So… I didn’t MoFo yesterday. Oops.
Today, I want to discuss baking and health. I get enormously frustrated when people say to me, “Oh, you’re a vegan baker? Your stuff must be really healthy.”
Uh, no, actually. It’s not.
And then I have to try to explain to them that while it’s not full of animal ingredients and white sugar and bleached flour, it’s still full of fat and sugar and white flour. Plenty of vegans make things super healthy but, for better or worse, I’m not one of them, at least not when it comes to my books. My objective is to make things taste as “normal” as possible. I don’t want an omni to be able to tell the difference and I don’t want a vegan or someone with food allergies to feel like they are eating anything less than.
That said, sometimes it pays to clean up your act a little bit. I tend to bake
way too much quite a bit and because I don’t like not baking, I have to mix it up in order to keep us healthy. It’s no secret that the recipes in my cookbooks are sometimes foods. But because I have a particular taste pallate, I don’t want my baking to taste too healthy. Where’s the fun in that?
Here are some of my tips to help you make your baked goods healthier without sacrificing flavor.
1. If a recipe calls for sugar, use a little! Even if I’m cutting the sugar content siginifcantly or are substituting a liquid, I always add a little bit of regular sugar (I use evaporated cane juice) to a recipe. Granulated sugar breaks down differently than liquid and greatly contributes to the mouthfeel of a baked good, which is the most important consideration when healthifying any recipe. Keeping a bit of sugar in there helps retain that mouthfeel, ensuring your muffins won’t be mealy like a biscuit.
2. Always use a little bit of fat. Substitute applesauce or whatever to your heart’s content, but always use at least 1–2 tablespoons of fat. Fat-free baked goods have a rubbery texture. Fat is also important to help you feel satiated, so you don’t end up eating 3 muffins instead of just 1. Oops.
3. Blend your flours. Even when baking healthier, I always do a blend of whole wheat and white flour. This goes back to mouthfeel. Whole wheat flour is grittier and more dense. It also absorbs more liquid, so you may need to add an additional tablespoon or two of liquid when substituting flours. I usually do a mixture of white flour, whole wheat and some ground oats when I’m baking for my health. This creases the fiber and protein of the baked good without it tasting like I’m eating something that came from a 1960s co-op bakery.
3. A little sprinkle (of sugar) goes a long way. I tend to cut back significantly on the sugar content in my baked goods but often, although the texture is okay, they just don’t taste that sweet on their own. I love to add a sprinkle of coarse sugar to the top of whatever I’m baking (typically muffins or cookies). This sugar doesn’t dissolve into the baked good and is then immediately available to your tongue when eating, ensure your get that desired sweetness without ingesting a mass of sugar.
4. Mix it up. It’s amazing how far a sprinkle of chocolate chips, some berries, lemon zest or a teaspoon of ginger can take a recipe. Extracts are great, too, to help create a pronounced flavor without adding calorie-heavy ingredients.
5. Don’t forgo the topping. Find a lesser-evil if something you’re making is usually really decadent. If you feel deprived you will go to the other end of the spectrum and then binge on super unhealthy things. Trust me, I’ve been there. If a recipe calls for fatty frosting, add a light glaze. Create a fruit compote to top it off. Just because you’re making things healthier doesn’t mean you have to be without.
What things to do you do to help make a recipe healthier?
Squirrel’s Vegan KitchenGo back in time to my original blog: Squirrel’s Vegan Kitchen!
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