· Food & Recipes · Baking Recipes · How To Make “Skinny” Cakes, Cookies & Brownies!

How To Make “Skinny” Cakes, Cookies & Brownies!

fat substitutes

I used to see recipes for “skinny” cakes, cookies, and brownies and think….Yeah right! What’s the point of even EATING these delish baked goods if you’re simply going to “ruin” them with healthy stuff!? ;-) Well, I have swallowed my pride…eaten my words…changed my tune…turned over a new leaf…and any other cliche you can think of…because after trying a few substitutions of my own I’m a believer! You CAN have your lowfat cake and eat/enjoy it too!

While I haven’t tried ALL of these ideas…I have seen each of them in several different places on Pinterest and on different websites…so I feel good about presenting them as an option for your consideration.

Just keep THIS in mind as you peruse the following “skinny” offerings:

If a recipe calls for 1/2 cup butter and you substitute 1/4 cup applesauce for half of the butter, you’ll save 44 grams of fat and 400 calories! Enough said.

“Skinny” FAT Substitutions:

fat substitutes

To lighten up cakes and cupcakes, replace the fat with the same amount of light sour cream and natural applesauce. For example, if the box calls for 1/2 cup oil, replace it with 1/4 cup light sour cream and 1/4 cup applesauce. The cake is moist without being greasy and tastes great!

fat substitutes

Switch out half of the butter in a cookie recipe for mashed avocado. This simple change will reduce fat content by 40% and cut the number of calories by nearly as much. You’ll still get the creaminess of butter and the fatty taste, but this substitution knocks out some of the “bad for you” saturated fat in favor of the “good for you” monounsaturated kind.

fat substitutes

A substitution for oil or shortening: If you are substituting OIL, smash up canned (or cooked) beans and add enough of the bean juice to make it liquidy (not quite as runny as the oil, but a little more than mashed beans). If you are substituting for SHORTENING, mash the beans up without the bean juice. When measuring, the ratio is 1:1 (1 teaspoon of oil to 1 teaspoon of liquidy beans, OR 1 cup shortening to 1 cup mashed beans). If you are baking brownies, use black beans, if you are making banana bread or zucchini bread, use pinto beans. The basic rule is to use whatever colored bean would match your end product.

fat substitutes

Combine 1 boxed cake mix, 1 cup plain greek yogurt and 1 cup water. Mix together and bake according to directions on the cake mix box. Works best with Devil’s Food Cake mix, but experiment! The texture is similar to a cross between a cake and a brownie. Use a 9 x 9 inch pan for a thicker cake.  Makes 12 servings at approximately 180 calories each.

fat substitutes

Diet Soda Pop Cake and Cupcakes

There are a few different variations out there of this idea…the two most common being:

  • 1 box Yellow Cake Mix & 1 (12 oz.) can Diet 7-Up (or Diet Sprite)
  • 1 box Chocolate Cake Mix & 1 (12 oz.) can Diet Coke (or Diet Cherry Coke)

Mix together the soda and cake mix until smooth. Leave out the butter/oil/eggs if the mix calls for it. Mix ONLY the cake mix and can of soda pop. Bake according to directions on the box. Test with a toothpick to ensure that the cake is cooked in the center.  Makes 12 servings at approximately 171 calories each.

fat substitutes

Diet Coke Brownies

  • 1 box fudge brownie mix
  • 1 (12 oz.) can Diet Coke

Mix together the soda and cake mix until smooth. Leave out the butter/oil/eggs if the mix calls for it. Mix ONLY the cake mix and can of soda pop. Bake according to directions on the box. Test with a toothpick to ensure that the cake is cooked in the center. Each brownie is approximately 105 calories.

fat substitutes

Lemon Cool Whip Cookies

  • 8 oz. container of Cool Whip
  • 1 boxed Lemon cake mix
  • Juice of one lemon

Mix together the lemon cake mix and Cool Whip (you could also use Lite or Fat Free). Squeeze in the juice of one lemon. Spoon onto greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 10 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. Optional: Mix lemon juice and powdered sugar to make a glaze. Drizzle over cookies while still warm. (OK, that part’s not so “skinny”, but it sure sounds good!)

What are YOUR favorite “skinny” cake, cookie, & brownie substitutions?

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Food & Recipes

  • I just made a doctored up chocolate cake light that was absolutely delicious.

    1 bc triple chocolate fudge box cake mix
    1 hass avocado
    4 eggs
    8 oz vanilla Greek yogurt
    1/2 cup of brewed coffee still hot.
    1 cup of semi sweet chocolate chips
    1 cup of melted extra virgin coconut oil

    Mix avocado with Greek yogurt and beat till smooth. Add coconut oil. Then add cake mix.
    Add eggs 1 at a time making sure it’s fully incorporated.do not over beat. Add hot coffee. Once all is mixed. Fold in chips. Super moist. I made them into cupcakes and cooked them for about 15 min

  • Here’s my go to “SOMEWHAT HEALTHIER VERSION” of cake. I use a white cake mix and substitute ALL the oil with unsweetened apple sauce (I add about 1/4 c. more than what the oil amount is). I use only the egg whites plus one extra egg white. I use the amount of water that is recommended. Mix and bake it. Now the baking time is around 17 to 23 minutes (at least in my oven, so watch it carefully after about 17 minutes). To dress this cake up, (after it’s completely cooled) I DO NOT use frosting. I get an envelope of sugar free, fat free jello. I mix it with 1 and 1/2 c. HOT water and then pour it over the cake and put it in the fridge for an hour or so. Once the cake is chilled, I top it with sugar free cool whip! You can use any flavor of jello but I normally use strawberry. It tastes like strawberry shortcake. It is moist and yummy! My family loves this! We have also substituted the oil and eggs in a chocolate cake with a can of pumpkin. It did make the cake more dense and brownie like but I couldn’t tell a difference in taste and it was VERY moist! That is a great substitute!

