Top 6: Easy Substitutes for Healthier Baking

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Sweet Switch

Compared with sugar, agave nectar has a lower glycemic index value (a measure of how food affects your blood sugar), which means it won’t cause energy crashes. Agave is sweeter than sugar, so you generally need only 1/2–3/4 as much of it. Rolling pin and muffin pan

Whip it Good

Leave that can of frosting on the shelf and reach for the confectioners’ sugar instead. A light dusting over cakes and brownies significantly cuts calories and fat compared to heavy frostings. For a lighter spin on cream cheese frosting, however, beat together an 8-ounce block of reduced-fat cream cheese, 1 cup of powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. The fluffy icing contains a mere 59 calories and three grams of fat per tablespoon.

“Healthy-Purpose” Flour

Replacing one cup of white flour with the whole-wheat kind can add 10 grams of heart-healthy fiber to your cookies. Because whole grains are coarser than refined ones, start with a 50–50 mix and gradually increase the amount of whole-wheat flour with each batch until you strike the best balance. Or try replacing 1/4–1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour with whole rolled oats or oats that have been ground into a flour.

Replace the Fat

Try using pureed fruit or even vegetables in place of some of the butter, margarine or shortening. Options include applesauce, pear butter, and puréed pumpkin or nonfat plain yogurt. Using a fruit or yogurt fat-replacer will give you a chewier texture, so it works well in baked goods that are naturally softer. For maximum texture and flavor, replace no more than half the amount of the fat listed in the recipe. If a recipe calls for 1/2 cup butter, for example, you can substitute 1/4 cup applesauce.

Better Eggs

Replace 1 whole egg in a recipe with 1/4 cup fat-free, cholesterol-free egg product substitutes or 2 egg whites—you’ll save more than 10 grams of fat and 100 calories.

Go Nuts

It’s okay to keep nuts on your shopping list—simply decrease the amount you usually purchase. Toast the nuts before mixing them into your batter or dough. This will give them a stronger flavor so you can use less of them.