Question: I try to cook healthy food for my family. I have two children and they are in school all day, so breakfast and dinner are the most important meals and I make sure they get enough of everything. I’ve heard that you can replace butter or oil with applesauce, so here is my question: Can this trick be used for any baking? And do I use the same amount as is called for in the recipe?
Robin’s Rescue: What a great question, especially this time of year. Yes, you can certainly replace all or some of the fat in your baked goods with applesauce. I’ve also had great luck with mashed avocado. I replace 100 percent of the fat, whether oil or butter, in the recipe with an equal amount of fresh, mashed avocado. Yes, avocado contains fat, but it’s the heart-healthy, unsaturated kind.
But, back to using applesauce. Check out how many calories and fat grams you can cut out with one simple swap:
– 1/4 cup vegetable oil: 480 calories and 56 grams fat.
– 1/4 cup applesauce: 25 calories, 0 fat.
Slash fat, keep baked goods moist and flavorful
Substituting applesauce for oil or butter not only reduces calories and fat, it adds flavor, moisture, nutrients and fiber. Here are important tips to guarantee a successful outcome every time:
– Substituting with applesauce works best in recipes calling for oil. The substitution will work in recipes calling for butter, but oil-based recipes work better. (That’s why I mentioned avocado as a great substitute for butter.)
– When substituting applesauce for oil in baking, the ratio is typically 1:1. So if the recipe calls for 1/4 cup of oil, use 1/4 cup of applesauce. This works perfectly with muffins and quick breads.
– For the best results, use applesauce in cakes, quick breads and muffins that are already somewhat moist and dense — banana bread, carrot cake, zucchini bread, chocolate cake, pumpkin spice cake, gingerbread cake and fruity muffins.
– Use unsweetened applesauce. Sweetened varieties contain sugar that can alter the texture of your baked goods.
– Choose applesauce without cinnamon or other flavorings, unless you want that flavor component in the final product.
– Brownies made with applesauce can end up dry and crumbly if you’re not mindful of the liquid content (see brownie tip below).
– Cookies made with applesauce bake up puffy and cake-like, not flat and crisp. In my house, we prefer them puffed-up.
– Let baked goods made with applesauce cool for 10 to 15 minutes before cutting to prevent crumbling.
Watch other liquid ingredients
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When making cakes, brownies and cookies with applesauce, note the other liquid ingredients in the recipe. Since applesauce adds its own liquid, additional ingredients such as milk or water need to be reduced. Some useful guidelines:
– Traditional white and yellow cakes: These measurements are unlike the muffins, quick breads and denser cakes listed above. Replace oil with an equal amount of applesauce and reduce other liquids by 1/4 cup.
– Brownies: Replace oil with an equal amount of applesauce and reduce other liquids by half. For example, if the recipe calls for 1/4 cup of water, use 2 tablespoons.
– Oatmeal cookies: Replace oil with an equal amount of applesauce and leave out other liquids.
– Chocolate chip cookies: Replace each 1/3 cup of oil with 1/4 cup applesauce and leave out other liquids.
– Peanut butter cookies: Replace each 1/4 cup of oil with 2 tablespoons applesauce and leave out other liquids.
Nutrition expert Robin Miller of Scottsdale tackles your food and dining dilemmas. Her cookbooks include “Robin Takes 5 for Busy Families” and “Quick Fix Meals,” a book named after her five-year run on Food Network.
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