  • […] One Good Thing by Jillee is the marvelous namesake blog of a woman who is exceedingly creative and thoughtful and consistently gives us readers masses of useful ideas that we can use every day in the operation of our homes and lives. Want to consider making your own detergents and skin treatments? Find out how to do DIY projects to make and fix things all around the house and garden? Learn a new recipe or two? Our Ms. Jill is here to help. More than anything, her posts always get me thinking up further ways to make, do and use all of the delightful things she’s introducing, and how to tweak the things that I like but can’t use as-is–say, one of the lovely creams and potions she likes to make with lavender essence, which I agree smells nice, but I’m sensitive to it and can’t be around it for long. Even though this excellent blogger rightly touts the various medicinal qualities, aromatherapeutic uses and topical applications the fabled lavender blossom can offer, none of it’s right for me when I can’t tolerate any kind of significant presence of the stuff, so I have to use these posts as inspiration, a jumping-off point, rather than as carved in stone. I know when I arrive to read her posts that I may or may not find what she presents entirely applicable to my situation or taste every time even if it were practically infallible, nor does she ever claim such a thing. […]

  • I agree with Stefanie. These are only suggestions ! I appreciate all that Jillee has posted and I really enjoy reading the posts. If they don’t apply to me in any way or form , I just wait for the next one ! Thank You Jillee !! Keep ’em comin !

  • I think one thing that may have gotten lost in the comments is that aspartame is a chemical and many chemicals are created or changed into other forms by heat. Even if aspartame is safe, it could change with the heat of baking. I have no proof but it worries me. I don’t actually know if artificial sweeteners are safe but I am trying to reduce the amount of chemicals in my life. So many things in our modern lives are artificial and despite modern medicine, we are less healthy than we used to be. With modern surgery and medicines we should be getting more healthy but we aren’t.

    I think the environment is to blame. That doesnt just mean the great outdoors and the world as a whole but the space each of us lives in on a daily basis. We can’t control a lot of what contaminates our world. But I can control some things like not putting plastic in the microwave, using natural cleaners, avoiding super processed foods, recycling/reusing every last scrap I can and using the least amount of dry cleaning possible. Also making sure that I don’t put expired medication in the garbage or toilet/water system. I have two autoimmune diseases as well as fibromyalgia, I have a child with ADD and another with autism. I pray my baby is ok. While awareness accounts for some of the increase in these diseases being diagnosed, surely our ruining the earth has a lot to do with it our bodies being messed up in so many ways. Very few diseases are on the decline. Some are increasing exponentially.

    No one can tell me that using less chemicals is a bad thing. That’s what I’m trying to live and it sure can’t be a bad thing! So keep that in mind everytime you grab a diet soda, any soda for that matter or other highly processed foods containing other ingredients and chemicals that stabilize them that are bad for you.

  • As with everything, the truth of aspartame is somewhere in between “cancer-causing, brain-eating poison” and “wonder-sweetener that will make you thin and pretty.”

    Really, truly, hundreds of peer-reviewed, genuine, non-company sponsored studies in tens of countries have found aspartame to be a safe product. See http://extension.umd.edu/publications/pdfs/fs842.pdf . If you dismiss this overwhelming amount of data, at least have the good grace to acknowledge that you’re dismissing the diligent work of hundreds and hundreds of scientists, at least a few of whom are likely more knowledgeable about this stuff than you are and are equally as invested in discovering the truth.

    Of course, that doesn’t mean that drinking diet (or any) soda is particularly good for you, either. Diet Coke will never be mistaken for wheat grass juice; it’s a frankenfood that only barely resembles actual nutrition, and to me it tastes like dishwashing liquid. Don’t ask how I know that.

    But using aspartame really is not the same thing as breathing radiation or sprinkling cyanide on your pancakes. It’s actually a hell of a lot safer than, say, getting into your car for a drive or using an unsecured ladder to do some outside paint work. Suggesting otherwise is fear-mongering of the worst sort, and it does about as much good as any type of fear-based doctrine — it works for about a day, and then when the fear wears off, so does the “lesson.” It’s a whole lot better to inform with as much data as we currently have, without hype or the added input of a “personal experience” akin to “I drank a Diet Coke and the next day my cat died…so I’m pretty sure it was the Diet Coke that killed her. It will totally kill your cat too.” Personal experience is just that – personal – and sharing your experience is fine, but don’t make bizarre leaps of logic that benefit no one and just muddy the discussion.

  • Wow, Jillee, surprising firestorm! I love reading your tips,hints and recipes and I really appreciate all the time it takes you to do them – thank you!!! I am amazed at the passion some folks have about what other folks eat. I’ll eat what I want and you can eat what you want…I’ll not force my preferences on you and I don’t want you forcing your preferences on me. I’ll pay my doctor bills, you pay yours…all the verbiage makes me want to have a diet Pepsi or some sweet tea with store-brand Spenda! It will go well with my yummy white dinner rolls and butter I had for dinner (and that’s all I had!) :)

    • That’s all fine and dandy if you live in a country where everyone pays their own health care bills. But what about people on Medicare, get some sort of government assistance for health care or even more so, in countries where health care is a social service. So what my neighbor does with his or her health affects my taxes!! Unfortunately that still doesn’t mean I get to decide what they do. But fortunately, they don’t get to decide for me either. But I still get to voice my opinion!

  • To be fair to Jillee, she didn’t exactly say “healthy”. She said “skinny”. The only place she even implied “healthy” was the 2nd and 3rd sentence of the 1st paragraph, and even there, she didn’t exactly say the subs she offered were healthy ones. She went right back to saying the subs were “lowfat” subs.

    I agree with about everything else you’re saying, and you do have research to back it up. But, so many of you all jumped out to attack without even hearing what was being said that you were attacking. Sure, you’re absolutely entitled to your opinion and absolutely entitled to post it. Me, too.

  • “Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.”
    — Plato

    Jill, Thanks for having something to say that I feel is WISE!

  • I’m surprised at the anger in some of these comments. If I were this angry about a post, I simply wouldn’t apply it to my lifestyle. Jill isn’t trying to change any the opinions you already have. In my humble opinion, she’s providing options. You can take them or leave them but there’s no need to be so angry about it. My goodness, where are the manners?

  • Before I had to go gluten free, my favorite was a spice cake mix and a small can of pumpkin. That’s it. It makes the best pumpkin muffins!!! I liked to top it with a sprinkle of brown sugar before baking. Now I just need to come up with a gf version :)

  • For those who are bashing the soda thoughts, try looking for a soda called Waist? or Weight Watchers *forgets which W it is*. Instead of being made with aspertame, its made with splenda which is sucrolose. Still diet but not as bad for you.

  • AMEN Mary C!!!!

    I love your posts. I subscribe in 2 different places to be sure I don’t miss them. Keep up the good work.

