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Replacements that Save Calories!

Por Andrea Bianchi, Nutrition Counselor, MyDiet™ Team -

Cookies, cakes, and baked biscuits are all part of special occasions, such as Christmas, New Year, and birthday celebrations. However, all these products are high in calories, especially from fat and refined carbohydrates (sugars). Eating too much of these foods can make you gain back the pounds you've already lost and lead you to uncomfortable guilt feelings. Moreover, the excessive consumption of these foods may accelerate the development of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure). But, what should we do if we love them?

Today is your lucky day! Here are some useful, easy-to-follow tips to cut down on calories, fat, and refined carbohydrates in the recipes of your favorite cookies, cakes, biscuits,  muffins and all those baked goods that drive us crazy. You just need to learn how to replace some ingredients for healthier ones:

  • Butter and vegetable oils are widely used in the preparation of most pastries and bakery to provide moisture to our cakes and muffins. However, butter and oils are very high in fat, and should therefore be replaced by healthier ingredients, such as fruit purees: apple, plum, or banana. Butter can be substituted by low-fat yogurt, especially when making pie crusts, cookies, or biscuits.
  • To cut down on  cholesterol, two egg whites can often be used to replace one whole egg. The egg yolk is the part of the egg where most fat and cholesterol are found. Nevertheless, this substitution may not always be possible, since the yolk is responsible of the adequate consistency of many doughs.
  • Almost all bakery products, such as cakes, cookies, and muffins are prepared with flour. This is a great opportunity to reduce the amount of refined carbohydrates and increase the amount of complex ones in your diet. You can do this by substituting half the amount of flour with whole-wheat flour or oats. This way, you’ll make healthy, high-fiber cakes.
  • Keep in mind that you can always replace  sugar with artificial sweeteners, such as sucralose, saccharine, or aspartame. This will not only reduce the calories of your cake, but also the amount of sugars and refined carbohydrates.

Since you'll be modifying the original version of a recipe, we recommend you try it first to test its flavor and consistency. Experimenting will lead you to better results each time. However, be careful not to make too many replacements on the same recipe, or you might alter its original flavor.


Makes 12 servings.


Original Recipe

Modified Recipe

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Non-stick vegetable oil spray

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole-wheat flour

1/2 cup powdered cocoa

1/2 cup powdered cocoa (no sugar added)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

4 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon instant coffee

1 tablespoon instant coffee

1 cup sugar

1 cup artificial sweetener

2 eggs

1 egg

2 egg whites

¼ cup butter

1/4 cup plum puree

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Total calories per serving: 165

Total calories per serving: 102


Preheat an oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease a baking tray with the cooking spray.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, and baking powder. Leave aside.

In a saucepan, melt the 4 tablespoons of butter at medium heat. Add the coffee and wait until it dissolves. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Using a spatula, add the artificial sweetener, the egg and egg whites, the plum puree, vanilla, and coffee mixture. Add the cocoa mixture to the plum puree and mix well. Place the mixture on the baking tray.

Bake uncovered for about 18 to 20 minutes (or until done). Let cool down. Sprinkle some powdered sugar on top of the brownies and serve.


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