rolling pin nestled in dough

You may love Mom's original recipes, but sometimes it's best for your health to modify the ingredients slightly by using baking substitutes. There are substitutes for many common ingredients to help you reach your nutritional goals. Though the taste of the treats may vary slightly, you'll find that by using the right baking substitutes, you can still enjoy baked goods while making smart choices for your health.

If you're uncertain about which types of substitutes would be best for you, talk to your dietitian or look for information that describes the nutrition standards for specific nutrition needs before selecting your alternative ingredients. Here are some substitutions that can help you reach specific goals:

For Low Fat
Many delicious treats can taste just as good while containing less fat. Here are a few simple substitutions:

  • Use applesauce and/or low-fat plain yogurt instead of butter for a low-fat alternative in most recipes. For best texture and flavor, replace only half the cream, butter, or full fat milk listed in the recipe. For example, if your recipe calls for 1/2 cup of butter, you can replace it with 1/4 cup of applesauce and only use 1/4 cup of butter. This will spare you 44 grams of fat and 400 calories.
  • Replace butter with the same amount of mashed ripe bananas in muffins, carrot cake, or banana bread.
  • Substitute one whole egg with two egg whites, to save around 10 grams of fat and 100 calories.

For Low Cholesterol
If you have risk factors for heart disease, you should consume no more than 200 milligrams of cholesterol per day, according to UCSF Medical Center. Even those without risk factors for heart disease should limit daily cholesterol intake to less than 300 milligrams. By using the following substitutions, you can significantly lower the cholesterol content in many standard recipes:

  • Try low-fat, part-skim, or fat-free cheeses (choose those that contain less than three grams of fat per ounce) instead of full-fat cheese.
  • Use evaporated skim milk instead of heavy cream or condensed milk.
  • Replace regular sour cream with non-fat yogurt or fat-free sour cream.

For Vegans
Vegans have special dietary needs, but that doesn't mean they need to sacrifice the enjoyment of eating. In baked goods, vegan substitutes for eggs include:

  • Applesauce
  • Mashed bananas
  • Pureed soft tofu
  • Egg replacer
  • Flax egg (1 tablespoon of flax seed meal plus 3 tablespoons of water or other liquid)

For Gluten-Free
Gluten-free diets exclude the protein gluten, which is found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye. A gluten-free diet is used to treat celiac disease or gluten sensitivities. Here are some substitutes for common baking ingredients:

  • If the recipe contains flour, consider using cornstarch, potato flour or brown rice flour.
  • When baking a pie, consider making it without the crust. For a gluten-free piecrust, try crushing some gluten-free cookies with butter or margarine in a greased pie pan.
  • Replace thickeners with cornstarch, arrowroot flour, or tapioca starch.