1. Black beans for flour
Substituting a can of back beans (drained and rinsed) for flour in brownies is a great way to cut gluten while getting in an extra dose of protein— and they taste great.
2. Whole wheat flour for white flour
In virtually any baked good, replacing white flour with whole wheat can add a whole new dimension of nutrients, flavor, and texture. Because whole wheat includes the outer shell of the grain, it provides an extra punch of fiber, which aids in digestion and can even lower the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
3. Unsweetened applesauce for sugar
Using applesauce in place of sugar can give the necessary sweetness without the extra calories and, well, sugar. While 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce contains only about 100 calories, a cup of sugar can pack more than 770. Perfect for oatmeal raisin cookies.
4. Unsweetened applesauce for oil or butter
Don’t knock this one till you’ve tried it. The applesauce gives the right consistency and a hint of sweetness without all the fat of oil or butter. This works well in any sweet bread, like banana or zucchini, or in muffins (like in these low-fat blueberry muffins), including pre-boxed mixes.
5. Almond flour for wheat flour
This gluten-free switch gives any baked good a dose of protein, omega-3s, and a delicious nutty flavor. Check out these classic butter cookies for a simple example.
6. Avocado puree for butter
They’re both fats (albeit very different fats) and have nearly the same consistency at room temperature. The creaminess and subtle flavor of the avocado lends itself well to the texture of fudge brownies and dark chocolate flavorings. Check out this recipe for an idea of the right proportions to use.
7. Brown rice cereal and flax meal for Rice Crispies
Brown puffed rice has the same texture as conventional white rice, but with half the calories. The flaxadds extra fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and phytochemicals to the mix without changing the flavor.
8. Marshmallow Fluff for butter and sugar (in frosting)
Replacing the fat and sugar in frosting with marshmallow gets the desired consistency with fewer calories. While 2 tablespoons of Fluff has just 40 calories and 6 grams of sugar (and no fat!), the same amount of conventional frosting can pack up to 100 calories, 5 grams of fat, and 14 grams of sugar.
9. Natural peanut butter for reduced fat peanut butter
While it may appear better than traditional Skippy or Jiff, reduced fat peanut butter can actually have more sugar (and a doubly long list of artificial additives) than the original. Natural peanut butter (preferably unsalted) provides the same sweetness without chemical additives.
10. Vanilla for sugar
Cutting sugar in half and adding 1-2 teaspoons of vanilla as a replacement can give just as much flavor with significantly fewer calories. Assuming the recipe originally calls for 1 cup of sugar, that’s already almost 400 calories cut by leaving out ½ cup of sugar.
11. Mashed ripe bananas for fats
The creamy, thickening-power of mashed banana acts the same as avocado in terms of replacing fat in baking recipes. The consistency is ideal, and the bananas add nutrients like potassium, fiber, and vitamin B6.
12. Nut flours for flour
A word of caution: Nut flours don’t rise the same way as wheat flour so an additional rising agent might be needed when replacing more than ¼ cup of wheat. Many gluten-free blogs detail how to streamline nut-based baking. And while these flours are typically higher in calories and fat, they also have more fiber and protein.
13. Coconut flour for flour
High in fiber and low in carbohydrates, coconut flour is a great partial substitute for wheat flour in baking recipes. Be careful, though— more than 1/4-1/2 cup, and the flour’s bitterness can take over.
14. Meringue for frosting
Made from just egg whites and sugar, meringue can be a great fat-free substitution for traditional frosting. Feel like going a step further? Take a torch to it. Lightly charring the edges of the meringue can add a nice caramelized flavor.
15. Graham crackers for cookies (in pie crusts)
Who doesn’t love a fresh baked cookie-crust pie? But next time, refrain from the traditional sugar or Oreo cookie crust and grab the graham crackers. Reduced-fat graham cracker pack about half the calories of the more conventional options.
16. Evaporated skim milk for cream
It’s the same consistency with a fraction of the fat. Evaporated milk tends to have a bit more sugar (only about 2 grams), but the major drop in fat content is well worth the switch.
17. Stevia for sugar
Natural sweetener stevia is lower in calories and up to 300 times sweeter than sugar. But watch the grocery bill, as this fashionable sweetener can also cost up to 5 times as much as granulated sugar.
18. Baby prunes for butter
In brownies and other dark baked goods, minced baby prunes make for a perfect butter substitute while cutting more than half the calories and fat.
19. Cacao Nibs for chocolate chips