Baking Without Breaking your Diet

I have always loved to bake, and can trace back some of my earliest childhood memories to baking with my mom. She always taught me to lay out all of my ingredients, level off my measuring cups and use the butter wrapper to grease my baking pans and dishes.

However, about four years ago, the amount that I baked decreased significantly for a variety of reasons. First, I met my now-fiancé (a dedicated Paleo “Caveman”). Second, my teenage metabolism slowed down and I just really couldn’t “eat my heart out” anymore. Lastly, it seemed that time was always a factor and I never had the time to whip out all of my ingredients and bakeware.

Like most of us who work full-time and are juggling a number of work-life challenges, I am conscientious of what I eat. It took about three days on the My Fitness Pal and Spark People to realize how many calories and how much saturated fat were in the tiniest little indulgences that I often had. Even more depressing was how many miles I needed to run to burn off a fraction of what I was consuming.

So for the past few years, my bakeware has been gathering dust. My fiancé is incredibly dedicated and can stay away from sweets (even when tempted). I am not. If it is something I like (cupcakes and cookies, primarily)…it is incredibly hard for me to just eat one.

However, this past weekend, I was craving a little treat! So I dug out my items and got to baking one of my favorite cookies…Oatmeal Bittersweet Chocolate Chip cookies.

15Jun14_Image2Here are some tips for how to bake, and not break your diet.

#1 – Half your Recipe. One of the best techniques that I use is to half my recipe. Especially with baking, this is typically not too hard, since so many dessert recipes typically serve a huge crowd. My theory is the less you bake, the less you have to eat.

Have a 3/4 cup of sugar that you need to break down? Consider using an online resource like Half Recipe which allows you to enter all your measurements and it calculates your revised recipe.

If this becomes a regular habit for you, consider purchasing specific baking tools (like a 1/8 Teaspoon) for your baking from online vendors like Amazon, and looking for recipes that are “downsized” from the start. One of my favorites is Dessert for Two.

#2 – Portion Out What You Leave Accessible. The next technique I use is to put a reasonable portion out on my counter, or in a cute cookie jar, that allows you to enjoy your fresh treats, but not go “hog-wild.”

15Jun14_Image3My friend gave me this adorable dessert display, which fits about 5-7 normal-sized cookies. It not only adds a decorative touch, but allows me to keep fresh enough tasty morsels to last a few days.

In my family of two, I am typically the only person consuming the cookies, but portioning out what makes sense for your household is a great idea to ensure the cookies make it to the weekend (and you do not negate all your hard calorie-busting workouts).

#3 – Freeze the Goods. So what do you do with all the leftovers? My normal solution is to immediately pack them into a freezer bag, and get them out of sight. I try to do this pretty quickly (before I can think otherwise).

15Jun14_Image4I love the freezer for a few reasons. First, you can pull one out and zap it in the microwave for 5-10 seconds, and voila! You have a reincarnation of your freshly baked cookie. Second, unless you want to break your teeth on a frozen cookie, the freezer method keeps you from grazing for a naughty snack!

#4 – Bring ‘em to Work. So if you STILL find yourself with extra leftovers, consider packing them up and bringing them to your coworkers. A common lunch room or a counter at a desk is a great place to display your baked goods—and we all know that we need a little “pick-me-up” at that 2 p.m. slump time! Not only will your office popularity points increase, but you’ll save your waistline in the process.

So what’s the morale of this post? Go forth and BAKE! Add that butter and sugar, without hesitation! Just make sure to utilize one or two of these tips in the process!

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