How You Can Make Baking a Healthy Hobby

Last week one of my wonderful Whole Foods Living readers admitted her baking hobby simply doesn't fit well into a healthy lifestyle.

At first glance, she's right.

Photo by Angela Tague
Chocolate chip cookies, layer cakes and cream pies aren't exactly nutritious. But, there is a way to make them healthier!

Sometimes I think finding out that I'm gluten sensitive is a blessing. I've been learning about healthier types of flour and baking ingredients beyond all purpose bleached flour and bleached white sugar. (Anything bleached should not be part of your diet, folks!)

Here's a quick guide to healthier baking ingredients to keep in mind:

Instead of all-purpose flour try:
  • ground oatmeal  -- Pulse fiber-packed quick oats in a food processor to create a simple flour.
  • almond meal -- This protein rich "flour" is simply finely ground almonds.
  • brown rice flour -- I like to use Bob's Red Mill flour. It's full of protein!
Note: Recipes made with non-glutinous flours will need an extra binding agent such as xanthan gum or guar gum to avoid a crumbly texture.

Instead of white sugar try:
  • raw honey -- I've successfully used honey in sweet breads, doughs and cakes. Using half the amount of sugar called for in a recipe works well. So, if the recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, use 1/2 cup of honey. However, stick to granulated raw (unbleached) sugar for cookies and bars since it helps give the treats structure.
  • agave syrup -- It's lighter than honey and gives extra sweetness to homemade whipped toppings, frosting or icing.
  • stevia powder -- It's a zero-calorie sweetener made from the leaves of a plant!
Even if you don't need it for dietary reasons, get your hands on a good gluten-free baking cookbook to learn how to incorporate non-bleached, natural ingredients into your baking. You'll be amazed at the number of healthier ingredients that can be used in lieu of all-purpose flour!

So, what have you been baking?

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

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