Baking is a great way to share delicious homemade treats with those we love, but baked desserts and snacks are often rich in sugar and saturated fat. For those seeking healthier alternatives, we recommend experimenting with your favorite dessert recipe by making a few of these healthy ingredient swaps:
Whole-grains contain more cholesterol-reducing fiber than white flour. To give your dessert a boost of fiber, substitute half of the white flour with whole-wheat flour or other whole-grain flours, such as oat flour.
Use fruit as a sweetener.
Fruit on its own can be a delicious sweet snack, but pureed fruit, such as applesauce, mashed bananas, or date paste, can add sweetness to a baked good while contributing potassium and vitamin C. Try swapping 1/2 the sugar in a recipe with pureed fruit. As applesauce and mashed banana contain liquid, reduce the volume of any milk, water, or oil used in the recipe to prevent the batter from becoming too wet.
Use seeds in place of eggs.
Seeds are a great source of protein and fiber. When mixed with water, chia seeds and flaxseeds will absorb the liquid to form a gel that mimics the texture of an egg. Simply mix 1 tablespoon of chia seeds or flax seeds with 3 tablespoons of water and allow to sit for 10-15 minutes until a gel forms. This gel, which is the equivalent of one egg, can then be mixed with other wet ingredients used in the recipe to create the batter. Double the mixture if replacing 2 eggs. With the exception of recipes that are heavily dependent on eggs, such as flans or custards, this gel can be used in most baking recipes.
Creamy avocado can replace butter in baking. Simply swap in 1 cup of mashed avocado for every 1 cup of butter used in the original recipe to add some healthy fats to the finished product. Avocados also work to add creamy textures to non-baking recipes, such as smoothies or chocolate truffles.
Ready to try some healthy baking? Challenge yourself to make one healthy baking swap in your next dessert recipe, or try one of these recipes below:
Try these recipes.
Mint chocolate avocado truffles
Adapted from Apple of My Eye
Makes 20-25 truffle balls
- 1 ripe avocado
- 4 oz dark chocolate
- 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (separated)
- A dash of salt
- Mash the avocado until smooth.
- Melt chocolate in the microwave or over a double boiler. Pour over mashed avocado and mix well. Stir in peppermint extract, salt, and 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder. Stir until well combined.
- Store mixture in refrigerator for 30 minutes, or until firm but soft enough to work with (similar to cookie dough)
- Using a spoon, scoop out one tablespoon of avocado mixture. Using your hands, roll the mixture into a ball, then roll in dish of remaining cocoa powder to cover.
- Repeat step four with remaining mixture and cocoa powder. Store in refrigerator to set before serving.
These cookies are sweetened with applesauce and spices and use chia seeds, whole-wheat flour, and nut butter for a cookie that tastes even better than any store-bought cookie!
Adapted from Vegan Family Recipes
Makes 10-15 cookies
- 1/2 cup of nut butter, such as peanut butter
- 1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce
- 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
- 1 chia egg*
- 1 cup whole-wheat flour
- 1/3 cup dried fruit, chopped
- 1 tsp of vanilla extract
- 1 tsp of cinnamon or nutmeg
* 1 chia egg= 1 Tbs of chia seeds + 3 tbs of water. Let sit 10-15 minutes before adding to dough.
- Preheat oven to 300F (150C).
- Cream nut butter, coconut oil, and chia egg together in a medium mixing bowl. Stir in applesauce and vanilla extract.
- Stir in whole wheat flour, cinnamon, and dried fruit into dough. Divide mixture evenly into lumps and place on cookie sheet.
- Bake for 18 to 20 minutes. Nut butter cookies are done when edges turn golden brown.
- Cool on a cookie rack and store in an air tight container.