Here’s How to Make Healthy Baked Goods
Traditionally, baked goods call for heaps of white flour, sugar, and butter. If you’re trying to follow a healthy eating plan, you may be wondering if you can ever eat baked goods again.
The answer is a resounding yes. The key is to learn to make healthier baked goods.
All it takes is a little willingness to tinker with your baking recipes, swapping problematic ingredients with healthier ones.
Ditch the White Flour
While we may love the texture and taste of white flour, our bodies don’t.
Stripped of the bran and germ of the wheat kernel, white flour loses most of its fiber and nutrients during the refining process.
White flour spikes blood sugar levels and too much of it in the diet has been linked to a host of health problems, including unhealthy blood sugar levels, weight gain, heart health issues, poor cognition, low mood, and increased cravings, to name a few.
Thankfully, we now have an array of alternative flours available, offering new tastes and textures – and better nutrition.
Substitute the white flour in your baking recipes with any of these flours:
Whole Wheat Flour
Whole wheat flour is nutritious and healthy for people without gluten sensitivities. It’s made from the entire wheat kernel – bran, germ, and endosperm, and is rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals. And it doesn’t spike blood sugar to the extent that white flour does.
Oat flour is very versatile, highly nutritious, and naturally gluten free. Made from ground oats, it’s high in protein and fiber (including soluble fiber), and boasts an array of antioxidants, B vitamins, manganese, phosphorous, magnesium, copper, iron, and zinc. It lends a soft and fluffy texture to baked goods, with a mild flavor, allowing for spices to stand out.
Coconut flour is a soft, grain- and gluten-free flour made from finely ground, dried coconut meat. It is fairly high in protein, fiber, and fat, and low in carbohydrates, compared to other flours. Rich in manganese, iron, vitamin C, and beneficial medium-chain triglycerides, coconut flour adds wonderful flavor and texture to muffins and cookies, in particular.
Switch the Sugar
It’s no secret that table sugar is anything but sweet when it comes to health. Having too much of it in your diet is linked to unhealthy inflammatory response in the body, blood sugar and blood pressure levels out of a healthy range, weight gain, and liver and heart health issues. Table sugar is also devoid of any fiber, vitamins, minerals, or antioxidants.
One simple way to make your baked goods healthier is to use less sugar than what the recipe calls for. Take it a step farther by switching white sugar for an unrefined sweetener.
Unrefined sugars are generally lower on the glycemic index scale – which means they won’t spike your blood sugar like table sugar does. Among the most popular unrefined sugars are pure maple syrup, coconut sugar, honey, unsulphered molasses, brown rice syrup, date sugar, and fruit.
Unrefined sweeteners have nutritive value, antioxidants, and minerals. For example, pure maple syrup contains calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, and manganese. Coconut sugar (or coconut palm sugar) made from the dried sap of the coconut palm, contains iron, zinc, calcium, potassium, polyphenols, antioxidants, and a fiber called inulin, which may help to slow glucose absorption.
They both make fantastic replacements for white sugar.
Overripe bananas, applesauce, and dates are healthy whole fruit sweetener options. Make muffins more healthful by using these fruits only or combine them with a small amount of unrefined sugar. You can experiment with the amount of sweetness you desire. Less is better!
Lose the Butter
Butter is high in saturated fat, yet it contains several important nutrients, including vitamins A and E. Although recent research suggests that saturated fat may not be so bad, the American Heart Association advises that saturated fat should make up less than 10 percent of your daily caloric intake.
Until there’s more clarity on the subject, swap butter for olive oil or avocado oil, two healthier oils that work well in most baking recipes.
According to emerging research, coconut oil is high in saturated fat, might support weight loss, improve brain function, and help regulate cholesterol. Yet, more studies are needed and most medical experts recommend using coconut oil sparingly. Still, coconut oil offers a healthier option to butter for vegans.
Add A Burst of Health
Berries, apples, pumpkin, peaches, bananas, zucchini, dark chocolate, carrots, raisins, currants, cranberries, and dates bring vitamins, minerals, and polyphenols to your baked treats.
Nuts and seeds of all kinds, such as walnuts, pecans, almonds, ground flaxseeds, and chia seeds add great texture, healthy fats, and protein.
Spices such as cardamom, ginger, pure vanilla, cocoa, cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon add antioxidant power, as well as aromatic flavor to muffins, pies, cakes, and cookies.
Don’t forget that baking is a form of creative expression! Reimagining your recipes with health in mind is good for your spirit, too.
Healthy Blueberry Walnut Muffins
Use organic ingredients, if possible.
1 1/2 Cup Oat Flour
1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Flour or Coconut Flour
2 Tsp. Cinnamon
2 Tsp. Allspice (clove, nutmeg, cinnamon)
1 Tsp. Baking Soda
1 Tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp. Sea Salt
1/2 Cup Pure Maple Syrup
1/3 Cup Virgin Coconut Oil
2 Pasture-raised Eggs
1 Tbsp. Pure Vanilla
1 Cup Fresh Blueberries
1/3 Cup Chopped Walnuts
Preheat oven to 350.
Beat eggs and then add melted coconut oil, maple syrup (room temp), and vanilla together until blended.
In a separate bowl, mix together flours, spices, baking powder and soda, and salt.
Fold in wet ingredients until fully blended, then mix in blueberries.
Pour batter evenly into greased or non-stick, 6-muffin pan. Top muffins with walnuts.
Place on center rack and bake for approximately 25 min.
Let cool for 5-10 minutes and enjoy!
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