Cookies, cupcakes, brownies, cakes, and even ice cream can be made healthier. With the right amount and swapping a few of the ingredients you can limit calories and cut saturated fat content of your favorite treats, while adding a nutrient boost.

When it comes to baking, the ingredients that are listed and added usually contain empty calories including butter, shortenings and sugars. Instead of using the same old normal flour, these days you have options and can play around with flavor substituting with different flours, like oatmeal, almond and brown rice flours. However, be careful with this because some flour options like ‘Fava’ will dry out your final delight if you use the exact amount in a recipe that calls for your basic flour. Fava acts as a great substitute for gluten friendly options just always remember to use a little less.

So let’s get down to other baking ingredient replacements.


Substituting butter will help to lower the cholesterol of a sweet treat and also cut some of those hefty calories away if you are watching them.

Shortening, Oil and Butter Replacements include:


Tofu doesn’t have a specific flavor and will take on the flavors of what you are cooking or, in this case, baking. You’ll use tofu as a one-to-one ratio to replace butter. Best places to use this are while making fudge and brownies.


Add in black beans, cannellini beans or lentils also will help with decreasing fat content in recipes that call for shortening, oil or butter. Use a food processor to puree the beans and replace half the butter called for in the recipe.

Here is a favorite Black Bean Brownie Recipe. You will see in this recipe she also uses the beans as a starch and replaces the flour as well. This is also an option.


Want a little more fiber and more nutrients in your recipe? Using half the amount of oil for applesauce can cut down calories and fat content. This replacement works well in cupcakes, cakes, breads and muffins. You will want to avoid using too much applesauce as your end result will be too wet and very moist.


Bananas are a great fruity substitute for recipes, but make it depending on the recipe when you use this replacement. The same rules apply using bananas as using any fruit puree. You will use half the amount of the oil called for with the same amount of bananas. The bonus factor with bananas is the increase of potassium in your treat.

Puréed Frozen Bananas are a great replacement for Ice Cream! Add in some mini chocolate chips and you have the perfect little delightful treat.


Replacing your butter, oil and shortening with avocado will reduce sodium, cholesterol, saturated fat and calories too. The ratio to use is half an avocado per two tablespoons of butter. You can use this replacement with dark cookies, breads, and cakes. On a side note, if you decide to use this to replace butter or shortening in Sugar Cookies, the cookies might have a green tint.  The nutrients you will gain will be more fiber, potassium and vitamin K, along with some smaller amounts of niacin, vitamin A and E.

When cutting out sugars use alternative ingredients like honey, agave, maple syrup, even coconut sugar. These replacements can be used as a one-to-one ratio. Ingredients like these sugars will have a lower glycemic index (this measures how foods affect your blood sugar in your body) hence, these will be easier on the body when processing versus white or brown sugars.

If you are limited with these ingredients listed above for sugar replacements you can also cut down the amount of sugar that a recipe is calling for by one-third to one-half and add some spices like cloves, cinnamon and allspice. This will help save some calorie content too and doesn’t change out the taste of your treat, unless you really pour on the spice!    

Another tip for cutting sugar in recipes calling for chocolate chips is switching out the chocolate chips for mini chocolate chips or semi-sweet chocolate chips.

The last tip will be how to use chia seeds as an egg replacement. This will provide you with healthy omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, antioxidants, iron and calcium. Replace one egg with one teaspoon of chia seeds mixed with three tablespoons of water; let this mixture sit for 15-20 minutes before adding it.

Whether you decide to share your nutrient boosted delicacy secret to your guests, you can indulge and feel less guilty during the entire year. Experiment on your own to find your favorite option to use when planning a party, bringing a dessert dish, or to bring a treat to an office holiday event. Why not treat yourself while adding more nutritional value too?