Healthy Baking Swaps With Baraa El Sabbagh, Registered Dietician and Personal Trainer

healthy swaps in dessert baraa sabbagh personal trainer registered dietician sports nutritionist

Meditating, relaxing, fun… baking really is the gift that keeps on giving! I love baking in my free time, but as with all things, I have to exercise some self control so I don’t keep filling my kitchen up with desserts. The cool thing is you can make some healthy swaps to get your dessert recipes so they come out *delicious* and not at all healthy-tasting, if that makes sense. 

Healthy Swaps In Dessert Recipes DO Exist

For today's post, I got some baking advice from Haya Khalifeh, also known as @butterbelieveit. She’s the baker and founder of a shop in London and she sat down with me to tell me why certain healthy ingredients work and why some don’t. It sounds crazy that something like applesauce would taste the same as sugar, or an avocado could substitute butter, but we’re here to tell you it works! 



The Common Ingredients In Baking To Swap Out

White flour, sugar, butter, cream, vegetable oil are just some of the most commonly found ingredients in baking recipes. While they do create awesome results, there are other ways to achieve the same taste with less processed ingredients. 

By the way, there are times I don’t do the healthy swaps and just go for something super decadent. Life is all about balance, right? Plus, you won't be eating the entire cake you make, healthy or not. So don't be hard on yourself and do what feels (and tastes) good. Let’s get to it! 

Things To Remember About Healthy Desserts

Haya tells us the one thing to remember when baking healthy dessert is not to expect the same outcome as a cake that’s filled with sugar, flour, and butter. Once you remind yourself that healthy substitutes will yield a different result, you’ll realise you didn’t fail if the cake didn’t come out like you thought it would. 

Avoidable Fails When It Comes To Baking 

If you understand the properties of ingredients you’re swapping, it becomes a lot easier to know what, when, and how much to swap. For example, almond flour doesn’t absorb moisture like white flour does. So expect a cake that’s more moist unless you reduce the liquid! 

How To Make Your Dessert Healthier

healthy swaps in dessert baraa sabbagh personal trainer registered dietician sports nutritionist

White Flour Alternative 

When using almond or oat flours, reduce the liquid because they’re not as absorbent as white flour. 

Sugar Swaps 

  • Honey is a good substitute because it lends itself well to the final outcome. It’s viscosity is like regular sugar, so it’ll create a good texture. Honey binds the batter together, much like sugar does. 
  • Another swap for sugar can be coconut sugar, but it absorbs a lot of water. So increase the liquid in the recipe if you’re using it.

  • Maple syrup is super strong, so be prepared for a stronger than normal flavor in the final product. (By the way, when we say maple syrup we mean the Grade A kind, not the type you’d use for pancakes)

Butter Swaps 

Avocado is a great sub for butter! It’s got the same texture and properties, plus it’s subtle in flavor so it won’t overwhelm your tastebuds. 

Oil Swaps

Coconut oil, applesauce, and greek yogurt are great alternatives to vegetable oil. You can even use banana puree for an oil alternative. Greek yogurt is one of the best ingredients to add in a dessert, whether it’s meant to be healthy or not. You can even use it instead of milk or cream. 

The Many Uses Of Applesauce

Applesauce is an awesome alternative for a lot of ingredients! You can use it instead of sugar, eggs, oil, and butter and it’ll get you a moist end product every time. The cool thing is it doesn’t dry out when baking so you get a nice and fluffy cake or whatever dessert you’re making. 



How To Make Applesauce

It’s really easy to make applesauce: 

  • Put an apple in a pan with some water (and some cinnamon)
  • Remove skin
  • Boil it and mush it together 
  • And that’s it! 

#1 Useful Tip For Healthy Baking

One of the tips Haya shared was to make a recipe from beginning to end, taking record of ONE ingredient at a time. This way, you can figure out what that one ingredient is doing to the texture and flavor, then decide accordingly how much of it to use or if you want to remove it completely. 

Want Ready Healthy Dessert Recipes? 

Alright, that's all for baking tips! BUT don't go away yet, check out the many healthy dessert recipes in the blog section: flourless chocolate chip cookies, banana muffins, and carrot cake to name a few. If you don't feel like experimenting with a recipe and changing up ingredients, these are some ready ones with healthy ingredients already measured out for you! Check out Butter Believe It's healthy mahalabiyeh recipe right here (and here for the more decadent options!)

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