Naturally Sweet and Savory Treats

Sharing a similar seasonable sensibility to my own style of baking, I was attracted to the Green Market Baking Book immediately. As soon as I caught wind of the release, I was entranced; that whimsical yet earthy illustrated cover, charming fabric ribbon, bookmark, and the comforting heft of a hard cover all had me sold. Though not a vegan cookbook, it is one of the few mainstream baking resources that actually provides clearly marked vegan options, a serious plus by me. Less positive was the fact that some recipes actually weren’t labeled as vegan, but in fact were, although such omissions are rather easy to figure out right away. Other options can be converted to use vegan ingredients in a snap, so don’t let those classifications prevent you from enjoying the full scope of this book.

Not only seasonally organized, but also devoid of refined white sugars and flours, those with healthy leanings are sure to appreciate the more wholesome bent to this collection. Rounded out by a guide to seasonal produce and tips for healthier baking, you won’t find outrageous, crazy flavors here, but very down-to-earth recipes. Classics that everyone can appreciate, and gentle twists on standard staples.

Jumping around a bit to get a better taste of its complete offerings, I will admit that I didn’t approach this book entirely in the correct order. Diving straight into the summer section at the lure of a yeasted Tomato Bread, it proved to be a very tasty decision indeed.

Brilliant orange and rust hues embolden this otherwise plain loaf, merely hinting at the flavor contained within. Subtle sweetness and acidity brightens the soft, even crumb, allowing the gentle but clear tomato essence to shine. Deviating slightly from the text and throwing in some chopped sun-dried tomatoes, those rich pieces of concentrated tomato goodness were the perfect addition. Smelling like a full pizza while baking away, all I could think about was grilling up two slices, filled with a handful of vegan cheese… And yet, I found the longest my patience would hold me was to simply slather it with a whisper-thin smear of buttery spread, and eat it straight. Possibly the most tender loaf I’ve made at home, this is absolutely one to revisit in the height of tomato harvest, and perhaps introduce some fresh basil or oregano next time.

Briefly stymied about where to turn next, it was simply a matter of having everything on hand to make the Peanut Butter and Jelly Power Muffins to spur another round of baking. Though I didn’t expect much of them, these simple treats blew me away. Intense peanut and maple flavor sets them apart from other PB+J baked goods, making them a bit sweeter than my average breakfast nosh, but perfect for an addictive after school snack. The combination of textures is what really lends such an addictive quality; That chewy top, fluffy crumb, crunchy nuts strewn throughout, and generous dollop of gooey jam all combine to create a sum greater than their parts. Finished with a good amount of salt for contrast, these simple muffins had a surprisingly mature and complex flavor profile.

Spying the simple formula for Thumbprint Cookies tucked away in the summer section, I easily veganized them by swapping out the butter for non-dairy margarine, and honey for agave. A small pet-peeve but worth noting is the fact that the ingredient list neglects to include any jam, and thus no measurements or even estimates at amounts are given. It turned out that I did not, in fact, have enough jam on hand, and thus had to resort to filling my cookies with chocolate ganache. Oh, what a terrible fate.

Happily, the cookies did not suffer in the least, and perhaps where improved by this chocolatey addition. A bit on the delicate, crumbly side, the texture is similar to a shortbread cookie. Without a filling to hold it all together, I might not go back for seconds, but as a complete assembly, these strike me as a lovely offering to serve with coffee or tea.

While they might not be the most inventive, exciting options on the market, so far each recipe I’ve tried has been a home run. If you’re seeking reliable recipes for sweets that you can feed to your kids (or family, or yourself!) without feeling guilty, the Green Market Baking Book is your new best friend.

Generously provided by the publishers, I have a second cookbook to give away to one lucky reader, too! If these recipes sound like your style, then leave me a comment before midnight on Friday, June 10th, telling me how you’ve made your baking healthier. Do you substitute whole wheat flour? Reduce the sugar? Replace excessive oil with apple sauce? Give me you secrets to wholesome desserts, and you’ll be in the running! Just one comment per person, please, and unfortunately this giveaway is open to residents of the continental US only.

82 thoughts on “Naturally Sweet and Savory Treats

  1. I love that tom. bread, specially the color. I love to bake but always looking for ways to make my baking more healthy, few of the things I follow : replace atleast 3/4 of APF with whole wheat flour & I also add little wheat bran or wheat germ specailly in fruit breads & muffins. reduce sugar & whenever possible replace it with more natural sugars like honey. Having my fingures crossed for winning this book.

