Too much cholesterol in the blood is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease and stroke. Doctors prescribe low-fat diets for patients with high cholesterol, but this often means giving up such foods as cream, butter and egg yolks, which are often used in baking. Fortunately, many healthier food substitutions exist to use in homemade goodies that taste just as good and will help reduce your cholesterol and intake of unhealthy fats.
Before worrying about all the baked goods that you'll have to give up on a cholesterol diet, learn the substitutions you can use for full-fat dairy, eggs and oils. With these substitutions, you'll still be able to create many of your favorite homemade goodies but they'll be better for you and help you cut out bad saturated and trans fats while increasing healthy fats.
Instead of butter, use margarine or imitation butters that include omega-3 fats. You can use 1/2 to 1 c. of margarine for every cup of butter in a recipe.
Instead of sour cream in recipes, use nonfat or low-fat sour cream or plain yogurt.
Instead of heavy cream, substitute evaporated skim milk.
Instead of whole, 2 percent milk, or half-and-half, use skim or 1 percent milk, soy or rice milk.
Instead of whole-milk cheese, use reduced-fat, low-fat ("part skim"), or nonfat cheese; choose varieties that have 3 grams of fat or less per ounce.
When looking for cream cheese, choose fat-free cream cheese, low-fat or nonfat cottage cheese, farmer cheese, or part-skim or light ricotta.
Replace whipped cream in a recipe with vanilla nonfat yogurt or three stiffly beaten egg whites with a few pinches of sugar. You can make your own low-fat whipped cream by beating together 1/4 c. fat-free dry milk and 1/4 c. water until thick, then add 1/2 tsp. lemon juice, 1/4 tsp. vanilla and 1/4 c. sugar. Mix well.
When recipes call for whole eggs or egg yolks, use egg whites (two egg whites equal one whole egg) or 1/4 c. liquid egg substitute or a powdered egg substitute, such as potato starch or blended tofu. Make your own egg substitute by beating together 6 egg whites, 1/4 c. nonfat powdered milk, 1 tsp. oil, and 6 drops yellow food coloring. You can also dissolve 1 tbsp. of ground flaxseed in 3 tbsp. of hot water. Use the mixture in place of 1 egg. When using an egg substitute in baking, you might want to add a tablespoon or less of liquid vegetable oil such as canola, safflower, sunflower or soybean for a moister consistency. Note that some recipes, such as angel food cake and meringue, are already naturally cholesterol-free and fat-free.
One way to use less fat in baked goodies that call for 1 c. butter is to substitute half of the butter with 1/4 c. of prune puree (1 1/3 c. of pitted prunes and 6 tbsp. hot water processed in a blender, or simply baby-food prunes). For recipes that call for 1 c. of fat (butter, oil, margarine, or shortening), replace the amount specified with pureed fruits such as applesauce, bananas or prunes, or pureed vegetables/legumes like zucchini or black beans. For most recipes, you can use the puree instead of oil as a 1-to-1 replacement, although you may have to experiment. For more moisture, try an equal mixture of 1/2 c. buttermilk and 1/2 c. puree in place of fat. If you must use oil, choose liquid vegetable oils high in unsaturated fats such as canola, corn, olive, peanut, safflower, sesame, soybean and sunflower. Just beware that some oils, such as peanut and olive may add a different flavor to the recipe. When using margarine, choose products made with unsaturated liquid vegetable oils as the first ingredient.
Try these heart-healthy homemade goodies:
Mixed-Berry Coffee Cake 1/2 c. low-fat buttermilk 1/3 c. packed brown sugar 2 tbsp. canola or vegetable oil 1 tsp. vanilla 2 egg whites 1 c. whole wheat flour 1/2 tsp. baking soda 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon 1/8 tsp. salt 1 c. mixed berries (such as blueberries, raspberries and blackberries) 1/4 c. low-fat granola, slightly crushed
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 8-inch round cake pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, brown sugar, oil, vanilla and egg whites until smooth. Stir in flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt until moistened. Gently fold in half of the berries, then spoon the entire mixture into the pan. Sprinkle with remaining berries and the granola. Bake 28 to 33 minutes or until golden brown and the top springs back when touched in the center.
Low-Fat Brownies 1 (20 oz.) box brownie mix 1/4 c. unsweetened applesauce 1/4 c. water 1/4 c. egg substitute walnuts (optional) cayenne pepper (optional)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, beat together the eggbeaters, applesauce and water. Stir in the brownie mix until all the dry ingredients are moistened. Sprinkle in walnuts and cayenne pepper. Pour into an 8-by-8 baking pan, sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes.