It’s November and what some of us call the official “baking season”. With Thanksgiving around the corner, and Christmas season on its tail, the ovens everywhere are going to be packed with goodies. The only problem is that often we put on about a few pounds over the Holiday season (let’s not even mention leftover Halloween candy). But there’s hope if you like to have your cake and eat it too. Cutting calories, without cutting flavor, in many baked goods can be easy and make our sweets a little healthier too.

Here are some healthy baking substitutions:

For many regular cakes, muffins, homemade breads like pumpkin bread and brownies:

Substitutes for Oil:

  • Applesauce: Substitute 1/2-3/4 of the oil in a recipe with applesauce. This keeps your baked goods moist but cuts calories. For each cup of oil, use about 3/4 cup applesauce so it doesn’t get too watery. Try unsweetened applesauce to lower the calories from sugar.
  • Plain greek yogurt: Do not use non-fat unless you also have some oil/fat in there (such as a 3:1 ratio of yogurt to oil). Yogurt is particularly good in muffins and cuts many calories.
  • Shredded zucchini: Peel a zucchini and shred to replace the equal amount of oil in a recipe. If baked goods become too dry this way, use a little less zucchini and add in a tablespoon or so of oil.
  • Pureed prunes or sweet potatoes: This works well with darker baked goods like chocolate cake. If you don’t want to puree them yourself, use baby food. Use the same amount as you would oil. If the mixture seems too dry, add a little water or milk. While some people don’t mind this substitute, others do taste the difference too much. If that’s the case, stick to applesauce, or a blend of applesauce and oil, which really can’t be discerned in taste and definitely cuts calories. Of course, you can use half pureed veggies and half oil too, cutting calories and adding some healthy benefits.

Substitutes for eggs:

Whether you are out of eggs, or just want to cut calories or try something different, you can use the following:

  • Ground flax-seed: For each egg, substitute 1 tablespoon ground flax-seed mixed with 3 tablespoons water.
  • Applesauce: Use approximately 2 tablespoons per large egg. Do this as long as you still use oil (instead of as a replacement above).
  • Egg whites: Use 2 egg whites to replace 1 whole egg.

A little experimenting can help you find easy and healthy recipe substitutes. Try the different options to see what works best for you!