorite healthy baking substitutes
N.B. This blog is also available in Finnish and you’ll find it here
Last week I shared a lot liked Almond flour bread recipe with you and got a fair amount of questions related to healthier baking. You all knew, that it’s better to skip the white flour (it’s been stripped of nutrients and only adds empty calories and refined carbs) and go for the whole wheat. But how about other baking substitutes? What to use for example instead of oil?
I listed here some of my favorite substitute ingredients to make healthy baking a little bit easier for you:
Unsweetened applesauce (sub 1 for 1)
Apple sauce is the perfect substitute for oil when baking! It keeps everything moist and it’s flavor is so subtle that it won’t dominate the end result. Make sure that you always use unsweetened one to keep the sugar content down.
To prevent your baked goods from becoming tough and rubbery when using an oil substitute, always choose a low-gluten flour, such as whole wheat pastry or oat flour. Also minimize mixing the batter and reduce baking time by about 25 percent.
Real butter may make your cakes and pies seriously moist and rich, but we all know that it’s also a real calorie bomb. Try swapping in 1/2 tbsp of avocado for 1 tbps of butter, and you’ll cut the calories dramatically without giving up on yummy flavors of the baked goods.
Greek Yogurt (1 for 1)
I use Greek yogurt quite often instead of oils and sour cream in the recipes, sometimes also instead of cream cheese. Greek yogurt is lower in calories and fat than most of the dairy products, has more protein, and it’s moist enough to replace oil, at least part of it. The ratio isn’t always one-to-one, so try replacing half of the original recipe when it requires butter or oil in baked goods.
When baking muffins, pancakes or brownies for example, ripe (never use green ones!) banana is a great substitute. It has an ideal consistency to be used in place of butter and oil, and it’s sweet flavor makes it also a good swap for sugar.
And how to use it? Use three-fourths the amount of mashed banana for the required amount of oil when substituting in recipes for rich, dense cakes and breads. To substitute it for oil in recipes for lighter cakes and baked goods, try substituting half the amount of oil with the fruit puree. To substitute banana for butter, margarine or shortening, only use half as much substitute.
Most recipes have more sugar than they actually need so first step would be reducing the amount of sugar that recipe says. When taking baking a little bit healthier direction, honey is delicious and nutrient dense option. The ratio for every 1dl of sugar is to substitute 1/2 to 2/3 dl honey, as honey is way sweeter than white sugar.
Also, honey is made up of about 20 percent water, so for every 1 dl of honey you’re using, subtract 1/4 dl of other liquids from the recipe. Add a dash of baking soda for every 1 dl honey used if the recipe doesn’t already call for it. Baking soda will help balance that honey’s natural acidity and allows the baked good to rise properly. You may also want to reduce the temperature of the oven (around 25C) as honey burns faster than white sugar, because of its high sugar content.
If you can’t or don’t want to use normal eggs (or ran out of them), you can always make a flax egg. The ratio isn’t an exact 1:1 substitution but I have used without problems in pancakes, cookies, and muffins for example. To replace one egg, mix 1 tbsp of flaxseed meal and 2.5 tbsp of water in a mug and stir. Let rest for 5 minutes to thicken.
Also chia seeds can be used in place of an egg by mixing 1 tbsp of chia seeds with 2.5 tbsp of water and letting them thicken for 15 minutes.
If you don’t have any nut allergies and want to use “one step healthier” flour than whole wheat flours are, you should try these. Almond flours are naturally gluten-free, lower in carbs, and higher in protein. The ratio is 1:1 when making cakes, cookies and sweet bread, but you also need to add 1/2 tsp rising agent for better end result. If baking something else I suggest you replace only 1/4-1/2 of the total amount of the flours with almond flour and use wheat flour to fill rest of them.
I love using coconut flour as it’s gluten free, high in protein, fiber and fat which makes it exceptionally filling. BUT, using it isn’t that simple: You can’t substitute coconut flour for wheat at 1:1 ratio as coconut flour is extraordinarily absorbent. In baked goods, you generally can substitute 1/4 dl to 1/3 dl coconut flour for 1dl grain-based flour. You will also need to increase the number of eggs. In general, for every 2.5 dl of coconut flour you use, you will need to use six beaten eggs in your recipe in addition to approximately 2.5 dl liquid such as coconut milk. Yep, a little bit more tricky but worth of trying!
Powdered peanut butter.
Peanut butter isn’t the most common baking ingredient, but as it’s one of my favorite spreads in the world, I wanted to add it to this list 🙂 . Powdered peanut butter is made by removing the oil and water from peanuts and thus has 85 percent less fat calories than traditional peanut butter. For reference, two tbsp of regular peanut butter is around 188 calories and has 16 grams of fat, while 2 tbsp of powdered peanut butter has just 45 calories and 1.5 grams of fat. The powder can be used as a flavor for example in cookie recipes or mixed with water to create a peanut butter.
So, these are my favorites! Which ones are yours?