By Solana Nolfo, NLC
Want to take your baking up a nutritional notch? Here’s a super simple healthy baking hack: Add vegetables!
Baking is a creative and meditative activity that truly nourishes the soul—and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t nourish your body, too.
Maybe you’ve already replaced white flour with nutrient-dense flours, like those made from almonds or coconuts. Maybe you’ve already switched to healthier sweeteners like coconut sugar, dates, or raw honey.
Well, now that you’ve taken the unhealthy stuff out, it’s time to add nutritious ingredients in.
Here are some of my favorite ways to add healthy and delicious vegetables into your creations. Don’t worry—you don’t have to sacrifice a bit of sweetness.
Healthy Baking Hack: Add These Veggies
Beets: A Baking Boss
Those roasted beets in your fridge (or even the canned ones in your pantry!) are pure magic when puréed in a food processor and blended with dark chocolate.
Consider them nature’s red velvet, versatile in cakes, cupcakes, bars and even pancakes. Beets lend moisture—which means that you can dial down the oil or butter—beautiful color, and natural sweetness. They’re also loaded with vitamin C, antioxidants, fiber, and other minerals and nutrients.
Sweet Potato: Pastry Powerhouse
I love keeping baked sweet potatoes in the fridge to have for breakfast or to add to my salads. But when the baking mood strikes, I take one out, mash it up, and get happy.
Loaded with vitamins A, C, and plenty more (fiber, too!), sweet potatoes can be incorporated into desserts incognito, as they are in these chocolate cupcakes. They can also take center stage, as they do in these sweet potato pie cookies.
Zucchini: Beyond the Zoodle
Zucchini is delicious roasted, baked, and noodled. But grate it and mix it into brownie batter, and you’ve got a real winner.
Just add about 1–1 ½ cups of grated zucchini to your favorite brownie recipe (making sure to squeeze out all of the excess liquid, first). They will probably be on the fudgier side and will still taste amazing, plus you’ll get added essential nutrients and antioxidants.
Of course, you can also make a delicious zucchini bread. Here is a favorite (which also uses sweet potato!).
Cauliflower: Cruciferous Chameleon
Consider cauliflower the tofu of the easy-to-bake-with veggies. It really takes on the flavors that it’s exposed to.
It also works especially well as a substitute for sour cream or cream cheese in recipes that call for those ingredients (like coffee cakes).
Just add some fresh squeezed lemon juice to puréed, steamed cauliflower—around 3 tablespoons per cup of purée along with a drizzle of coconut oil or milk—and you’ll have power cream instead of sour cream.
Happy (veggie) baking!
Solana Nolfo is a holistic health coach and wellness advocate who is Nutritious Life Certified and also certified by The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She is an active baker who enjoys developing recipes for empowered baked goods that feature nutrient-rich, real food ingredients. Solana also has over 15 years of expertise in marketing and communications. She received her BA from Barnard College, where she was an active student leader and graduated with honors. She credits her San Francisco-based mom with encouraging her to live a Nutritious Life; she used to be embarrassed of her school lunches (seaweed, always!) but is now proud of her trendsetting roots. Solana lives in New York City with her husband and cookie-loving twin sons and bakes something with bananas almost every weekend. For baking inspiration, follow her on Instagram at @solanastar.