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Healthy Baking Hacks: 9 Simple Substitutions

    Do you love to bake but also want to live a balanced lifestyle? Check out my guide to healthy baking including my nine BEST hacks for simple substitutions.

    blueberry muffins

    When I began my weight loss journey almost 15 years ago, I began experimenting with various tips and tricks for making healthier baked goods at home.

    raw blueberry bread batter

    Over the last decade, I have created quite the list of time-tested methods and simple swap-outs that result in tender, moist and delicious baked goods – often with much more nutrition and far fewer calories.

    stonyfield yogurt

    Getting rid of oil

    Growing up in a Middle Eastern household, we always have plain yogurt in the refrigerator. As such, I learned from a young age that adding yogurt to muffins, bread or pancakes always results in a lighter, fluffier, and more moist baked good.

    oil to yogurt picture
    Oil to yogurt substitutions
    Swap Yogurt with Butter

    To make it easy, my friends at Stonyfield created this simple Yogurt Substitutions Guide to help you bake and cook with yogurt at home.

    Tips for Healthy Baking

    Not only is yogurt a great way to add nutrients like calcium and Vitamin D to a baked good, but the natural acidity in yogurt is also the perfect balance to the sweetness of most baked goods.

    Measuring Flour

    Flour change outs

    One of the easiest substitutions you can make for healthier baked goods is replacing white all-purpose flour with whole wheat pastry flour. If you can’t find whole wheat pastry flour, white whole wheat flour works well too. You can purchase it online or in most major grocery stores.

    Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe
    Adding Flax Seed

    Adding nutrition

    Whenever I’m baking, I replace about 1/4-1/2 cup of the flour in a recipe with flax seed meal. One of the best “nutrition powerhouses” you can buy, just one tablespoon of flax seed meal contains a good amount of fiber, protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Sprinkle it into smoothies, muffins, cookies, brownies, oatmeal, you name it!

    Blueberry Yogurt Muffins

    Sweeten Naturally

    One of the easiest ways to reduce the amount of sugar needed to sweeten a recipe is by using ripe fruit. Whether it’s mashing ripe bananas into pancakes, folding sweet blueberries into muffin batter or stirring strawberries into a quick bread batter, I find that using ripe fruit is a great way to lower the amount of sugar needed in a recipe.

    Liz Cooking with Pumpkin

    Another oil reduction

    If you’re looking to reduce the amount of oil in a recipe, pumpkin is a great substitute because the ratio is one to one. Meaning, one cup of oil is replaced with one cup of pure pumpkin. If you want to replace butter with pumpkin, multiply the amount of butter required by .75. In other words, for every one cup of butter, swap in 3/4 cup of pure pumpkin.

    Zesting Lemon

    Flavor Adds

    When baking, I love zesting oranges or lemons to add to the batter. Bursting with aroma from the natural oils, this adds no additional calories to the baked good but results in tons of added flavor.

    Liz Baking Cookies

    Portion control

    Often times, our eyes are bigger than our stomachs, am I right? One of my favorite tools in the kitchen for healthy baking is a small cookie scoop. Afterall, two cookies is better than one so why not just make them a little smaller?

    Almond Flour Berry Muffins Gluten Free Breakfast recipe 1

    Gluten-Free Flours

    One of my favorite wheat flour substitutes is almond flour. Light, buttery and slightly nutty, it’s great for not only baking muffins but also coating chicken tenders. Naturally gluten-free and low carb, almond flour is also a keto-friendly baking flour.

    Gluten Free Peach Crisp with Almond Flour Recipe
    Apple Cinnamon Buckwheat Pancakes Recipe 1

    Adding spices

    Last but not least, adding warm spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, or ginger to your baked goods is an excellent way to add loads of flavor and sweetness without relying on added sugar or oil. We love stirring cinnamon in pancakes, nutmeg into muffins, or cocoa powder into the cookie dough.

    Frequently asked questions:

    What is whole wheat pastry flour?

    Unlike all-purpose flour, whole wheat pastry flour is made from 100% stone-ground wheat, resulting in super-soft, pillowy flour. It has all of the nutrients of the bran and the germ but less protein resulting in tender, moist, and light baked goos.

    Is almond flour the same as almond meal?

    Both can be used interchangeably but almond meal is from raw, unpeeled almonds and almond flour is made from blanched, peeled almonds. In general, almond flour is finer in texture and lighter in color than almond meal. I love using both!


    Liz DellaCroce

    Liz Della Croce is the creator and author of The Lemon Bowl, a healthy food blog. Since 2010, Liz has been sharing delicious recipes that just so happen to be healthy. By using real ingredients with an emphasis on seasonality, Liz has built a growing audience of loyal readers who crave good food for their families. Click Here To Subscribe to my newsletter:


    1. I think the acidity in the yogurt helps baked goods rise too, on top of the complimentary tang. It’s pretty much magic! Love me some Stonyfield!

      1. Can I substitute 1 cup a whole wheat flour for 1 cup white flour in my blueberry muffins? Love all all the wonderful ideas you share without making us feel like we are “making do”or missing out on something!

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