I love baking. Cakes, cookies, muffins, breads:  I am not sure if it’s the flavors I like more or the actual process of mixing a few ingredients together, sticking the dough in the oven and inhaling the resulting aroma. Unfortunately, most baking recipes involve white flour, sugar, butter and eggs, resulting in sweet, heavy concoctions: not very healthy.

After many trials and errors I came up with this list of substitutions. The recipes I publish here already have the needed substitutions in mind, but you can “healthify” virtually any recipe, utilizing the ingredients I mentioned here, instead of the heavy and not so healthy ones.

List of baking substitutions:

1. Butter

You have a a few options here. To make your cake less buttery and fatty in general, substitute 3/4 of the butter in your recipe for unsweetened applesauce. Substitute the rest of the butter for the same amount of coconut oil. Increase the amount of baking powder or baking soda slightly because of the heaviness of the applesauce.You can also substitute all of the butter for coconut oil or for 3/4 of amount of vegetable oil.

2. Eggs

As far as health value goes, nothing is really wrong with eggs. If you’d like to try vegan baking, or want to make your baking lighter (eggs acts as a binding agent) you can try substituting a mashed banana for each egg. Keep in mind: banana gives extra sweetness and adjust the sugar content of your recipe accordingly. A tablespoon of nut butter works well, too. Half a cup of applesauce is not bad. Almost 1/2 a cup of tofu is a taste-free binding agent. Same is true for 1 tbsp of flaxseeds, mixed with 1/4 cup of warm water. @ tbsp of cornstarch, mixed with the dry ingredients, prior to baking a cake works as a good binder and thickener, too.

3. Milk

The obvious choice is use rice or nut milk, 1 cup for each cup of milk. Using a banana and 3/4 cups of water for a cup of milk works,too. If yo udon’t have nut milk, try a cup of water with 1tbsp of nut butter.

4. Buttermilk or Yogurt

For a cup of yogurt, mix a cup of soymilk with 3 tbsp of lemon juice. Let it sit for 5 minutes and then use in your favorite recipe.

5.  Cream cheese and ricotta cheese

Substitute an equal quantity of mashed soft tofu blended with a dash of lemon juice or you can blend 2 tbsp. of lemon juice with heavy coconut cream.

6. Sugar

Whether brown, raw or white, sugar is probably the least healthy ingredient in baking. Unsulphured molasses are rich in vitamins and minerals and are definitely a better choice. When substituting molasses for sugar, use 1 1/3 cups molasses for 1 cup sugar, and reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by 5 tablespoons. Molasses is also more acidic than sugar; add ½ teaspoon baking soda for each cup of molasses used. Replace no more than half the sugar called for in a recipe with molasses. The rest could be substituted for ripe bananas, but it means that you also have to substitute the eggs. If your recipe asks for 1 cup of sugar and two eggs, you can put 1/2 cup of molasses and two ripe bananas, or one banana and one egg. Use one ripe banana for each 1/2 cup of sugar, but keep in mind that bananas thicken the recipe, which means that you need to reduce the amount of eggs: take one egg out per every two bananas used. If using sweet nut butters, consider two tbsp of nut butter to be a substitute for 1/2 of sugar, but please, keep in mind the thickening effect nut butter gives your dough. I also like to grate a  small sweet apple or a large sweet carrot into my baking as  a substitute for 1/2 cup of sugar.

Stevia is produced from the leaves of the Stevia Rebaudiana plant. It’s 250 to 300 times sweeter than sugar. Use one tsp. of powdered stevia for one cup of sugar. I don’t like using stevia alone when substituting sugar. I do like it in combination with molasses and bananas: this way you ger richer and fuller sweet flavor.

Agave is made from a plant native to Mexico. The leaves produce a substance that resembles honey but is sweeter and not as thick.  Agave nectar contains the natural fiber inulin, which slows down blood sugar response to dietary sugar, and may be why agave  doesn’t raise blood sugar levels as much as sugar and other natural sweeteners. I like to use 1/2 cup of agave for every cup of sugar.  Agave combines well with grated apples or applesauce, flavor-wise. Since agave is more liquid than sugar, reduce liquids by 1/4 cup  per each 2/3 cup of substituted agave nectar.

7. White Flour

The easy answer is use whole wheat flour, because it has more nutrients. I like to use a mixture of 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 quinoa flours in my baking :it gives baking lighter texture and flavor. 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 almond flour gives the same lighter texture with a subtle almond flavor: I like to use this mixture for cooking. For pancakes and muffins, I like 1/2 whole wheat with 1/2 buckwheat flour. Sometimes I use only buckwheat flour : it’s gluten-free and contains iron.

You can also try these combinations for each cup of white flour:

1. 1/4 cup soy flour plus 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2. 1/3 cup wheat germ plus 2/3 cup whole wheatflour
3. 3/4 cup coarse cornmeal
4. 3/4 cup rice flour
5. 1.5 cups oat flour.

image: Paul

Advertisements