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Enjoying Baking a Little Too Much During the Quarantine? Here are 9 Helpful Tips

With extra time on your hands lately, have you found yourself spending too much time in the kitchen during quarantine baking yummy delights? If so, here are some tips to help cut the sugar, fat, and calories so you can have your cake…and eat it too!

 

Sugar Replacements

 

  1. Figs.  Replace up to ½ the amount of sugar in your recipe with figs. Place the figs in a little water to soften. Drain. Then for every 8 oz. of figs, puree them with ¼ to 1/3 c. water until smooth.
  2. Dates. Dates add even more sugar than figs. Place 1 c. dates in a blender with ½ to 1 c. hot water. Puree until it becomes a thick paste. Use this to replace up to ½ of the sugar in your recipe. You may have to experiment a little in order to get the right texture.
  3. Spices. Cut the sugar in your recipe by 1/3 to ½. Then double the spices and extracts. Try experimenting with spices or extracts not mentioned in your recipe such as cloves, nutmeg, allspice or almond extract.

 

Fat Replacements

 

  1. Avocado. Peel, pit and mash an avocado to make a puree. Add 2 tsp. lemon juice. For every cup of fat in your recipe, substitute ¾ to 1 cup of the avocado puree. Avocados contain more water than butter or shortening, so you may need to decrease the oven temperature by 25% and bake your food a little longer.
  2. Beans. If you are baking something dark, such as a chocolate cake or brownies, replace some of the fat with black beans that have been pureed. The beans will not only cut down on fat, but they will add protein, fiber, and potassium. If you are making something lighter in color, canellini beans or chickpeas can be substituted.
  3. Greek Yogurt. Yogurt can be used to replace the oil in muffins. Whole milk or full-fat versions will give you the best taste. (Non-fat yogurt will change the taste and texture quite a bit. It is not recommended.) Equal amounts of yogurt can be used in exchange for the oil. Add ½ tsp. baking soda per cup of yogurt to help with the rise.

 

Other Helps

  1. Whole Grains. For every cup of white flour in your recipe, use ¼ c. whole grain flour and ¾ c. white. You may need to experiment until you get the ratio just right.
  2. Gluten. To reduce the amount of gluten in yeast breads, replace ¼ of the total flour in the recipe with oat flour. Add more yeast to help it to rise better.
  3. Egg Substitutes. Each egg can be substituted with either 2 tsp. chia seeds or 1 tablespoon of flaxseed. Add ¼ c. water and let sit for 5 minutes to soften. When using these substitutes, you will need to add ¼ o ½ tsp. baking powder or baking soda to the recipe.

Image courtesy of Hal Nguyen on Unsplash

Refined-sugar

Refined Sugar: What to Use in Its Place

Refined sugar is everywhere around us these days. In 2001 the Tufts University Health and Nutrition Letter reported that Americans spent $21 billion on candy—more than the gross national products of Lithuania, Costa Rica, and Mozambique combined! There has been a rise in Type 2 diabetes that experts are now calling an “emerging epidemic.” The FDA estimates that approximately 2/3 of the sugars we eat come from those added to processed foods.

Refined Sugar Alternatives

Overuse of refined sugar is obviously an issue. And we all crave sweets, but we do not have to give them up completely. Several sweeteners available today, eaten in moderation, can quench our sweet tooth without ruining our health.

 

  • Barley Malt: Can be purchased as a powder or as a syrup. Very concentrated—1/8 tsp. replaces 2 tsp. of refined table sugar. Good for those on a weight-loss regimen or with diabetes or hypoglycemia.
  • Honey: Contains anti-oxidants. Has antimicrobial, antifungal, and antibacterial properties. Rich source of vitamins and minerals.
  • Blackstrap Molasses: Rich in iron and minerals. Is a byproduct of sugar refining. It is the “good stuff” left over after all the nutrients are refined out of regular sugar. This is one of the best sugar substitutes.
  • Brown Rice Syrup: Similar in texture to honey. Good for people with diabetes. Made by fermenting and boiling brown rice.
  • Stevia: Also known as honeyleaf. Completely safe. Calorie-free. Available in liquid or powdered form. Does not affect blood sugar metabolism. In powdered form, ¼ – ½ tsp. equals a cup of refined sugar.
  • Unsulfured dried fruit: Can be used on top of cereals instead of sugar, or the dried fruit can be cooked, pureed, and mashed to use in baking as a sugar replacement. (This can be done ahead and then when ready to use, soak in boiling water to soften and rehydrate.)

 

Sugars, in any form, should be kept to a minimum in our diet.  Some other foods that help to reduce cravings for sugar include whole grains, sweet potatoes, squash, apples, and bananas.

 

What are you doing to reduce your refined sugar consumption? We’d love to hear your comments!

 

See also:

http://maronewellness.com/13-tips-help-keep-healthier-eating-new-years-resolutions/

http://maronewellness.com/21-days-to-a-clearer-mind-and-increased-energy/

http://maronewellness.com/inflammation-a-leading-cause-of-weight-gain/