When I first started eating healthier, I quickly learned that the only way I was going to make it on the plan was to learn how to cook my favorite foods in a lower calorie way or find low calorie replacements. At the beginning, that meant lots of low calorie replacements (i.e. spending way to much money on prepackaged snacks and light desserts) until I started to learn how to lighten recipes on my own and really started to cook. So today I thought I would share a quick list of tips and tricks for baking to lighten up your favorites. What are your favorite ways to lighten up your favorite baking recipes?
1. To Replace Oil or Butter in Muffins, Breads, Light Cakes: The rule of thumb for replacing fats like butter or oil in muffins, breads, and light colored cakes (i.e. not chocolate) is to replace 1/3 of the fat with applesauce, mashed bananas, or pureed pumpkin. I find that most of the time I can actually replace half of the oil or fat and it still comes out great. I choose what replacement to use based on what I am cooking - applesauce will barely affect the flavor but the others may change the flavor slightly. You can also replace oil with plain or Greek non fat yogurt. The normal exchange if you use yogurt is for 1 cup of oil in a recipe, use 1/2 cup oil with 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp yogurt. I use yogurt and applesauce all the time and have a lot of success. When you replace just 1/2 cup of oil with applesauce you save more than 900 calories.
2. To Replace Oil or Butter in Chocolate Desserts: In chocolate desserts, you could use any of the substitutes listed above but I usually use pureed prunes or pumpkin for chocolate desserts because the flavor stays more consistent. I actually think the pumpkin and prunes add a great texture and richness to chocolate cakes and brownies. Follow the same substitutions listed above - replace 1/3-1/2 the oil with the same amount of pumpkin or pureed prunes. When you replace 1/2 cup oil with pumpkin, you save over 920 calories!
3. To Replace Whole Milk or Cream: Using whole milk or cream in a baking recipe is fairly common and an easy substitution is to replace the whole milk with low fat or fat free milk. However this lower fat milks can lack some of the flavor or full fat milk, consider adding 1 tbsp of nonfat dry milk to every cup of lower fat milk you use. It will boost the flavor and help with the baking process. This is especially important in pudding or custard recipes where the milk protein helps with the dessert's texture. Save over 100 calories when you replace whole milk with non fat milk and 1 tbsp of non fat milk powder!
4. To Replace Buttermilk: There are three ways you can replace full fat buttermilk in recipes. The first is just to find a low fat or fat free buttermilk which are becomingly increasingly popular. Most of the time though, I replace buttermilk with non fat Greek yogurt or non fat sour cream. It is a one to one replacement so use the exact same amount of yogurt for the buttermilk in the recipe. Save over 50 calories when you replace non fat Greek yogurt for 1 cup of buttermilk!
5. To Replace Peanut Butter: This can be a tricky replacement, but some of my favorite recipes call for peanut butter. Lately my go to replacement, and in my opinion the only thing that really reduce calories, is to use PB2 for the peanut butter. It has the same flavor as peanut butter but without any of the calories. Save 580 calories by replacing 1/2 cup peanut butter with 1/2 cup PB2.