The Connection Runners + [running]

How I Healthify

Unless you've been living under a rock (or are new to the blog--Welcome!), you know that I'm way into finding ways to make my life healthier.
In case you missed it, here are some of my healthy lifestyle posts from the past:
What's In My Kitchen
My FIT-losophy
How I Beat Low Motivation
Is Healthy Taboo?
Be Prepared
Healthy vs. "Healthy"
My Journey to Health
Hydration
Am I Or Are The Others Crazy?

If you've visited my Flex-ipes page recently or have been reading for awhile, you know that I love taking recipes for delicious treats and making them healthier. Since I started baking I've always done this, and it wasn't until recently that I realized it doesn't come intuitively to everyone. Believe me, I've had my share of fails- as some ingredients (or combos) are not replaceable. However, I like a challenge- and to me, "healthifying" a recipe, when successful, is doubly rewarding (tasty treats that are also good for me? Perfect!). So how do I approach a recipe or concept and make it healthier?

Some days I have the insatiable craving to bake. On those days I walk into my kitchen, peek around the cabinets and/or refrigerator, and pick a few flavors/ingredients that I think will mix well together. Then I decide what form I want the baked good to take- muffins? Cookies? Scones? Cake? Bread? I then head to trusty google (or one of my favorite Blogs) and type in the concept I've created- be it "Greek Yogurt Bread" or "Blueberry Scones." Sometime I hit the jackpot and someone has already done the work for me in creating a bare bones recipe. Other times I'll come across a woefully unhealthy recipe that needs a ton of modifications to meet my healthy goals. This is where the challenge comes in.
Some of my general guidelines for substitutions:

1. Butter: in general, I don't cook with butter. If a recipe calls for "a stick of butter," I typically click the next recipe. My go-to substitutes for butter include: Earth Balance, Smart Balance Light, avocado

This recipe called for a little butter- I used Earth Balance here

2. Oil: I do cook with oils sometimes, but try to stick to healthier oils like Canola or Smart Balance oil. My go-to substitutes for oil include applesauce and drippy nut butters.

Recipe here- I used applesauce and Greek Yogurt!

3. Milk: I personally am a bit lactose intolerant so I grew up drinking skim milk and lactaid. Typically I bake with unsweetened soymilk (lower sugar), light coconut milk (low calorie), or equal parts skim milk and greek yogurt (adds protein and fluff to muffins and breads).

I used Nut Butter and Soymilk here

4. Sugar: I've talked before about my love of sweeteners. I've also found that baking with lower glycemic sweeteners keeps my own blood sugar level and keeps me from running back to the plate to grab another handful of cookies. Some examples include stevia, agave, and coconut sugar. I also use sugar free maple syrup and splenda brown sugar because I love the way they taste in recipes. In lieu of extra sugars I also tend to add my favorite spices and extracts to recipes: cinnamon, ginger, pumpkin pie, and cardamom; vanilla, orange, butter, and almond extracts to name a few.

Low Glycemic Banana Muffins w/ Coconut Sugar!

Tell me about your favorite method of cooking/baking. Do you substitute?