    For the rest of the haters… Those were suggestions… Not demands. Get off your soap box and stop trying to shove your views down everyone’s throat! Sheesh!

  • Goodness, I have never commented in the year or more that I have read Jillee’s posts but I just HAD to do this after reading most of the comments about the diet soda thing. First of all, I drink at least 2-3 cans a day and love every minute of every sip! Yum! I am 50yrs old and ran a 10 mile race last October-um, it would be interesting to hear how active the non-diet soda drinkers are. Oh yeah, that marathon I ran and the 3.1 mile race in a 7:17 minute. Hmmmm, talk is cheap. Health is not just micro-managing your food, it is a lifestyle, some of it is perhaps more balanced than others but to read some of the righteous comments about the post is seriously ridiculous. So CHEERS to diet Pepsi and diet Coke and my favorite…..Fresca! You go Jillee and may the feedback be constructive and not destructive. Love you!

  • Jillee,

    You have a great blog and an awesome talent.

    I wonder if all the “diet pop” haters above spent this much time and energy on putting the blame where it belongs maybe they could get things changed??

    Continue on with your great ideas!! Hopefully most of your audience is smart enough to think for themselves and if they think something is harmful (in their opinion) they won’t utilize that idea.

    I don’t usually drink any pop diet or otherwise but ol Crystin up there makes me want to buy a few cases of diet pop and drink them up..LOL

    Hang in there..haters gonna hate, too bad they do it on someone eles dime.

  • Hey Jillee,

    Just wanted to tell you that I, for one, love you and still consider you my BBF (best blogger friend) for all of the wonderful, proven tips and tricks you have provided, making my life easier, healthier and my skin prettier! No, I don’t always agree with or am able to use all of your ideas, but those are very few and far between. There is usually at least one gem in every post you put out there. I can’t imagine the time and creativity it takes to write such an amazing blog and while it is hard to believe, there will always be someone who doesn’t agree with or doesn’t like your thoughts or opinions and will be more than happy to let you and everyone else know. It happens on every blog and the funny thing is, those people always come across looking worse than the blogger, so rest assured, you are coming out unscathed in all of this. You aren’t a doctor, a nutritionist, a scientist, a chemist, etc., nor do you claim to be, and I know that, so I use my own judgement for what food items I choose to eat and not eat. It’s all about personal choice and the right to choose. I love all the ideas you put out there that I can pick and choose from to incorporate into my life. Thank you so much for your hard work, great ideas and helpful tips and tricks presented in a great reading format with humor and enthusiasm. Please don’t ever stop!

  • yummmmmy, enjoying my nice cold fountain diet coke as i write this! jillee you are absoulutely my hero and idol and i hope you go away from this knowing that you still have fans who love to read the things you post.

  • Oh my goodness, Jillee! I got so caught up in reading all the responses I forgot what was in the original post! It appears to be a learning experience for folks on both sides of the fence. Thank you for all your research and for unwittingly lighting a fire in some to share interesting and helpful information as well. I absolutely love your blog!

  • I’m an adult and seem to have an annoying habit called “thinking for myself”. I read several blogs daily and find many useful tips and new ideas that I like. I also see things I don’t agree with. I read Jillee every day. Some of her post I like….others, not something I would do.

    The reader comments also have good opinions and ideas…….if they are posted ONCE. I will read your comment then “think for myself” and decide if I agree with your view or want to try it.

    Crystin, don’t keep replying to every post and trying to force your views on others!!! It makes you look like an obsessed, raving idiot. If you are so intent on forcing your views on others, write your own blog and make it easier for others to read, agree, disagree, ignore, avoid, or delete you!!

    State you view ONCE and move on!!….(unless it’s YOUR blog….then you can rant all day!!)

    I would be willing to bet I eat healthier than anyone who’s read this blog and I do allow myself an occasional indulgence!

    Keep up the great blog, Jillee!!

    I must stop now, as I’ve spilled diet Coke on my computer and the keys are sticking!!

  • Jillee, I just started a few weeks ago looking at your web site. I was searching the web for home made laundry detergent and came across your web site. What kept me interested was your wonderful since of humor! You are a funny girl! A great way to start my day. I also never knew you could make a cake with soda pop. You learn something everyday. For you all who want to learn how to cook healthier, check out this great web site. http://gnowfglins.com/.



  • Great ideas. I do not use packaged mixes, so most of the ideas are out. But I have found that I can sub half the fat (oil, butter, etc) with plain or vanilla yogurt in quick bread and cake recipes. They actually come out moister and no one even noticed.

  • Jillee,
    Thank you for your amazing blog! It has inspired me and is something I look forward to reading every day!
    My sister recently made brownies and substituted black beans. SO GOOD! I ate one without knowing the ingredients, and then she told me- big surprise! But so fudgy and rich!

  • It is far more important to avoid harmful, unnatural, poisonous, chemically based ingredients than it is to count calories. Plain and simple.

    Who cares if you reduce the calories of a cake, so that you can shove more of it into your mouth…..when by doing so you are in fact consuming chemicals and poisons. What good was accomplished???

    That’s the entire point behind most of the comments I am reading that state anything negative about the post. It is simply misleading to present counting calories and replacing natural calories with harmful chemicals as healthy. There are some decent ideas in this post, and in many posts that Jillee puts up.

    Nobody said she was horrible or that we don’t enjoy her posts.

    All that anyone has said is that people should think twice before reducing the calories of something by adding harmful chemicals to it. Simple as that.

    Here is an idea, how about everyone just enjoy ONE small slice of cake made with sugar and butter, and stop worrying about how we can reduce the calories so that instead a person can eat 3 slices instead of one.

    How about we just eat sweets every now and then, instead of adding harmful chemicals to our sweets so that we feel as if we can sit down and consume an entire cake and not feel like a glutton.

    How about we just make smart food choices, enjoy the things that aren’t so great for our body in moderation, consume the natural foods that do our body good, and stop trying to skinny everything up so that we can be far more unhealthy, yet not look it.

    How about we care about our bodies and our health and living a long, quality life instead of about the scale and the numbers and how we appear to others?

  • Denise: Fibromyalgia is not auto-immune. No inflammation of any kind exists in it. That was a theory of its cause years ago that was debunked by research, but it seems has to taken hold out there. I even know medical personnel who believe it, but it was disproven long ago.

