Healthy Baking – Go Easy on the Recipe Substitutions

28 Dec

There's a can of Crisco in my cupboard and I don't like it one bit.

I don’t think anyone in their right mind would describe me as being a “good cook.” On the rare occasion that I follow a recipe exactly as the directions read, the results are typically favorable, but for one reason or another I really don’t like to do that. My main culinary goal is to follow a healthy diet, so low-fat cooking is always the number one item on my agenda. I’m also cheap, so if a recipe calls for too many ingredients I’ll simply leave a few out. If it asks me to do something I don’t understand, or use kitchen tools that I don’t own (such as a mixer), I just ignore that part too. Taste is somewhere on the list, just farther down…

Discovering Recipe Substitutions

This past weekend I attempted to make my grandmother’s amazing lemon bread. The ingredient list includes items such as shortening, 1 entire cup of sugar, white flour, and other essentials that don’t exactly equal low-fat cooking. Since I’m pretty much only into “healthy baking,” I decided to find some recipe substitutions to lower the calorie count. Here’s my interpretation of my recipe substitutions research:

  • Half the shortening can be replaced with unsweetened applesauce
  • Salt can be left out completely
  • Whole wheat flour can be used in place of white flour
  • Sugar can be cut in half and replaced with vanilla

After I finished my healthy baking, I was the proud creator of an item that looked and tasted  like a large dog biscuit. Not only did it fail to taste like the fluffy lemon bread that my grandmother used to make, it didn’t even look right. Seriously, it was awful! I took a couple bites of it, because I was convinced it couldn’t actually taste as bad as it did, but no it really was that bad.

Healthy Baking Lessons Learned

It never really occurred to me that recipe substitutions aren’t necessarily going to work in everything you bake. I’ve successfully made edible low-fat baked goods many times, and although they may not be quite as good the fatty kind, you don’t have to worry about busting out of your pants after eating them. I consider this a fair trade. Moral of the story is, unless you’re skilled in the kitchen, leave the recipe substitutions to the experts. Wait for them to put the recipes for their healthy baking concoctions online, then copy them. Spare your taste buds the pain of having to sample the results of your unsupervised low-fat cooking.

For healthy recipe substitutions (from someone who actually knows what they’re talking about), check out this post.

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