In order to “healthify” some of my favorite indulgent recipes, it requires smart swaps, or ingredient substitutions.  Particularly when baking, nailing the proportions in these recipe replacements is crucial.

Greatist.com compiled a lengthy list of 83 recipe substitutions!  Below is a list of several that I would like to highlight, as I implement them frequently.

1.     Black beans for flour- In brownies, swapping out flour for a can of black beans (drained and rinsed) is a great way to cut out the gluten and add an extra protein punch.  The beans also make the brownies incredibly moist!  Swap out 1 cup of flour for 1 cup of black bean puree (about a 15 oz. can)  Note- this is only recommended for brownies or dense chocolate cakes.  The beans also must be pureed. 

2.     Unsweetened Applesauce for sugar- Using applesauce in place of sugar can give the necessary sweetness without the extra calories.  You can sub sugar for applesauce in a 1:1 ratio.  Note- for every cup of applesauce you use, reduce the liquid in the recipe by ¼ cup

3.     Almond Flour for white or wheat flour- Almond flour is an easy gluten-free switch.  This nut flour is packed with protein and omega 3’s.  Note- almond flour is much more dense than other baking flours so increase the rising agent (ie baking soda or baking powder) by ½ tspn to every cup of almond flour

4.     Coconut Flour for white or wheat flour- High in fiber and low in carbohydrates, coconut flour is a great substitute for white or wheat flour. This four is even denser than almond flour.   Substitute only ¼ or 1/3 cup of coconut flour for 1 cup wheat flour.  Note-  The coconut flavor is more prevalent than say, the nutty flavor in almond flour.  Be careful when substituting coconut flour in larger portions as the coconut flavor may come through. 

5.    Mashed ripe bananas for fats or sugar- When mashed, ripe bananas are ideal for replacing fats (like butter or oil) and adding nutrients like potassium, fiber and vitamin B6.  In banana flavored baked goods like banana bread, cake, or muffins, you can also increase the quantity of mashed bananas to cut some (or all) of the sugar.  When adding bananas as a fat substitution you can use a 1:1 ratio (1 cup mashed banana for 1 cup butter/oil)

6.    Raw honey/Natural Maple Syrup for sugar- Honey or 100% Maple Syrup are natural sweeteners with a significantly lower percentage of fructose, which gets stored as fat.  The lighter the honey or syrup, the milder the flavor.  If substituting for brown sugar, use a darker blend.  A light honey or syrup is perfect for replacing white sugar.  For up to one cup, sugar and honey/syrup can be substituted 1:1.  Over one cup, replace each cup of sugar with 2/3- ¾ cup honey/syrup depending on sweetness desired.  It also may be necessary to reduce liquids by ¼ cup per cup of honey.  Note- Lower the baking temperature 25 degrees and watch the time carefully since honey and syrup browns faster.  

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