  • I wonder if you could use carbonated or seltzer water they sell that in cans at the store too. if you are adding it to a store bought cake mix you really don’t need the sweet flavor of a diet soda. that way you get the moisture and maybe the lift of a diet soda with out the chemical sweeteners? Sorry that people got nasty on you Jillee. there really is no call for that. you put tips out there and people can choose to try them or not. I have done the applesauce thing in place of butter for years. I do a full substitution if it calls for 1 cup of butter I use 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce. the cookies stay soft like softbatch cookies from the store. keep coming with the tips we love them. :)

    • Nobody is “hating” or “judging”. All I see is educated people sharing what they know to be true, and warning against believing what was presented in this post as truth. That’s in no way judgmental.

      • Crystin why don’t you start your own Blog!?! I believe just about everything that you have stated on here yesterday and today but am sick and tired of your preaching. I won’t ever use the “skinny cake” recipe but applaud Jillee for putting her message out there for all that want to use it.

        Lighten up and I don’t mean by losing weight!!

  • ya know what, you guys are crazy who are saying its better to eat butter, real milk and lots of calories all the time because that will make you put on weight!! I work for a bakery and the people who do not watch their weight and eat real sugar and butter all the time are calling in like crazy ordering too much fattening cookies and brownies!! They need to watch their weight, a diet soda won’t kill you all the time!! I think all the sugar and calories give them ADD or something because they can’t think clearly and can barely think to let me take their order!!!!!!!A few sugar alternatives or a diet coke once in awhile clearly might be a good thing. !! And, if I want to drink a diet coke once in awhile what is wrong with that? I am happy, healthy and don’t have any problems!!

    • It is better to eat a SMALL amount of butter and sugar than it is to consume poisons and chemicals. If people are gaining weight because of the sweets they eat, then they are eating far too many sweets! They should learn a thing or two about moderation. Sweets aren’t meant to be eaten in large amounts. A cookie or brownie made with real butter and sugar eaten once a month or so won’t cause someone to gain weight. A diet soda, however, has chemicals and poisons that directly cause harm to a body, no matter what quantity they are consumed in. That’s the entire point of saying that butter and sugar are better.

      Of course if someone eats sweets like a pig…they will gain weight. If you eat ANYthing like a pig (even “diet” foods), you will gain weight.

  • Hello, I know you all are talking about food for people, however I have to say watch what you give your pets. For instance, I have parrots. They cannot eat avocado as it is poison to them. Diet foods with the chemicals can also hurt out dogs and cats. Some people give their pets table scrapes, so they are eating the bad stuff too. We cook for our animals because even pet food has horrible chemicals in them. Our dog gets a small steak every night. It’s actually better for him and is really less expensive than dog food. Our birds get fresh veggies and pasta, and fruits. Things birds can’t eat include, Avocado, chocolate, coffee, nutmeg, cinnamon, eggplant to name a few. I know I will probably get yelled at for bringing this to people’s attention but our pets are our family too. Respectfully, Jan

  • Dear trolls,
    If you don’t like it, stop reading it.
    don’t let the soda nazis get to you. The rest of us appreciate you more than you’ll ever know. Keep your head up.

  • Jillee, I love your blogs. I look forward to your e-mail every day – the only one I truly read from start to finish – the rest? Maybe the subject line and keep on skimming through; I am so discouraged in reading online opinions and remarks to any article on today’s web due to comments such as those above. If I see something in your blog that I may not like or have a question about it, I do my research. Or, do not use if I do not care for the item. So, thank you thank you thank you for your blog and know you are doing a great service to those of us who do appreciate it. Have a wonderful day and keep on blogging!

  • As has been said by wise people everywhere for generations, ‘everything in moderation.’ So, if every once in a while we fix a ‘skinny’ cake for our families, I believe everyone will be okay. Their health will not be so seriously harmed that they can expect cancer next week! I will, however, say this: there is great discussion among medical professionals that ALL artificial sweeteners are connected to the rising incidents of auto-immune disorders in the United States, such as Lupus, Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid and Psoriatic arthritises, to name a few. Stevia is not included in this because it comes from the stevia plant. I personally do NOT care for Stevia, as it tastes really bitter to me. Again, if we’re feeding our families ‘skinny’ cake every day for a year, we might need to question our ability to make changes in the menu, and try ‘everything in moderation!’ Just my thoughts….

  • I added 1c strawberry greek yogurt and 1c water to a strawberry cake mix, baked as directed in a bundt pan… after it coolded completely, I iced with lite whipped cream and decorated with sliced strawberries. I served this for my Dad’s birthday and it was a hit! Very moist and yummy, but not too rich.

  • Hi Jilee,
    I just HAD to give you a pat on the back for all the hard work that you do. I can only imagine the time it takes to put together all the cool stuff you share! Don’t listen to these supposed Dudly Do Rights, that are clearly here to stir the pot for their own glory…if that’s what they think they are getting from it. I agree with previous posts, they are welcome to put in all this hard work, and start their own “I’m perfect, and only eat completely perfect food” blog to share their rants with anyone who shares their opinion. Anyone with a little common sense knows this is not a claim of “health food”. People should be thankful, not fussy! Love you bunches and keep up the hard work, I personally use TONS of your suggestion in my home, and I’m a healthy happy woman:) HUGS to ya!
    Leah Walker

    • The “claim” that Snopes article debunks has not been made by any scientifically valid authority. No one here has claimed that any of these products has been “proven” to cause anything. However, the anecdotal evidence is strong, and backed up by the life experience of many people who have no reason to lie (including me). The human body is extremely complex, and influenced by many factors. Why does one person react to peanuts, for instance, and a sibling doesn’t? I think a reasonable contention is that these products are, as noted above, a giant public heath experiment. One can participate or not. I choose not to participate, but I am concerned for the people who are unaware that they are the subjects of a massive public health experiment. One of every 88 births in this country is now an autistic child, yet when I was a young woman, autism was literally unheard of. Why is this happening?

      Raising these questions, challenging the assumption that these products are safe, does not make me a troll. Nor does it imply judgement or criticism of Jillie or anyone else. Rather, I offer information so that you are empowered to choose for yourselves how you nourish yourself and your family. If you don’t know, you can’t choose.

