How to Lighten Your Recipes

Taste of Home Test Kitchen

Makeover Moist Fudgy Brownies

Most people agree that eating is one of the greatest joys in life. That doesn't have to change just because you have diabetes. Food plays a key role in many family celebrations and social and work situations. You may feel that some of those "special" recipes handed down are no longer recipes you should prepare because they are loaded with fat and sugar.

At first it may be a struggle when others are planning a "normal" holiday dinner, but experience will help you modify recipes to fit your needs. And you may eventually like your new way of eating even better than the old way! An added benefit is that you will feel better, both physically and emotionally. The whole family can also reap the rewards of eating well.

Not all recipes are the same, but these general guidelines can help you reduce the overall number of calories by lowering fat and, if needed, sugar.

Lighter Baked Goods

Baked goods are often banned from the diabetic diet. Fat is often a major ingredient in these types of recipes. A good place to start is by reducing the amount of fat by half.

You've probably heard about using applesauce as a fat substitute, but a variety of other products—including pureed canned pears, peaches, apricots and plums; baby food fruit purees; and mashed bananas—also make good fat substitutes in baked goods. Fruit purees help tenderize baked goods and because of their naturally occurring sugar, and they also promote browning.

Substitutions for Fat

Replace the desired amount of butter, margarine or other solid shortening with half as much fat substitute. For instance, if you omit 1/2 cup butter from a recipe, replace it with 1/4 cup fruit puree. If the recipe calls for oil, substitute three-fourths as much puree. Mix up the batter. If it seems too dry, add a little more fruit puree. To ensure success when trimming fat from your favorite recipes, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Try using low-gluten flours like whole wheat pastry flour and oat flour in your lighter baking. Fat generally interferes with gluten formation making the baked good more tender. If you have less fat you may want to try these low-gluten flours as a replacement for all-purpose flour.
  • Minimize mixing. Stirring batter excessively develops gluten and toughens baked goods. Stir only enough to mix well.
  • Avoid overbaking. Reduced-fat baked goods tend to bake faster than those made with fat. They can become dry. You try lowering the oven temperature 25° and check for doneness a few minutes early.

Substituting Eggs

Due to the high fat and high cholesterol in egg yolks, often you should replace at least part of the egg in your baked good recipe. Eggs perform important functions in baked goods so they cannot be eliminated entirely. Try combining whole eggs with egg whites or fat-free egg substitute.

When reducing eggs in a from-scratch recipe, substitute 2 egg whites or 1/4 cup fat-free egg substitute for 1 whole egg. It's best to leave at least 1 whole egg in the recipe.

Reducing Sugar in Recipes

Sugar provides sweetness and flavor and aids in the browning of baked goods. Plus, sugar (white or brown) is integral to the creaming process, which incorporates air into the batter and makes the texture of the baked good lighter and more tender.

If you reduce the amount of sugar in a baked good, start by simply reducing the amount of sugar 25%. Or try reducing it 50% and add a sugar replacement to make up for half of that. Our test kitchens have had the best luck with the sugar substitute Splenda for replacement of part of the sugar in a baked good recipe.

We made over a tasty brownie recipe. First let's look at Moist Fudgy Brownies:

Nutrition Facts: One brownie equals 307 calories, 31 g carbohydrate, 4 g protein, 21 g fat, (10 g saturated fat), 75 mg cholesterol, 118 mg sodium. Not appropriate for people with diabetes to eat.

Here's our Makeover Moist Fudgy Brownies (pictured above):

Nutrition Facts: One brownie equals 221 calories, 31 g carbohydrate, 3 g protein, 11 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 31 mg cholesterol, 86 mg sodium. Diabetic Exchanges: 2 starch, 1-1/2 fat.

How it's accomplished: While replacing the cup of butter originally called for with 1/4 cup of butter, 1/4 cup of canola oil and 2 jars of prune baby food, you retain the fudgy texture of the original brownies with only a fraction of the fat.

Also, by substituting baking cocoa for some of the chocolate chips, reducing the number of eggs and lowering the amount of nuts, you can further lower the amount of fat.

By making these overall changes, you can cut calories by more than a quarter, fat by nearly half and saturated fat and cholesterol by about 60%. The makeover brownies are still rich and moist and full of the chocolaty goodness of the original recipe.

Just remember, success in lower-fat and lower-sugar baking comes from trial and error, so don't be afraid to experiment.