  2. This cookbook looks amazing – I’m especially drawn to that tomato bread! I love that it smells like pizza when it’s baking…yum!! I try to make my baking healthier by subbing in whole-grain flours – sometimes whole wheat, but often other ones like oat flour or buckwheat flour.

  3. I’ve made my baking healthier by making smaller portions- mini muffins, thinner slices of cake, smaller two bite cookies etc. It works! Sharing is the best way to eat less :)

  4. Oooo…we just got a new bread maker and I’ve been on the lookout for interesting recipes. The tomato bread looks amazing! We’ve been trying to making our overall diet more healthy, and the bread machine is just one step in that (it also makes jams and cake and other delicious things with minimal effort!). I’ve reduced the sugar in almost every dessert recipe so far and substituted more natural sugars (raw sugar, honey, etc) and/or made up for the sweetness with organic dried fruits. We buy huge bottles of olive oil and have successfully used it in place of butter in many of our favorite recipes. We have committed to eating vegetarian meals at least a few times each week…and I have to say it’s been a lot easier than I expected thanks to sites like yours. Thank you!

  5. Oh, this definitely sounds like my kind of cookbook! I have a bunch of healthy ingredient swaps for baking: whole wheat pastry flour & white whole wheat flour, unrefined sweeteners such as maple syrup, brown rice syrup, and raw sugar (and less of it!), fruit/veggie purees such as apple, pumpkin, and banana… I could go on and on ;).

    Your review of this cookbook – and the photos you took of the recipes you made – have definitely piqued my interest. If I don’t win the giveaway, I might have to add it to my wish list!

  6. That cookbook sounds amazing! And the tomato bread sure looks delicious. When I’m baking, I use whole wheat flour instead of white. Not only is it better for me, usually it tastes better, too! And I love the trick of replacing some of the oil with applesauce, or even a mashed banana.

  7. I have started using a lot more whole wheat flour and organic sugar.
    What a great giveaway! Thank you.

  8. Hi Hannah! First of all, please allow me to thank you for educating me on how to eat in a much more healthy fashion AND without compromising my passion for any and all creatures of this Earth! I’m so blessed and grateful to have your guidance!

    I have been switching out my flour for whole wheat but also for others as well. I love spelt pancakes and have purchased chickpea and buckwheat as well. I’ve always been the “nuts and twigs” kinda person so getting the white flour out in favor of more hearty and flavorful flour is a great help!

    ~ Molly :-)

  9. To make my baking healthier I always use flax eggs (I’m an omnivorous, but tend towards vegan eating since it’s easier and challenges me as a cook), and also use a variety of whole-grain flours (I’ve used whole-wheat for a few years, but have added . I’ve also used applesauce as an oil replacer for years. Thank you for your incredible blog and all of the inspiration it’s provided me!

  10. i often replace all-purpose flour with white whole wheat, especially in breakfast-type baked goods, like muffins or waffles. i haven’t tried this yet, but i’m planning to attempt substituting prune purée for oil in some future baking- i hope that goes well!

  11. That cookbook sounds like a vital one for my shelf. Lots of times I only put in half or 2/3 as much butter or oil in cookie recipes (haven’t experimented on other types of baking) and they turn out just fine. Once in awhile they’ll be a tiny bit too dry, but hardly ever. I don’t substitute anything else for the fat.

  12. I’ve tried using apple sauce to replace the oil when baking a cake. It turned out so well! I also use all organic ingredients when possible. Thanks for the giveaway!

  13. My mother just had open-heart surgery, so my entire family has up and changed their diet. Some have even come over to the vegan lifestyle! I have been trying to focus more on low-fat cooking. I’ve found that I can saute with just a spray of oil. With baking, I have substituted apple sauce for oil. Also, I have been loving using zucchini, banana, and beans as ideas for keeping baked goods moist!

  14. I do everything I can do healthify just about any recipe I make, especially baked goods. I cut the fat, reduce/replace the sugar, use whole grain flours, and make sure everything is FRESH!

  15. Your pictures are tantalizing as always..
    I do my best to make my baking healthier..I haven’t gone all the way to whole wheat flour but I try to work it in..
    I replace oil with apple sauce..
    try to use natural sweetners like dates and raisens instead of sugar..
    But I have to admit I have a long way to go..I still bake alot if unhealthy stuff too..
    one step at a time I guess

  16. I always bake vegan, and use wholewheat flour and unrefined sugar or agave syrup. I also reduce the amount of fat in a recipe by at least 1/3 – once you’re used to it that way, you don’t miss the extra fat.

  17. I love playing around with healthy fats—substituting peanut butter and avocado as oil/fat bases wherever possible–first inspired by a trip to Morocco that included the most amazing avocado smoothie ever tasted. I also have recently tried to eliminate my use of artificial sweeteners in daily life, turning to cinnamon and other natural flavors instead!

