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Healthy baking options

I'm not all that familiar with healthy cooking and baking - I'm a big fan of butter, eggs, and cream. But, my husband just found out he has high cholesterol and I'm trying to find a way to satisfy my sweet tooth with foods he can enjoy too.

I have 2 basic questions - 1: Can I substitute whole wheat flour for regular flour in my favorite recipes? 2: What about substituting carob for chocolate chips?

Any low cholesterol dessert ideas (that are really worth eating) would be most appreciated!

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  1. Usually when you substitute whole wheat flour for AP flour, you have to still use a small amount of AP flour to get a good consistency.

    Not a baked dessert, but you might try a little dried fruit and nut mixture to satisfy your sweet tooth.

    1. Try using white whole wheat for baking. I use King Arthur's. I wouldn't automatically substitute carob for chocolate chips. Carob sometimes contain partially hydrogenated oils which would be worst for him. Some don't but they contain hydrogenated oils/saturated oils from palm kernel (jury is out on whether it's bad for you--depends on who you listen to but it does have saturated fats just as chocolate does). Dark chocolate has some health benefits so cut down on the amount of chocolate chips but leave enough for flavor. You can use two egg whites for one egg. Look for vegan recipes that use vegetable oil instead of butter. You can also substitute applesauce, pumpkin puree or prune puree for the oil. You could also go with half oil/half applesauce so the difference isn't as pronounced. There's already another thread going about replacing cream w/ skim milk. For some good recipes, try www.theppk.com for vegan recipes. I like the vegan brownies and the pumpkin oatmeal cookies. I use white whole wheat flour for them.

      3 Replies
      1. re: chowser

        I need to try some of that white whole wheat.

        1. re: pescatarian

          It's much better than the red whole wheat. I can use all white whole wheat and it tastes fine. The baked goods end up slightly darker than normal white flour. Though, we're used to whole grains--there was an article in the Washington Post that suggested doing half white whole wheat and half white. They said no one could taste the difference.

          1. re: chowser

            Thanks, I generally love whole grains (I grew up eating whole wheat bread), but find that most recipes that call for regular (didn't know until now it was "red") whole wheat flour also call for AP flour. I will try the white whole wheat.

      2. I just tried substituting unsweetened applesauce for the fat in an oatmeal quick loaf recipe with great success so definitely give that a shot! I don't know how it works, or if it works in every recipe, but for your basic muffin or quickbread, it seems to be okay.

        1. Follow along with my Cookie of the Month Club posts, for starters! Here's my post (and the story) asking for help from the hounds: http://www.chow.com/topics/334799 And December's cookie here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/354978 I should be posting January's soon!

          Also, someone (sorry I can't remember who!) recommended buying Eating Well's Dessert cookbook, and I haven't made much from it yet, but everything sounds good: http://www.amazon.com/Eating-Well-Des... It's a great price if you buy it used right now!

          1. Thanks so much! I knew about the applesauce replacement trick, but will look more into vegan options.

            In college we had a great place called the Jungle that had a carob chip muffin that I used to love. I bought a package at Whole Foods the other day, but haven't had much success finding recipes to use them. I guess that would be more for me than for him. I'm having a hard time moving to the low cholesterol diet for him.

            1. Unless you have a medical reason to do so don't sub carob for chocolate. It is not anywhere as good and has a weird mouth feel. I would much rather eat less and eat well. The King Arthur white whole wheat is a good product but you cannot successfully sub whole wheat for white in total. Read the bag for guidance.

              1 Reply
              1. re: lucyis

                I would definately recomend whole wheat pastry flour, rather than regular whole wheat. It's milled finer and will make less of a difference in texture in the finished product. While you can get very good results with all whole wheat in baked goods, especially things like muffins and quick breads, I would echo the recomendation to start with half whole wheat. That way your taste buds and expectations can adjust slowly.

                For context, my understanding is that the King Arthur stuff is actually a different species of wheat that's been grown so that the grain itself is white. I think the King Arthur is also milled fine like pastry flour.

              2. Try non-fat sour cream
                Can't believe it's not butter
                nurflender cream cheese (something like that name)
                2 % then 1% then skim milk
                I know it is hard to do (I am trying the same) but maybe I'll get used to the taste.

                1 Reply
                1. and oh yea,egg beaters,good luck

                  1. OK, I'm going to forget about the carob. I just compared the bag to my chocolate chips and there isn't much of a nutritional difference.

