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Health Tip

Healthy Snacks You Can Bake At Home

If you love baked goods, especially fresh, warm ones straight from the oven, you might be wondering how you can keep them and still maintain a healthy diet. Although your typical muffin or quick bread is high in sugar, carbs and fat, there are ways to substitute and add to your ingredients to boost their healthfulness and decrease their calories and fat. Here are some of your questions about healthy baking answered.

  • What kinds of flour should I use? You should use only whole grain and whole wheat flours. Refined white flours have had the most nutritional parts of them—the bran and the germ—removed. Try whole wheat and multi-grain, or other grains like rye and barley mixed with wheat. If you don’t like the heavy, grainy texture of many whole grain flours, try whole white flour, which is ground down to a soft texture while still keeping all the essential parts of the grain.
  • Can I add anything to make them healthier? The easiest way to increase the nutritional profile of a baked item is to throw in yummy extras like fruit (fresh or dried), seeds, nuts and grated vegetables. Besides adding flavor, they can add vitamins, fiber, minerals, antioxidants and healthy fats. If you don’t know what to add, experiment with dried fruit such as cranberries and apricots; fresh fruit like blueberries; vegetables like squash; seeds like sunflower, poppy, lemon and pumpkin; and nuts like walnuts and pecans. Try these with both savory and sweet baked goods.
  • How can I make them lower fat? High fat content is one of the biggest problems with baked goods, since nearly any recipe requires oil or butter. You can try olive oil or margarine, but other options include applesauce or other fruit purees. These add a subtle layer of flavor. Egg whites, particularly if you beat them first, will make your breads light and fluffy.
  • Does any of this translate into healthy snacks? Many healthy baked goods make excellent snacks. Cook your breads in small portions like muffins. Cookies or bars that are full of fruit, nuts and whole grains are easy to carry with you. Don’t leave out whole grained yeast breads for sandwiches. They key is to be creative and keep trying new things. If you find something you like, then keep making it. If you don’t like one thing, then try something else.

You don’t have to ban baked goods from your diet if you want to be healthy, especially if you make them yourself. There’s something uniquely satisfying about bread straight out of the oven, and if you make them correctly they’ll be packed full of fiber, protein and nutrients, with a minimum of sugar and fat. You don’t have to sacrifice flavor, but to move the source of the flavor from sugar and butter to hearty grains and delicious add-ons. Sweet fruits, meaty nuts, crunchy seeds and appropriate spices will make these the best, most filling baked goods you’ve ever enjoyed.

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