Cake after weight loss surgery? Impossible! Or is it? Just because you’ve had weight loss surgery, doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself of some of your favorite holiday treats. Baking them yourself is a good way to control the ingredients and the calories.

The goal is to replace fat- and calorie-laden ingredients with lower-fat and lower-sugar ones. Portion control is also key: For desserts, one bite is usually enough for most weight loss surgery patients. But you also must know your weaknesses. If you feel you can’t stick to one bite, then don’t take it to begin with. Gastric bypass patients should be particularly careful when eating high sugar foods as they can lead to dumping syndrome. (Read more about the side effects of Gastric Bypass).

Try one or two of these healthier substitutes next time you are dusting off your holiday recipes:

  • You can replace up to half of the fat in baked items with applesauce or other pureed fruits, such as prune. Your baked good will still retain moisture because of the natural sugars and fibers in the fruit. So if a recipe calls for a cup of butter, try a half-cup of applesauce and a half-cup of butter instead.
  • Vegetable purees can also be used to replace butter or oil in baking. Cooked mashed pumpkin or butternut squash are good in muffins, quick breads, gingerbread, fruit cakes and other dense cakes especially if the recipe calls for spices like cloves, cinnamon or nutmeg. Replace a cup of butter with 3/4 cup vegetable puree. Add extra puree if you think the batter looks too dry. The best part is veggie purees add extra vitamins and minerals!
  • Avoid the high-fat/high-sugar frostings. Instead, do a light dusting of confectioner’s sugar over cakes. This will cut calories and fat significantly compared to heavy icing.
  • Yogurt is another good replacement for butter. Replace up to half of the butter in your recipe with nonfat plain yogurt.
  • Nuts are high in protein but can add a lot of fat to baked goods. Try cutting the amount of nuts called for in half. Toasting the nuts before mixing them into your batter will give them a more intense flavor so you won’t even miss the other half.
  • Replace baking chocolate in a recipe with low-fat cocoa. Three tablespoons of cocoa plus 1 tablespoon of water equals one square of baking chocolate. Mix the cocoa into the dry ingredients and stir in the water.
  • Replace each whole egg with two egg whites or 1/4 cup egg substitute. Or if you’re feeling more adventurous, 1/4 cup of silken tofu can take the place of 1 egg in most baked goods. The tofu also adds protein!

Some of these substitutions may change the texture of the baked goods so you may need to experiment a bit with your recipes. Cakes may require a shorter baking time as low-fat batters are quick to become dry. Check for doneness about 10 minutes before the timer goes off and continue to do so every few minutes until it is completely baked. Whether you’ve had Gastric Bypass, Gastric Sleeve or Gastric Band, I think you’ll find that with these healthy substitutes, you can bake your cake and eat it too!

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