The holidays are upon us! I’m in the kitchen almost every day working on some baked good or another. Today it will be homemade crackers, but later in the week I’ll be making some things that will require me to substitute real food ingredients for baking conveniences that aren’t good for my family.
Healthy Replacements for Corn Syrup and Shortening
If you’d like to make better-for-you treats, here are some things you can substitute in your kitchen:
Corn Syrup Substitute
Golden Syrup is a good corn syrup substitute because it’s made with pure cane sugar instead of corn. While it isn’t organic, it’s a much better choice for your holiday baking than corn syrup. The slight downside is that golden syrup tends to crystallize in your candy recipes. Try to keep your sugar to syrup ratio at 1:1 to prevent this from happening.
Organic Corn Syrup
Organic Corn Syrup is another good corn syrup substitute, because not all corn syrups are created equal. There are some corn syrups that are GMO-free and don’t contain Hight Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). Plain corn syrup isn’t nutritious or beneficial for you, but of course neither is most holiday baking. Therefore, this is an option that can make the best of the situation.
Be sure to check your labels. While the most popular brand of corn syrup has removed HFCS from their standard practice, you may still find some brands add it in the ingredient list. Don’t assume because the label says “corn syrup” that that’s the only ingredient. It is near impossible to avoid GMOs in a conventional bottle of corn syrup as well. So if you’d like your pecan pie to be better for you, use a healthier corn syrup substitute.
Hydrogenated Shortening Substitute
Palm Oil Shortening OR Palm/Coconut Oil Shortening Blend
Palm oil shortening (sustainably sourced) or palm oil/coconut shortening are good because they are made from oils that remain solid at room temperature. They are healthier to eat because there is no need to alter them. Of course, moderation is still a good idea.
While the other two alternatives above make great cookies, I simply wouldn’t bother making a pie crust without lard. I render my own after buying a half a hog from the butcher. I ask for all the fat and then spend the winter melting down the chunks in my crock pot. Lard makes a golden, flaky pie crust that actually adds to your health rather than taking it away!
As a child my mother always had a blue can of the big “C” shortening in the cupboard. It was critical for making soft sugar cookies and pie crusts. At the time, my family believed what we had been told about the dangers of lard and butter. Shortening was so much better for us, it seemed. I still remember greasing pizza pans with the thick, unnatural smelling white gunk.
These days I don’t buy anything with hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils. The process to make them alters the natural structure of liquid vegetable fats to make them solid. It involves metals, dyes, bleaching and heat. The resulting product is not safe in the body and is the true culprit in America’s cardiovascular issues.
Substitute for Baking with Honey
Pure maple syrup can withstand high heat and is good for you in moderation. In baked goods, it adds a rich mineral content and deeper flavor.
Don’t bake with honey!! We all know pasteurized honey is bad for us. Don’t spend a lot of money on raw honey only to take it home and pasteurize it in your baked goods. It isn’t good for you – go for an alternative that can take high heat if you’d like to avoid cane sugar.
What real food baking alternatives do you like using? Please share below!