Baking sessions are a beloved family tradition in many households. But such sessions may not be as revered by family physicians, as baked goods are often prepared with ingredients, like sugar and butter, that aren’t necessarily sound additions to a person’s diet.
Though baked goods may never rival vegetables in nutritional value, there are ways for amateur bakers to make these beloved foods a little more healthy.
Replace sugar with a fig puree. Figs are nutrition-rich fruits that serve as significant sources of calcium, potassium and iron. WebMD notes that figs also are excellent sources of fiber. Soaking eight ounces of figs in water can soften them before they’re pureed with between one-quarter to one-third cup of water. The resulting fig puree can serve as a sugar substitute.
Make it a “dates” night. Much like figs, dates can be pureed and serve as a sugar substitute. However, WebMD notes that pureed dates will not be able to replace all of the sugar in a recipe. One cup of pureed pitted dates with one-half to one cup of water can replace as much as half of the sugar a recipe calls for.
Replace butter with avocados. It’s not just sugar that can make baked goods so unhealthy. Many baking recipes call for a substantial amount of butter. California Avocados notes that avocados can replace butter at a 1:1 ratio when baking. So if a recipe calls for one cup of butter, bakers can replace that with one cup of pureed avocados. WebMD warns that avocados have more water than butter, so bakers may want to reduce the temperature in their ovens by 25 percent and bake the foods a little longer.
Replace white flour with whole wheat flour. White flour is often the go-to for amateur and even professional bakers. But white flour is processed, which removes the bran and germ of the grain, thus stripping white flour of much of its nutritional value. Whole wheat flour is not processed, so it retains its nutritional value. Baking with whole wheat flour may require a learning curve, and some bakers prefer to use a mix of whole-wheat and white flour to preserve the flavors they’ve grown accustomed to.