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Make it a Healthy Bake!

Cakes, cookies and pies! Whose favorite food list includes one or all of these foods? Do you feel like you can’t eat them in order to maintain a healthy weight and stay within your calorie amount for the day? We are told to lower calories by limiting added sugars and saturated fat in our diet, so how can we make sure we are able to eat these foods and still stay on track?

While it’s true that many baked goods contain a lot of added sugars and saturated fats, dessert still can be part of your healthy eating plan. Read on for tips on making delicious baked goods with healthier ingredients and less added sugar and saturated fat – and making moderation your ally.

Ingredients Matter

Use high-quality ingredients for a more flavorful treat that will satisfy cravings even with smaller portions. For example, use vanilla beans instead of vanilla extract, opt for high-quality chocolate, and make sure your spices are fresh for the boldest flavor.

Incorporate Nutrient-Rich Ingredients

Instead of focusing on what to leave out, why not add something nutritious to your recipe?

    • Add a Fruit or Vegetable
      Try adding shredded or pureed apple, carrot, banana or pumpkin to boost nutrients, flavor and moisture. For some recipes, you can use these ingredients to replace some or all of the butter or oil.
    • Try a Whole-Grain Flour
      White whole-wheat flour can be substituted one-for-one for all-purpose flour in most recipes. You also can replace up to half the all-purpose flour in a recipe with a whole-grain flour without making any major adjustments to the recipe.
    • Use Low-Fat Dairy Products
      Use low-fat milk, low-fat buttermilk and low-fat yogurt in baking recipes to add protein and calcium. Consider swapping cream cheese frosting – which is high in calories and saturated fat and has no real nutritional value– for a protein-rich frosting made from Greek yogurt.

Reduce Saturated Fat and Added Sugars

You can do this in a number of ways:

    • Swap Butter for Heart-Healthy Oil
      When modifying a favorite recipe, you generally can trade some of the butter for a heart-healthy oil, such as canola oil. Don't replace all of the butter with oil or you'll sacrifice texture.
    • Simply Cut Sugar
      As a general rule, you can reduce sugar in a recipe by about 25 percent without noticeable differences. For instance, if a recipe calls for 4 tablespoons of sugar, reduce the amount to 3 tablespoons. When reducing sugar, you may need to increase the liquid in a recipe.

Watch Portion Size

Keeping portion sizes in check is the best way to include baked goods as part of your healthy eating plan. Make portion control easier by making small desserts such as mini-cupcakes. Or cut brownies and sheet cakes into two-inch squares, and portion cookie dough using a one-tablespoon scoop.

There is room for all foods, even baked goods, in a healthy eating plan. Focus on occasionally enjoying small portions of your favorite treats and experiment with creating healthier versions of favorite recipes for more nutrients in each delicious bite.

Source: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

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