Butter, cream and rich chocolate can turn even the most humdrum pastries into little pieces of heaven, but their fat content isn’t exactly healthy. But with a little experimentation and a handful of healthy baking tricks, even the most decadent desserts can be made diet-friendly and as delicious as ever.
Add Fruits and Vegetables
Rather than going all-in with butter and oil, use half of what the recipe calls for and replace the rest with pureed fruit or vegetables. Not only does this substitution add natural sweetness (read: you can probably decrease the sugar, too), a lot of these healthy alternatives contain pectin, which helps create a similar texture to full-fat baked goods. And best of all, there are plenty of options: Try unsweetened applesauce in muffin recipes worth waking up for, mashed sweet potato in spice cakes, or prune puree in brownies and best-ever chocolate cake recipes.
Keep Dairy Light
It’s no secret that rich dairy ingredients make baked goods all the more mouthwatering, but there are ways to cut fat here, too. For cakes with cream cheese frosting, like classic carrot cake, swap full-fat cream cheese with its reduced-fat counterpart for a quick and easy health-conscious alternative. Heavy cream can be substituted with evaporated skim milk, and fat-free milk typically makes a fine replacement for whole milk. Low-fat yogurt can not only take the place of its full-fat version, but can be used in place of sour cream, as well.
Trim a Little Off the Top
Let’s face it, so many recipes pile on an inordinate amount of frosting, icing and filling. This seems even truer now than it has in the past because of the bakery-style cupcake craze. Some of those frosting towers can have up to 1/2 cup frosting to create Instagram-worthy swirls. Most frostings and fillings can be reduced by 25 percent without missing any, thin glazes can be reduced even more. This is true even for cakes that seem made for frosting-lovers!
Get Smarter with Chocolate
The gooey goodness of chocolate chip cookies may seem irreplaceable, but just a little substitution goes a long way in cutting the fat. Next time you’re whipping up a batch, go lighter on the morsels and add a little cocoa powder to get the same chocolaty flavor, but less fat. If you’re feeling adventurous, add a dash of instant espresso powder to chocolate cakes and cookies to bring out the chocolate flavor (without making your dessert taste like coffee).
Try Vegan Recipes
It turns out that a lot of the fat in baked goods comes from animal products that are typically high in saturated fat. By using vegan recipes—like ours for vegan chocolate chip cookies—you can skip the experimentation of your own and get right to baking a tested and taste-bud-approved treat that’s probably lower in unhealthy saturated fat. Watch out for tropical oils, though. They’re sometimes used in vegan recipes, but are high in saturated fat.
It might take a try or two to bake things to grandma-approved perfection, so keep an eye on your measurements and check on bakes more often than you would otherwise. The extra effort will go a long way towards making your favorite treats a little easier on the waistline.
You won’t miss any of the fat in these lightened up sweet treats!