Skinny Baking Made Easy


Every one of us has had cravings for cake, cookies, brownies and breads and thought twice about it once we looked at the fat content. The best part about making your own baked goods is that you can make healthy substitutes to reduce the calories and the guilt without losing any of the flavor.

These are all simple subsitutes that you can try. My co-worker swears by the 7-UP cake and I love using apple sauce in my breads and cakes. It makes them moist and delicious. Give one of these a try and I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

Baking Fat Substitutions

Provided by Jillee and edited by Creative Campbell

Cakes and Cupcakes –

Replace the fat with ½ light sour cream and ½ natural applesauce.

Cookies –

Switch out half of the butter for mashed avocado. This simple change will reduce the fat cut and the number of calories by 40%.

Brownies or Breads –

Oil Substitute – mash up canned beans and add enough of the bean juice to make it liquidy.

Shortening Substitute – mash the beans up without the bean juice.

If you are baking brownies, use black beans, if you are making banana bread or zucchini bread, use pinto beans. The basic rule is to use whatever colored bean would match your final product.

Box Cake Alternative –

Combine 1 boxed cake mix, 1 cup plain greek yogurt and 1 cup water.

Mix and bake according to directions on the box. Works best with Devil’s Food Cake mix. The texture is similar to a cross between a cake and a brownie. Use a 9×9” pan for a thicker cake.

Diet Soda Cake –

1 box Yellow Cake Mix and 1 (12 oz.) can Diet 7-Up
1 box Chocolate Cake Mix and 1 (12 oz.) can Diet Coke or Diet Cherry Coke

Mix the soda and cake mix until smooth. Bake according to directions on the box. Test with a toothpick to ensure that the cake is cooked in the center.

Diet Coke Brownies –

1 box fudge brownie mix and 1 (12 oz) can Diet Coke

Mix the soda and cake mix until smooth. Bake according to directions on the box. Test with a toothpick to ensure that the cake is cooked in the center.

Lemon Cool Whip Cookies –

1 (8 oz) container Cool Whip, 1 box lemon cake mix and the juice of 1 lemon

Mix the lemon cake mix and Cool Whip (you could also use Lite or Fat Free). Squeeze in the juice of one lemon. Spoon onto greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 10 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown.

Optional: Mix lemon juice and powdered sugar to make a glaze. Drizzle over cookies while still warm.

I just used applesauce in my zucchinni bread recipe and it tasted delicious. My husband loved it better than the original. Half the guilt and plenty of flavor. How can you lose?


Smart Dieting

A New Year has arrived and resolutions have been made. Most of them involve eating healthy, dropping a few pounds or going to the gym more often. Sadly, we’re creatures of habit. We’ll diet and workout, but then after a few weeks we’ll return to our coach potato roots. Any weight lost simply returns and you try again next year. Instead of repeating this cycle over and over again, it’s better to just start on the right foot. There are a few things to keep in mind when you’re dieting especially if you want to be successful.

If you want to lose the weight long term, then you have to think long term.

I’m sorry to have to break it to you, but you can’t eat a whole pizza, fast food and dessert and expect to lose pounds. You will have to change some of your bad habits. If you try a liquid only or carb free diet, there is a problem. When you return to normal food the pounds will return.

So how do you fix this? You have to look at ways to cut back on the calories and fat by doing something for the long term.

  • If you try a clean or raw diet where you eat more greens and fresh fruits, when you’ve met your weight goal you have to keep those foods incorporated in your regular diet.
  • If you like the liquid diets, then expect to always replace one meal a day with a smoothie or shake.
  • You should watch your fat and calorie intake both when you’re dieting and when you aren’t. That way your hard work pays off.

Don’t eat fast food and eat out less.

I assure you there are plenty of nights that I don’t want to cook, but eating out is the easiest way to destroy your healthy goals and your budget. We have all heard the horrors of fast food, so I’ll only say this once: stop eating fast food. Your body will thank you! Yes, fast food is getting healthier, but that’s still not saying much.

One of my favorite eye opening books and articles I enjoy is Eat This, Not That. They grade different restaurants, dishes and tell you the details that you wouldn’t know unless you were standing over the cook’s shoulder. What you’ll discover is that restaurants load their meals with salt, butter, oil, mayonnaise and products with lots of chemicals and use less fruits, vegetables and protein to help them save money. Even salads aren’t safe! Still don’t believe me?

Applebee’s Oriental Chicken Salad has 1,340 calories, 98 g fat (15 g saturated; 1.5 g trans) and 1,200 mg sodium. Do you still think eating out is a great idea? Make it yourself. You can still have the foods that you crave, but won’t have nearly the same amount of guilt.

Avoid eating processed foods

I’m sorry to have to state the obvious, but if you want to lose weight you have to let go of frozen, boxed and some canned foods. Preservatives, chemicals, excessive salt and sugars are only the beginning of the reasons why you don’t want to eat processed foods. Cooking your own food is cheaper and so much better for you. There are of course going to be days that you’re going to want to have ramen noodles. Once a month is manageable. Once a day is a problem.

