my friend joanna and i are always exchanging healthy recipes and have a constant back and forth dialogue about how to change the recipes we know and love to make them clean and healthy. in fact, it isn’t uncommon for me to receive a photo and text message to the effect of “does this look too watery? what should i add?” we probably both wing it more than most people when it comes to baking (isn’t baking an exact science?) and sometimes we fail miserably but more often than not, good recipes are born. in this case, a great one.
while not every recipe can be modified and still taste as good, i have pretty much made the below adjustments to most of my baking recipes and they work!
here is a cheat sheet:
- white flour can be subbed for white whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour on a 1:1 basis in muffins and cakes. even though it is a bit heavier than white flour, it still works.
- for bread, try subbing out white flour with with the following rule of thumb. 1/2 whole wheat + 1/3, 1/3 and 1/3 of any non gluten flour of your choice (ie: oat, quinoa, coconut, almond flour, etc, etc, etc). since the whole wheat is so heavy, you use the other flours to lighten up the recipe, because afterall even healthy bread should be fluffy (thanks for teaching me this ale!)
- not even going to pretend to tackle this one on my own. i have been using this helpful conversion tool i found online that helps you convert sugar to maple syrup, honey, molasses, coconut sugar, and agave. you put in the exact amount of sugar the recipe calls for and it will tell you the conversion in tsps, tbspns, grams, ounces, or cups. once you’ve used it a few times you will get the hang of it. typically a liquid sweetener is much sweeter so for example i always put one cup of honey instead of two cups of sugar but since you have now increased the liquid in the recipe i also usually add in two or three TBSPNs of additional flour to absorb the liquid. there isn’t an exact science but just keep in mind you always need to offset the extra liquid with some additional dry ingredients (ie: flour, rolled oats, quinoa flakes, etc.)
i have pretty much reverted to using coconut oil exclusively in baking. unlike most plant oils, it doesn’t form trans-fatty acids when warmed up to high temperatures. i still use olive, grape seed and other oils in raw foods (ie: salad) but for baking coconut is my oil of preference.you can sub this 1:1 for plant oils in baking recipes it definitely adds an extra step to the mix since coconut oil is a solid at room temperature and needs to be heated up in order to become liquid (and usable in a recipe).
here’s a tip on using coconut oil: i buy the large tub of coconut oil from costco. as soon as i get home i put it somewhere warm so it turn into a liquid. i then transfer it into a huge mason jar ( since the plastic coconut oil container is probably not BPA free and all that heating and re-heating can release all kinds of uncool stuff into the oil). i then store it in my pantry which is nice and cool. in advance of baking, i stick the mason jar in a shallow pot with roughly a cup of water and turn on a low flame. in no time there is enough coconut oil turning to liquid to use in a recipe. you can then stick it right back in the pantry and repeat the process as needed.
even when recipes don’t call for certain things, you can always pick a few of the below and add them in for fun. it won’t alter the recipe unless you put in too many of the below or choose things that just don’t go together taste-wise. use your judgement and here are some very loose guidelines:
- a cup or two of rolled oats
- a few TBSPN’S quinoa flakes
- a few TBSPN cacao nibs
- a few TBSPN mini chcolate chips
- a few TBSPN carrob chips
- no more than 1/2 tsp vanilla powder
- two TBSPN mesquite powder (in chocolaty recipes)
- up to 1/8 of a cup raw hemp seeds
- 2 to 3 TBSPN chia seeds
- 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut or coconut flakes
- up to one cup puffed quinoa (for crunch)
- the rind of one lemon or orange
- fresh mint
- a few TBSPNs of crushed dried lavender or chamomile
and…here is a great example of how jo and i incorporated some of the above modifications into a recipe she found online. the original recipe can be found here, from the blog “anecdotes and applecores.” it was pretty healthy to begin with, but with our tweaks (mainly subbing out refined flour and oil) it turned into a clean, dairy free, super food infused extravaganza.
1 2/3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 tsp vanilla bean powder
4 very ripe bananas
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup coconut oil
3 TBSPN raw hemp seed
some loose oats for sprinkling
STEP ONE: preheat oven to 350 F
STEP TWO: grease an 8x8 inch pan
STEP THREE: in one bowl mix all of the dry ingredients (flour, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, and vanilla powder)
STEP FOUR: in a second bowl start by mashing the four ripe bananas with a wire whisk until very mushy, then add in maple syrup, eggs, and coconut oil. keep whisking.
STEP FIVE: pour the liquid mixture into the dry mixture and combine well. fold in the hemp seeds.
STEP SIX: transfer to the baking pan. sprinkle rolled outs and raw hemp seeds on top and bake for about 40 minutes.
cool and serve.
this entire loaf lasted about five minutes in my house.i had to make two in one day :)
gourMaya (and jo!)