Monday, October 7, 2013

The Hidden Health Factor

Over the weekend, I made a delicious batch of pumpkin bread and brought a loaf of it to work to share with some of my co-workers.  They loved it, and were surprised to learn that what they were eating-- while delicious, was also pretty damn good for them.

You see, dear readers, instead of water I used Greek Yogurt; and instead of oil I used applesauce.  Plus it was packed with pumpkin, whole wheat flour and cinnamon-- all things that are good for you.

It got me thinking about the idea of hiding healthy foods inside of delicious recipes.  I've done it before with Avocado-- before I developed a taste for it.  I used to use it all the time as a substitute for butter in baking recipes.  You can't taste it, and it packs your baked goods with Omega 3's. I've also used Kale in my pesto recipes, instead of basil.   It gives you all the benefits of leafy greens, and it doesn't affect the taste.  In both cases it's a win-win situation.

I did a little research on healthy baking substitutions, and found this awesome chart.  If you head to Pick there's a blog post that explains how each of these substitutions works.  In some cases, whole wheat flour can be a good substitute for regular flour... and coconut oil works instead of oil or butter.

Courtesy: The Sneaky

But making ingredient substitutions isn't the only way to make your meals healthier.  I remember seeing this woman on Oprah a few years ago.  She created this book with recipes that hide fruits and vegetables in things like mac and cheese, and brownies.  Her book is geared toward kids-- but it's a good idea for those of you out there who may not eat a ton of fruits and veggies.

All this research got me thinking about the benefits of making healthy substitutes, or even just hiding healthy foods in regular recipes.  Is it a good idea?  Or should people just make the effort to choose a healthier lifestyle?

I think it's a good thing, on several different levels.

First, it makes it easier for people who don't eat a very balanced diet to get their daily servings of fruit and vegetables.  Think about it.  You can hid broccoli, kale, blueberries, carrots, strawberries, etc inside things like brownies, mac and cheese, spaghetti and meatballs, cupcakes, etc-- and your picky eaters won't even know they've just consumed a balanced diet.  Or you can serve them the stuff plain and watch them push it around their plate.

As for making baking substitutes, I think it just gives your sweets more substance.  Now when I eat my pumpkin bread-- I'm getting protein, some fruit, some veggies and also hitting my sweet spot at the same time.  Instead of just filling my body with some extra calories and sugar.

Like anything else, it is an adjustment-- and could be a little time consuming, depending on the recipes you're altering.  But a little trial and error never hurt anyone.

What do you think about the hidden health factor?  Do you think it's a good idea to make food substitutions in recipes to make them healthier?  Leave your feedback in the comment section below, I'd love to hear from you!


  1. I like the idea for picky people who refuse to eat certain fruits/veggies unless they're hidden ( I'm speaking with a bias here, because for the record, food pickiness if a MAJOR pet peeve of mine), but I still think the very best way to enjoy the foods that are best for you is to enjoy them as they are! But I love the idea of substituting in better ingredients when baking, putting together casseroles and baked dishes, soups, etc. That sort of substituting is something I'm learning to do more and more with a paleo-centered diet, too.

    1. I always love hearing from you Sharayah! I agree with you about food pickiness... but since I live with a picky eater, I've learned to hide healthy foods inside yummy recipes. I'm just starting to learn how to successfully substitute things when I'm baking. It's been a fun challenge.


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