Looking for healthy baking tips? How about healthy baking recipes? Maybe you’d like some ways to make healthier baked goods during a season known for its stress and overindulging?
This time of year, you may be cooking up a storm for any friends or family who may be popping by. For me? This season is all about BAKING. Cookies, cakes, crumbles, this sweet tooth is here for it all! In your kitchen, you may be relying on faithful old family recipes, or perhaps experimenting with new ones.
But did you know that many “traditional” baking recipes contain ingredients that can promote inflammation? To give ourselves the best chances of staying well and supporting a strong immune system, here are a few healthy baking tips for the holiday season.
1. Cut out refined, white sugar
If you’re still using refined sugar to bake with, there’s no time like today to stop!
White sugar contributes to inflammation and worsens chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and various types of cancers. Unlike other less refined sugars, white sugar doesn’t offer any trace minerals or vitamins.
Need something to replace it with? Consider coconut sugar, coconut syrup, maple syrup, green leaf stevia, Jaggery, and others.
2. Replace refined, white flour
Bleached and highly processed until it’s “dead”, white flour is lacking in nutrients. It really serves no purpose in a healthy diet. Especially since there are sooooo many better options!
Consider spelt flour if you’re not gluten-free. If you are, sorghum flour, oat flour, brown rice flour, and buckwheat flour, and other gluten-free grain flours are delicious. Cassava flour is another one of my favourites if you can find it. You can also use coconut flour, but not as a 1:1 replacement in recipes. It needs a TON more moisture!
All of these behave differently based on protein content, absorbability, fineness of the grain, and other factors. I use different types of gluten-free flour in the recipes on my blog.
3. Say no to vegetable oils
Vegetable and seed/grain oils like canola, soy, and corn are industrially and chemically processed oils that are not suitable for your healthy kitchen. They are often high in Omega-6 fatty acids and most of us already eat many of these.
Unless labelled organic, seed and grain oils are usually genetically modified, though may not be labelled in your local grocery store. This is mostly due to extreme lobbying and lax government regulation.
For healthier baked goods, consider coconut oil, butter, ghee, avocado oil, camelina oil, and more. If using animal-based fats, aim for grass-fed or pastured products.
4. Avoid commercial fruit juices and drinks
Most of the fruit juices you find in the grocery store are packed with sugar. Not just fruit sugar (which can be difficult on your liver in great quantities), but also refined, WHITE sugar. Really, check out the ingredients. It’s no wonder you won’t find these in my healthy baking tips!
First, you’ll be shocked, and then you’ll be mad as heck at how many grams of sugar are in a typical serving of orange juice!
If you want to make a holiday baking recipe that includes fruit or vegetable juice, grab your blender, throw in some chopped whole fruits or vegetables, add some water and blend away until smooth. They don’t even have to be completely blended because you won’t be able to tell in most baking recipes!
Use an apple for apple juice, a carrot for carrot juice, and even grapes for grape juice. You get the picture. Juices made from whole foods will retain more nutrients than the sugar-spiked junk foods that masquerade as “healthy” on grocery store shelves.
And #5 of our healthy baking tips… avoid artificial extracts!
I admit that concentrated flavour extracts like peppermint and almond are enticing this time of year. Who doesn’t love a creamy mug of hot cocoa spiked with peppermint?
But if you need healthy baking tips with FLAVOUR, choose wisely. We want to choose whole foods (e.g. fresh mint) first and whenever possible. Whenever possible means: do they affect the integrity of your recipe? e.g. chunky bits of fresh mint floating in your hot chocolate are not sexy!
If you can’t use whole foods in your recipe, high-quality flavour extracts are the next best thing. Look for organic extracts derived from whole- and plant-based ingredients.
And whatever you do, steer clear of those plastic bottles of synthetic, strangely coloured, and often dusty flavour extracts at the grocery store.
That’s it for my healthy baking tips for the holidays. If you can avoid them as much as possible, you’ll improve your health and ability to handle holiday stress.
Now, you can have your cake and eat it too!
Life is a plate… Eat up!