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Okay, guilty as charged. I often disguise healthy ingredients in my baking. But when you have finicky eaters at home you have to be creative! Here are some of my favorite ways to bake in a healthy and organic way.
Ditch the Veggie Oil
Heavily processed and little to no nutritional value. Swap it out for a healthy oil or ditch it all together. My favorite healthy oil is coconut. It give so much flavor to pancakes, brownies and cakes. Here is why coconut oil is healthy,
“The health benefits of coconut oil include hair care, skin care, stress relief, maintaining cholesterol levels, weight loss, increased immunity, proper digestion and metabolism, relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV and cancer, dental care, and bone strength. These benefits of coconut oil can be attributed to the presence of lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, and its properties such as antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial, soothing, etc.” - organicfacts.net
I also love to use it in Asian dishes I create at home like stir fry or pot stickers. It usually comes in jars and in a solid form, heat will make it liquid. I like to use raw coconut oil, the closer you are to nature the more health benefits you receive. I also love olive oil. It has the good kind of fat that our bodies need, however, not so tasty in most baking situations...yep, I tried it more then once! Let’s just say that you learn from my mistake and leave the olive oil to other dishes.
The other option is to ditch oil in recipes all together and substitute another food. Applesauce works well for this option but only in cakes. I have tried to do this with cookies, it created a very weird consistency! My other favorite substitute is yogurt. This works well for brownies and pancakes.
Add a Ingredient...or Two
You can easily hide zucchini and carrots in your baking. I know it sounds weird but I have put zucchini into brownies, told no one, and everyone happily eats them! Just make sure to peel the skin off, once your child finds a piece of green in her brownie she will not eat them again! Carrots are harder to hide because of their color. I like to puree them and add to baked goods that already have color like gingerbread. The great thing about carrots is their sweetness, if you add this wonderful veggie you can cut your sugar amount.
Choose a Healthy Flour
Not all baking flours are the same. In fact, years ago the government mandated that vitamins and folic acid be added to white flour because it had little to no nutritional value and people were becoming sick. If you see the words “enriched” or “fortified” that means that the flour was not good enough to begin with. Here are some facts,
“The truth is, so many of the good things that were originally in it have been stripped out through refinement that they HAD to add a little something back in. Now here’s the really scary part. What they are adding back into your flour is actually toxic!
Iron is one of the “nutrients” added back into enriched flour, except that the type of iron that is added in is not really a nutrient at all, but is considered a metallic iron. Metallic iron is obviously not available for use by the body, and was never meant to be consumed in the first place.
Enriched flour is absorbed by the body not as wheat or a grain, in which case your body could use the energy slowly and effectively, but as a starch. That is because the wheat germ has been stripped from the flour; the FDA specifically states that enriched flour cannot have greater than 5 percent wheat germ.” - globalhealingcenter.com
    My favorite baking flours are oat, quinoa, and coconut. I am always on the look out for new flours to play with. Here is the trick with alternative flours, I have noticed that they soak up more of the liquid then normal flour leaving the pastry on the dry side. To combat this problem I add a little extra of the liquid or I mix flours, 1/2 oat, 1/4 quinoa and 1/4 whole wheat. The other word of caution is with quinoa flour, if you only use this flour it leaves an “earthy” taste to the food. I suggest mixing this flour.
Trade Sugars
Granulated sugar is not healthy, the whiteness in the sugar is not natural and should make you cautious. Opt for cane sugar, it has a slight brown color and the sugar granules are bigger then white sugar. You can also substitute other sugars like honey or coconut sugar (are you noticing that I am in love with coconut?) Applesauce and pureed carrots can also be used to sweeten.
Wrap it up
So here it is, simple tips to make your pancakes, brownies, muffins and cupcakes a little more guilt-free. Let’s face it, life it too short to live with out these lovely pastries but making them contain some nutritional value is helpful to the whole family. If you want help with a certain recipe paste it in the comment box and I will help you out!

Web Resources

Favorite Brands
Bob’s Red Mill flours - http://www.bobsredmill.com/
International Harvest Coconut Oil - http://internationalharvest.com
International Harves’s Lanka Sun Coconut Sugar - http://internationalharvest.com/products/lanka-sun

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