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3378_07_13_2012__15_06_15_700I’m always considering ways I can incorporate healthy eating habits into my daily life. One area I feel I’m lacking is in the baking department. You see, I’m a fledgling baker who tends to just stick with what the ingredient list dictates. I’m not one for being adventurous but sometimes change is good.

I tend to do a lot of baking in the fall and winter and with Thanksgiving and Christmas only a few months away I feel compelled to get educated about healthy baking alternatives. Normally, I use what I have in the house: all purpose flour, granulated sugar and vegetable oil. However, I know that these aren’t the healthiest choices to be made in the kitchen. I haven’t eaten white bread in more than a decade so why am I feeding my family refined grains under the guise of banana bread? I’m revamping my baking arsenal and there’s no looking back.

OIL

Unsweetened Applesauce- This is a great alternative to oils in baked goods such as muffins, brownies or cakes. Unsweetened applesauce does not change the taste of the final product and keeps things moist. Use a 1:1 ratio.

Avocado Puree- Avocados are a fantastic source of healthy fats. They contain potassium and vitamins B, E and K and fiber. Instead of butter swap 1 cup of pureed avocado for every 1 cup of butter. Word of caution, avocados may tint your baked goods a slight green color.

Banana Puree- Lower the calorie content of the baked good with bananas. Make sure they are of a liquid consistency similar to applesauce. Great sub in quick breads and pancakes. Use 1/2 cup in place of 1 cup of butter.

FLOUR

Whole Wheat Flour- During processing the bran and germ are retained along with the beneficial nutrients of the wheat kernel itself. Whole wheat flour does tend to add a bit of heaviness and density to baked products because the presence of the bran and germ hinder the ability of the wheat to form gluten. Also, keep in mind the shelf life is shorter than the more processed refined all purpose flour. Swap 3/4 cup of whole wheat for I cup all purpose.

White Whole Wheat Flour-Use white whole wheat flour when you want the personality of all purpose but the health benefits of whole wheat. Mix 1/4 cup with 3/4 cup white flour for every 1 cup of flour. If subbing for whole wheat use a 1:1 ratio.

Coconut Flour- Packed with protein, fiber and fat, coconut flour is a powerhouse option to all purpose flour. Using coconut flour may take a little bit of experimentation as very little of it is needed due to its absorbing characteristics and like whole wheat flour it tends to give the product a dense consistency.

SUGAR

Coconut Palm Sugar- 100% pure coconut palm sugar has a low glycemic index meaning that it will release glucose into your blood stream at a slower pace making it a safe replacement for diabetics. Use 1:1 ratio.

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