9 Ways to Turn Pantry Staples Into Healthy Baked Treats

Sarah Schlichter, RD
by Sarah Schlichter, RD
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9 Ways to Turn Pantry Staples Into Healthy Baked Treats

Baking has proven to be a great way to pass this quarantine time, and baked goods also work well as “thank you” or “thinking of you” gifts for close friends, family and neighbors. While it seems like everyone is on the banana bread or sourdough bread-making train, there are plenty of other delicious baked goods to try that’ll be ready in an hour and take advantage of classic pantry staples you probably already have at the ready.



The ingredient: Oats are a complex, whole-grain carbohydrate that also provide protein, fiber, B-vitamins and iron. A 1/3-cup (50g) serving of whole-grain oat flour has 7 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber, and it fulfills 10% of your daily iron needs. Oat flour is a great gluten-free flour alternative that behaves much like wheat flour. In baking, it helps lighten the texture and is very absorbent.

The baked good: Turn these oat banana chocolate chunk muffins into quick bread by increasing the total bake time to 45–60 minutes, and decreasing the oven temperature to 350°F (175°C)



The ingredient: Applesauce can act as a natural sweetener and can also be a great fat-replacer in baked goods. Substitute oil or butter for applesauce to increase the fiber content and reduce the total fat and calories. Applesauce also helps to keep baked goods moist and tender.

The baked good: Turn these bran muffins into quick bread by increasing the total bake time to 45–60 minutes, and decreasing the oven temperature to 350°F (175°C). Or, consider using applesauce as a topping, like in these vegan banana muffins with almond-apple spread.



The ingredient: Did you know you can swap sugar for honey or maple syrup in a 1:1 ratio? Honey is versatile and can help baked goods retain moisture, as well as promote a golden color and crisping. However, since honey is a liquid sweetener, you often must compensate for the added moisture and remove liquid from other ingredients by 1/4 cup (25g) for every cup of honey.

The baked good: Try these peanut butter breakfast cookies, which get natural sweetness from honey.



The ingredient: Sweet potatoes (either fresh or canned) work well in sweet and savory baked goods, due to their versatility. They’re high in fiber, antioxidants and immune-supporting nutrients, like vitamins A and C.

The baked good: Try these savory sweet potato muffins or sweet chocolate-chip studded ones.

READ MORE: 15 Healthy Recipes to Make With Pantry Staples Under 450 Calories



The ingredient: Like sweet potatoes, canned pumpkin is a versatile addition to quick breads and increases nutrient content. Canned pumpkin can also add natural sweetness and replace some fat in a recipe.

The baked good: Try this pumpkin bread for a healthy dessert.



The ingredient: If you have large quantities of nuts or seeds in your pantry, consider throwing them in your favorite quick bread recipe for extra crunch. Nuts and seeds, like walnuts, almonds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds and chia seeds are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for heart health and can help reduce inflammation. Nuts also provide fiber, protein, magnesium, and vitamin E.

The baked good: Try this gluten-free cranberry walnut loaf.



The ingredient: Nut butters are delicious in cookies, breads and brownies, and help soften the final product. They also add extra stability and structure in the baking process and can even take the place of flour in some recipes, such as these flourless chocolate peanut butter cookies. Nut butters add extra protein and micronutrients like magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, niacin, vitamin B and E.

The baked good: For a veggie-packed option, try these gluten-free almond butter zucchini muffins.



The ingredient: Dates, or date paste, are a natural sweetener for baked goods. Plus, dates offer additional nutrients not found in sugar, like potassium, iron and calcium. Dates can also replace the fat in a recipe, such as butter or oil. To soften dates for baking, soak pitted dates in warm water or another liquid. Then, add them to a food processor or high-speed blender with liquid to make your own date paste.

The baked good: Try them in these breakfast cookies or to sweeten these oat bars.



The ingredient: If you happen to have any espresso powder on hand, throwing it in your chocolate baked goods is a fantastic way to enhance the chocolate’s intensity and flavor without adding additional chocolate, cocoa or coffee flavor. Plus, dark chocolate (70–85% cocoa), contains fiber, iron, magnesium, copper and manganese, and may have some cardiovascular benefits.

The baked good: Try it in these gluten-free chocolate tahini cookies instead of the cocoa powder.

About the Author

Sarah Schlichter, RD
Sarah Schlichter, RD

Sarah is a registered dietitian based in the Washington, DC area. She works with athletes on fueling for their sports without strict dieting. Sarah is also a nutrition consultant and writes the blog, Bucket List Tummysharing nutrition posts, healthy family-friendly recipes and running tips.


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