I was at my Doctor’s and she told me that her husband’s cholesterol went down 40 points just by skipping his morning fast food breakfast biscuit. It’s easy to forget that all those biscuits, cookies, and muffins add up.
I like to sneak some good stuff in baked goods and make a heart healthy treat. Below are some easy substitutions that you can use in your normal recipes as well as links to some healthy recipes for you to try. Once you try them you may be hooked.
Instead of Butter
Palm and coconut oil have saturated fat, and depending who you talk to they are either bad or good for you. The American Heart Association and the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation say we should avoid them. Not all fat is bad. Some healthy fats are olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, non-hydrogenated margarine, and avocados – all of which are used in vegan cooking.
The easiest substitute for butter is non-hydrogenated margarine. I use Earth Balance brand and you’ll see it asked for by name in many vegan recipes. Earth Balance does contain palm fruit oil which has less saturated fat than palm kernel oil, but is about the same as regular butter. You can easily use olive oil in your baked goods instead. You may need to add a little extra flour to make up for the extra moisture. You may find a few recipes that are fat free and use applesauce instead of oil.
Instead of Cow’s Milk
This is the easiest substitute of all. You don’t need to change your recipe, just use the same amount of a “veggie” milk. I use unsweetened vanilla almond milk most of the time, but if a thicker texture is needed try soy or even oat milk. To make a buttermilk substitute just add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup of soy (or rice, oat, almond, etc.) milk.
Instead of Cream Cheese, Yogurt or Sour Cream
Pick up a few containers of shelf stable silken tofu. They last for about a year, so check expiration dates before you put them into your cart. Puree it in a food processor or blender until it is smooth. You can add some vanilla and maybe a tablespoon of sweetener if your recipe doesn’t already call for it. There are vegan products that mimic cream cheese and sour cream in your grocer’s refrigerated section, but it just as easy to make something yourself. Plus it’s cheaper!
Instead of Whole Eggs
If you aren’t a vegan you can substitute egg whites for whole eggs, but let’s get more creative. There are actually many depression era recipes that didn’t call for any eggs due to shortages. There are egg substitutes that you can buy in a powder form in health food stores (or make yourself), but you can use more ordinary items too. The more you try them out you’ll see which ones fit better into your recipe.
Each of these would replace one egg in a recipe:
1. 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds mixed with 3 tablespoons water – this will be thick and gooey
2. 1/2 large mashed banana
3. 2 tablespoons corn starch blended with liquid ingredients
4. 1/4 cup blended tofu
Don’t Forget the Fiber
Consuming more fiber is recommended for heart health. Don’t miss the opportunity to add it into cookies, muffins, and brownies. Everyone has a story about switching whole wheat flour for white. And I hate to say, but they aren’t all pretty. Your chance of success goes up when you use whole wheat pastry flour instead of regular whole wheat flour. It’s made with soft white wheat and milled finer. If you can’t find it you can try putting regular whole wheat flour in the food processor.
You can also use white whole wheat flour. It sounds like a contradiction, but it’s still a whole grain product. The color is different because of the type of wheat that it’s milled from. Oat bran or rolled oats, regular or chopped in a food processor, can be substituted for part of the flour in a recipe.