                    I guess I know what ingredients are better for you in terms of cholesterol, I'm just not sure about substituting things and still making it taste good. What could possibly be a good substitute for butter in baking!!!???

                    1. Alton Brown had a show about lentils a while back with a recipe for lentil cookies -- really oatmeal cookies with lentil puree. Adding the lentils increases the fiber and protein, and the amount of butter you would normally put in cookies is cut in half.

                      I made them last weekend and was very pleased with the results. I didn't include the coconut, and I only used 1 1/4-pound stick of butter. Here's the recipe from Food Network.

                      9 1/2 ounces whole-wheat pastry flour, approximately 2 cups*
                      1 teaspoon baking powder
                      1 teaspoon salt
                      1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
                      1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
                      8 ounces sugar, approximately 1 cup
                      6 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature, approximately 3/4 cup
                      1 egg
                      2 teaspoons vanilla extract
                      1 1/2 cups lentil puree, recipe follows
                      3 1/2 ounces rolled oats, approximately 1 cup
                      4 ounces dried fruit, approximately 1 cup
                      2 1/4 ounces unsweetened dried shredded coconut, approximately 1 cup

                      *Cook's Note: If desired, a quarter of the whole-wheat flour can be substituted with lentil flour for a denser, stronger flavored cookie
                      Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

                      In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and allspice.

                      In the bowl of a stand-mixer with a whisk attachment, cream together the sugar and butter on medium speed. Add the egg and mix until just incorporated. Add the vanilla and lentil puree and mix until combined. Add the flour mixture and blend on low speed until just combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the oats, dried fruit and coconut.

                      Form the dough into balls about 2 teaspoons in size and place on a baking sheet with parchment paper, leaving about 1-inch of room in between. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until an internal temperature of 195 degrees F is reached on an instant-read thermometer.

                      Lentil Puree:
                      4 ounces lentils, approximately 2/3 cup, picked over and rinsed
                      2 cups water

                      In a small pot over medium heat, combine the lentils and the water. Bring to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Remove from the heat and puree. If using immediately, let cool. The puree may be stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days or in the freezer for 2 to 3 months.
                      Yield: 1 1/2 cups lentil puree

                      1. Or a vegan applesauce cake -- no cholesterol. I made a couple of changes -- walnuts for pistachios, half whole wheat flour, and double the ginger (by accident). On the whole, it did turn out pretty well. Dense and spicy and apple-y.

                        Apple Pistachio Spice Cake
                        2 cups all purpose flour
                        ½ tsp salt
                        1 tsp baking soda
                        1 tsp baking powder
                        1 tsp ground cinnamon
                        ½ tsp ground ginger
                        ½ tsp ground cardamom
                        1/3 cup vegetable oil
                        1 cup brown sugar
                        1 cup applesauce
                        1 ½ cups peeled, diced apple
                        ½ cup roughly chopped pistachios

                        Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 9- or 10-inch bundt pan.

                        Sift together all the dry ingredients into a medium bowl. In a large bowl, whisk together oil, brown sugar and applesauce. Stir in dry ingredients gradually, adding apples and pistachios just before the batter is fully combined. Do not overmix.

                        Batter will be thick. Spoon the batter into prepared pan and smooth out the surface with a spatula or knife. Bake at 350F for 32-38 minutes, until a tester comes out clean and the cake springs back when lightly pressed.

                        1. I've been playing with this Martha Stewart recipe - chewy cherry oatmeal cookie:


                          The first time, I did it close to the recipe, except I only used half a cup of cherries and added a cup of chocolate chips and about 3/4 cup of unsweetened coconut. They turned out great.

                          I was intrigued by the substitution of apple butter for regular butter. So the second time I made these cookies, I did that, with the above changes. I beat the apple butter and sugar for a longer period of time to try and get more air into it. I also subbed in 1/2 cup of white whole wheat flour (from King Arthur) and used 3/4 APF. I also added an additional 1/2 t of fleur de sel. These turned out good, but they were a little too sweet.

                          Next time, I will use the apple butter but will cut down on the brown sugar (probably by half) and probably add some more fleur de sel. I think these cookies could be fairly healthy and would probably be good without the chocolate chips. I also want to try this recipe with half apple butter and half regular butter to see what the texture would be like.

                          Both times I made the recipe, it yielded 3.5 dozen v. the 4 dozen. The cookies aren't the most attractive, but they sure are addictive. There is something with the honey, cherries, coconut and chocolate chips that lead to an interesting texture with the oats.

