Anyone else baking a ton right now? It makes sense, with all this time on our hands baking is a great way to spend it. Not to mention, baking can be really comforting. And baked goods don't have to be an unhealthy indulgence. Sweet treats can be whole food plant-based, gluten-free, oil-free, AND refined-sugar-free. Oh, and still still tasty...I promise.
Not sure where to start? Here are some of my favorite plant-based baking hacks to help you achieve the perfect baked goods! Plus I've got some of my favorite healthy vegan dessert recipes to keep you busy at home.
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Eliminating eggs, without a substitute, is not usually an option while baking. Eggs bind your baked goods together and keep them from falling apart. Plus they can help to make your finished product fluffy. If you forgo eggs altogether, you’ll end up with some crumbly dry results. Instead, swap out the eggs for these easy whole food plant-based egg replacers:
1 egg = Mix 1TBS of ground flaxseed or chia seed with 2 ½ TBS of warm water. Let the mixture sit for 8 minutes. Once it has reached the consistency of an egg, add to your recipe.
1 egg = Add ¼ cup of applesauce into your recipe.
1 egg = Mash 1 banana with a fork until smooth, and add to your recipe. Banana is a great egg replacer but keep in mind you will taste the banana. If neutral is what you’re after, try applesauce.
1 egg = 1/2 ripe avocado, mashed. Note: this will add a greenish tint to your dish so keep that in mind. It works really well with anything chocolate because the chocolate color overpowers the green, like this raw cacao pudding.
1 egg = 1/4 cup natural peanut butter or other nut butter. Note: nut butters have a strong flavor so best if using in recipes that call for a peanut buttery taste (i.e. peanut butter cookies).
Why bake without sugar?
What’s the difference between refined and unrefined sugars? AKA why is the 14g of sugar from a banana better for you than the 14g of white refined sugar?
While natural sugars, found in whole fruit, are part of a whole food plant-based diet, refined sugar is not. Unlike natural sources, refined sugar does not have nutrients or fiber in tact. Without the fiber in particular, our blood sugars aren’t regulated, which can cause dangerous spikes and dips.
Eating refined and added sugars can do a number on our bodies and lead to serious health problems, like inflammation, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and increased risk for heart disease.
Best plant-based alternatives to refined sugar:
- Date sugar is your best bet, because it contains the whole date, skin and all and therefore, is a whole-food. Store-bought date syrup often removes the fiber from the plant during the production process.
- Whole-food date syrup: Place 4 dates in a microwave-safe mug, and fill with just enough water to barely cover. Microwave for 1 minute and let sit for 5 minutes. Then, blend the dates and water together in a high-speed blender until smooth. If the mixture is too thin, add a little ground flaxseed. If it’s too thick, add a little more water.
- Mashed bananas. Each banana contains 14g of whole-food natural sugar coupled with healthy fiber and minerals. Mashed bananas also act as an egg replacer (see egg replacers above).
- Maple Syrup
- Maple Sugar
- Coconut Sugar
All three above sweeteners are plant-based but aren’t whole food because they do not contain the fiber from the plant. This means in excess they may cause spikes in your blood sugar and inflammation. However, both contain vitamins and minerals that are beneficial to your health.
Pro tip: How to use less maple syrup on your pancakes
For a batch of pancakes...
Microwave or heat on the stovetop: ¼ a cup of maple syrup, 3 cups of frozen or fresh blueberries. Heat until the mixture becomes thick, and syrup turns blue.
- White Sugar
- Brown Sugar
- Brown Rice Syrup
- High Fructose Corn Syrup
These sugars are refined and do not contain enough nutrients to make them worthwhile.
1 Tablespoon of oil = 2 teaspoons of nut butter mixed with 1 teaspoon of non-dairy milk
1 Tablespoon of oil = 1 Tablespoon of apple sauce (this sometimes makes recipes “rubbery” so keep this in mind)
1 Tablespoon of oil = 1 Tablespoon of homemade coconut butter
1 Tablespoon of oil = 1 Tablespoon of pumpkin puree
½ a cup of oil = 1 avocado (mashed or blended)
The key to making gluten-free baked goods in using more than 1 gluten-free flour so it doesn’t taste overwhelmingly like one thing. For instance, if a recipe calls for 2 cups of flour, I like to use use 1 cup of oat flour and 1 cup of brown rice flour.
Because gluten can act as a binder, you may need to add extra egg replacer (see above) to your recipe.
Here are some of my favorite alternative gluten free flours:
- Oat flour
- Brown rice flour
- Coconut flour
- Almond flour
- Garbanzo (chickpea) flour
- Buckwheat flour
1. Lemon Cheesecake (no-bake!)
Get your healthy sweet treats without having to do all the measuring and sifting and baking. Order MamaSezz High Protein Breakfast Bars.
Our breakfast bars are essentially vegan chocolate brownie batter smeared on top of a vanilla blondie base. And yes, they are as delectable as they sound. Order the Breakfast Bundle today or add a High Protein Breakfast Bar to another bundle. Best of all? Use the code: CHEF to get 10% off your purchase!
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- There are plenty of egg replacers from flaxseed to mashed banana to applesauce, and beyond!
- Sweeten with fruit like dates, date syrup, or mashed bananas
- Replace oil with fatty whole plants like nuts, coconut, and avocado
- Bake gluten-free using alternative flours like rice, garbanzo, and oat flour
- Looking for whole food plant-based and gluten-free recipes? Browse the MamaSezz Recipes section.
- Order MamaSezz High Protein Breakfast Bars and use the discount code "CHEF" to get 10% off your order
By Caroline DiNicola Fawley
Caroline is a plant-based chef, recipe designer, and whole food plant-based nutrition educator, with a Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies