Bake healthier with these substitutes

Posted on September 23, 2016 by Brynna Gabrielson

BakingBrownies both dense and gooey, chocolate chip cookies that are just a little crispy around the edges, cakes that are light, fluffy and smothered in frosting, tarts filled with dreamy swirls of chocolate or lemon cream...the list of lip smacking, tummy rumbling baked goods goes on and on. But as delicious and delightful as these treats are - they're not exactly the healthiest options when it's time for a snack.

But if you have a weakness for baked goods and a demanding sweet tooth, there are a few baking tricks and substitutions you can employ to make your treats a little healthier. Just remember, even with a healthy substitute, it won't make your treat guilt free! 

Canned Pumpkin or Apple Sauce instead of oil/eggs
If you're using a cake mix, this substitution is a great one. Instead of adding oil and eggs like the box calls for, mix in a can of pumpkin or jar of apple sauce. A 1/4 cup of vegetable oil can add nearly 500 calories to your dessert so it's a great way to cut back1! And the added bonus, the canned pumpkin or apple sauce will give your dessert a fibre boost! You can use this tip in different types of cake mix. The pumpkin works really well in a spice cake, and both are great for chocolate cakes! Keep in mind that you may notice your cake is a little denser and 'fudgy'. 

Avocado instead of butter
While butter may crop up as the main fat in many recipes, in some cases you don't need to use it at all. Instead you can substitute it with Avocado. While it may not work in some instances (We wouldn't be likely to use it when making chocolate chip cookies for example, or treacle), in cakes and muffins it can be a real success - leaving you with softer and moister goodies. You'll also shave quite a few calories away. Butter has around 4x the amount of calories than Avocado2.  Substituting is easy - if you're using a cup measure you can substitute like for like on volume. In example, 1 cup of butter = 1 cup of Avocado3

Stevia instead of sugar
Stevia is comes from a plant called stevia rebaudiana and its sweetness is very concentrated, meaning that you can use a very small amount to replicate the sweetness of sugar. You can purchase it in liquid or powdered form. The amount you'll need to replace the sugar in your baking may differentiate depending on the form you've purchased. You should also remember that with the lost bulk of sugar you'll need to add a bulking agent like apple sauce4.

Chia seeds for eggs
You could be going vegan, or could just be looking to cut back on certain fats, either way, if you're interested in baking egg free, chia seeds make a great substitute. In addition to working great as a binder, they are full of omega3 fatty acids and are rich in fibre and protein5. Find out more about replacing them as an egg in your baking here.

Meringue or marshmallow for frosting
We cannot deny the deliciousness of frosting. But we also can't deny that said deliciousness comes from copious amounts of sugar and butter! Just 33g of premade frosting from the shop contains 140 calories! If you're looking to shave back some calories and fat while still making a delectable topping for your cakes, why not try making meringue topping? Here's a great recipe. And if you're looking for a tasty filling to replace frosting, why not try using marshmallow crème?

Condensed milk for heavy cream
In your baking, evaporated milk can act as a substitute for double cream, and does so at the exact same volume. Thus 125ml of heavy cream can be replaced by 125 ml of condensed milk. So why make the switch? Well if you take a look at the nutrition labels you'll quickly understand. While condensed milk has slightly more sugars, it is far lower in calories and fat. 50g of condensed milk (it's sold by weight not volume) equals roughly 40ml6 and 40ml of condensed milk has approximately 80 calories and 4.5 grams of fat7.  Double cream, however would contain around 186 calories and 20 grams of fat in the same amount8!

Diet fizzy pop for eggs/oil
If you're making cake from a mix, this is another simple way to produce a tasty cake without adding oil or eggs. All you need is a box of cake mix and a can of a diet fizzy pop - dark drinks like Diet Dr. Pepper and Diet Coke work for darker cakes, whereas lighter drinks like Lilt and diet Lemonade work best for lighter cakes. Just pour your mix in a bowl and add in a can of your chosen soft drink. Mix thoroughly and bake as the box instructs! You'll find the bubbles from the carbonation work nicely to make your cake nice and fluffy!