Nutrition Articles

Light Baking Done Right

14 Clever Ideas for Healthier Baked Goods

Sweet as Sugar
Sugar plays an important role in baked goods because it weakens and softens the strong, stretchy proteins found in flour. Without sugar, a flour-based recipe would yield tough, chewy cookies and cakes. When baked, sugar also caramelizes, which adds color and a rich flavor to cookies, and helps cookies become crispy. However, sugar contains 775 calories per cup, and it quickly adds up as you make your rounds to the dessert table.

In pie fillings, cakes and cookies, you can usually reduce the amount of sugar in a recipe by up to half. Start by reducing sugar by 1/4 cup. If the recipe works, try reducing another 1/4 cup. Your family won't notice, and the cookies will turn out about the same.

If sugar substitutes are your thing, then check the package directions for information on swapping artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes in place of sugar in baked goods.

And if you'd prefer something more "natural" than table sugar, natural sweeteners like molasses and honey abound. When cooking and baking, refer to these guidelines for using natural sweeteners in place of sugar.

2 More Easy Ways to Lighten Your Baked Goods
We saved the best for last! If you're still unsure about changing your recipe, you can do these two things:
  1. Use miniature chocolate chips in your cookies and reduce the amount by half. Though mini chips and regular size chips have the same nutritional content, by reducing the amount, you'll get more, smaller chips throughout the cookies. Calorie swap Save 1,050 calories per cup of chips you eliminate, or about 22 calories per cookie.
  2. Make smaller cookies. A standard batch of chocolate chip cookies is supposed to yield 5 dozen cookies (each made with a tablespoon of dough) that each contain 110 calories and 6 grams of fat. Does your cookie dough yield 60 cookies? Use teaspoons instead of tablespoons to scoop cookie dough.
Altering recipes can feel like mad science at times, but a bit of patience and perseverance are helpful. Experiment with just one substitution at a time. Eliminating or reducing sugar, butter and eggs in the same recipe could yield tough or rubbery baked goods. Try these substitution ideas with your favorite recipes and soon you'll have lighter, healthier versions! (Shh! We won't tell anyone if you don't!)
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About The Author

Stepfanie Romine Stepfanie Romine
A former newspaper reporter, Stepfanie now writes about nutrition, health, fitness and cooking. She is a certified Ashtanga yoga teacher who enjoys running, international travel and all kinds of vegetables. See all of Stepfanie's articles.

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