Replace oils with mashed or pureed fruit in baked goods to increase nutrition density, add vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and eliminate unhealthy fats.
“It’s a more whole foods based approach,” said Shelly Wildenberg, a Marshfield Clinic registered dietitian. “And you really won’t notice the difference in taste.”
Try these fruits mashed or pureed:
Wildenberg suggests experimenting with a variety of fruits including:
- Applesauce (unsweetened)
- Dates (or date puree)
- Figs (may need to add a little water when blending)
Note: While most of these substitutions help lower calories and improve nutritional quality of sweets, it is important to keep in mind portion sizes.
How much fruit?
Mashed or pureed fruit also can replace refined sugar as a sweetener. Some recipes specify how much fruit to use. If you would like to adapt a recipe, replace one-third to one-half of the required sugar with pureed fruit. Because some liquid comes from fruit, cut the recipe’s other liquids by one-quarter.
Veggies can be swapped in, too
“Don’t limit yourself to trying this with fruits,” Wildenberg said. “Vegetables can be good additions or replacements, too.”
Try these mashed or pureed vegetables:
- Spinach (Example: 1-2 big handfuls or more in a smoothie)
- Sweet potatoes (Example: Bran muffins)
- Lettuce (Example: 1-2 handfuls in a smoothie)
- Winter squash (Example: Pumpkin or squash muffins)
- Garbanzo beans, canned, unsalted (Example: Muffin and cookie recipes, 1/4 cup or more in a smoothie)
Replace only half of the oil amount in baked goods with a pureed vegetable unless using parchment paper. Baked goods otherwise may stick.
Try this recipe
“This recipe is a great example of using pureed fruit in a sweet treat ,” Wildenberg said. “And I love that it includes avocado, yogurt and oats.”
Avocados actually are fruits. In this recipe, the avocado is being used in place of butter or oils.
Avocado Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
- 3 cups old-fashioned oats
- 1-1/2 cups *whole wheat flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 ripe fresh **avocado
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 cup plain, low-fat yogurt
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups raisins or dates, pitted and chopped
*Keep whole wheat flour refrigerated to extend shelf life.
**Large avocados are recommended for this recipe. A large avocado averages about 8 ounces. If using smaller or larger size avocados adjust the quantity accordingly.
Purchase the avocado when it is green and very hard. Let it sit on the counter for a few days to soften; then refrigerate until used. An avocado is ripe when it softens. Cut out small brown spots; a lot of brown discoloration means the avocado has gone bad.
Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Combine the oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl.
Cut avocado in half. Remove seed and scoop flesh out with a spoon. Mash avocado with a fork, then use a blender or mixer to combine oil, avocado, brown sugar, yogurt and eggs. Stir in raisins or dates.
Add oat mixture to avocado mixture and stir until combined.
Using a 1/4-cup measure, transfer the mixture onto lined baking sheets, spacing the cookies two inches apart. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, until golden. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
Each serving contains about 150 calories; 24 g carbs; 5 g fat; 1 g saturated fat; 3 g protein; 3 g dietary fiber; 210 mg sodium; 11 g sugar.