So many of us are finding more ways to eat healthy, but I'm sure not many of us think that eating more bake goods is going to help. If we weren't trying to eat better not many of us would turn down hot chocolate chip cookies or any number of baked goods we ate all the time when we were kids. But if we could substitutes healthy ingredients for those ingredients that make baked goods a nutritionists nightmare, maybe we can recapture those good old days and still eat relatively healthy.

These are five healthy substitutes we should consider:

1. Coconut oil. Margarine, shortening and other oils are on the outs, and coconut oil as well as coconut water is definitely the "in" thing among nutritionists. Coconut oil is now considered one of the top saturated fats and it works very well as substitutes for margarine or shortening. By looking at the two, coconut oil and shortening are similar at room temperature. They are both solid and white, but the shortening is this way because of the hydrogenated process. If it's partially hydrogenated it creates Tran's fat, one of our worst nutritional villains. Coconut oil carries none of these risks.

2. Coconut flour. Wheat flour is standard for baked goods, but is a much less healthy alternative than coconut flour. This flour has much more dietary fiber and is extremely low in digestible carbohydrates. You have to remember though, that if you use 100% coconut flour your baked goods will fall apart. By simply adding one egg per ounce of coconut flour it will help everything stick together.

3. Butter. After a long drop in butter consumption in the U.S., butter in the last five years has taken its rightful place in any healthy diet. We now know that replacing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and margarine with butter will give us the saturated fats we're looking for. Butter also gives baked goods a better taste.

4. Dark chocolate. Chocolate is often used in baked goods, but using dark chocolate as close to its raw state as possible is a much healthier alternative than conventional chocolate. The health benefits of minimally processed dark chocolate are actually very high, and will add a deeper, richer taste than other types of chocolate.

5. Get rid of refined sugars. Last but not least, if you can get rid of all refined sugars in your baked goods this will probably go the farthest in making your bakery healthy. Actually, this might take a little imagination but it can be done, as sugar is the primary ingredient for most baked products. However by using puréed fruit such as mangoes, papaya, dried dates and bananas they can add fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals while taking away the harmful effects of sugar. One of the reasons is that naturally-occurring sugar in fruit is much less concentrated. For example, it is recommended that substituting ¼ cup of the puréed fruit will do the job of one half cup of sugar.

Our goal is to inform those people who are trying to lose weight on comprehensive, realistic programs for weight loss. We are definitely not into quick-fixes, but programs that involve proper diet, cardio work, and muscle tone. Rich Carroll is a writer and health advocate now living in Chicago.

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