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The Baker’s Guide to Healthy Ingredient Substitutions

Learn how to make desserts healthy with these simple but effective healthy ingredient substitutions!

By: Toby Kuhnke, Editor,
The Bakers Guide to Healthy Ingredient Substitutions
The Bakers Guide to Healthy Ingredient Substitutions

Make your desserts with the guilt on the side with this Baker’s Guide to Healthy Ingredient Substitutions. Like many people, you’ve probably made a New Year’s resolution to eat healthier and cut back on desserts. But we’re here to tell you that it’s possible to still enjoy your favorite tasty desserts and stick to your diet by making a couple substitutions in your recipes.

Whether you’re cutting back on carbs and calories or you’re trying your hand at going gluten-free or vegan, these substitutions have your back for those days when you need a sweet treat to get through the day. These healthy ingredient substitutions are just the tip of the ice berg when it comes to healthy desserts. Do some digging and see what other ways you can find to make your desserts lighter and healthier and let us know in the comments what works for you.

How to Make Your Desserts Healthier

Substitutes for Butter

Butter is one of the easiest ways that desserts can rack up the fat. Without a little bit of fat to act as a binding agent, it’s hard to make a dessert that isn’t dry and tasteless, but what you can do is choose healthier fats. That way, you can have a rich and moist dessert with a little bit less guilt.

  1. Coconut oil - Coconut oil is the cure for just about anything! Dry skin? Coconut oil. Out of olive oil? Use coconut oil. Looking to make your desserts less fatty with all that butter? Coconut oil. This recipe for Pineapple Coconut Oil Banana Bread is so rich and delicious.

  2. Avocado or avocado oil - Who doesn't love some avocado? Even avocado fanatics might not know that you can puree avocados and use them as a replacement for butter in your baked goods. You can also use avocado oil to do the same job! Don't believe us? Check out this recipe for Chocolatey Avocado Brownies.

  3. Pureed prunes - You might not have prunes lying around you house at all times, but if you're looking for a way to cut back on the fat in your desserts, consider buying some and pureeing them. This makes a great replacement for butter while also adding a unique layer of sweetness.

Substitutes for Sugar and Sweeteners

If you’re trying a low carb diet or just want to tone back the amount of sugar in your children’s diets, these substitutions are a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth with a little less sugar. Substitutes like stevia and monk fruit are great for dry sweeteners, and agave nectar and applesauce are perfect replacements for syrups.

  1. Stevia - If you're looking to replace all that processed sugar in your desserts, give stevia a try. It's extra sweet, and you can replace it with granualted sugar in 1 to 1 proportions. You'll forget you're eating something healthy!

  2. Agave nectar - Whether you're sweetening your coffee or tea or looking for a healthier and lighter replacement for syrups in your recipes, agave nectar is your answer. It comes from the agave plant, and it's super sweet! In fact, it's so sweet that you might want to cut back on how much you use, depending on how sweet you want your desserts.

  3. Monk fruit - Monk fruit is similar to stevia as a replacement for granulated sugar. It often comes in powdered form, and it has a less distinct taste compared to stevia. So if you've tried stevia and just don't like the results, give monk fruit a try!

  4. Applesauce - Applesauce can be used to replace almost any wet ingredient in your desserts. But what you might not have considered is that the sweetness of the apples can act as a subsitute for the sweetener!

Substitutes for White Flour

Gluten free bakers know some of these substitutions well, but if you’re new to flour substitutions, these options are perfect for when you want to ditch the grain. Almond flour is great for when you want to cut back on the carbs, and black beans are a surprising way to make moist cakes, especially chocolate.

  1. Whole wheat flour - One of the first tips you've probably seen out there for making your desserts a little bit healthier is switching from white flour to whole wheat flour. This will affect the flavor of your desserts a little bit, but once you taste a whole wheat dessert, you'll never go back.

  2. Almond flour - For gluten free bakers, almond flour is a lifesaver. It's easy to bake with, and it will give you delicious, low carb desserts that you'll never believe are actually healthier! This recipe for Gluten Free Belgian Chocolate Cake uses almond flour. Give this recipe a try!

  3. Oat flour - Much like almond flour and whole wheat flour, oat flour can be used to replace regular, white flour in 1 to 1 proportions. And if you can't find it at the store, never fear! Just blitz up some oats in a food processor until they're finely ground, and you've got instant homemade oat flour!

  4. Black beans - For all you chocolate fans out there who are trying to cut back on the sweets for your New Year's resolutions, black beans are the answer to your prayers! For any and all chocolate desserts, black beans can be used as a base for your desserts, adding extra richness and making your desserts healthier than ever! This recipe for Healthy Black Bean Brownies is even tastier than it looks.

Substitutes and Alternatives for Cream, Milk, and Ice Cream

For your vegan friends, it can be a challenge to find alternatives to cream and ice cream. Everyone needs a little refreshing ice cream every now and then, but sometimes you want something that’s not going to give you regret afterwards. Banana ice cream has become wildly popular recently, and frozen yogurt (while not vegan) is a slightly healthier substitute.

  1. Bananas (banana ice cream) - Banana ice cream is one of the newest food trends out there. It's so delicious, and you can satisfy your sweet tooth without the guilt. Try it out with this recipe for Healthy Peanut Butter Banana Ice Cream.

  2. Evaporated skim milk - Many recipes call for evaporated milk, but did you know you can replace it with evaporated skim milk? This will cut down on the fat in your desserts and make them a little bit lighter without sacrificing flavor or texture.

  3. Frozen yogurt - If you're wanting to improve your diet, but you just can't give up ice cream, give frozen yogurt a try! This recipe for Strawberry Cheesecake Frozen Yogurt is simply divine.

  4. Sorbet - Sorbet is a fantastic ice cream alternative! It's super easy to make, and it's versatile, so you can make it whatever flavor you'd like. This Summer Sangria Sorbet is perfect to serve to your guests at a summer party.

  5. Coconut or almond milk - Depending on the recipe you're using, swithcing regular milk out for one of these nut milks is a great way to make it just a little bit lighter. These Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies use soy milk as a subsitute.

Substitutes for Eggs

Any baker worth their salt knows that eggs are an essential ingredient in the science of baking. You simply can’t leave them out and expect your baked goods to turn out the way you want them. Unfortunately, they will quickly add unwanted calories and cholesterol to your desserts. With these replacements, you can keep your desserts rich and satisfying.

  1. 3 tablespoons of water + 1 tablespoon of chia/flax seeds - This little known trick is a life saver for vegan bakers and health nuts. Just combine 3 tablespoons of water and 1 tablespoon of flax or chia seeds in a small container, put it in the fridge for about 15 minutes, and when it's done, the mixture forms a gooey, egg-like texutre. This recipe for Vegan Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies uses this technique beautifuly!

  2. Pureed bananas - Bananas work as an amazing binding agent, which makes them great replacements for eggs. Roughly one banana is the equlivalent to one large egg. Give this a try for yourself and see how easy it is!

  3. Applesauce (unsweetened) - Much like pureed bananas, unsweetened apple sauce works well as a binding agent in your baked goods. This can affect the texture of your batter, however, so you might need to adjust the amount you add to get the right consistency.

How do you make your desserts healthy?
Let us know in the comments!

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This is so useful to know! I'm always trying to find ways to eat healthier )


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