      • Many medical definitions are dynamic; they are constantly changing. Mental disorders are a fantastic example of this as is autism spectrum disorders. The definition of autism spectrum disorders has changed greatly not just in the years from when you were a young woman but even in recent years. Case in point: some believe that Asperger syndrome is just high-functioning austism and some argue that it is an unrelated condition. Now, while I admit that the changing definitions are probably not the only reasons why autism diagnoses have risen, these are huge contributing factors. Medical research has hardly scratched the surface and/or solidified on many of whats and whys and hows. You cannot rightly say it is a “massive pubic health experiment” when the knowledge and technology to discover, classify, or treat simply didn’t exist to the extent that they do now.

        If a person uses that logic, s/he can apply it something like say space exploration. “In 1995, there was only one planet known orbiting around a star similar to our Sun. Now, eighteen years later, they’ve found almost 200 such planets. It’s a conspiracy! Shenanigans are a-foot.”

  • All of the diet soda naysayers need to read up on the latest research. Here is a link you might want to read from the American Cancer Society that states there is no proof diet soda/aaspartame/artificial sweeteners cause cancer, Here’s the link: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/othercarcinogens/athome/aspartame

    I wish people wouldn’t get so worked up about what they believe. It’s okay, you can believe what you want to, but don’t try to bully others into jumping on your bandwagon.

    Jill, I love your blog, please don’t let this silliness get you down. You do a great job and always have lots of useful information. Some of those recipe substitutes I didn’t know about and I do believe I’ll try some of them.

    • Lol. The American Cancer Society….good, reliable source. Ha! And I haven’t seen any bullying…..if sharing your own personal opinion is bullying, then Jillee is bullying for posting the post in the first place and you are bullying for posting your opinion on the “safety” of diet soda. Utterly ridiculous. No one has been bullied. People just don’t like to be disagreed with or proven wrong.

      • This girl will argue until she’s blue in the face. Let others have their opinion even if you think they’re wrong! Jillee is free to write about whatever she wants just as you are free to bring up your opinions on the subject. Just PLEASE be more respectful to others! You’re starting to come off as crazy haha.

      • I didn’t realize I had been disrespectful. I also didn’t realize that by disagreeing with an opinion, I was somehow “not letting” someone have it.

      • If you have such disrespect for the American Cancer Society, put two words in any search engine: aspartame cancer. The American Cancer Society is not the only group/organization/professionals that state the truth about aspartame and cancer. This is a fairly recent research discovery which replaces the old research claims that aspartame causes cancer. It’s wise to keep up with current research if you’re going to bash any scientific discovery/research. Please, do the search, and then come back and let me know if you still stand by your word.

        And by the way, regular meditation calms the soul and relieves stress. You should try it.

      • Studies are not necessarily valid unless the experiments which produced the data and the conclusions of the researchers are reviewed by independent scientists. This is a process called “peer review” which has been considered the gold standard for scientific integrity forever. One of the criteria is that the experiment and the data it produces must be reproducible by independent scientists, and produce the same data.

        In addition, many “studies” have been produced by corrupt people and organizations which have never been peer reviewed and are, to say the least, of questionable integrity. (This started with the tobacco wars of the ’70s, and is a very lucrative business for failed scientists who have academic credentials but have been found to falsify study data and been run out of the field.) Others are simply published by corporate sponsored organizations based on absolutely nothing but their desire to continue getting paid. (Google Heartland Institute)

        Bottom line: If it is not a peer reviewed study, follow the money. Find out who is getting paid, by whom, and then use your own common sense. Most of these “studies” are just marketing ploys.

      • I regularly practice meditation and yoga, and am a very calm person. :)

        I do realize that many “studies” have claimed to dis-proven the theory that aspartame causes cancer. If you look on the internet you can find a study to back up even the most ludicrous ideas. Regardless of any studies, it doesn’t take much more than common sense to know that chemicals, hormones, and anything unnatural isn’t as good for us as natural things. Do I think someone will die from drinking a diet soda…nope. Do I think it’s ridiculous to “skinny” something up with chemicals just so that one can be a glutton, instead of eating a reasonable portion of the more caloric heavy natural version….you bet. Again, it doesn’t take much more than common sense….

      • And this comment in addition to all of your others is case in point for the above comment. People, especially YOU it seems, do not like to be disagreed with or proven wrong. :-) It’s ok, we all understand, Aspertame…. BAD!!!!! Crystin knows all and will inform all of us how stupid we all are. Thank you.

  • If diet drinks are so bad, then I should have all the ills – I’ve been drinking it daily since it first appeared nearly 50 years ago. I’ve never had cancer or any ill effects from any of it. I bought a SodaStream and make my own now, and I love it. I’m over 70, have a diabetic husband, and he uses both saccharin and Splenda, I cook with Splenda for both of us, and I’m not about to deny either of us something sweet because of a few incorrect rumors. Some people can be sensitive to most anything, but for the general public, these items are very safe when used as directed. Oh, and I am a registered nurse with extra emphasis in nutrition education, including having diabetic teaching credentials.

    • Just because something doesn’t happen to harm one person, doesn’t mean that it isn’t harmful. “Rumors” is definitely not a correct description for the research and studies showing the direct harmful affects of aspartame. “Deny” shows the very essence of the problem with our diets as a nation. It’s not “denying” ourselves to refrain from eating what directly harms our body, and to instead eat what is natural and helpful to our bodies. That’s not “denying”. That’s valuing our health and our life and choosing to try to contribute to the length and quality of it, instead of contributing to the detriment of it. If you consider not having diet soda “denying” yourself of something, then you should probably consider the possibility that you are addicted to it. It should really be no big deal to give up something that has been shown by far more than just “rumors” to be directly harmful to the human body. You, of course, are free to eat and drink what you choose….but to comment on the “safety” of these harmful items and to use your nursing degree as backup for your opinion is preposterous.

      • It’s totally true that just because someone does something and doesn’t suffer ill effects doesn’t make it safe. I survived while riding in a car in a car bed. Not strapped in, just lying in the back seat. Doesn’t mean it was safe. Many children died from being ejected during a car accident. i was lucky. Lots of people drive drunk and make it home just fine. Doesn’t make it safe. Lots of poeole smoke, eat a lb of bacon everyday and live to be 85 with no cancer, heart disease or emphysema. Doesnt mean everyone can get away with it. Get it? Just because someone chugs aspartame or other sweeteners doesn’t mean there are no health risks.

