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Healthy Eats and Repeat

Highlighting Food, Recipes, and Ideas for a Healthy Lifestyle
Chocolate Cake

Healthier Holidays in Baking

Posted by Caitlin Mellendorf -

Tis the season for holiday baking and, of course, eating! This time of year, there are so many yummy treats to share with your friends and family (and taste buds and stomach).

With all those sweets available, and the temptation to resist low, many of us worry about weight gain and overeating at holiday parties and family gatherings. When you do not have control over food offerings, see WEB HIGHLIGHT 2 for tips on eating healthier over the holidays.

When you are the one making treats, try making over your baked goods to be a little healthier and just as tasty. Do not limit these changes just to the holidays. You can use these tips year-round to make healthier treats to feel better about.

While you might be tempted to try as many changes as you can to 1 recipe, do 1 makeover alteration at a time. Some recipes do not do well with multiple changes, and the quality of your sweets may not be how you want them.

  • Adding fiber.
    • Substitute up to half of flour with whole wheat flour. If you have 2 cups of white flour in your recipe, change this to 1 cup white flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour.
    • Mix in up to a quarter of oatmeal or oat flour (oatmeal ground until smooth in a food processor). If you have 2 cup of white flour in your recipe, change this to 1-1/2 cups white flour and 1/2 cup oatmeal or oat flour.
  • Reducing sugar.
    • In most baked goods, reduce sugar by a quarter to a third of the original amount. If you have 1 cup of sugar, change this to 2/3 cup to 3/4 cup sugar.
    • Add a bit more of sweet spices or flavorings like cinnamon or vanilla already called for in a recipe. This can enhance the sweet flavor even when reducing sugar.
  • Reducing fat.
    • Substitute half of the fat in the recipe with a fruit puree, such as unsweetened applesauce or mashed banana. Depending on the fruit, the flavor and color may change. Also, the baking time may be shorter, so watch your oven.
    • Substitute half of the fat in the recipe with pureed tofu. As well, the flavor of the tofu may come through.
    • Substitute half of the fat in the recipe with a vegetable puree, such as pumpkin or zucchini. Depending on the vegetable, the flavor and color may change for that baked item.
  • Replacing eggs.
    • Replace 2 egg whites for 1 whole egg in baked goods.
    • Use flax meal instead of a whole egg. Substitute 1 whole egg by mixing 1 tablespoon ground flax with 3 tablespoons of hot water and let the mixture sit for 5 minutes before adding to the recipe.
  • Adding fruits and vegetables.
    • Serve more baked goods that have fruits and vegetables included, such as pumpkin-apple bread or raspberry-pear bread.
    • Try replacing one vegetable for another, such as sweet potato quick bread or butternut squash quick bread instead of pumpkin bread.

Reference: University of Missouri Extension, Food and Nutrition, How to Modify Recipes to Reduce Fat
Reference: Colorado State University Extension, Ingredient Substitutions

This month's recipe is this Lite Chocolate Cake. Altered to be healthier, it will make a tasty addition to your holiday menu. Try it once and then consider other ways to make it healthier the way you want, such as using soy milk for the skim milk or pureed banana for the applesauce. Just remember: 1 change at a time to keep good taste and texture.

Lite Chocolate Cake (Serves 12)

Surprisingly sweet and moist, this cake is not loaded with butter, oil, or whole eggs that make most cakes high in fat.

4 egg whites
1 cup fat-free (skim) milk
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup baking cocoa
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup slivered almonds
12 fresh or canned (drained) clementine slices

1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
2. In a large bowl, beat egg whites, milk, water, and applesauce until well combined.
3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
4. With a hand mixer on low speed, gradually beat egg mixture into flour mixture until blended. (Batter will be thin.)
5. Pour batter into a 9-in springform pan* coated with cooking spray.
6. Place baking sheet on oven rack. Place springform pan onto baking sheet.
7. Bake cake 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
8. Remove cake from oven and cool 30 minutes. Run knife along edge of pan. Remove pan sides. Cool completely.
9. Serve each slice with 2 teaspoons of almonds and a clementine slice.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 190 calories, 3g fat, 350mg sodium, 38g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 6g protein

*If a 9-in springform pan is not available, replace with 2 8-in round cake pans and bake 30-40 minutes.

WEB HIGHLIGHT 1: Need some other makeover recipes for the holidays, see the MyPlate Holiday Makeover blog postings.

WEB HIGHLIGHT 2: If you are worried about weight gain and overeating during the holidays, read Top 10 Ways to Avoid Gaining Holiday Weight from fellow Extension Educator, Mekenzie Riley.

FOOD SCIENCE HIGHLIGHT: Ever wondered why many baked goods are higher in sodium than you might expect? After all, they are not salty tasting. This is due to 3 sodium-containing ingredients often found in recipes for baked goods: salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Salt enhances flavors and promotes uniform texture in baked goods and the soda and powder help the product rise.

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Wow these are great substitute tips!
by Evelyn Huang on Sunday 1/26/2014