Baking calms the mind and feeds the soul, but all that buttery goodness can pack on the pounds. If you're looking to make healthier baked goods, omitting some or all of the butter from your favorite recipes can greatly reduce the calories, fat, and cholesterol. There are countless ways to replace eggs in recipes, and here are healthier alternatives to using butter (great for vegan bakers, too).
- Applesauce: Often used to replace oil in recipes, applesauce can also be used as a butter alternative, and it works best in cake-like recipes (like this vegan banana apple chunk bread). Replace half the amount of butter in your recipe with applesauce; if the recipe calls for one cup of butter, use half a cup of butter and half a cup of applesauce. If you don't mind a denser, more moist bread, replace all the butter with applesauce to cut even more calories and fat.
- Avocado: Substitute half the amount of butter in a baking recipe with mashed avocado (it works well with cookies and quick breads like these pumpkin apple muffins); use the same method as you would when using applesauce. Using avocado not only lowers the calorie content, but also creates a softer, moister baked good, and is perfect if you want to omit the dairy. You can also use avocado in place of butter to make vegan "buttercream" frosting.
- Earth Balance: Replace all the butter with Earth Balance to reduce saturated fat and cholesterol. Using Smart Balance rather than Earth Balance will also save some calories, and note that Original Smart Balance is now dairy-free!
- Canola oil: In certain recipes, replacing butter with oil works well, especially if the recipe calls for melted butter. Fiddle with your favorite recipes to figure out when canola works instead of butter; when baking chocolate chip cookies, I've had success substituting half a cup of canola oil for half a cup of unsalted butter. Although slightly higher in calories, canola is much lower in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium.
- Greek yogurt: Replace half the amount of butter in your cookie recipes with half the amount of full-fat plain Greek yogurt. For example, if the recipe calls for one cup of butter, use half a cup of butter and one quarter cup of yogurt. You'll reduce the calories and the saturated fat. Play around with using more yogurt and less butter to see if you still like the taste and consistency. Here are more ways to use Greek yogurt in baking recipes. If you're avoiding dairy, use soy yogurt instead, like this recipe for protein banana bread.
- Prune purée: Often used to help little ones stay regular, prune purée also makes a low-calorie and low-fat alternative to butter. Whatever amount of butter the recipe calls for, replace it completely with store-bought baby food prune purée (unless you have time to make your own; just purée prunes in the food processor). This option works well in recipes that involve chocolate and cinnamon.