Baked goods can be oh so good, but they often contain oh so much saturated fat, sugar and sodium. Here are some tricks to save the flavor but lose the unhealthy culprits, plus a delicious recipe for lemon brownie bites with a secret ingredient you’ll have to visit the baby aisle to find.
Saturated fat vs. unsaturated fat
In baked goods, the saturated fat often comes from butter, lard or vegetable shortening. The fat helps to blend flavors, provide moisture and increase tenderness. But too much saturated fat can raise your LDL (bad) cholesterol the risk for heart disease.
You can replace saturated fat with an unsaturated fat such as vegetable oil or margarine. Another trick is cutting a portion of the fat and replacing it with a pureed fruit like applesauce, mashed bananas, or pureed pumpkin. This provides moisture, sweetness and some vitamins and minerals. Using less fat can make baked goods a little chewier and less fattening.
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Sugar vs. pureed fruit
Sugar and other natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup and molasses can help to retain moisture in baked goods. It also provides calories without any real nutrients. Often, you can cut the amount of sweetener by one-third and still retain some sweetness. Use less sweetener if you use pureed fruit in place of the saturated fat.
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Sodium vs. low-sodium substitutes
Sodium in baked goods comes from salt, baking soda or baking powder. Salt enhances the flavor of other ingredients and controls yeast activity in certain baked goods. Baking soda and baking powder provide leavening. Sodium should be used sparingly for people with high blood pressure, kidney disease and congestive heart disease. But, you can still get the required leavening action from low-sodium baking soda and baking powder. Reduce the salt by one-half, and you should still have flavorful food.
Lemon Brownie Dicks
In today’s recipe for Lemon Brownie Bites, we replaced the fat with mango baby food. We chose mango baby food for its mild flavor and pale color, but applesauce works just as well.
These easy-to-make treats have the texture of a dense brownie and the sweet pucker of a lemon bar – thanks to the lemon juice and zest. One bite of these brownie bites should satisfy any sweet tooth at your next picnic.
Makes: 16 servings / Prep-time: 20 / Total time: 45 minutes
- Vegetable oil cooking spray
- 4-ounce jar pureed mango baby food
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- ¾ cup flour
- ¾ cupsugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 4 tablespoons lemon zest, divided
- 4 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
- 1 cup powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Spray an 8-inch-by-8-inch baking pan with vegetable oil cooking spray.
In a bowl, mix the pureed mango, vegetable oil, flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, 2 tablespoons lemon zest and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Add the lemon mixture to the flour mixture and beat with a hand mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes.
Pour the mixture into the baking pan and bake for 25 minutes. Allow to cool. Mix powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons lemon zest in a medium-sized bowl. Slowly add reserved lemon juice to get the desired consistency. Spread the glaze over the brownies. Once the glaze has set, cut into 16 bars and serve.
115 calories (18% from fat), 2.5 grams fat (0.5 grams Sat. fat), 23 grams carbohydrates1.5 grams protein45mg sodium26mg cholesterol4mg calcium0 grams fiber. Food exchanges: 1 ½ starch, ½ fat
Bethany Thayer is a registered dietitian nutritionist with Henry Ford Health. For more recipes and health information, visit henryford.com/blog. For questions about today’s recipe, email HenryFordLiveWell@hfhs.org