Healthy Baking Ingredients
This is the perfect season for baking! I adore tasty baked goods, but they can pack a whole lot of sugar and butter that we don’t really need. Enter healthy baking ingredients! My top three, favorite, go-to healthy baking ingredients include:
PUMPKIN | ZUCCHINI | BANANA
Why are pumpkin, zucchini, and banana good additions to baked goods?
Pureed pumpkin, grated zucchini, and mashed banana add a lovely moistness to most baked goods. You can use them in place of some (or even all!) of the butter/oil in your recipe. Banana also adds a nice sweetness to your baking so that you can cut down on sugar. Depending on how much you like the taste of pumpkin, zucchini, and banana, you might want to add larger or smaller amounts to your baking.
Pumpkin goes great with plenty of cinnamon and other spices like nutmeg, ginger, and allspice; both zucchini and banana pair beautifully with chocolate. These three ingredients are best added to denser baked goods, like breads or muffins.
It’s important to note that we can’t use pumpkin, zucchini, and banana in every recipe and have it taste just right. Instead, it’s a good idea to be strategic about when to use these healthier items.
As mentioned above, use pumpkin, zucchini, and banana in denser baked goods. I would advise against using the three ingredients in one recipe – just use one of pumpkin, zucchini, or banana in your baked good (the flavors might be a little strange all combined!).
When it comes to something like sugar cookies, just go with butter and sugar. You could use a bit of one of the above ingredients, but it just won’t taste the same or have the right texture. When we’re talking about using healthy ingredients in baked goods, we still want to preserve as much flavor and texture from the original recipe as possible!
Other ways to make your baked goods a wee bit healthier
There are other, simple swaps you can make which won’t reduce the calories or sugar of your baked good, but which will still be much better for your body! Here are some of the swaps I always make:
- Spelt flour instead of white flour
- Cane sugar, honey, or maple syrup instead of white sugar
- Real vanilla extract instead of fake
- Himalayan pink sea salt instead of table salt
- Non-aluminum baking soda instead of commercial
I haven’t used white flour, table salt, or commercial baking soda in my baking for years and you can’t tell the difference. The Himalayan sea salt actually brings out more flavor, and the spelt flour still makes your baked goods just as light and fluffy as if you were using white flour. I’ve never used fake vanilla extract, and lately I’ve taken to making my own out of vodka and vanilla beans (it’s fun to make and it lasts a long time!).
Cane sugar can be used in exchange for white sugar for any recipe. However, be a bit more careful when using honey or maple syrup instead of granulated sugar – it can change the taste and texture of the recipe, and the liquid sweeteners also tend to be sweeter so you don’t need quite as much of them.
Do you use any of these ingredients to make your baking a little bit healthier? Are healthy baked goods important to you? What other ingredients would you add to this list? Share in the comments section below!
Get your baking ingredients:
I can’t stand the taste of banana in baked goods, although I eat bananas nearly every day. I should try zucchini if I every grow any of my own.
I can’t tell you how many pounds of salt I must have left out of recipes over the last forty years. I haven’t used it in baking in that long. A pound of salt usually lasts me more than a year and I use it to brush my teeth with, not just to flavor my food.
Salt is so interesting! I haven’t had much luck with removing it from baking (usually that turns out disastrous for me ;)), but I’ve found that it can generally be reduced without any issues. And it can REALLY be reduced (or removed) in cooking!
SQUASH IS MY GO-TO healthy baking ingredient!! I also love vegan protein powder and coconut flour 🙂 Baking stevia = ALSO rocks my life!
Ooh nice additions!
we love all all everything BOBS RED MILL here!
You can substitute apple sauce for oil when baking muffins.
Another option instead of white flour is using a combination of almond and coconut flour in certain recipes. I don’t ever use white/whole wheat flour anymore. I look for recipes using almond, coconut, arrowroot flour. There are many great recipes available. As for oil, there are healthy options as well that are actually heart healthy. These include coconut, avocado, macadamia. Its not bad to consume oils as long as they are the right ones and in moderation. Our bodies need these types of fats. Happy baking!!