Healthy Baking = Love from the Kitchen

Winter Snow Days and Valentines celebrations are the perfect occasions to bake something special and show our nearest and dearest we’re sweet on them. Who doesn’t love a treat that’s still warm from the oven? The delectable aroma in the kitchen is (almost) enough, in itself, to make the heart sing. But the goodies don’t need to be sinfully good. Instead, they can be good and healthy. There are straightforward ways to tweak recipes and ingredients so we can let our darlings know we care, while also nurturing them with a boost of nutrients.

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Brandy McDevitt and Melanie Roet are the registered dietitions behind TummyThyme Nutrition Guidance for Growing Families and they offer some excellent advice, as well as a recipe, to give you an idea of what’s possible:

Who doesn’t love baking (making it or eating it)? While baked goods often have a bad reputation for their processed ingredients and high sugar and fat content, we believe that not all baking has to be that way.  In fact, baked goods provide an opportunity to incorporate some great nutrition in an enjoyable way. Here are some of the items we love experimenting with in our baked goods: 

Fruit purees

Fruit purees can be used to naturally sweeten your baked goods. Try substituting ½ cup fruit puree for ½ cup of the sugar in the recipe and reduce the liquid portion by ¼ cup to account for the extra fluid in the fruit puree.

Whole wheat flour

If the recipe calls for all white flour, you can substitute 1/3 cup of whole wheat flour per 1 cup of white flour to create a treat with more fibre. 

Pureed lentils

Pureed lentils add protein, fibre and iron to baked goods.  Purchase canned lentils, drain a small amount of the liquid and puree using an immersion blender. Check out just one of our recipes that includes pureed lentils; we’re big fans of using lentils in baking!

Eggs

Eggs are a great source of protein and provide some fat and iron. Often you can double the eggs in a baked product and reduce the oil/fat by 1 tablespoon. 

Sugar

One hot topic these days is the need to reduce sugar intake. You can reduce the amount of sugar called for in a recipe by ¼ and see if it makes any difference in your end product.  Using fruit purees also helps to reduce sugar and you can experiment with different types of sweeteners, such as maple syrup, honey and coconut sugar, while reducing the overall amount. Just see how your baked goods turn out.

Try out our easy Lentil Cocoa Zucchini muffins as an example of improving the nutritional quality of baked goods. 

Ingredients:

2 eggs
1 cup oil
1 cup sugar
2 cups finely shredded zucchini
2 cups lentil purée (a 540ml can of lentils, drained slightly and puréed in an immersion blender, makes 2 cups purée)
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 2/3 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons each baking powder and baking soda
1/2 cup cocoa powder

Directions:

Combine egg, oil, sugar, zucchini, lentil purée and vanilla and mix well.
Add the remaining ingredients and stir until well combined.
Spoon into muffin tins.
Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Per muffin:
Provides 140 calories, 3 g fibre, 3 g protein and 10 grams sugar (the equivalent of 2 teaspoons)

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