Simple Fat Swaps to Better-for-You Baked Goods

If you’re like me and have a serious sweet tooth, sometimes baked goods are just too hard to resist. But with many baked goods being high in trans fats (especially the processed ones or recipes with shortening) and low in nutrition, they’re really best eaten rarely- very rarely.

There is a loophole, though — making your own! When you bake at home you know exactly what’s in your food, so you can nosh guilt-free. In fact, there are tons of tricks to turning a regular recipe into a low-fat recipe! All it takes is a little ingredient experimentation and some time in the kitchen.

1. Swap white flour for wheat. One easy way to up the fiber and nutrition in any recipe is to replace half of the white flour with a whole-wheat flour. Most of the time you can’t even taste the difference. Keep increasing the ratio of wheat to white flour over time until you reach a flavor that suits you.

2. Get fruity. Applesauce and other fruit purees can be used to replace almost all of the fats in most baked goods (except cookies, where you can only swap out half the fat.)  Try apple butter in bran muffins and spice cake, fruit jams for muffins, and prune butter in quick breads.

3. Mash those veggies. Plain pureed pumpkin or cooked and mashed sweet potatoes, squash, carrots and zucchini can be used to replace all or a part of the fat in a recipe. In recipes that call for oil as the only fat, they can usually substitute all of the fat. For recipes that call for butter or shortening, try substituting half or 3/4 of the ingredient. Veggie purees are especially delicious in muffins, quick breads, gingerbread, fruit cakes, and bars, especially if the recipe calls for cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger or cloves. The flavors just meld perfectly, and the veggies make for a very moist treat!

4. Try dairy. Swap out fat with fat-free buttermilk or non-fat plain yogurt (Greek yogurt is particularly nutritious as it’s higher in protein) for all the fat in a muffin or bread recipe and half the fat in cookies. This swap is particularly good in muffins, breads, cakes, chocolate goodies, biscuits and scones.

No matter what baking substitution you try, remember that it may take a few attempts to get a low-fat recipe right. Also, low-fat recipes typically require a shorter baking time and lower oven temperature than their high-fat counterparts. Try reducing the oven temperature by 25 degrees and test for doneness earlier than the recipe suggests. Over time, you’ll be a low-fat cooking pro — and enjoying those baked goodies with no guilt!

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