For anyone wanting to bake up something sweet, whether it's for your kids or for your college dorm mates, taste and texture are not what you want to compromise if you're trying to make your favorite recipe healthier. The trick is finding natural and healthy ingredients that behave in the oven just like their guilty counterparts you're trying to avoid on any diet or health kick.
Making swaps like avocado will offer a natural source of fat in its best form for your body to process, but it still helps the texture of your baked goods keep their creamy, silky goodness! See for yourself what ways avocados can benefit your body at this link.
It is easier to maintain a healthy lifestyle when you can still eat the treats you originally thought you had to lose. Adding in these modified recipes to your repertoire will keep you on track, satisfy your sweet tooth, and turn your “diet” into a way of life that you can maintain. This list of easy swaps will cut bad fats and processed sugars without making your tasty treats any less enticing...the only thing you'll lose is the guilt!
Avocado is an amazingly effective replacement ingredient for fats in recipes for baking. Without changing the taste, and having a bonus natural creamy texture component, avocado can replace butter or other fats in your recipes in an easy 1 to 1 ratio (you don't have to change the amount!). Avocados are packed with healthy fats (not the same form as all those fatty snack foods) that is actually fat your body needs. Bonus: your baked good may even get a bit of a color tint of green!
Bananas are another great way to swap out butter or other fatty ingredients in your recipes. One medium to large mashed banana can be treated like a stick of butter, but with sugars and fat in their natural form, it is a much healthier, calorie-friendly substitute. With potassium and many other valuable nutrients, slipping in this creamy copycat is a much better way to treat your body. Bananas also don't discolor the final product of lighter-colored baked goods.
Greek yogurt is one incredibly valuable swap. If you go for the plain fat-free variety, you can swap out fat, processed sugar, and calories by being able to leave out heavy cream, butter, whole milk, sour cream, cream cheese, and even more dairy products. Packed with protein and a deceptively creamy texture, you add a bonus tart dimension to your recipes by using this ingredient. Some of the fruitier varieties can also still be used to give your recipe even more flavor. Think about blueberry yogurt in your lemon blueberry cheesecake (cut down the cream cheese!).
While dairy milk is a good natural source of nutrients and calcium, almond milk is a great substitute for about 1/3 of the calories (if original unsweetened flavor is used) , adds a bit of nuttiness to the taste, is vegan friendly, surprisingly packs 50% more calcium than milk, and is free of saturated fats. It can be used in place of creams and milk in recipes.
Unsweetened applesauce adds moistness and natural sweetness to baked goods like brownies, cookies and cakes without using processed ingredients. Apples are full of natural sugars that mean you can jump for the calorie-friendly unsweetened applesauce as a substitute for sugar, and even some butter. Since it is much higher in liquid than sugar, other liquids in the recipe can be cut down slightly.
Dates are another substitute for fats like butter. Especially useful for recipes like pie crusts and shortbreads, dates can be processed into a paste that mimics shortening ingredients and adds natural sweetness as well, so you can cut back on the sugar in recipes when you use this as well. Instead of butter and graham cracker crust, think date and chopped almond with oats and cinnamon and applesauce!
If cholesterol and calories are a concern, swapping eggs out for egg whites is a very effective thing to do. The egg white of one egg has only about 18 calories and cutting the yolk makes recipes much more heart friendly. Even better, if you buy the carton of liquid egg whites (not the substitute version, but the real thing!) you won't have to spend time separating the yolks and wasting them also.
Honey and agave nectar are great replacements for things like molasses, refined sugars, corn syrup and more. A more natural form of sweetener, this is a healthier switch for heavier sweeteners and syrups. With many honey flavors, you may find your recipes come out even tastier than before.
Turbinado sugar is a raw form of sugar that hasn't been subjected to the refining and dying process of sugar cane. This natural form of sugar is more flavorful and can be used to cut back on or completely eliminate white sugar. It can also be used to cut back on brown sugar.