Whether for health or ethics, whatever your rationale for ditching butter, eggs, wheat, or sugar in baked goods, we have the healthiest substitutions for these baking essentials.
Replace wheat flour with almond meal in baked goods such as tart shells, cookies, and brownies. It’s naturally gluten-free and high in fiber. In vegan baking, it can also be used in place of both flour and eggs to impart structure and fat, as it does in Real Sustenance’s recipe for the World’s Best Chocolate Chunk Cookies. Purchase ready-made almond meal from the grocery store or grind your own by placing blanched almonds into your food processor and pulsing until they’re finely ground.
Garbanzo-Fava Bean Flour
Combined with other starches, such as potato and tapioca, garbanzo-fava flour replicates the results of wheat flour and is preferable to rice flour because it gives breads a great rise, according to Erin McKenna, creator of the famed vegan bakery babycakes and two cookbooks by the same name. Try the recipe that started it all for the babycakes brand, vanilla cupcakes. You can find the flour blend at health food stores or on the Bob”s Red Mill website.
For structure, moisture, and a touch of sweetness, applesauce stands in for eggs in vegan baked goods such as quick breads, muffins, cookies, and cupcakes. It can also take the place of oil in traditional sweet treats, such as brownies. Try this recipe for Vegan Applesauce Quick Bread from the food blog Trans-Planted. Purchase unsweetened applesauce from the grocery store or make your own by roasting 1 pound of peeled, diced apples with ¼-cup of water at 325 degrees until they’re soft, about 30 minutes. Blend with one cup of water until smooth.
Another appealing egg alternative, flax meal offers healthy fats and filling fiber. To replace one egg, blend one tablespoon of flax meal with three tablespoons of water. Allow the mixture to rest before adding to a recipe. Try these Oil-Free Chocolate Zucchini Walnut Muffins from Oh She Glows, the 2012 Best Food Blog, according to VegNews. You can purchase flax meal from the grocery store or buy whole flax seeds and grind them yourself in a food processor or clean coffee grinder.
Coconut Oil and Cream
Both coconut oil and coconut cream offer blissful alternatives to butter and vegetable oil in baked goods. They don’t become rancid when cooked and have a healthy dose of lauric acid, a medium-chain fatty acid. Coconut oil (also known as coconut butter) has a very low melting point — around room temperature — so it is best to use it in recipes that call for another oil or in recipes that call for it specifically. Coconut cream is versatile and delicious in frosting, like in this recipe for chocolate frosting shots from Chocolate Covered Katie.
With their natural sugars and filling fiber, dates make a sweet substitute for sugar. Date puree has far more moisture than granulated sugar, so reduce the amount of liquid in a recipe when making the swap. Make your own date puree at home and keep a batch in your refrigerator to use as needed.