Eating healthy does not mean you have to abstain from the tasty things in life. There are plenty of ways you can indulge such as baking healthy cakes. You may think that “healthy cake” is something of an oxymoron but it is truly possible to create a great tasting treat for a fraction of the calories and fat. It is just a matter of good substitution for some of the ingredients. Baking a cake homemade using healthy, natural ingredients tastes a lot better than store bought cake mixes anyway!
All purpose white flour is the typical base for most homemade cakes, but it has few nutritional or healthy qualities. You can give your cake a healthy do-over by substituting at least half the all purpose white flour in the recipe for white whole-wheat flour. It produces a cake with a milder flavor than most whole wheat flour varieties and a lighter color too. If you substitute the white wheat flour, you will want to increase the moisture (water and oil) to prevent a dry cake.
Many cake recipes require the addition of some type of vegetable oil or melted butter. Both of these oily ingredients are not only full of calories but likely a high amount of saturated and trans fats – main contributors to weight gain and potential heart health problems. Oils typically make the cake tender and moist so you need a healthy substitute.
There are some butter spreads that contain olive oil or are specially formulated for people who need to follow a heart healthy diet. These butter spreads contain the “good” kind of fats called monounsaturated fats. You can melt them as an oil substitution. In addition, you can substitute a fruit puree such as applesauce or prunes too. If you are baking a spicy cake, canned pumpkin is a fine substitution for the oil in a cake recipe.
Most cake recipes call for sugar or even brown sugar to provide the sweetness. If you are trying to cut down on refined products, you can substitute organic cane sugar for the refined white sugar. In addition, there are sugar substitutes such as those derived from the stevia plant which also can help provide a healthier, sweet cake. If you are unsure about sugar substitutes, you can also use fruit purees again to provide the sweetness for your healthy cake.
Other Cake Ingredients
Eggs have had a love-hate relationship with the media but the bottom line is they can be healthy in moderate servings. Therefore, eggs are still the best solution for the binding agent in your healthy cakes. However, instead of choosing regular eggs from the grocery store, look for egg packaging that touts free-range eggs or eggs high in omega 3, a fatty acid essential for heart and blood vessel health. These free range eggs are laid by chickens that dine on grass and bugs instead of grains. This difference produces eggs higher in nutrient content.
When adding chocolate to your cake recipe, use dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa. Dark chocolate is chockfull of antioxidants which are important for overall health. Nuts and dried fruits are cake additions that can provide nutritional value too.
If you are a cake eater who must have some type of icing on your cake, you still can! Choose powdered sugar and mix it with a few tablespoons of your favorite juice or drink to create a tasty glaze for your cake. While the sugar does add calories, it does not add the fatty ingredients that store bought icing and frostings do. With a few substitutions, you can have your healthy cake and eat it too!