  • I don’t know that anyone is attacking Jillee (ok, maybe one or two). Jillee should feel free to post alternatives but commenters are equally free to list why these may or may not be good ideas. She shouldn’t be told not to list them and commenters shouldn’t be told not to voice their opinions either. Only a couple people said Jillee shouldn’t actually post these or that her posting them is akin to promoting them. Everything in moderation people.

  • Great Scott! Haha look, ladies, nobody is going to believe that CAKE AND SODA are healthy. There is nothing in this post that is misleading, just delicious. As far as cake goes, these are just the low calorie versions. It is a great idea, and a creative one. My roommates would make soda cakes last year. Very enjoyable.

  • Holy crap people!!! Leave Jillee alone!!! This is a blog! You read it at your own free will. Nobody makes you. If you don’t agree with what you read, stop reading and find something else. Stop the attacks, and go get a life. Jillee is helping with tons of tips and hints to make life easier. If you do not agree then DO NOT FOLLOW the advice given. Simple people.

    Jillee you are doing a great job, keep up the great job and don’t let a few pot stirrers ruin your momentum. Thank you for all you do to help my household run smoothly.

  • Love your blog! Thanks for the great tips, I just found out my soon to be 1 year old is allergic to eggs! I will be trying out the cake mix and greek yogurt combo for his birthday!

  • I cannot believe that just by sharing alternatives it appears to others that you are promoting. I subscribe to only 2 blogs and this is the only blog that I get daily. I feel that your blog gives me helpful hints and IDEAS of alternative uses for products I may or may not use. I am not being FORCED to use any idea, hint or alternative on this site. It saddens me to read through here & see that instead of making your own blogs you need to hop in and critique another person who is just trying to give an alternative that is all over the internet already. I guess that is the joy of the freedom to speak.
    Jillee thank you for your daily hints, ideas, and everything else you post about.

    • AMEN, Misty! I didn’t realize there were so many “preachers” out there. It never ceases to amaze me that some people must CRAM their opinions down the throats of others. Blogs are for the opinions and thoughts of the writer. If you don’t agree with their opinions and thoughts then that Blog is not necessarily for you. Go do your research and find a Blog that is geared more to your opinions and thoughts and join them.

      THANKS, Jillee, for all the WONDERFUL WORK that you do to give all of us ideas and alternatives.

      • Ame Sharon! I have not read such wretched comments online since 2004 presidential election!

        To the Negative Nellies,
        Diet soda drinkers are just that… diet soda drinkers, they have heard the risks & still drink it so who gives a crap if they want to make a cake with it! I subscribe to 10 or 12 different blogs and Jillee is by far, more concerned for our welfare than any other. If you guys need somewhere to preach it to write your stinking congressman. Jillee is not in charge of the FDA. You all preach about aspartame but probably eat chicken, beef and pork fattened with hormones. Or maybe bleached flour! Good greif! Grow up, you whine like the baby goats I bottle feed and the teens I teach at school.

        Thanks for being awesome! I have made a lot of great changes since I found your blog.

  • I must comment – years ago I saw a recipe for Avocado Pie. Hmm, sounded interesting. It tasted like newmown grass. I would be VERY tentative about trying avocado in place of butter. Just saying.

  • I just wanted to say that I love your website! In the past year I went from 196lbs to 130lbs. I worked very hard for it. I exercised everyday. For the “diet” all I did was portion control. In my house I do not serve dessert everyday. My two beautiful stepsons come to my house and after dinner they always say “whats for dessert?” I say your vegtables that you just ate. I only bake once a month. But I never deny myself anything. And I make everything from sctatch. Part of me losing my weight started with your website. I started with the homeade laundry cleaner. And I went crazy after that. Instead of buying prodcuts I started making products. Which lead me to not buying processed food. As for sodas I allow myself one a day. Usually with dinner. But first I drink a cup of water. I just wanted to thank you for your blog and you inspire me to do more with myself.

  • I have tried to make healthy switches in my families diet, the most noteworthy is deleting hydrogenated oils and butters, but when it came to substituting alternatives in things I cooked I hit many road blocks! For starters so many info is out there that it is hard to process what’s better for you, the other is the resistance to try new things with a family full of children under twelve! But by far the largest issue is the expense of eating better! Our country is constantly pointing out our obesity issues but it seems like better substitutes come at a price! Not only am I not a stay at home mom with the time to make a lot of things from scratch but I also cut my families income in half by returning to school.. I love your blog because a lot of the ideas are amazingly quick and fairly easy , also cheap which helps drastically with the income change, but mostly I have made changes in cleaning products because of the benefits as well as the ease of these switches but unfortunately the diet aspect, well I’m just one frustrated mom when it comes to these changes!

    • Kristy, I share your challenges with regard to expense of healthier, organic items. I grew up in the midwest on some land. Every spring my Dad planned a huge vegetable and fruit garden, and we all pitched in planting, weeding, picking, and “putting up” everything we grew. All fall and winter we would just go to our freezer or canning cupboard and choose what veggie or fruit we wanted for that meal. It was wonderful, the cost minimal, and the result was pride and great nutrition. Now I live in a subdivision in Texas, where we are frequently in drought and our backyard is little. We have no Whole Foods store, and everything organic is in its own little section of the mega-grocery store with a much higher price tag! Furthermore, I married a man who grew up on junk food and still craves it…so it’s pretty much always in the house and the kids (mine are also under 12) desire it. Like you I have, because of Jillee’s wonderful “GOOD THINGS”, recently started making homemade cleaners, hand soap, and other items. I hope to gradually make changes in the area of healthier shopping (my husband buys the groceries!) and cooking, so as to switch my family over, even if a little more costly. In the end, greater health and longer life are priceless! Thank you, Jillee, for your inspiring blog, the wealth of information, and your positive outlook. You are my FAVORITE blog to read each morning! Blessings, Sadie

    • Kristy,
      I understand all too well about trying to make changes. I have just recently started to make my own detergents and stuff. I would love to change our eating habits also but I was thinking the other day that it is cheaper to eat the stuff that is bad for you. I like many others in this country live on not a lot of money. Disability doesn’t give you a lot of money to pay bills and buy groceries. I love reading Jillee’s blog I just need to find others with ideas on how to make 200 a month feed a family of 5. I know a lot of things are bad for us and back in the70’s and 80’s when I was growing up, people were not as fat (I have always been over weight) but now I fit in just fine. SAD!
      I know there are alot of things that are going to kill us, most of the time even the air we breath is bad for us. What each of us does to take care of our family is up to us. I love getting on this blog and reading all of the GREAT ideas. How everyone tries to help each other. This conversation sounds mean. We all know things are bad, but we also need to think about what the other person has to deal with and how much money they have or don’t have!
      I know I rambled, I am sorry, thank you everyone for all the great ideas. A friend of mine used a can of manderin oranges in a box mix and then put whipped topping with crushed pineapple in it on top. YUMMMMMM!!!!!
      Thanks to all !!!!

