Understanding Flours- 4 Tips for Healthier Baked Goods

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When holidays, birthdays, or other special occasions pop up, there’s almost always a baked good or two that comes along for the party. We all want to be able to indulge in a fresh baked treat every now and then.  For those trying to take care of their health, baked goods can spell disaster. But, they don’t have to! By understanding how to bake healthier with flours and flour-based products, you’ll still be able to enjoy the special treats you love.

Here are 7 Tips for Healthier Baked Goods:

1. Watch out for Tricky Labels

It’s important to know what you’re getting when it comes to store bought flour and baked goods. Labels can sometimes be tricky, and the awful truth is the manufacturers do it on purpose. Terms like “enriched” and “whole grain” may sound great, but in reality they aren’t as positive as they sound. “Enriched” is code for refined and highly processed. Whenever you see this label on a package, it means the original grain has been stripped of the nutrient rich wheat germ and bran. A small amount of synthetic nutrients are then added back into the flour. These unnatural vitamins and minerals are not recognized or used by the body like the naturally occurring nutrients are. Refining grains also removes all phytonutrients that are not replaced during “enrichment”. The end result of “enriched flour” is a highly processed food. “All purpose” is another common label for refined flour.
Check out these tips for deciphering food labels.

2. Understand the Difference Between 100% Whole Wheat and Whole Wheat

Again, deceptive labeling makes it difficult to select which wheat products are the best. When searching for healthy baked good alternatives in the grocery store,  be sure breads and flours say “100% Whole Wheat” on the package.  Beware of the terms, ” 100% wheat” “whole wheat”, “whole grain”, or just “wheat”. These products are usually made with a blend of refined and whole wheat flours, so they’ve been stripped of nutrition. Be wary of products that say “multi-grain”, too. These are also being purposefully deceptive. They typically have refined flours from an assortment of grains. Learn about the differences between 100% whole wheat and white bread here.

3. Try to Steer Clear of White Flour

White Flour is calorie dense with no fiber and little to no nutritional value. It is absorbed quickly by the body, resulting in blood sugar spikes and crashes. Regular consumption of refined flour leads to cravings, hunger, insulin resistance and obesity. Studies have also linked refined flour to many inflammatory conditions like asthma, allergies, irritable bowel and fibromyalgia.

4.  Substitute “All Purpose Flour” with White Whole Wheat Flour in Baking

Most people can’t even taste the difference between baked goods made with white whole wheat flour, but the difference in nutrition is huge. All Purpose Flour has been refined, so all its phytonutrients have been removed.

Bonus Tip:

In addition to refined white flours, unhealthy oils can also make your favorite baked treats enemies of your waistline. Squash the guilt that comes with a little indulgence by substituting No Sugar-Added Apple Sauce for oil. Not does this make baked goods much healthier, it also makes them moist and delicious!

Also try replacing oil with Greek yogurt, mashed banana, mashed avocado, or pumpkin puree’. Let us know which substitutions are your favorites!

Suggested Baking Recipes that We Love:

Slow Cooker Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

Chocolate Chip Cookie

Molasses and Honey Oatmeal Cookies

Vegan Chocolate Banana Nut Bread

Zucchini Bread

Pumpkin Spice Bread

 

2 Comments on "Understanding Flours- 4 Tips for Healthier Baked Goods"

  1. Fridayschild  February 13, 2014

    Wow, this is great information. Loved the explanation on whole wheat and Enriched, so many bread labels are confusing like this.
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • SkinnyMs  February 13, 2014

      You're so welcome! 🙂

      Reply

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