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Cupcakes may be small, single-serving desserts, but many of them contain hundreds of calories and nearly a third of the total amount of fat that a person should consume in a given day. Though traditional cupcakes are often very unhealthy, there are plenty of types of healthy cupcakes that can be made. For the most part, any cupcake recipe can be modified to make healthy cupcakes by substituting a few key ingredients, especially sugar, butter, and refined white flour. Though these substitutions give cupcakes better nutritional value and fewer empty calories, these desserts should still be enjoyed in moderation.
Some healthy cupcakes eliminate some or all of the butter in a recipe to eliminate many of the calories. Applesauce is a common butter substitution because it gives cupcakes additional sweetness and moisture. Fat free or reduced fat yogurt can also be used instead of butter to make cupcakes tangier and smoother.
Other types of healthy cupcakes may use whole grain flour instead of refined white flour. This type of flour, which is commonly used in baked goods, has lost many of its nutrients so it contains a large number of calories relative to the amount of vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients it contains. Whole wheat flour can be used instead of white flour, though it is also possible to use flours made from other grains, such as quinoa, amaranth, or teff. The flavor of each of these flours has a significant effect on the flavor of the cupcakes, and the taste of other types of flour often must be acquired before people will enjoy these types of healthy cupcakes.
Adding fresh fruits and vegetables to cupcake batter can also make these desserts healthier. Zucchini, carrots, pumpkin, apples, berries, and beets can all be mixed into cupcakes to give these desserts more flavor and more nutrients. Most of these ingredients need to be shredded so that they cook into the flour of healthy cupcakes and do not form chewy pockets of vegetables.
Many cupcakes are made with frosting on top or filling in the middle. For the most part, these toppings are made with a lot of sugar and butter, which contribute many calories without any additional nutrition. In healthy cupcakes, frosting can be made with reduced fat cream cheese or marshmallows instead of butter and sugar. Fresh fruit compote can be used instead of fillings that are traditionally very high in fat.
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