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Better Baking

Better Baking

They say that the best way to a man's heart is through his stomach. For me this is a truism. When my partner steps into the kitchen to make something delicious I feel my heart grow three sizes - just like the Grinch on Christmas day.

There is a special place in my heart for baked goods (especially fresh cinnamon buns), so I jumped at the chance to respond to a reader's request for a posting about healthier baking.

I love the yeasty smell of dough rising on a warm shelf and peering into the oven with anticipation watching the surface of a tasty something or other begin to form a golden brown crust. Unfortunately, most baked goods have a bad reputation when it comes to nutrition. They get criticized for their relatively high fat, sugar and sodium content. They also have a tendency to draw heavily on refined, instead of whole grain flours.

When I'm baking at home I like to try to make ingredient substitutions, where appropriate, to make the end product a little healthier. At home I like to:

  • Use whole grain, or whole wheat flour for at least half the flour in the recipe to add fibre and nutrients
  • Use mashed banana, pumpkin or applesauce to replace half of the fat in muffins
  • Cut the sugar by 1/3 to ½ (I find a lot of baking recipes to be overly sweet)
  • Add dried fruit to add sweetness, texture, taste and nutrition
  • Add in nuts or seeds (sunflower seeds, flax seeds, almonds or walnuts) to add protein, fibre and healthy fats with a satisfying crunch
  • Cut back on the amount of salt used in muffin, loaf and cookie recipes
  • Use unsalted butter or margarine

There are also some great tips and recipes in the Bake Better Bites booklet.

In addition to these substitutions, I like to freeze about half the batch (either before or after baking). If there is a plate of baked goods sitting out in the kitchen, chances are that I'm going to eat them—keeping half of the batch out of sight helps to extend the enjoyment.

Those are my tips, what are yours?

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