Thanks to the internet you can find thousands of recipes that require you to be standing in the kitchen for less than thirty minutes. You’ll have leftovers and don’t have to starve yourself just to lose weight. If you don’t have time to go through the recipes and work with your budget, the best website is They do all of the research for you. For $3-7 a month, you can save yourself weight and money. That’s a win in my book.

Basic things to try in the kitchen:

  • When you cook your meals, use reduced fat ingredients as opposed to the regular versions. This way you can maintain the flavor and have less guilt. Reduced fat options also have less chemicals than the fat free alternative.
  • If you love desserts, go to and make something that tastes delicious but has half of the consequences. No one knows would ever know it’s a light dessert.

Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables

Did you know that if you eat an apple 15 minutes before you eat dinner that you won’t need to eat as much to feel full? It’s the healthiest way to maintain portion control.

One of the biggest things that we’re all missing from our diets is fresh fruits and vegetables. Now, don’t cheat and go buy vegetables in a can and think that it’s the same. When you boil down fruits and vegetables, you lose most of their nutritional value. Try to eat your fruits and vegetables either fresh or steamed.

Along the same lines, fruit juice and canned fruits do not provide the same benefit as a piece of fruit because of the added sugars, chemicals and preservatives. Fresh or frozen fruit is best.

Go to the gym

I’m sorry but even with the best of nutritional changes, you won’t drop 20lbs as quickly as you will by going to the gym. Exercise and healthy eating should go hand in hand. Now there are thousands of different workouts. You can do them at home, at work or at a gym. You just have to pick the one that works best for you. I prefer to do intervals. They’re quick, intense workouts that get you better results than spending an hour on the treadmill.

These are some great examples of interval workouts. Give it a try. You will definitely see results!



Drink more water

I don’t mean vitawater or some sort of sugar packet mixed into your water. Drink plain, boring water. It’s so much better for you than pop, juice or beer. Get rid of it and watch the pounds disappear.

Slow down

Studies have shown us that when we cram our lunch into 5 minutes and barely allow fifteen minutes for dinner that we eat more than normal because our body barely has time to tell us that it’s full. Take a deep breath between bites. Force yourself to eat dinner in courses if necessary, but do what it takes to stop shoveling down the food. Appreciate your meal.

Also, turn off the television. It’s been proven that when you eat in front of the television or at your desk at work that your focus is on the screen and not on your meal. Once again, you’ll eat more than you intended with ease. If you’re married or have children, the 30 minutes of quality time is always a good thing.

Balance is the key

When you’re dieting, eating healthy or trying to lose weight you want to let go of the unhealthy habits and take control of your health by making smart choices. Now, don’t expect yourself to be able to give up everything all at once. Start slowly. Cut back on fast food and eating out. When that’s easier, cut back on processed foods and cook your meals more often. Take everything one step a time. You will see results and it will all be completely worth it!

The word diet spelt out in vegetables on a wooden board.

Easy Panera Bread Soups

It’s that time of the year when all you want to do is snuggle up under a blanket and savor a warm bowl of soup. Some of the best soups I’ve had came from Panera Bread. Sadly, the price is more than I can afford on a regular basis. So, I did my research and have added these two recipes as my household staples: Panera Bread’s Cheddar Broccoli Soup and Creamy Potato Soup.

They’re simple, they’re easy and they’re delicious. They also don’t cost a lot to purchase the ingredients and I can promise you that there won’t be unwanted leftovers. Another wonderful part is that you can easily adjust some of the ingredients to cut some of the calories.

For instance:

  • In the Cheddar Broccoli Soup, use fat free half and half.
  • In the Creamy Potato Soup, use low fat cream cheese.
  • In the Creamy Potato Soup, use turkey bacon.

Make a loaf of french bread and I promise you’ll have an amazing meal!

Panera Bread’s Cheddar Broccoli Soup



1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups half-and-half
2 cups chicken stock or bouillon
1/2 pound fresh broccoli
1 cup carrots, julienned
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
8 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese


Saute onion in butter. Set aside. Cook melted butter and flour using a whisk over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Stir constantly and slowly add the half-and-half (this is called making a roux). Add the chicken stock whisking all the time. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the broccoli, carrots and onions. Cook over low heat until the veggies are tender for 20-25 minutes. Add salt and pepper. The soup should be thickened by now. Pour in batches into blender and puree. Return to pot over low heat and add the grated cheese; stir until well blended. Stir in the nutmeg and serve.

Panera Bread’s Creamy Potato Soup

By AmyZoe on January 01, 2011


    • 6 cups chicken broth
    • 6 cups potatoes, peeled and cubed
    • 1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
    • 8 ounces cream cheese ( cut into chunks, at room temperature)
    • 4 slices bacon ( cooked and crumbled)


  1. Combine broth, potatoes, and spices.
  2. Boil on medium heat until potatoes are tender.
  3. Smash a few potatoes to release the starch for thickening.
  4. If you like it chunky just smash a small amount of potato, but if you want it smooth smash more potatoes.
  5. Reduce to low heat and add cream cheese.
  6. Heat, stirring frequently, until cheese melts.
  7. Ladle into bowls.
  8. Sprinkle a little bacon over each bowl of soup.