Healthy Baking Substitutes for a Sweet Tooth

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Guest Contributor: Ceillie Simkiss is a Communication student at Western Carolina University. She works as Editor-In-Chief of the Western Carolina Journalist, and as Designer and Photographer for the Western Carolinian, as well as doing graphic design work on the side.

I have an unfortunate sweet tooth and a longstanding love of baking. I love sugar, I love cakes, and I absolutely adore chocolate. Unfortunately, none of that on a regular basis is actually conducive to a healthy lifestyle, particularly the sugar.

In order to make my bad habit a little bit healthier, I try to use substitutes for the unhealthiest parts whenever I can. There are a lot of options for sugar substitutes and butter substitutes, but here’s some of the ones I like using and why.

A great butter substitute that I use when I’m making cookies and such is coconut oil. It’s vegan and gluten free, for those of you who have those dietary restrictions, and it cooks relatively the same as butter, only without the high fat content and with only a mildly different flavor.  If coconut oil isn’t a hit you’re your family, try using canola oil. Coconut oil can also work if you don’t want to use something like Crisco on the side of a baking dish.

Check out this delicious gluten-free brownie recipe from [Gluten Free Goddess]  or this peanut butter cookie recipe from [epicurious] .

If you want to keep the butter taste, but don’t want all that fat, you can substitute applesauce for up to half of the butter or oil in a recipe. I really recommend that you don’t use this for cookies or anything particularly thin, though. They get watery and thin and have a really weird texture. A few friends and I tried that, and it was a terrible decision. With cookies, I tend to prefer to use brown sugar. It’s less refined than white sugar, but has a similar taste. However, it does cook to a different texture.

For sugar substitutes, my go-to-product is my jar of local raw honey. Storebought honey works well, too, but I prefer to support my local bee farmers. It’s also better for you, because it isn’t pasteurized like store bought honey is in order to pass the FDA standards. Raw honey is great for all kinds of things, like digestion, allergies, blood sugar balance, sore throats, and can even help calm you down. If you don’t want to use honey, you can also use agave nectar, but that’s more expensive and processed like crazy.

These both taste great, but using liquid sugar substitutes cook differently. For every cup of sugar that the recipe calls for, reduce the amount of the liquid substitute by ¼ cup. If you think the recipe is looking too watery, you can add some more flour, or add some finely ground nuts. Again, the nuts would change the taste a little bit, but it’s definitely worth it in the long run.

Gluten-Free Goddess has a great list of some other substitutions you can make for a gluten-free lifestyle, but these substitutions can help you even if you’re not gluten-free.

All of these substitutes are healthier for you than their counterparts, and in the long run, the expense is definitely worth it. Seriously, go give each of these a try the next time you bake something!, and I guarantee you’ll feel better about those cookies and cakes!

If you use baking substitutes, what are your favorites and why? What recipes have you found that taste amazing with these substitutes? Leave us a comment below!

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