Phoenix Ignition Fitness Company

Fitness By the Fire: Healty subsitutes for holiday baking.

by Ron Kennedy • December 05, 2016
With the holiday season in full swing, the average cooking and baking of your typical household increases drastically. Holiday cookies, brownies, cupcakes, dips, pulled pork, slated ham, and the creation of one of the vilest substances on the face of the earth in my opinion… fruit cake. Even from a fitness and health conscious perspective, most us take extra time to enjoy our kitchen during the final month of the year.  That said, there are substitutions we can implement and techniques we can follow to still enjoy the holiday season, but not distract us to greatly from the constant pursuit of our health and fitness goals.

Flour is one of the main ingredients for most baking recipes. Yet the purpose of flour typically is to produce a certain texture and formation of the goods you seek. Since flour is much higher in carbs and calories, if the goal is simply the texture and shape, I would suggest a diversion from corn and wheat based flour and experiment with almond, coconut, or even flax based flour.

Almond flour is grain-free, Paleo-friendly and contains protein, healthy fats, and 35 percent of your RDA for vitamin E. For the long term, it does have to be refrigerated or frozen after initial use to prevent spoiling. Almond flour is often used for coating chicken or fish; in meatballs, crab cakes, or anywhere else you'd use bread crumbs; or for replacing up to the white flour in cakes, muffins, pancakes, and cookies.

Soy Flour, derived from soybeans, deliver calcium, fiber, and more than triple the protein of white pastry flour. It is a great substitute for thickening sauces, gravies, or soups; or swapping in for white flour in non-yeasted recipes.

Quinoa flour is a nutrient-packed flour containing a complete protein: one that provides all the essential amino acids. Upping the healthiness of cookies and cakes. Cut it with an equal amount of white flour—the texture will be a bit more grainy than usual, but the result will be so much better for you.

Flax seeds are a rich source of micro-nutrients, dietary fiber, manganese, vitamin B1, and the essential fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid, also known as ALA or omega-3. The seeds come from flax, one of the oldest fiber crops in the world - known to have been cultivated in ancient Egypt and China. Flaxseed is a source of healthy fat, antioxidants, and fiber; modern research has found evidence to suggest that flaxseed can also help lower the risk of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Flax seed flour is cold-ground into finely-textured whole flax meal, preserving the flavor and health benefits. It adds a nutty flavor and replaces oil in baked goods.

Applesauce is a healthy replacement for butter in baking, and common trick used by fitness enthusiasts. Butter is a lipid whereas applesauce contains pectin, a soluble fiber that can turn your recipe into a jelly-like consistency. Additionally, you may need to reduce the amount of sugar elsewhere in the recipe because applesauce contains natural sugars even the unsweetened type that may offset the taste.

Bananas, berries or other fruit purees can improve both nutritional value and flavor in any classic dessert. Give cookies a nutritional boost by adding smashed bananas. A raspberry puree will give muffins and cupcakes an additional antioxidant boost. Purees are excellent fat substitutes, and can be used to replace butter or oil in baked goods. You can add two to four tablespoons of puree to most baking recipes without altering the recipes. In addition, by substituting about half a cup of fruit puree for every cup of fat, you can reduce your recipe by at least 1,700 calories!

If you must use butter, for every tablespoon of butter you replace with heart-healthy oil, you eliminate at least 5 grams of saturated fat from your batch of cookies. (A batch of 2 dozen cookies made with 1 cup butter has almost 5 grams saturated fat per cookie.) Keep in mind that when you reduce the butter in a recipe you may lose some of its tenderizing and moisture-retaining properties. Cookies that use some oil in place of butter may be a bit crisper and may dry out sooner. To preserve the best cookie texture, be sure to store extra cookies in an airtight container.