  18. Love cooking healthier. I find that most recipes have way too much sugar in them to begin with. I usually start out reducing the called for amount by 1/4 cup. No replacements, just reducing. If they need a bit more sweetness, then a few tablespoons of pureed dates or applesauce does the trick.

  19. Wow, that is quite a delicious-looking assortment of treats! The allure of baked goods, sweet or savory, is particularly difficult for me (a longtime carb-junkie) to resist. But if I simply must bake, I do try to give the goods a healthier spin than what their traditional counterparts offer. I avoid employing refined sugar while generally lessening the amount of added sweeteners, substitute some fats with applesauce, and replace portions of refined flours with whole grain ones (the partial-replacement method seems most effective in retaining desirable texture). I’ve begun to explore using sprouted grains as well, but that’s still a rather new route for me.

  20. I would love to win one of your beautiful cookbooks. I love to bake and try to make my recipes healthier by substituting all-purpose flour with whole wheat pastry flour. I also cut the fat by using 1/2 the butter/vegan buttery sticks and use applesauce or yogurt. I love using flaxseed or chia seed eggs. I also love to use pumpkin or blackbeans or white beans in cakes and brownies. They turn out moist and delicious and no one detects the difference.

  21. That bread looks amazing. I like to experiment with different whole grain flours to make my baked goods more nutritious.

  22. My favorite way to make baking healthier is to replace oil with applesauce. I think they always taste just as good like this!

  23. I know I’m usually pretty quiet around here, but this post has brought me out of hiding for sure! That cookbook sounds beyond addicting, and right up my alley. I bake almost exclusively with whole grain flours and am in the process of reducing the sugars in some of my favorite recipes – I replaced 100% of it with pureed dried figs in my banana bread, and it was the best bread I’ve ever tasted!

  24. You’ve sold me on the tomato bread. The photo looks beautiful. How do you get such a dark crust without over baking the bread? Bread baking is something I’d like to master because my husband and I can’t seem to find a healthy whole wheat bread anywhere. I have been a vegetarian for a long time. I make substitutions like silken tofu, chia seeds, applesauce, non=dairy milks, and a variety of grain flours for some of the APF.

  25. I use mashed banana and ground flax seeds to make baking healthier. (But! I don’t always want to make it healthier!!)

  26. To make sure I am eating healthier, I do not purchase any food with high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, aspartame, sucrose, etc. I make sure not to purchase anything too processed either.

    When it comes to my own baking and cooking, I sub applesauce for oil, divide the flour to incorporate whole wheat flour, almond meal, and flax seed meal, use nuts or fresh fruit instead of chocolate chips, use unsweetened almond milk instead of the usual sweetened kind… the list could go on! I am constantly finding new ways to make my baked goods and cooked foods healthier and heartier.

  27. Thanks for the chance to win! I try to make my baking a bit healthier by using a mix of whole wheat and all purpose flour and sometimes using agave instead of sugar.

  28. I try to make my baking healthy but cutting down on some of the sugar and using whole wheat flour instead of white flour. Also, instead of using processed vegan butter, I try to use oil or other oil substitutes where I can.

  29. That cookbook sounds amazing! I cut down on sugar by using bananas or applesauce, or agave if I can. I really don’t like using so much sugar – so many recipes seem to call for cups of it, and it just makes me ill. I try different flours if possible instead of bleached flour – I have boxes of flours sitting around, because I can’t stop the thrill of trying a new flour type.

  30. Hi there! I’m 15 and I’m the chef of the family. With a little brother who likes anything sweet I make, I now try and substitute the sugar in my baked goods with agave, maple syrup, or another natural sweetener. Still delicious :)

  31. Hannah, nice giveaway…the cookbook looks fantastic…and I am already in love with the bread.
    Have a wonderful week ahead :-)

  32. I make a healthy carrot cake with no oil, flour, sugar or dairy, instead carrots, nut meal, apple sauce, rehydrated prunes and their water, cinnamon and vanilla beans. Yet somehow it worked perfectly! I would love this cookbook, what terrific ideas!

  33. I’ve started experimenting with stevia instead of sugar, and cutting down my use of white flour. The stevia is interesting, I’ve hit on a few amazing recipes but I’ve also had just as many failures!

  34. I am all about vegan and veg wholesome options so this book sounds perfect for me! I LOVE the color on that tomato bread. It’s so vibrant!

