With The Great British Bake Off back on our screens, Diabetes UK is helping people with diabetes to experiment with healthier baking recipes. Having diabetes doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the occasional treat as part of a healthy diet. “The important thing is to understand how the treat fits into your nutritional goals, plan for it, and keep an eye on your portions. By baking your own treats, you have control of the ingredients, so you can adapt recipes to make them healthier,” says Diabetes UK’s Clinical Advisor, Douglas Twenefour. “If you have type 2 diabetes and are overweight, then making small changes to your diet can help you manage your condition.” Here are his top tips for healthier baking.
1. Replace creamed butter.
Mashed banana or puréed apple can be beaten with a little sugar and rapeseed oil to create a similar effect to creaming butter without the extra saturated fat that’s in butter.
2. Go light on the cream.
Swap cream for fromage frais or low-fat Greek yogurt or light crème fraîche.
3. Sweeten with fruit.
Sweeten cakes with dried fruit rather than sugar. Dried fruit contains fiber and counts towards your five servings a day. Soak raisins, sultanas, and currants in a little boiling water to plump them up and make them juicier, and then use the water, too.
4. Go whole.
Wholemeal flour is healthier than white and can help with gut and heart health. It’s more filling than white, processed flour, so a smaller portion satisfies for a longer time. It works in most recipes, but if you find it a bit heavy for things like sponge cakes, try using a ratio of 30:70 or 50:50 wholemeal flour to plain flour.
5. Try oils instead of butter.
Use oil such as rapeseed or sunflower oil or lower-fat spread rather than butter. Olive oil is good, too, but it has quite a strong flavor.
6. Beware of coconut oil.
Coconut oil has received lots of press recently, but it’s high in saturated fat. There’s no good quality research to back up many of the health claims. Eat it by all means, but treat it as you would butter and use it in moderation.
7. Add oatmeal.
Reducing flour and replacing it with the same weight of oats also adds soluble fiber, which can help lower cholesterol and help promote good blood glucose control.
8. Be mindful of sweeteners.
There are many sweeteners such as agave nectar, honey, and syrups that are marketed as “natural” and “healthy.” The truth is, your body still processes these as sugar, so they count toward your “free” or “added” sugar intake. They are best avoided, but if you have to use them, try to do so in small quantities.
9. Add vegetables.
You can finely grate certain vegetables and add them to a cake mixture. Zucchinis, carrots, and beetroot work well and soften once cooked, adding moisture without overpowering flavor.
10. Add fresh fruit.
Grated or finely chopped apples, pears, blueberries, blackberries, or chopped peaches and nectarines all add flavor and natural sweetness.
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