I loved the idea of having a “Tuesday Trick” every week on my blog…until grad school once again took over my life and I ran out off space in my short term memory of tricks. So, here it is again. I can’t promise a new trick every week right off the bat, but I’m sure going to try! Here’s what I think is useful for bakers everywhere looking to enjoy the deliciousness of their desserts but are looking for a small way to “lighten up” or substitute healthier options.
With the holidays fast approaching, ovens and mixers everywhere are getting a workout from the typical holiday baking. We are quick to indulge in the “holiday spirit of eating”, but often don’t think about its effect on our waistline until we step on the scale come January. This leads to the task of hungry people everywhere to enjoy the deliciousness of their desserts, while attempting to find a small way to “lighten up” or substitute healthier options.
In baking, oil is one of the easiest ingredients for which to substitute healthier options. Most baked goods recipes (brownies, cakes, cookies, you name it), call for oil or butter of some kind. Now, a little oil is good (you need the good fats in moderation!), but a little goes a long way, because the calories and fat grams add up quickly! While attempting to diminish the calories (and the guilt!), here a few potential substitutes.
Natural or unsweetened applesauce. This is a very common substitute for oil (primarily canola oil) and is completely worth it. It is also good to play around with the recipe a little to see how much of an effect the substitute has on flavor. For bread recipes (e.g. banana bread and pumpkin bread ), it is possible to substitute all of the oil with applesauce, save calories, and have moist, savory, bread. You will be surprised at the absence of apple taste, while still having an incredibly moist result. In my own experience baking, I first started substituting applesauce for oil in banana bread and had great results. With cookies, it is best to substitute half of the oil with applesauce and still use the other half of the oil amount. These portions have had good results with texture and taste.
Prunes. Prunes are best used when making dark-colored baked items (because of the staining of the juice). Two options for preparing them in recipes are to a) puree 3/4 cup prunes and 1/4 cup boiling water in a food processor or b) puree strained baby prunes with 2 tablespoons water and 1 tablespoon sugar.
Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is a great oil or butter substitute, due to its creamy texture and lack of overlying strong taste. For cookies, I suggest replacing half of the butter in a cookie recipe with approximately half that amount of non-fat Greek yogurt and 1 tbsp. cornstarch (I read that this helps the consistency). The cookies turned out fabulous and to this day no one ever noticed they had half the butter and fewer calories! If you use full-fat Greek yogurt, there is no need to add the corn starch. Remember, not all recipes are the same, so if you think your batter is too thick, add more yogurt and taste test (It is the best part of baking, right?)
Diet Soda. We’ve all heard of diet coke cake, right? All it consists of is cake, and a can of diet coke. Although this is a great option to replace the oil, and still have a moist, delicious cake, be cautious when it comes to ingredients with artificial sweeteners. Diet sodas often contain aspartame, which although cuts calories, is still a synthetic ingredient and needs to be consumed sparingly.