"Healthy" and "baking" are two words you don't find in the same sentence too often. Despite the reputation of dessert, though, there are actually a bunch of ways to healthify your sweets—and still get that same great taste you're looking for. To get your sweet fix and not feel guilty about it, we've round up these healthy baking hacks. Follow them to add nutrition, nix unnecessary stuff, and avoid the enemy of weight loss—sugar. And if you like these smart tips, then you'll love these 1-Minute Dinner Hacks That Save Tons of Time, too!
Take Advantage of Avocado
Avocados can do it all—from being the main component of guac-lovers fave topping at Chipotle to endless options when it comes to baking. Use this healthy fat to make a frosting, pudding, or replace butter in recipes for cakes, brownies, breads, and other baked goods. This is the perfect chance to increase protein and get some additional nutrients in your body without risking any flavors. The smooth texture gives these treats that a luxurious consistency that your taste buds will love.
Use Applesauce Instead of Oil…
Skip the guilt by swapping out fatty oil and adding unsweetened applesauce into those moist baked treats instead. It gives an extra essence of sweet and you can easily make a batch of it at home by simply combining one apple and a splash of lemon juice. Use ¾ a cup of applesauce for every 1 cup of oil a recipe calls for.
…Or Greek Yogurt!
What doesn't Greek yogurt do? It's packed with calcium, protein, belly-loving probiotics and can be added to almost any dish, sweet or savory. A little fat in a diet is good but when you start piling it on it can increase your risk of health problems. So, when you're baking try substituting the recommended oil or fat in the recipe with Greek yogurt. You won't lose any flavor and still have plenty of moisture in the consistency.
Bananas are the perfect way to sweeten up a treat without adding an artificial sugar. If you're looking to get something that comes out extra sweet, use bananas when they're super ripe and the sugars are at their peak. Bananas are naturally rich in glucose, which means easy digestion and a revamping of energy without the awaited sugar crash. Love bananas? Us, too! Find out the 21 Amazing Things That Happen to Your Body When You Eat Bananas.
Swap in Beans
Baking with beans? Sounds interesting, right. But you can skip the flour totally with beans like chickpeas or black beans that give sweet treats an extra rich gooey-ness. With such mild flavors, beans are the perfect way to take out the refined stuff and go for wholesome, good-for-you ingredients, without skimping on the flavor. We love these Black Bean Brownies from Chocolate Covered Katie.
Make a Flax Meal or Chia Seed Egg
For vegan recipes (or if you're just looking to add some major nutrients) swap out the eggs in a recipe and replace it with a flax or chia egg. To make a vegan egg combine 1 tablespoon of chia or flax seed and 3 tablespoons of water. Allow it to sit for 10-15 minutes or until it has a similar consistency to an egg. Flax and chia are both superfoods that help digestion and are packed with nutrients like omega-3s.
Ditch Sugar And Use Spice
When a recipe calls for sugar you have to think fast about how you can still get great flavor without all the belt-busting ingredients. Spices are a great way to do just that. Using spices like metabolism-boosting cinnamon or nutmeg in those oat muffin or banana bread recipes that call for excessive amounts of unnecessary sugar. Discover these 30 Best High-Protein Foods for Metabolism to fire up your caloric burn in other ways.
Use a Mason Jar
Conjure up a coconut whipped cream in no time with the help of a mason jar. Just place the mason jar in the freezer for 10-15 minutes and then adding cream (sweeteners optional). Shake, shake, shake for about a minute and voila! You've got yourself homemade whipped cream in no time.
Sweeten Up with the Real Stuff
Instead of white table sugar, use honey, maple syrup, agave, coconut sugar or dates. But, just because these are natural forms of sugar doesn't mean you should go cray. It's important to still reduce the amount of added sugar going into your desserts to be sure not to spike your blood sugar and that dramatically dips after eating. Speaking of sugar, steer clear of these 23 Restaurant Foods With Crazy-High Amounts of Sugar.
Make Your Own Flour Alternatives
An easy trick for making a baking flour is to make your own! You can make oat, flax, and nut flour easily with the help of a blender or food processor. Through in the needed amount until it becomes a fine powder and you're all set. This way you're using only whole ingredients and you know exactly what's going into your food.
Don't Waste the Pulp
Go leftover pulp from making those morning juices or your homemade almond milk? Don't waste it by tossing it in the trash; use it for your baking instead. Use carrot pulp to make carrot cake or the almond milk remains to make a tasty muffin.
Use Muffin Tins
When it comes to portion control, muffin tins are your new best friend. You could go and make a batch of brownies or a cake in an 8×8, which you're bound to go fork first into, or you could make these treats in pre-portioned muffin tins to make sure your not going to crazy and sticking to one or two servings. This works for way more than just baking, too; get other ideas and recipes with these 15 Muffin-Tin Recipes Perfect for Portion Control.
What better time to use that leftover quinoa from last night's dinner than in a brownie or cookie mix to satisfy your sweet tooth? Not only does quinoa double as the perfect breakfast bowl in the a.m., you can also use it in your after dinner sweet treats, too! Quinoa and other good-for-you grains are an effortless way to add texture to your treats. Getting a complete protein filled with all nine essential amino acids like quinoa into your dish is sure to help you lose weight and stay full.
Don't Bake at All
Why bake your desserts at all when you can skip the extra bake time and eat them right away? No bake balls are all the rage right now and by using the right ingredients they can be good for you too! Check out these 25 Recipes for Energy Bites That Live Up to the Hype to see what you can do without an over!
Replace White with Whole Wheat
One of the most simple swaps to make your dessert healthy is to use a whole wheat flour instead of baking with white flours. White flours are made from heavily refined and processed wheat grain that you don't want in your body. Whole wheat doesn't undergo the same processing and can bring some vital nutrition to your baked goods.
Go to the Dark Side
That fun crunch from chocolate chips in a cookie or brownie is one not worth skipping on. But do it the waist-whittling way by using dark chocolate made with 70% or more cacao or go for the raw stuff by adding cacao nibs. Chocolate, when eaten the right way, can actually aid in weight loss, reduce stress, and even control your appetite. But like all things, it should be eaten in moderation, just like these 20 Healthy Foods You Better Eat in Moderation.