  • Have to comment on the artificial sweetners. I first began using aspartame in the 80’s couldn’t wait for it to come out since saccharin caused cancer (in laboratory rats). Taking no chances here.. watched a family member deal with lung cancer. Fast forward 25 years I was dianosed with lung cancer (BAC) not related to smoking (I don’t smoke). Three months ago my husband was diagnosed with Leukemia and the oncologist said “stay away from artificial sweetners” he is a truck driver and has consumed large amounts of artificial sweetners in coffee and soda for years,
    and now I’m waiting on a biopsy report that looks like I have Thyroid cancer. Its too late for us to benefit from this advice but just thought I would pass it on. My question is if the docs know this why don’t they just go public with it? If they can tell someone after they are diagnosed why can’t they just say in to the general public?

  • I have made some chocolate chip cookies using white beans as the butter substitute (the whole amount) and they were terrific! I think I got the recipe from some food storage site.

    • Serious Nadell? Did they still taste good and were soft and chewy? I may try that. I’ve started shying away from trying too many experiments since my son (aka, garbage gut =) moved out! But I will try this…I have some sport playing girls that need extra protein. Thanks for sharing this (and Jillee for starting the conversation).

  • Nutrition is a hot button topic! To each their own, I guess :) I am always amazed that you are able to post good content 7 days a week. I bet you were a very successful TV producer!

  • I’ve emailed you many times without a response, so I’ll try it in a comment or two. I love your site and adore what you write. However when you switched over to your new website, your feedburner RSS system was broken. All that rss users get 4 lines of truncated text. PLEASE fix this. The way the old site worked was wonderful!


    • Hi Marshall,

      I’m so sorry you haven’t gotten a response from me! With all the emails I get it can take a long time to get back to everyone. The RSS isn’t actually broken, I just changed the format. I posted this explanation on my site a couple of weeks ago:

      If you read One Good Thing By Jillee posts in a feed reader you will notice that we recently have started truncating the posts. Why?
      Two reasons:
      1). Because there are websites (called “scrapers”) that will steal entire posts (images and all) from the emails that are sent out. I work too hard to just allow scrapers to come in and steal the content. The only way to protect it is to truncate it. You can still access the entire post THROUGH the email simply by clicking on the headline.
      2). Up until recently the emails were ad-supported, allowing One Good Thing By Jillee to monetize them to a small degree. But at the end of 2012 Google discontinued that service. So now the only way we make any money is if you come to the actual website. I know some people won’t like it, but we’ve had to weigh the pros and cons on this one and this is the decision my team and I have made. I hope you will understand and stick with us. I promise to make it worth that extra click! :-)

  • I’m all for some of these suggestions (avocado and beans for example) but some of them are actually worse for your health than the original ingredients. Cool-Whip is nothing but hydrogenated fat, artificial flavors and chemicals. It’s not food, it’s a chemistry experiment.

    Diet sodas almost always contain phenylalanine, also known as NutraSweet, Equal and Aspartame. It is a potent neurotoxin. There are dangerous side effects to most other artificial sweeteners as well. My husband is a diabetic also and we use small amounts of raw local honey without any noticeable impact on his blood glucose levels.

    For optimal health just eat things that are raised or grown and avoid all the artificial, factory-produced “food”. My motto is “If God didn’t make it, I don’t eat it.”

    • Indeed, Gail. Isaiah’s prophecy of Christ:

      Isaiah 7:14-15

      King James Version (KJV)

      14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.

      15 Butter and honey shall He eat, that He may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.

  • Look at the ingredients on the box of cake mix. Its full of sugar, chemicals, preservatives and even fats.. Butter is not the enemy so don’t kid yourselves into thinking substituting applesauce or avacados makes this a healthy snack. Cake mix is not healthy.

  • I just did this on accident! I was making cupcakes for my daughter’s birthday and realized I had no eggs!! Trying to improvise, I combined the chocolate cake mix with a can of pumpkin and baked…while that was baking I mixed the white cake with a jar of pureed baby food bananas and water and also baked that…THEY WERE A HIT! I couldn’t believe it, but the girls were asking for 3+ cupcakes and when I ran out, were very disappointed :) The 14 second graders loved them, and also made them safe for any egg allergies. (and VERY easy!!)

  • What an array of comments.
    What I need to learn is more self-control– lower fat/less calories doesn’t help if I eat desserts often, or go back for seconds.
    Personally, I feel we Americans (myself included) feel like we are entitled to eat desserts, with every meal. We also think that every meeting/activity/function we attend must have refreshments. My BinL even has a breakfast dessert, granted it is always a piece of fruit-but the mentality is still there. Sweets used to be for special occasions when I was growing up (late 70’s). Even then they weren’t the super decadent desserts of today. Think about candy, when I grew up the only time we had candy was Halloween, Easter (Valentine’s Day was an adult holiday), and candy tossed at parades–that was it. Cakes were really only for birthdays & weddings. The primary focus of sugar was to preserve–mostly fruits–because there was an abundance that had to be preserved for winter. Molasses, honey or real maple syrups were used and that was about it. I blame what I call the “Betty Crocker Movement of the 50’s”, ( perfectly clean house and high maintenance meals to bring happiness to families). We laugh at Audrey’s vision in “Little Shop of Horrors”–but only because it hits home. We also have the fear-“what would the neighbors think”. Getting back to basics is what we need. Not too long ago family over for dinner. I cooked basic real foods and made dessert too. The dinner and visiting were so satisfying that I forgot to serve dessert. A while later I remembered dessert– we sat down to it, talked a lot more and no one finished dessert.