  35. They all look tasty! I think my favorite though has to be the thumbprint cookies with ganache. mmmmmm. Chocolate trumps jam any day!
    My favorite healthy subs are whole wheat pastry flour for white flour & the addition of pureed foods for fat/moisture. Oh, and maple syrup mmmm :)
    Thanks for doing the giveaway!

  36. I have to admit that now that I’m currently in pastry school, my baking has not been particularly healthy. However when I do bake things to eat at home, I like to throw in some whole wheat or spelt flour, reduce the sugar, or add in some fruit to things like pancakes and quickbreads.

  37. These look so delicious, and I would love to get my hands on this cookbook! Sometimes my hobbies conflict a lot (exercise and being healthy, vs. making delicious food!), so i really try to alter recipes so that they are healthier. I love it when I am able to take a traditional recipe that “has” to have milk, eggs, butter, oil, etc. in it, and I make it taste even better when it’s vegan and low-fat. I just recently started a blog to document when I’m able to do this. If you get a chance, check it out and tell me what you think!

    And by the way, your food and pictures look amazing.. I hope to be able to come close to your level someday!


  38. I promise I was excited about the tomato bread, having grown up with a mum allergic to wheat and tomatoes, but then I say the peanut butter treats and forgot all about savoury food.

  39. Subbing oil with applesauce. My bf loves it when I do this with chocolate cake. :P He likes it a lot more than I do.

  40. I always sub applesauce for oil and I try to use white whole wheat to replace white flour. I also sub out eggs and use flax eggs instead. This cookbook looks great!

  41. Haha, I’m sure the cookies didn’t suffer in the slightest…they look incredible and I think you have stumbled onto something! Love the stunning color of that bread too…sounds like a great book!

    Thanks for the giveaway! I like to add Greek yogurt to my baked goods for a little protein punch. :)

  42. I’m always surprised by the diversity of the PB&J muffins out there, and these sound like some of the best I’ve seen. Recently I’ve been switching to using more local organic produce and making as much of my own food from scratch. Especially when it comes to bread and baked goods. That way I know exactly what’s going in it and the recipes I use have a lot less sugar, if any, than the premade products I could get at the store.

  43. Definitely have done the whole wheat flour and applesauce switch outs. And while it isn’t actually making the items any healthier, I try to make my baked goods in smaller portioned sizes. Instead of cake, I’ll make cupcakes. I have no qualms about cutting a bigger slice of cake, but I feel guilty going back for a second cupcake. Or I’ll make the cookies a bit smaller. So when I eat the normal 2 cookies, I get a few less calories without really thinking about it.

  44. Aside from vegan replacements, I always sub applesauce for oil in desserts, either all or part depending on the recipe. That bread looks delicious!

  45. I’ve been working with more natural sweeteners in some recipes as of late such as brown rice syrup and barley malt syrup. With the summer months producing a wide array of fruits, I plan to incorporate more fruit purees to substitute for eggs and oil in baking recipes. I just made your fresh strawberry frosting last week and added strawberry puree to a low-fat cupcake recipe that also called for applesauce. It had a very subtle strawberry taste and the frosting was amazing by the way. Finally, I want to experiment with more whole grain flours instead of using the traditional unbleached white flour since I am a strong proponent of whole grains. I need to work on my bread making skills; my bread products always turn out extremely dense and somewhat tough, especially when I used whole wheat flour. Do you know what may be causing this?

    1. Whole wheat is simply heavier than standard white or bread flour, so is naturally inclined to make tougher, denser baked goods. To get a lighter whole wheat loaf, your best bet is incorporate some mashed (cooked, smashed, unseasoned) potatoes in place of a bit of the liquid, and use a non-dairy milk to make up the rest. This should help to add tenderness.

      Don’t forget to double check your yeast and make sure that it’s at its full rising-potential, too. If you’re using old or half-dead yeast, then it won’t lift that crumb the way it should, and the bread will be doomed from the start.

      Hope that helps! :)


  46. The tomato bread looks amazing. The orangey color reminds me of Fall. I really don’t enjoy the Summer heat, but love the Summer veggies.

  47. I replace some flour with ground flax, sub in pumpkin or applesauce for part of the oil, and use brown rice and garbanzo bean flours!

  48. I give away anything I bake before I can eat it all up. It’s healthier for me, at least.

    Ok, seriously, I try to bake with recipes using a variety of sweeteners, fats, and flours–so it’s not always white sugar/canola oil/white flour. And I like to think of sweet baked goods as a complementary part of a whole dessert– a cake slice belongs under some seasonal fruit, a muffin is nice with yogurt, or a cookie goes with some sorbet and coffee/tea.

  49. I have been a fan of your site for sometime! This recipe sounds delicious and the tomatoes look amazing! Can’t wait to try this out! Thanks Hannah.

