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Learn to Bake All Your Sweet Favorites Without All the Calories

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Learn to Bake All Your Sweet Favorites Without All the Calories

We love our classic comfort foods, but they tend to weigh us down – even when eaten in moderation. Healthy baking can help you stay on track with your lifestyle goals. Modifying recipes, without foregoing taste or texture, can be a great way to reduce calories and fat and improve fiber and protein content.

Slash the Sugar

Sugar can be a huge source of “empty” calories when baking. Cutting the sugar by 25 percent can shave off calories to help manage weight and blood sugars. You can eliminate one tablespoon of sugar and save about 50 calories, which is about a 200-calorie reduction for every 1/4 cup!


  • Try reducing the amount of sugar by half and replacing it with pureed fruit, such as applesauce.
  • Use in cakes, muffins and brownies.
  • Tip: For every cup of applesauce used, reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by 1/4 cup.

Sugar Substitutes

·         Use 3/4 cup of Stevia for one cup of sugar or 1/2 cup of original Splenda sweetener for one cup of sugar.

  • Use in cookies, cakes, banana or zucchini bread and brownies.
  • Tip: Sugar substitutes can give the sweet taste you love with fewer carbohydrates and “empty” calories.

Cut the Fats

Some fats can be replaced with pureed fruits (such as prunes, avocados, pumpkin or bananas) or a nonfat Greek yogurt. These ingredients provide plentiful health benefits too! Avocados contain monounsaturated fats that may reduce the risk of heart disease. Pumpkin is a great source of fiber and vitamin A, which is good for eye health. Mashed bananas are usually the perfect consistency for replacing some of the butter in a recipe, plus they contain potassium and fiber. For a protein boost and zero grams of fat, use nonfat plain Greek yogurt–it has up to 23 grams of protein per cup! For recipes that call for butter or cream cheese, which are very high in calories and saturated fat, switch to their low fat counterparts.

Pureed Fruit

  • Swap half the amount of butter or fat in the recipe with a fruit puree.
  • Use in brownies, chocolate chewy cookies and boxed cake mixes.

Greek Yogurt

  • Substitute half the fat in the recipe with Greek yogurt.
  • Use in: brownies, cakes and icings

“Lighter” Fats

  • Replace full fat ingredients such as butter or cream cheese with light butter or low-fat cream cheese.
  • Use in brownies, chocolate chewy cookies, icings, cookies, nut breads and more.
  • Tip: When shopping, look for key words such as “reduced fat,” “low-fat” and “light.”


Experiment with Egg Substitutes

Swap whole eggs in a recipe with egg substitutes, made with egg whites, to save 200 milligrams of cholesterol and 2 grams of saturated fat per egg replaced. Egg substitutes are often fortified with vitamins and minerals such as calcium and vitamin A.

Egg Substitutes

  • Egg Beaters® and Better’n Eggs®:
  • 1/4 cup = one large egg
  • 1/2 cup = two large eggs
  • Use in cookies, cakes and brownies.
  • Tip: When a recipe calls for three or more eggs, substitutions may not work as well. Read the product’s nutrition label for specific directions. 

Use More “Filling” Flours

Try whole wheat flour, buckwheat flour, ground bran or almond flour for extra fiber, which increases satiety, and B vitamins to support nerve function.

High-Fiber Flours

  • For recipes that use all-purpose flour, replace half or ¼ with high-fiber flour.
  • Use in muffins, cookies, brownies and pumpkin or zucchini breads.
  • Tip: If you substitute with 100 percent whole wheat flour, you will notice baked goods have a denser texture.

Like any new recipe or lifestyle change, make sure you start with gradual adjustments. Experiment with one or two recipe modifications to make sure you still enjoy these comfort foods without compromising taste or your health goals. Contact Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services at (972)560-2655 for more insight into the process of developing habits that will keep you eating sensibly and enjoyably for a lifetime.

This article was provided by Elana Paddock, RDN, LD, CDE.