Healthy Baking Substitutions

Perhaps it’s the crisp fall air, or the smell of pumpkin spice near every coffee shop, or maybe even the changing colors of nature, but something about this time of year really makes me want to start baking like Betty Crocker. It’s an inevitable urge that comes mid-October and lasts throughout the holidays, where I scour the internet and browse through cookbooks to find the perfect recipes to recreate in the kitchen. However, those of us with a health-conscious mind tend to turn our nose up to products that are loaded with fats, oils, and sugars, which most baked goods contain. Luckily, there are some figure-friendly foods that can replace these ingredients and make for a healthier dessert and a happier chef.

For 1 cup Butter or Oil

1 cup pureed avocado

1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt

3/4 cup mashed banana

1/2 cup applesauce (in addition to keeping 1/2 c. butter or oil)

3/4 cup prunes- pureed with 1/4 cup hot water

For 1 cup Sugar

1 cup applesauce

1/2 cup raw honey

3/4 cup pure maple syrup

6 dates or prunes; soaked, drained, and pureed

For 1 cup All Purpose Flour

1 cup whole-wheat flour

1 cup white or black beans, drained, rinsed, and pureed


I would not recommend changing more than two elements in a recipe at a time; otherwise changes in cooking methods may need to be taken into consideration as well. These ingredient replacements may slightly offset the taste or texture, but nothing will tremendously change, and some may not even be noticeable! They will also reduce the percentage of empty calories in the recipe and add important nutrients such as vitamins and protein. Personally, I have swapped out canola oil once for Greek yogurt and once for applesauce in a banana bread recipe, and both options turned out well. Discovering these other substitution suggestions has given me plenty of inspiration to experiment!

If you share an interest in baking, let us know what modifications you make to your recipes to make them more healthful. If you have never tried editing a recipe, feel free to explore over the holidays with your friends and family. Happy Painting!




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