Baking is my secret to exercising in copious amounts, and still not being skinny.
All sarcasm aside, exercise and baking are my two favorite things to do. My ying and yang, my balance, my two extremes. And honestly, they do create a good healthy “real” approach to life.
As I have added more whole foods into my family’s diet and removed processed foods I have found that there is also a balance in healthy baking. Skinny cookies made with banana, oats and no sugar for example caused a big upheaval around here and have been proclaimed in my house as “too healthy”. They just aren’t even a cookie anymore.
These are a few things you can do to make your baking healthier...without overdoing it:
Whole grain swap
Truthfully, few baked goods retain their fluffy, chewy, delicious flavor and texture when all-purpose flour is replaced 100% with whole wheat. Mixing in a white whole wheat flour, 50% with all purpose in chocolate chip cookies however is hardly noticeable. I’m partial to Trader Joes White Whole Wheat flour as it has a smooth flavor. Mixing in small amounts of oats, wheat germ and flax to a muffin or quick bread recipe works well too. Replace flour in equal amounts.
Keep moving tip: Start small and build. Mix in ¼ whole grains with a favorite recipe for while, then bump it up to ½ over time. Our taste buds change and get used to new flavors over time.
Substituting applesauce or mashed banana for oil or butter, even for 50%, reduces the fat content and adds a fruit to many baking recipes. Perfect for cakes, muffins and quick breads. Try pumpkin for oil in chocolate recipes, as it almost makes the chocolate more chocolat-y and adds a veggie.
Applesauce and pumpkin puree are actually both simple to make, albeit time consuming. When buying pre-made look at the ingredients list, and make sure you getting just apples or just pumpkin without additional ingredients.
Real butter is a whole food, but should be used sparingly. If you’re using butter, use butter. Not a margarine or other product with hydrogenated oils. Your body does not process these naturally. Read more on Butter vs. Margarine here.
Keep moving tip: when making a recipe that might be too close to the too healthy line, add a handful of mini chocolate chips or m&m’s. (mini’s spread out and seem like more even if the total quantity is less). Seeing chocolate chips somehow changes the expectation my kids have for the baked good….maybe mine too. These Healthy Honey Oatmeal Cookies were a hit yesterday with a handful of chopped up peanut m&m's.
When baking, look over the recipe and see if you can make half the recipe. With many things, half a recipe is plenty for your family…4 of you probably don’t need to eat 36 chocolate chip cookies or 24 cupcakes in three days.
There really is no replacing fresh from the oven cookie taste, so make a batch of dough, bake a pan full then wrap the remaining dough in Sarah Wrap to freeze. When you are ready to use it, leave it in the refrigerator a few hours to thaw then bake as usual.
Quick breads and muffins freeze well after baked, use freezer grade bags when possible. Once you thaw them toast a few minutes in the oven to bring back the fresh baked warm factor.
Each family, or each person will have a “too healthy” line of their own. But I have found that the more we eat whole foods, the less we need the processed options and the further toward healthy our “too healthy” line goes.
Share what your family finds as “too healthy” or any swaps or secrets you use in baking.
Combining a love of real food, commitment to exercise, a home based business and a family without going over the edge is the balance I seek daily. There is a confidence that comes from combining these things into life.
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