Health-conscious folks with a sweet tooth always seek ways to improve the nutrition of their favorite treats — like making brownie mix with applesauce instead of oil. This helps reduce the calories and adds sweetness, so you can use less sugar. Talk about having your
cake brownie and eating it too.
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Brownie Mix With Applesauce
Oil is used in brownies and other baked goods to promote moistness. Nobody likes a dry brownie, so ensuring moisture is essential. Whether you prefer dense and chewy or more cake-like brownies, they should feel moist and decadent in the mouth and not like you're chewing on plastic foam.
Simply adding a wet ingredient, such as applesauce, on its own isn't going to garner the same results as fat. So the bad news is that if you completely substitute applesauce for the oil in brownies, they are likely to be dry. The good news is that you can replace some of the oil and still produce moist, delicious brownies that people will want to eat.
Mayo Clinic suggests substituting half the oil in your brownie recipe with the same amount of applesauce. If your recipe calls for 1/2 cup oil, use 1/4 cup oil and 1/4 cup applesauce. According to USDA data, 1/4 cup of applesauce has 25 calories, and 1/4 cup of vegetable oil has 480 calories. By replacing 1/4 cup of oil with applesauce, you'll be cutting 455 calories from your brownies — a significant savings.
See how your brownies turn out and decide whether you can reduce the oil further the next time you make them. It's purely a matter of taste and what is right for you and your health goals. If you don't mind sacrificing some of the brownie's moistness for fewer calories, then replace more of the oil in your brownie mix with applesauce.
Get More Brownie Points
Replacing some of the oil is a good start for healthier brownies, but don't stop there. You have other options for turning your treat into health food (kind of).
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The type of oil you use is a good place to start. Oil is high in calories and fat, but it isn't necessarily bad for you. According to the American Heart Association, vegetable oils contain unsaturated fats that, when used in place of saturated fats like butter, can help improve your heart health. To make heart-healthy brownies with applesauce, you can choose from:
You should also think about the sugar in your brownies. Added sugar is just as bad for you as fats, and too much can cause weight gain and obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
You can reduce the sugar in any recipe by 25 percent without noticeably affecting the final results, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The addition of applesauce will lend natural sweetness that may enable you to cut the sugar by even more. However, keep in mind that one of the roles of sugar in baking is to promote moistness, so reducing the sugar by too much could contribute to a drier finished product.
There are other healthy ways to reduce fat and calories and combat dryness in your mix, too. In her May 2016 article for Aurora Health Care in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, registered dietitian Krysta Butkus says you can replace all the oil or butter in a brownie recipe with mashed bananas. She recommends starting with half the amount of banana — so 1/4 cup of banana replaces 1/2 cup of oil. If the mix is dry, add more banana until you achieve the right consistency.
This will impart a slight banana flavor to your brownies, but chocolate and banana always make a good flavor combination.
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- Mayo Clinic: "Recipe Makeovers: 5 Ways to Create Healthy Recipes"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Applesauce, Canned, Unsweetened, Without Added Ascorbic Acid (Includes Foods for USDA's Food Distribution Program)"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Vegetable Oil"
- American Heart Association: "Healthy Cooking Oils"
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Know Your Limit for Added Sugars"
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "Healthy Baking Alternatives
- American Council on Exercise: "Baking With Sugar Substitutes: Which Ones Are Good for Baking"
- Aurora Health Care: "Substitutes That Help Cut Calories and Fat in Your Baking"