Slim Baking Strategies

By Sidra Forman, Best Life chef

I know I'm not alone in saying I enjoy baking. There's just something that's both relaxing and satisfying about following a recipe through and ending up with a delicious finished product. Of course, many baked goods aren't exactly diet-friendly, but don't hang up your oven mitts just yet. You can still take pleasure in preparing and eating baked treats and lose weight by using trimming techniques, such as baking in small batches or filling your baked goods with fiber. The following recipes incorporate my favorite strategies for baking up tasty and trim treats.

Chocolate Dried Cranberry Biscotti
Makes 15 servings

Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes

Slim Strategy: Smart ingredient swaps.
By using tofu, replacing butter or shortening with olive oil (a healthy fat) and adding very little chocolate, you keep the calorie count of each cookie to only 64 calories. Yet it tastes just as delicious as any other more caloric cookie.

3 tablespoons tofu
1/4 plus 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar plus 1 teaspoon for rolling
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Hershey's Natural Unsweetened Cocoa
1 ounce Hershey's All Natural Extra Dark 60% Cacao, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons dried cranberries

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Process tofu in a food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add flours, sugar, baking powder, oil and cocoa. Process until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add chocolate and cranberries and pulse processor on and off about 5 times until they are mixed in.

3. Remove the dough and roll into a ball. Then roll ball into a log with a 1-inch diameter. Pour 1 teaspoon of sugar on a plate and roll log in the sugar until evenly coated. Place on a baking sheet and cook for 15 minutes.

 4. Remove from the oven, let cool for 5 minutes, and slice into 1/2-inch thick slices (it should make about 15 cookies).

 5. Place slices on the baking sheet and put back in the oven. Turn the oven off and let the biscotti dry for 15 minutes in the oven or overnight in the oven before serving. (The longer you dry biscotti, the harder the cookies will be. They are delicious either way.)
1 serving
Calories: 64
Protein: 1 g
Carbohydrate: 10 g
Dietary Fiber: 1 g
Total Fat: 3 g
Saturated Fat: 0.7 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Calcium: 24 mg
Sodium: 2 mg

Ginger Oatmeal Cookies
Makes 4 servings

Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes

Slim Strategy: Small-batch baking.
Make only four servings (enough for you and the family), and you eliminate the temptation of going back for seconds.

1 cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons soymilk or fat-free milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons crystallized ginger, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch salt
Vegetable oil cooking spray

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine all ingredients except for cooking spray in a mixer for 2 minutes.

3. Coat baking sheet with cooking spray. Form dough into 4 individual cookies and place on baking sheet. Flatten the cookies with the back of your hand and bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Nutritional Information
1 serving

Calories: 173
Protein: 3 g
Carbohydrate: 23 g
Dietary Fiber: 2 g
Sugars: 9 g
Total Fat: 8 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Calcium: 55 mg
Sodium: 101 mg

Pumpkin Spice Muffins
Makes 12 muffins

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Slimming Strategy: Filling up on fiber.
Using whole-wheat flour and bran increases the fiber in muffin and cookie recipes. In fact, these muffins pack 7 grams of fiber per serving.

Vegetable oil cooking spray
2 cups wheat bran
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup LIBBY'S 100% Pure Pumpkin
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups fat-free milk
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon clove
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

1. Place the rack in the center of the oven. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray.

2. Combine bran, water and pumpkin in a medium mixing bowl. Let sit for at least 5 minutes.

3. Whisk together eggs, milk, honey, sugar and oil in another bowl. Combine egg mixture with bran mixture and stir until smooth

4. Mix in flours, baking soda and spices. Stir just until dry ingredients are moistened.

5. Pour a scant 1/2 cup of batter into each muffin tin. Sprinkle with walnuts and bake for about 20 minutes, until tops are brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean. Note: You can keep the batter in the refrigerator for up to a week and bake a muffin or muffins for your family each morning.

1 serving

Calories: 265
Protein: 7 g
Carbohydrate: 39 g
Dietary Fiber: 7 g
Total Fat: 12 g
Saturated Fat: 1.3 g
Cholesterol: 36 g
Calcium: 78 mg
Sodium: 351 mg