There’s no denying America’s love of baked goods. Eighty percent of people said they consider baked items to be an important part of special celebrations, and agreed with the statement, “It is perfectly fine to occasionally treat yourself with some baked treats such as cookies, cupcakes, donuts or pie,” in a survey of 1,500 Americans conducted by the American Bakers Association in 2022.
Yet these are the same items that are frequently identified as problematic by health officials because of their high saturated fat, sugar, and carbohydrates. It doesn’t help that many bakery items made and sold on-site are exempt from labeling laws, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Adminstration (FDA).
One solution is to make your own baked goods at home, so you can control the sugar and other ingredients. You can even add things like heart-healthy fats, dietary fiber, and protein to make desserts and treats that are actually benefiting you in some way.
This can be particularly useful if you’re following a low-carb plan like the popular ketogenic diet, which severely restricts carbs. Replacing all-purpose flour made from wheat with almond flour, which is made by finely grinding blanched almonds, is one great way to reduce carbs and add protein to baked goods without sacrificing texture or flavor. Almond flour contains just 6 grams (g) of carbohydrates per quarter cup, compared with all-purpose flour’s 22 g, according to data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and also has 6 g of protein and 3 g of dietary fiber, both of which promote satiety. Almond flour is also naturally gluten-free.
Another tricky part of low-carb baking is how to cut down on added sugars. Often, this means turning to artificial sweeteners. Sugar substitutes are not without issues, however. Regular intake of artificial sweeteners was linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, according to a prospective cohort study published September 2022 in the BMJ. Research published in CMAJ in July 2017 has linked high consumption of artificial sweeteners to higher incidences of obesity, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes. And many commercially prepared baked goods…