Let’s face it no matter what kind of eating plan you are committing to if it includes completely eliminating baked goods you will not last.
I hate to be fatalistic, but it’s just a fact of life. Strict, unbending food plans that make any kind of sweet, baked good a definitive no-no will leave you feeling deprived.
So how do you take a yummy treat recipe and upgrade it to fit nearly any healthy food plan? Use my five simple whole food tips and you will be well on your way to sweet treat heaven.
- Sugar – ditch it. Well, the white sugar at least. White sugar is the ultimate empty calorie, causing spikes in blood sugar levels and stripping your body of essential nutrients (Read more about The Other White Powder Drug Here) When it comes to baked goods I first switch to a natural sweetener like maple syrup, honey, or coconut palm sugar, and then I work to dramatically reduce the amount of natural sweetener in the recipe by using naturally sweet whole food ingredients like fruit (pineapple, banana, apple, etc), sweet potato, butternut squash, or dates.
- Flour – I never use white flour. It’s the easy way out. White flour is heavily processed and way over used in the SAD (Standard American Diet). Typically about 98% of baked good recipes use white flour, so this is where the recipe upgrade can get a little tricky. I love using almond flour or coconut flour because they are truly whole food products, low in refined carbohydrates and full of fiber and protein. For proper mouth feel, and a baked good that tastes like the kind mom used to make I like to mix flours. A bit of almond flour with brown rice or another whole grain flour tends to work really well. I also use whole wheat flour (gasp! gluten!) but I also like to mix this with another gluten free grain flour (brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat) There isn’t a formula here for replacement, typically you will be able to sub whole wheat flour for white flour, but the result will certainly taste very different (which is why I prefer to mix flours.) When using a gluten free flour like quinoa, brown rice, almond, coconut, or buckwheat you will not be able to replace at a 1:1 ratio with white flour. I would suggest following recipes (like mine!) that have already been tested using these products.
- Fat – I have said it a thousand times and I will say it again, fat is not the big scary monster that it’s made out to be. I have no problem with a recipe using grass fed pasture butter, or coconut oil, or even grapeseed oil. I do however, think that most baked good recipes use too much fat. I try to reduce the amount of fat in my recipes by adding apple sauce, or pineapple puree which also helps to reduce the amount of sugar! Additionally, if I am using almond flour in my recipes this already has a great fat content so it doesn’t require quite as much. One note: I do love coconut oil, and find that it works really well in baked good, BUT it definitely imparts a coconut flavor. I love a coconut flavor in some recipes, but certainly not in all.
- Baking Soda/Baking Powder – These are the little gems that make your baked goods rise to perfection. Baking soda will require another acid in your recipe to activate and work, baking powder already has the acid (cream of tartar) in it. Different recipes will call for various ratios of one of both of these, but for health purposes here is what I want you to look for: Non-Aluminum or aluminum free, aluminum has been linked to Alzheimers Disease and is not health supportive. It should say very clearly on the front label if it’s aluminum free. Baking powder also typically has a corn derivative product, so you also want to find a non-GMO “label.”
- Gluten Free DOES NOT mean Healthier! – Finally, don’t fall into the gluten free trap. Just because a baked good may be labeled gluten free does not necessarily mean it’s better for you. Most gluten free baked good recipes use heavily processed “gluten” alternatives like potato starch or white rice flour and additives like xanthan gum and carrageenan which can cause further digestive upset. If you do not have gluten sensitivity a little bit of whole grain flour should be fine. If you do have a gluten sensitivity you should still follow all of these tips and use whole food/gluten free ingredients.
Now get baking! Oh, and to tame the overeating-baked-goods-demon I simply make it a rule to freeze my baked goods in single serve portions. I take them out of the freezer and pop them in my toaster oven when the craving hits.
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