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What Can You Substitute for Vegetable Oil in Muffins or Breads?

by Caryn Anderson, studioD

You can make your favorite bread or muffin recipe healthier by substituting the vegetable oil with a different type of oil or by using a fat-free oil replacement such as pureed fruit. If you decide to use a fat-free replacement, you must make other changes to maintain the texture. For example, replacing 1/3 of the flour with whole-wheat flour keeps the texture more like a traditional baked good. Likewise, reducing the heat of your oven by 25 degrees Fahrenheit keeps your baked goods from becoming too dry when you eliminate fat.

Go Bananas

Skip the oil in favor of using pureed bananas, prunes, squash, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, applesauce or other pureed vegetables and fruits. Use about ¾ as much puree as you would oil; after you mix your batter, you can always add an extra tablespoon or two if it seems too dry. Pureed vegetables and fruits typically add distinct color and flavor to baked goods, which could make the final product slightly different than if you used oil.

Moo-ve Over

Fat-free dairy products such as skim milk, nonfat buttermilk and fat-free yogurt increase the moisture and help tenderize your muffin or bread without changing the flavor too much. In addition to checking the bread or muffins 5 minutes before their usual baking time ends, replace each whole egg with one egg white to keep your baked good from becoming tough.

Sweeten the Deal

Liquid sweeteners help tenderize the recipe and keep it moist in place of the fat in the vegetable oil. Some examples include maple syrup, honey or molasses, which you can use to replace all of the fat in your recipe by using 3/4 as much liquid sweetener as you would oil. Since you're adding sweetness, you also was to use less sugar in your recipe and reduce the amount of sugar by the amount of liquid sweetener that you're using. For example, if you use 1 tablespoon of liquid sweetener to replace the oil in your recipe and the recipe calls for 5 tablespoons of sugar, you'll only use 4 tablespoons of sugar.

Seeds of Change

You can use flax meal or ground flax seeds to replace all of the oil in your recipe while also increasing its fiber content and giving it a boost of omega-3 fatty acids. Use three times as much flax meal as you would oil. For example, if you would normally use 1 tablespoon of oil, switch it for 3 tablespoons of flax meal. Alternatively, you can use chia gel, which is made by mixing 1 part chia seeds with 9 parts of water, to replace 25 to 50 percent of the oil in your recipe.

Take Advantage of a "Swap"portunity

Whether you’ve run out of vegetable oil or simply looking to replace it with a healthier alternative, you can easily swap one oil for another, using an equal measure of the oil of your choice. Some options include olive oil, which is high in monounsaturated fats, or coconut oil, which has gained a reputation as a healthy fat due to its high antioxidant content.

About the Author

Caryn Anderson combines extensive behind-the-scenes writing experience with her passion for all things food, fashion, garden and travel. Bitten by the travel bug at the age of 15 after a trip to Europe, Anderson fostered her love of style and fashion while living in New York City and earning her degree at New York University.

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