Adventures In Healthy Baking

Ashley Matsuzak

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Eating healthy is a possibility, yet, can also be quite a challenge for many people. It isn’t always easy to order a salad, or to opt for a piece of fruit instead of a bag of chips. Making better choices can contribute to individuals becoming healthier and feeling better. There are countless websites, T.V. shows and diet books out there that can aid in healthy eating, but there is one category where healthy eating may be a lost cause: healthy baked goods.
I wanted to write an article for all of you about how to make healthier versions of your favorite baked goods. Two of my favorite baked things to eat are blueberry muffins and of course, cookies. I did a ton of research and decided to try two recipes from a very highly rated, popular cooking source to start off with, hoping I could write my own versions of these healthy recipes to share with all of you.
The first thing I wanted to make was cookies. I love oatmeal raisin cookies, but they usually aren’t as healthy as they are made out to be. Quaker Oat’s recipe for Oatmeal Cookies requires 1 pound (2 sticks) of butter for only about 18 cookies, not to mention all the sugar and white flour. I found a recipe for oatmeal cookies that used whole wheat flour, no butter, and only ¼ cup of sugar and a bit of maple syrup for sweetening. It sounded pretty good, but having never cooked with whole wheat flour before, I was a little hesitant.
Whole grain flour is made from the entire grain of wheat. The outer “shell” of the wheat grain contains most of the nutrients. When products are manufactured with the entire wheat grain, they are referred to as “whole-grain.” White flour, however, is made from only the inside of the wheat grain, which contains mostly carbohydrates and hardly any protein or fiber.
The cookie dough only made about twelve cookies, which I found a little odd. The batter was extremely thick and formed nicely on the pan. When I took them out of the oven, they were picture perfect and looked delicious. I bit into one and was somewhat pleased with the flavor, but not so much with the texture. Since whole-wheat flour contains the outer shell of the wheat grain, which, when baked and cooled, hardens immensely. These cookies were very crunchy and barely cooked through.
The cookies were not very sweet like I was expecting, and with all the whole grain oats and raisins, I felt like I was eating raw oatmeal dusted with granola bar crumbs. I felt uncomfortable even calling the end result a “cookie.” I made the cookies again, this time adding more sugar and using half white flour and half whole grain flour. They came out much better, but of course it was at the cost of nutrition.
Next, I thought banana muffins would be a good choice because bananas are naturally sweet and also contain potassium and fiber, two things that are great for you and help keep you full. The muffin batter had quite a few ingredients (about 15 or so) and a lot of prep work was involved. The raw batter itself tasted fine, but when I pulled these out of the oven, they smelled like wet cigarettes! I was upset at how they tasted, as well as the fact that I wasted about 20 of my favorite cupcake papers! I made them again, this time without the flax and unprocessed bran, and again adding more sugar, using white flour and a stick of butter, too! And of course, they were delicious.

There are countless websites, T.V. shows and diet books out there that can aid in healthy eating, but there is one category where healthy eating may be a lost cause: healthy baked goods

All of this trial and error, only to make the baked goods again with butter and sugar, taught me a lesson. Treats are called “treats” for a reason. We can sacrifice flavor for nutrition in our regular diet, but for dessert, taste is everything. We don’t eat cheesecake, cookies, and pie because it’s good for us. We eat it because it tastes good. So suck it up during the day and eat fish, vegetables and all that good stuff, and you can have a regular chocolate chip cookie. Save the bran for your oatmeal and wheat bread for your sandwiches.