As someone who loves to bake but hates to regret what I eat, I’m sharing ten healthier baking swaps that are foolproof. No more disappointing results! These baking swaps deliver all of the flavors you want without sacrificing quality.
My Healthier Baking Journey
I grew up in a family where my mom baked with solid shortening, lots of sugar, and boxed baking mixes. But let me be clear that I’m not putting any blame on her. She just did what everyone else did at the time too. Shortening was the key to flaky piecrusts. And sugar? Well, who doesn’t love it? However, studies have shown that people eat way too much of it. In fact, today the average person eats 130 pounds of sugar a year! In the late 1800s, it was 20 pounds a year. No wonder obesity is rising and the quality of health has tanked.
That saying ‘live and learn’ seems to be a personal mantra of mine. And when you know better, you do better. A case in point is learning how to substitute healthier baking ingredients into recipes without having a baking disaster on your hands. Who wants to spend time baking something and be disappointed with the results? That’s right – nobody! Here are my top ten healthier baking swaps that you can make the next time you’re whipping up sweet treats.
Coconut, Avocado, or Pure Olive Oil Instead of Canola or Vegetable Oil
Canola and vegetable oils are rancid fats that are also hydrogenated and bad for your heart. Switch to coconut, avocado, or top-quality olive oil instead. All are thankfully easy to find at grocery stores now. There are a few general caveats, though. Coconut oil needs to be melted and cooled a bit before it’s used. It also re-solidifies as soon as it comes into contact with something cold. Keep this in mind as you substitute it in a recipe. Olive oil is amazing but it needs to be heated over low or medium heat. We have propane, which burns hotter than regular gas. If you have propane, too, you want to keep the heat really low when you cook or bake with olive oil. Avocado oil has become a new favorite of mine. It can be used at higher temperatures and is a much healthier fat.
Organic Butter Instead of Shortening or Margarine
Organic butter is more expensive than regular butter but it’s worth the extra cost. Any dairy you eat should be super clean, with no rBST or growth hormones. Butter is a good fat, just like avocado oil. Not so long ago, everyone was so afraid of fat. However, good fat is essential to the body. Without it, your body won’t absorb vitamins and minerals properly. It just needs to be used in moderation. When I make pies, which is a rare treat, I use unsalted organic butter instead of shortening, which is another hydrogenated fat, as is margarine. This is an essential swap you should make asap!
Plain Nonfat Greek Yogurt Instead of Sour Cream
Using plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream is one of my personal favorites of these ten healthier baking swaps. It’s full of probiotics, which are amazing for your digestion. Its texture and flavor are similar to sour cream so it’s a simple swap that’s perfect for taco Tuesdays. I also love to add several large spoonfuls of it to smoothies. There are plenty of good brands on the market but my favorite is Chobani.
Organic Oatmeal Instead of Regular Oatmeal
I confess to loving oatmeal, although since it’s a grain, it converts to sugar in the body. Therefore, I’ve cut way back on eating it for breakfast. However, when I do indulge in it, I like to add chia seeds, flaxseed meal, PBFit, and bee pollen to it to give it more superfood power. Also, since a major oatmeal provider was recently revealed to be involved in a huge health-related lawsuit, I switched to an organic and non-GMO brand, Bob’s Red Mill. I use this same brand when I add oatmeal to anything I’m baking. Again, it’s more expensive, but I think it’s worth paying the extra price at the register instead of at a doctor’s office in the future. Out of my ten healthier baking swaps, I consider this one to be at the top of the list.
Stevia, Monkfruit, or Raw Honey Instead of Granulated Sugar
I’ve been experimenting with stevia in recipes calling for granulated sugar lately. It’s tricky to get it right in a recipe! This is a work in progress since It’s about 100 to 300 times sweeter than table sugar, but it has no carbohydrates, calories, or artificial ingredients. Stevia is a natural sugar grown from a stevia plant. It’s a good substitute for people with diabetes who don’t want to use the fake, chemical-laden sugar found in those little colored packets. As a beekeeper, I also regularly substitute my own raw honey in recipes that call for sugar. If you’re interested in how to sub honey successfully in recipes, read my blog post, Honey As a Sugar Substitute.
Almond Flour Instead of All-Purpose Flour
Just like with stevia, I’ve been experimenting a lot with almond flour in recipes lately. Again, this is a health-related decision. As a grain-produced food, all-purpose flour and all of its byproducts, like crackers, cookies, pasta, and bread all turn into sugar in the body. All those hidden sugars you have no idea you’re eating are lurking in your flour! So yes, I am that person buying pasta made from chickpeas lately. Guess what? Matt has never noticed when I’ve used almond flour in recipes. In fact, I recently made my turkey cheeseburger impossible pie with almond flour and he said it was the best one I had ever baked. Little did he know!That’s solid proof that it tastes pretty good. Do I use all-purpose flour anymore at all? Yes, absolutely, just in moderation and if it’s a non-GMO brand.
Cage-Free, Free Range Eggs Instead of Standard Eggs
We have 8 young hens here at Sunny Side Up. In another month or so, I’ll be up to my eyeballs in my own, fresh eggs, but trust me. I’m not sad about it! My chickens eat non-medicated, organic feed along with some crushed oyster shells and kelp. Until they become egg producers, though, I am buying cage-free, free-range eggs from chickens that have not been fed antibiotics or hormones. You know that saying ‘you are what you eat?’ Well, think about that when it comes to the eggs you eat. Do you want those antibiotics and hormones in your eggs and therefore, in your bloodstream? I didn’t think so.
Coconut Oil Instead of Cooking Spray
I remember the days of my youth when I used to help my mom bake cakes. We greased round pans generously with shortening. Then, eventually, we graduated to non-stick cooking spray, most of which is made from vegetable or canola oil. Both are less than healthy options. I’ve found that greasing pans with coconut oil is a fantastic alternative. You’ll get a perfectly baked finish to your baked goods. Coconut oil also happens to be non-stick and it’s so much better for your heart health.
Almond or Coconut Milk Instead of Dairy or Soy Milk
The main reason I switched from dairy milk made from cows to almond milk comes down to the hormones and antibiotics that are found in pasteurized, ordinary cow’s milk that you buy at the grocery store. If I had access to fresh milk from a grass-fed cow, I would have no issues with dairy milk, so I am not anti-dairy altogether. I have no lactose intolerance to worry about either. I do like almond milk because it delivers lots of calcium without the toxins that are hidden in hormone-laden, non-organic dairy from cows that are fed grain instead of grass. It also doesn’t contain soy.
Nut Butter Instead of Peanut Butter
Commercial peanut butter has a lot of added oils sugars and oils. I love this nut butter from Costco, which you can also buy on Amazon. It’s made from almonds and cashews mixed with chia seeds, flaxseeds, and pumpkin seeds. It also has no added sugar. It needs to be refrigerated once opened and that also keeps the texture from getting runny. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ve probably noticed that I use it often!
I hope these ten healthier baking swaps inspire you to try them in a few of your recipes. I’ve been really happy with my baking results. But most of all, I like the positive effects they’re making on my overall health. Do you have any go-to healthy baking swaps? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!