Healthy Baking: an oxymoron?

I wrote recently that I’m enjoying baking, and doing more of it lately. It is an effective way to get veggies into my kids’ bodies. But I’m running into some issues with the recipes. They use a lot of sugar!

I have a great recipe for zucchini muffins. They are chock full o’ the green stuff, but also include almost 2 cups of sugar (a mix of mostly white, and some brown). I mentioned before how I tried reducing the amounts of sugar, but discovered that it’s there for more than just flavour – the chemistry of baking requires the stuff. When I reduce the sugar, I get denser muffins with a not-so-pleasing texture. The zucchini ones are edible, with a generous dab of homemade organic butter, but they aren’t the sort you’d bring to a picnic with your friends.

I tried carrot muffins for the first time last week. I Googled “healthy carrot muffins” in an attempt to find something that wasn’t so sugar-laden. I chose this recipe. I used cows milk instead of soy, and I skipped the sunflower seeds. I got suspicious when mixing the batter – it was far too dry. I had to add another 1/3 cup of milk to get it at a decent consistency, but even then I was certain something wasn’t right. Sure enough, they had the weight and density of hockey pucks and the taste was bland. Even my homemade organic butter was not enough to make these palatable. Most ended up in the trash.

I know whole wheat flour is heavy. Even with my homemade waffles and pancakes I use half wheat and half white. I’m beginning to despair that healthy muffins = yucky muffins. Or, at the very least, muffins that don’t make you go “Yum!”. I know I’m very new to this idea of baking, but I’m not hopeful that there is a magic answer out there. I don’t know enough to look at a recipe and imagine how they’ll turn out, but I sure don’t want to be going through tons of recipes wasting food to find something I can live with from a nutritional perspective and enjoy eating (and sharing!) at the same time.

I’ll welcome all tips, recipes, and pointers from you readers. Please, tell me I can have my muffins and eat them too!

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Categories: Uncategorized | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Healthy Baking: an oxymoron?

  1. Space Mom

    I would start looking into “King Arthur Flour”. They have a variety of good flours and recipes.The thing to realize with whole wheat is that it isn’t just that the wheat is “heavier” there is the whole gluten issue.I suggest for any quick bread (any recipe not using yeast for leavening) to add some vital wheat gluten to the recipe. Perhaps some malt powder also. The gluten will help it rise and the malt adds the natural sugars for the glutens…You can always cut the sugars and add fruit juices instead of waters. Add apple sauce in place of oils.Experiement. Baking is all about the fun and understand that not all sugars are bad. Start by cutting 1/4 of the sugar at a time. Make sure you substitute a flour/cornstarch mixture for the sugar to keep the consistancy right.Good luck!

  2. living laughing learning

    i used Miranda’s rhubarb recipe with whole wheat flour, and mollasses instead of sugar (reducing the amount of milk / yougurt by a bit to compensate). you’ll need to add making soda very last, though. i also tried the same recipe with 3/4 or less maple syrop. both times muffins were delicious!

  3. Shelly

    The book Sugar Free Toddlers has some great recipes. I highly recommend it.

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