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Baking with Whole Foods

1. Replace fats with fruits and vegetables: You can replace some or all of the butter or oil in many recipes with apple sauce, mashed banana, pumpkin puree, or other healthy substitutes.

2. Use whole wheat flour: Brown flour is loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, making it a far healthier choice (white flour loses most of its nutrients during processing).

3. Replace up to half the sugar with molasses: Molasses is a great source of iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Use 1+1/3 cups of molasses for each cup of sugar, add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, and reduce the liquid in the recipe by 1/3 cup.

4. Avoid trans fats: Many margarines contain hydrogenated (trans) fats. Use real butter or spreads that are free of trans fats and artificial additives.

5. Add nuts or seeds: Nuts and seeds increase the protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acid content of baked goods.

6. Use healthier toppings: Instead of sprinkles, add color with berries; instead of pure sugar, use oats mixed with a bit of whole organic cane sugar and cinnamon; instead of processed chocolate, use pure organic dark chocolate shavings.

7. Add fiber: Replace some of the required flour with oats, or add a little bran or fruit (fresh or dried).

8.  Make your own food colorings: Instead of using toxic dyes, create your own natural colors using small amounts of fresh produce (i.e., carrots for orange, beets for red, spinach for green), green tea powder, edible flowers, egg yolk, and other natural foods. Experiment to discover which colorings work best in your favorite recipes.

9. Choose fruit- and vegetable-based recipes:  Carrot, zucchini, pumpkin, and many other vegetables and fruits are delicious with spices such as cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. Look for recipes that require colorful produce.

10. Reduce the sugar:  You can reduce the sugar in many recipes without substituting anything, though some bakers advise adding a little flour in its place. Adding cinnamon or other tasty spices can make low-sugar baked goods more flavorful.

Sources:

Chait, J., “How To: Make Natural Food Dyes for Organic Baked Goods Without a Juicer,” Growing a Green Family, 14 July 2012. http://www.growingagreenfamily.com/how-to-make-natural-food-dyes-for-organic-baked-goods-without-a-juicer/

Slavin, J., “Whole Grains and Human Health,” Nutrition Research Reviews, 17, WholeGrainsCouncil.org, 2004.

The George Mateljan Foundation, The World’s Healthiest Foods, 2012. http://www.whfoods.com/

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