                          1. 'Tis a noble thing you do. I, too, have a husband with high cholesterol (although he dropped it 155 points with the oatmeal-and-exercise diet - what a guy!).

                            As long as you're both OK with sugar and dark chocolate, in reasonable amounts, you'll be fine. (My philosophy is that you can't give up everything - at least not all at once.) There are a lot of good low-cholesterol recipes out there.

                            Whole wheat pastry flour is great - light and fluffy and easy to work with. I've had good success using half wwpf and half white flour in most recipes. I just discovered white whole wheat, and think that's probably almost as good.

                            I stay away from highly processed "substitutes" - I don't like using egg beaters or non-fat sour cream and other things with extra chemicals and high fructose corn syrup. I'd rather work with recipes that have been adapted for egg yolks, applesauce, and canola oil. And I *love* the tip about vegan recipes - what a great idea!

                            We're quite happy with our switch from ice cream (OK, we were addicts) to homemade sorbet and no-yogurt smoothies - just fruit with a splash of liqueur or juice - which are like sorbet but quicker. With top-quality fresh fruit (or the Cascadian Farms brand of frozen organic fruit) this is really a treat.

                            My favorite recipe sources:

                            - The Eating Well New Favorites Cookbook. I posted a while back about their great recipe for chocolate crinkles.


                            - Cooking Light's web site (but choose carefully - some recipes look really awful):


                            I love Cooking Light's Alaskan Molasses Cookies - although they do have 1 tsp butter in each cookie (but I figure the whole wheat pastry flour helps balance that out somewhat):


                            - King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking book or web site (although most recipes are too high in cholesterol) I haven't made this Pear-Bran Quick Bread, but it looks "safe" and tasty:


                            Good luck and happy baking!


                            1. Some great suggestions thus far...

                              In addition to NF Sour Cream, Total 0% Yogurt is also a good sub.
                              Prune or other fruit purees

                              Dixie Diner www.dixiediner.com makes a really interesting angel food mix that you mix the powder with 4 stiff egg whites, then dollop on a baking sheet and bake for ten minutes until golden. The whole pack with the egg whites is 125 calories, and instead of making six "cakes" as recommended, I make tiny dollar size meringuey things, and they're so good.

                              I also make meringues using egg whites, cream of tartar, a pinch of salt, splenda and vanilla, then bake.

                              I make miniature key lime pies... I grind All-Bran Extra Fiber into a flour, mix with cinnamon and a bit of water or Spray Butter, then press into mini-baking tins or mini tarts and bake for a few til golden. Make sugar free-non fat vanilla pudding then mix in key lime juice and fill tins. Allow to set. Then whip egg whites w/ cream of tartar, salt, and splenda, then top pies and broil til golden.

                              Rice/Barley Pudding--Nonfat cottage cheese, barley/brown rice, splenda, vanilla, cinnamon, then heat until gooey ish.

                              Use whole wheat bread, skim milk, eggbeaters or whites, splenda etc to make bread pudding.

                              Make french toast w/ whole wheat bread soaked in skim milk, egg whites, splenda and whatever flavors you like. Cook in Pam, and serve w/ low cal maple syrup if desired.

                              1. My husband had the same issue. One substitute I have found quite successful for both egg and butter is flax seed meal. I use Bob's Mill (think that's the name). If, for example, a quick bread recipe calls for 8 tlbs of butter, I mix 3 tlbs of the meal with warm water to form a paste and that is 4 of the tlbs. If the recipe calls for 2 eggs, I use one and then use 1tlbs. + of the meal with the warm water. The product tends to brown faster. It is obviously not as useful for butter cookies but I have even used it with pie crust. Another product that I love is Earth Balance (not smart balance), a canola oil spread. They have sticks to use instead of butter for baking. So, for the aformentioned bread, I'd use the meal, earth balance and a pureed banana (these are great fat substitutes and you can freeze cubes of them). Also, I mix up the flours so, use some white, more ww and then maybe some bran or soy. Keep experimenting. Other ideas: freeze peeled ripe bananas and then puree in a food processor with a little milk, great banana ice cream. With chocolate chips, use the darkest possible and just toss in one handful instead of the bag. Grill fruit, any fruit and add a bit of maple syrup with a dolop of 1% greek yogurt (this is a great substitute for any recipe that calls for sour cream). My husband loves Indian Pudding too and there are healthy recipes out there for it. We also make lots of cookies that have lots of things hidden in them (nuts, raisins, different grain flours, pureed bananas or apples). With a dash of chocolate, the kids love them. Good luck, it gets easy after a while.