  50. Sounds like a great book! I have been substituting some or all white flour for whole wheat or oat flour lately. Oat flour seems to hold lots of moisture, so it can affect the density of the finished item, but I’ve been pretty happy with results most of the time.

  51. I like to go oil free if possible so I use applesauce or flax meal as substitutes. I also don’t really use frosting…I prefer fruit or dried fruit purees as “frosting”. Cheers!

  52. That cookbook sounds great! I replace oil with mashed banana or apple sauce, use flax/chia seed eggs, and replace half the APF with whole wheat. That’s as much replacing I feel I can get away with without negatively affecting the recipe.

  53. i try to always slip in some extra fiber with ground flax seeds and use a mixture of flours. i also love using apple sauce, especially when making baked oatmeal cakes for breakfast! i have been using a lot more stevia to sweeten baked goods lately too.

  54. I always reduce the fat in recipes, usually with applesauce! I also have begun replacing some of the sugar with Stevia, and it’s working really well.

  55. I love to bake and admit to going back and forth with healthy baking. Besides using vegan ingreadients, the healthiest thing I do is replace white flour with whole wheat. My kids love sweets but being able to adjust the sweetness and use healthier sweetners like maple syrup is a plus too.

  56. When I’m trying to make a recipe a little bit healthier I usually reduce the sugar and/or fat by a little. When I bake I usually don’t worry too much about it being ‘healthy’ or not but I do try to make things with fruit, nuts, oats, or flax so I don’t have to feel toooo bad about eating something delicious. I’ve also experimented with agave a little bit, as a low glycemic sweetening alternative to sugar…

  57. I almost always use white whole wheat flour now, cut back on the sugar, and sometimes sub part applesauce. trying other sweeteners has been fun too!

  58. I would love that cookbook just for the tomato bread! I am an unabashed bread addict and that loaf looks delicious!

    I’ve made my baking healthier through subbing oil for applesauce or even plain soy yogurt, reducing the sugar in sweets, and through using whole grain flours in place of white flour.

  59. I replace oil with plain greek yogurt, applesauce, fruit puree, or baby food! Also, I add espresso powder or coffee to chocolate desserts to enhance the chocolate flavor (sometimes reducing the need for added sugar!). I also like to add ground oats instead of flour, and use only egg whites instead of whole eggs.

  60. Love your blog, Hannah!
    I became a vegetarian at age 13 & have been a vegetarian for 41 (!) years. Though married to a carnivore, my husband & I raised wonderfully healthy kids who have been strict vegetarians since birth. I am always looking at ways to cook healthier and am known in my family for my cooking “surprises” (experiments). Though I have some great vegetarian brownie recipes (I also don’t eat eggs), it always bothered me that I couldn’t simply use a store-bought brownie mix. For most of my life, I’ve been trying to adapt a store-bought mix and make it vegetarian AND delicious AND have it look like normal brownies. You name it, I’ve tried it. Finally, last year I figured it out. Use any name-brand brownie mix, and simply add 1 can of pureed black beans (don’t drain) and 1/4-1/2 cup water. Of course, add nuts and dried fruit to the batter to make the brownies really gourmet. No eggs or oil are needed. Bake at 350-degrees until you can stick a knife in and it comes out clean. EVERYONE really loves these. I’ve tried this pureed black bean trick with other baking recipes, and have successfully made carrot cake and chocolate cake. It’s a simple way to add protein and fiber to desserts, and makes you feel not quite as guilty when indulging!
    Keep on Cooking!

  61. I generally cut down on the oil with applesauce or mashed bananas (bananas make everything better is my motto!)

  62. You’re the third person to rave about that book, so I’m becoming convinced I need it! I’ve started using nut butters alot, since my kids love making them at the store. I ended up with lots due to their enthusiasm, and we’ve discovered some great cookies that way.

  63. I replaced eggs with apple sauce or soy yogurt, I try to use organic ingredients as much as possible,non-aluminum baking powder,no artificial coloring (I use fruit and vegetable juice to color my icing or batter).

  64. I don’t really “substitute” ingredients, since with my luck the recipes don’t turn out too well, but I do have criteria when I am looking for recipes for desserts. I look for ones with no more than a couple tablespoons of added oil (if it calls for 3/4 cups of oil – I’m not making it!), only a reasonable amount of sugar or natural substitutes, and only whole grain flours. I’ve had the best luck with desserts centered around fruits.

  65. While in general I tend to be of the thinking that dessert is for splurging, I have been known to sneak some whole wheat pastry flour in and I love substituting bananas for eggs!

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