Yes, you read that correctly! Baking can be healthy! 🙂
I love all baking! I am a baking addict and cookie monster and after going vegan I never thought that I would be able to taste a cookie again. I was truly saddened until I discovered that baking can be perfectly vegan. I learned how to substitute an egg in any recipe and I switched our milk to non-dairy milk. My happiness returned and I was baking again.
I was learning many vegan recipes, as well as veganizing my own, but I still didn’t feel like it was healthy. Vegan baking was still the same as regular baking and after feeling the guilt and the gut ache of eating sugary vegan cakes and cookies, I thought there must be a way to make them even healthier. I loved to bake and have baking around the house for our family, but I didn’t like the idea of my kids eating refined sugar and flour all the time.
I took a look at many of my recipes and began to tweak them a bit, substituting white flour for organic whole wheat or spelt and refined sugar for agave or pure maple syrup. After experimenting with many different substitutions and doing my homework, I have learned that baking can actually be healthy and I have found the secret to getting away with eating cookies and cake without feeling guilty or gaining an ounce. It’s true!
Today I would like to share my healthy baking tips with you! 🙂
#1) Eliminate the ovum. Eggs are full of cholesterol, by eliminating eggs in the recipe you cut out unhealthy fat and cholesterol. I was surprised to learn that you don’t need eggs in baking. I think that for most people that comes as a shock. Eggs are used as a binding agent in a recipe so to substitute an egg you can use many other healthy alternatives.
Substitution for 1 Egg
- 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce (most ideal for cakes, quick breads, and muffins)
- 1/2 of a mashed banana (most ideal for cakes, muffins and quick breads)
- 1/4 cup unsweetened plain or vanilla soy yogurt (most ideal for cakes, bars, quick breads and muffins)
- 1/4 cup pureed silken tofu (most ideal for cakes that are slightly dense, pies, quick breads and muffins)
- 1 Tbsp ground flax seed + 3 Tbsp water (ideal for things that are chewy such as brownies, cookies or yeasted breads)
- Ener-G egg replacer (this you can find in stores, follow directions on box)
#2 Switch Your Milk. There are many, many different types of milk out there that are non-dairy. Rice, almond and soy are most common. There are also coconut, hazelnut and hemp, just try and look for unsweetened. These milks are all a lot healthier for you, containing no cholesterol, little if any fat and they add many wonderful benefits to your diet. Substitute milk one for one in a recipe.
#3 Phase out unhealthy fats. Butter is bad. I think we all knew that anyway. Butter is high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Dairy-free margarine is better. Dairy-free, non-hydrogenated, non-GMO margarine is best and cholesterol free! I use Fleishman’s or Earth Balance. Check the labels on margarine because many of them do contain whey and are hydrogenated. Don’t be deceived by the ones that claim to be healthy because they contain olive oil. These are likely still hydrogenated and if you look closely olive oil is one of the last ingredients on the list.
If your recipe calls for oil, use lighter tasting oil such as sunflower, safflower, vegetable or non-GMO canola. You can substitute margarine for oil in a recipe, but make sure you remember your liquid to solid ratios. Margarine is solid at room temperature, oils are not, so you would need less oil than you would margarine. For recipes such as quick breads you can use oil instead of margarine. Use 1/3 cup oil in place of 1/2 cup margarine.
On my most recent baking adventure I decided to cut out the oil altogether and replaced the oil for applesauce. You can do that too! Even healthier! Though it does change the texture of your baked good. When a recipe calls for a lot of oil (2/3 cup or more) substituting half of the oil with unsweetened applesauce is most ideal.
#4 Cut out the sugar. Sugar is very refined, so refined that your body often cannot use it up in time which is why it turns to fat. What is the use of sugar? Good question. Sugar is sweet poison. Don’t worry you don’t need to be deprived! There are natural sweeteners that our bodies will appreciate and can actually use.
- Pure Maple Syrup
- Organic Blackstrap Molasses
- Brown Rice Syrup
- Date Puree
When you substitute a liquid sweetener for sugar in a recipe, you change the liquid to solid ratios, so you will need to reduce the amount of the sweetener or some of the liquid in the recipe. Honestly, things can get a little complicated. Here are the substitution guidelines for replacing sugar with a liquid sweetener in a recipe.
You can make any recipe sugar free by following these substitution guidelines:
- Substitute 1 + 1/3 cups Barley Malt Syrup for every 1 cup white sugar called for in recipe. Reduce liquid by 1/4 cup and add 1/4 teaspoon baking soda per cup rice syrup used.
- Substitute 2/3 to 3/4 cup maple syrup for 1 cup white sugar. Reduce liquid in recipe by 3 tablespoons and add 1/4 teaspoon baking soda per cup maple syrup.
- Baked goods made with rice syrup tend to be hard or very crisp. Use brown rice syrup in cookies, crisps, granola, pies, puddings. Do not use in cakes or any type of bread as it can make for a very gooey center. Substitute 1 + 1/3 cups for every 1 cup white sugar called for in recipe. Reduce liquid by 1/4 cup and add 1/4 teaspoon baking soda per cup rice syrup used.
- 2/3 cup agave replaces 1 cup of sugar. To compensate for the extra moisture in the agave, reduce other liquids by 1 fl. Oz.
#5 Try a different flour. Most commonly used in baking is refined white or all-purpose flour. What this flour is, is wheat flour that has been stripped of the germ and bran and basically all of the great nutritional benefits and fibre. Whole wheat is a great substitute. There are also many other kinds of flours that you can try. Spelt, barley, brown rice, oat, teff, chickpea and many many more. Go out and try something new. I mostly use spelt or organic whole wheat and have tried some other ones too.
I hope that you will enjoy your baking and feel less guilty when you go for that second piece of cake. Experiment with your recipes or try some new ones. I have had a lot of fun taking any recipe that looks delicious and using these substitutions to make it vegan and healthy. Also check out the recipe section on this blog, where I post what I create.