20 Sweet Hacks That Will Make You Love Baking
Are you baking a lot in quarantine? It's okay to turn to some comforting foods and sweet treats in this trying time, especially if that means finding healthy swaps for your sweet snack. And despite the reputation dessert has, there are a bunch of ways to healthify your sweets and still get that same great taste you're looking for. If you want to satisfy your sweet tooth and not feel guilty about it, we've rounded up these healthy baking hacks. And for even more cooking tricks, check out these 52 Life-Changing Kitchen Hacks That'll Make You Enjoy Cooking Again.
Take advantage of the 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, bread, 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 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 sweetness, and you can make a batch of it at home by combining one apple and a splash of lemon juice. Use 3/4 cup of applesauce for every 1 cup of oil a recipe calls for.
Try subbing in Greek yogurt
What doesn't Greek yogurt do? It's packed with calcium, protein, and belly-loving probiotics, and it 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.
Sweeten with banana
Bananas are the perfect way to sweeten up a treat without adding 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.
Add beans for texture
Baking with beans? Sounds interesting, right? But you can skip the flour completely 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. Once you've tried our chocolate hummus recipe, you'll be a convert, too.
Make a flax meal or a chia seed egg
For vegan recipes (or if you're just looking to add some major nutrients to your treats), swap out the eggs in a recipe and replace them with flax or chia eggs. To make a vegan egg, combine one tablespoon of chia or flax seeds and three 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, 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. Use spices like metabolism-boosting cinnamon or nutmeg in muffin or banana bread recipes that call for excessive amounts of unnecessary sugar. Or try our Easy, Healthy Banana Bread Recipe.
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 add cream (sweeteners optional). Shake, shake, shake for about a minute, and voila! You've got yourself homemade whipped cream in no time.
Use natural sweeteners
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 crazy. It's still important to reduce the amount of added sugar going into your desserts to be sure not to spike your blood 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. Throw 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
Got 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 you're not going too crazy and are 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., but you can also use it in your after-dinner sweet treats. 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 it all
Why bake your desserts when you can skip the extra bake time and eat them right away? No-bake energy balls are all the rage right now. Check out these 25 Recipes for Energy Bites That Live Up to the Hype to see what you can do without an oven.
Replace white with whole-wheat flour
One of the easiest ways to make your dessert healthier is to use whole-wheat flour instead of white flour. White flours are made from heavily refined and processed wheat grain that you don't want in your body. Whole-wheat flour doesn't undergo the same processing and can bring vital nutrition to your baked goods.
Sub in dark chocolate
That fun crunch from chocolate chips in a cookie or brownie is one not worth skipping. 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 aid weight loss and reduce stress. But like all things, it should be eaten in moderation.
Toss in some veggies
Yes, you can make a tasty dessert using vegetables. Our zucchini bread recipe uses two cups of shredded zucchini, along with vanilla extract, cinnamon, and, yes, chocolate chips.
Use canned pumpkin instead of oil
Canned pumpkin is delicious year-round, and you'd be surprised how versatile it is. Use it in place of oil in your baking recipes for a healthy and delicious twist.
Use berries instead of chocolate chips
Yes, dark chocolate is perfectly fine (and delicious!) to use in your recipes. But if you want to add more fiber and antioxidants to your recipes, sweeten muffins and other baked goods with berries instead.
Use homemade buttermilk
Buttermilk is simple to make at home, and it's way tastier than the store-bought stuff! All you need is milk and a lemon.
And when you're grocery shopping for all of these baking supplies, don't miss these 30 Cheap Costco Buys That Make the Membership Worth It.