5 simple swaps to make your lockdown bakes healthier, according to a nutritionist

Make your creations healthier without compromising on taste.

Lockdown has led to a lot of baking. But how can you make your creations healthier without compromising on taste? Here are some simple ingredient swaps:

1. Swap chocolate for cacao nibs

Cooking chocolate tends to be packed with sugar and dairy. Cacao nibs made with 100 per cent cocoa are a much healthier option and have just as much flavour, and their crunch will give your bakes an added texture. Cacao is also a rich source of magnesium, which is essential for runners, because it is involved in energy metabolism, cardiorespiratory function and muscle repair, and helps prevent muscle cramps.

2. Swap margarine for avocado

You might think that your bake won’t taste the same if you switch margarine for a scoop of bright green avocado, but the creamy texture and mild taste actually make it a great like-for-like swap. Avocado is well known as a runner’s friend, thanks, in part, to its high concentration of vitamin E, which is one of the most powerful antioxidants in the fight against exercise-induced oxidative stress. As fats go, hydrogenated margarines are among the very worst, while avocados are on the other end of the health scale. They also provide potassium, magnesium and fibre. Avocado is particularly good for chocolate-flavoured cakes, but if you’re baking something with a milder flavour, you could try substituting with coconut oil instead.

3. Swap eggs for flaxseed

Eggs are a fantastic source of protein and energy-essential B vitamins, so there’s no need to find a substitute for the eggs in your baking recipe for health reasons. However, for those who are allergic to eggs, or have chosen to follow a vegan diet, flaxseed and chia seeds work well as a direct substitute. Simply mix a tablespoon of chia or ground flaxseeds with three tablespoons of water as a substitute for one egg. Both seeds are a good source of dietary fibre and provide omega-3s, which can help reduce inflammation, thereby easing muscle soreness after a run.

4. Swap sugar for apple sauce

Apple sauce or purée might be something you normally associate with roast pork, but swapping white sugar for this fruity replacement is one of the easiest ways to make your next bake healthier. While you may use simple sugars to fuel longer runs, the quantities called for in most baked foods go well beyond your recommended maximum daily intake. Apple sauce makes a good substitute in moister bakes, as it’s sweet but typically contains far less sugar than syrups. Apples also provide pectin, a prebiotic fibre that has gut-health benefits. Opt for homemade (no added sugar).

5. Swap white flour for oats and protein powder

White refined flour offers little nutritional value, having been stripped of most of its nutrients in the refining process. Instead opt for three-quarters ground oats (for fibre, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc) combined with a quarter flavourless protein powder. This combomakes for a great postrun recovery bake.

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