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Simple Tips for Healthier Baking

There’s nothing like a homemade treat to spell love and comfort to a brood of growing kids.

Mothers might also be concerned for their children’s health. Luckily, there are a few simple substitutions one can make to baked goods to ensure they provide nutrition as well as taste.

The key word here is simple. Often there isn’t the time – or, face it, the cash – to source or buy unusual ingredients for the pantry.

Here’s what you can do, simply, easily and effectively.

Substitute whole wheat for all purpose (plain) flour. If your family is used to the taste of white flour, start small. Substitute ¼ cup of wholewheat in a recipe, gradually building up to half and half. Whole wheat not only adds fibre to baked goods but gives them a nuttier flavour, and by using it in combination with all purpose flour, you avoid the heaviness associated with ‘health food’.

Cut down the sugar. Many recipes call for one or two cups of sugar. This is rarely necessary. Depending on the recipe and how sweet other ingredients may be, you can easily cut the amount of sugar by ¼ -1/2 cup without affecting the flavour. Try it!

Add fruits and vegetables. Yes, vegetables. We’ve all baked a carrot cake. What about a zucchini cake, or a chocolate and beetroot cake ? Pumpkin muffins are delicious. Fruits like bananas can be mashed and added to a pancake batter; other fruits like pears and apples can be added to cake or biscuit mixtures either stewed or grated. Use freshly squeezed orange juice in place of milk.

Vegetables and fruits add taste, fibre and nutrition to your baked goods. They are also excellent for keeping cakes moist. Another plus is that this is a great way to use up leftover, excess or over-ripe fruits and vegetables, meaning less waste in the kitchen. Feel free, though, to keep this particular tip a secret from your kids if you think they might object to vegetables in their afternoon snack!

Lose the butter. Substitute the equivalent amount of a light, cold pressed olive oil or rice bran oil, both of which are better for heart health. Olive oil seems to particularly suit baked goods containing fruits. Greek yogurt or stewed apple can also work well in place of butter.

Follow these simple tips, using free-range eggs of course, and you’ll have great tasting, economical treats for the family that are practically guilt free.