By Matthew Kadey, MS, RD
Cookie parties, family gatherings, reunions with friends – this season is full of great times to gather with loved ones. And to stuff your face with delicious treats. (Yumm…) Unfortunately, face-stuffing doesn’t always seem like such a great idea in retrospect. (We don’t make New Year’s resolutions just for fun!) But you can make your desserts a little more healthy with these tips for making high fiber baked goods.
The good news is that with a few easy additions and substitutions, you can turn your favorite holiday baked goods into fiber powerhouses without detracting from the decadent taste that makes you crave them so much in the first place.
By adding fiber, your baked goods will become more satiating, making you full faster. This way, you’ll be less likely to overindulge in them and pack on the unwelcome holiday pounds. Try out the tips below, and take a look at my recipe for Pumpkin Walnut muffins:
Use Whole Wheat Pastry Flour Instead of All-Purpose Flour
Milled from soft wheat, whole wheat pastry flour will produce a tender product that is not too heavy, an objection many people have when baking with regular whole wheat flour. Like other whole grain flours, whole wheat pastry flour contains the fiber that is stripped away when producing white flour. You can often replace all of the all-purpose flour a recipe calls for with whole wheat pastry flour.
Try Alternative Flours
From almond to teff to quinoa to coconut, specialty flours are becoming more popular in kitchens across the country. Some of these flour guises pack a serious fiber punch. Case in point: sweet coconut flour contains 5 grams of fiber in just 2 tablespoons! A single tablespoon of chia flour, made by grinding up salubrious chia seeds, provides a whopping 6 grams of fiber!
Start by replacing about a quarter to a third of the wheat flour a recipe calls for with a specialty flour and see if you like the results. Some flours like amaranth, teff and quinoa don’t contain gluten, a protein in wheat that contributes structure and texture to baked goods, so it’s not advisable to replace all the wheat flour with these unless you understand the nuts and bolts of gluten-free baking.
Make a Puree
If you’re concerned about fat calories (a cup of butter adds a whopping 1,600 calories to a batch of baked goods), try pureeing fruits or vegetables such as apples, bananas, pears, avocados, pumpkin or sweet potatoes to be used in place of some of the fats and sweeteners. Doing so will not only cut down on calories but provide extra nutrients and fiber. For best results, substitute purees for about two-thirds of the total amount of oil, butter, or shortening a baked good recipe calls for and experiment from there. You can also try using mashed up cooked red lentils (seriously, it works great!) for a real fiber punch.
Go Crazy for Cocoa
Here’s more reason to love your chocolate brownies: low-fat cocoa powder is a surprisingly good source of dietary fiber! A third of a cup provides 10 grams. Plus, cocoa powder has sky-high levels of disease-fighting antioxidants.
Crammed with fiber, beneficial fats and a wide assortment of vitamins and minerals, crunchy nuts, including hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, pistachios and pecans should be worked into more baked items such as muffins, brownies and cookies. Simply chop them up and fold them in to the batter after everything else has been mixed together.
Here’s a recipe to try out. Hope you enjoy!
Fiber Rich Pumpkin Walnut Muffins
1- 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (see Recipe Note*)
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup neutral tasting vegetable oil such as grapeseed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
2 tablespoons molasses
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
½ cup dried cranberries or cherries
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda. In a separate bowl, mix together the pumpkin, oil, eggs, water, spices and molasses. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients until all the flour is incorporated. Stir in the walnuts and cranberries. Pour into 12 medium sized greased or paper lined muffin cups. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let rest 5 minutes before unmolding.
*Recipe Note: Try replacing ½ cup of the whole wheat pastry flour with a specialty flour such as quinoa, teff or coconut.
What is your favorite healthy holiday recipe? Share below!
For more from Matthew, visit his website.