    • We forgot desert last night, and it was my husband’s birthday! I had almost put the kids to bed when someone said we forgot daddy’s cake. My daughter decided to go to bed, but my son stayed up a little later to have some cake… He didn’t eat the cake, just the scoop of ice cream.

  • OLGA: I agree 100%! The USA needs to get back to basics. In many countries people still walk to the market and pick up REAL food. Real food that comes from the land not something in a box.
    Jillee: Thanks for this post. It’s nice to see healthy alternatives for butter/oil. :)

  • The problem with ‘skinny’ Light/Lite/low cal foods is we think we can eat more of them because they are ‘diet’ foods. The lighter versions may be lower in calories than the original recipe using butter and sugar, but they are also less satisfying. Knowing that, commit to eating only one normal serving of the ‘diet’ food at a time.
    Discovering what a normal serving looks like is a learning experience in itself! Portion control, imo, is the piece that has been lost when considering the evolution of eating habits in this country and the resulting obesity epidemic. Our super-sized meals have resulted in portion distortion.

  • My take on the diet soda and cake mix cake.. I use white cake mix and diet orange soda. When cake is done pour diet orange jello over top and when served top with a spoonful of low cal whipped topping. Can also use lemon cake mix and diet mt dew to make a mt dew cake.

  • I don’t buy into low-fat anything anymore. Before we started low-far or no-fat everything, we used to be thinner! Look at movies and TV shows before the ’80s and ’90s, esp. the ’40s and ’50s! Real fat satisfies and tastes better. Just don’t overdo it. I’d rather have a slice of delicious, old-fashioned-ingredient cake than half a cake made with substitutes.

    Remember when the vaunted USDA’s “Food Pyramid” was revamped in the ’80s to include more grains? I recently read where this was done because a former senator from a western state — whose mainstay was wheat! — wanted to boost his constituents’ sales! The hot trend of the ’80s and ’90s was pasta, pasta, pasta and the crazy carbo-loading parties for runners. That’s when I put on a ton of weight! Flour makes you fat! If I had just kept eating the way my mom cooked when I was a kid, I’d probably be way lighter than I am.

    • I agree that flour is part of the problem, Silverdust. But that’s not the whole story; we need to be getting back to whole, minimally processed foods and consuming less sugar and carbohydrates (carbs turn into sugar in the body anyway).

      And I also don’t agree with low-fat diets; our body doesn’t get fat because we’re consuming fat, it’s because we’re consuming carbs and sugar that muck up our systems and get turned into triglycerides and LDL “bad” cholesterol, and causing plaque to build up in our arteries as well. (I could go into much more detail, but this is the mini-Cliff’s notes.)

      I’m currently studying nutrition and the history of diets independently, and the high carb, low fat diet trends have been the cause of our obesity epidemic in this country, period. There are mountains of evidence that proves it.

      I do agree that chemicals are playing their own role as well, whether it’s pesticides or just bizarre concoctions to keep processed foods shelf stable.

      It sucks, but to be healthy, we must severely limit sugar and carbohydrates and eat more vegetables, meats, dairy, and moderate fats, and eliminate processed foods if possible.

      I’m like all of you; I love baked goods as much or more than the normal person! But I changed my paradigm and don’t allow myself to believe that I NEED to have cookies and cake for dessert, and instead try to remind myself that food is FUEL for our bodies, and it will function much better if I choose an orange instead of a piece of cake for dessert… or sometimes a little bit of good quality dark chocolate :)

      I wanted to contribute this to be helpful, not to cause any arguments or push an agenda; I just wanted to share my findings so far. :)

  • Butter is not bad for you, so the entire premise of this post is wrong. It is completely ridiculous that you would recommend substituting Diet Coke for butter! No thanks, I’ll take butter any day. For the record, my husband and I and our 3 children consume about 2 lbs butter per week as a family, and we are all in tip top health. We also NEVER drink soda, use artificial sweeteners, or eat many over-prepared foods (such as applesauce; cooked until there is little to no nutrition left!) If you want to eat beans or fruit, eat them as minimally prepared as possible. Worried about butter intake? Limit your sweets to one rich dessert per week. Concerned about oil? Use a cold-pressed kind such as olive oil, or any oil from Whole Foods or another health foods market. The truth will set us free, and when dealing with the issues of what foods to eat and how to eat them, I wish people would focus on the truth, starting with the fact that butter (especially farm-fresh butter from grass-grazed cows) is NOT the culprit. In fact, it is wonderfully good for you.

  • OK, this is a subject I can’t help commenting on, even though what I’m going to say will not be liked or believed by many. Hate me if you want. But think about what I have to say and make a little of your own research.

    Here’s a little history. I’m not American (I’m from Eastern Europe), I arrived in this country over 8 years ago and was shocked by 2 facts: I couldn’t find any full fat and full sugar products in stores, yet in the 28 years that I had lived on the other side of the world I had never known that it was possible for human beings to get as grossly obese as people manage to do in USA. Literally, I had never seen such huge people! I don’t mean it as an insult, my heart is aching for those people!

    It didn’t take me long to figure out the connection – the shit they put in all the “light” foods to make them palatable wracks such havoc in people’s bodies that the bodies stop being able to process even normal amounts of calories! I told my husband about it right then but of course, being American, he didn’t believe me. Now I’m reading American articles and researches presenting the same idea like it’s something new! Well, it’s not new to me. Just try to compare the list of ingredients on two identical products of the same brand, one “light” and one “original” – you’ll be shocked at the crap you will NOT find in the full fat versions! Low sugar or sugar free stuff is not any better either – artificial sweeteners are worse for your health than sugar!

    Bottom line. Substituting avocados for butter is a great idea! Substituting low fat yoghurts, sour cream etc for full fat versions with more calories but less crap – very bad for your health and metabolism! It’s not about how many calories you consume – it’s about where they come from! Because if they come from natural food your body will process them. Feeding your body with chemicals instead of calories is a vicious circle where you’ll feel hungry all the time yet you’ll be gaining weight.

    And do your own research about how diet sodas kill people – they are a very wrong way to improve your diet! Just forget sodas exists – that’s the best calorie intake solution. :)

    • Wonderful response, Olga. According to an article dated a year go, the USA is the most obese nation in the world. We permit chemicals in our food (approved by the FDA) that many other countries have banned and condemed as exceedingly harmful to health. This is a subject that each person should take the time to research for themselves, instead of just taking labels at the grocery store at face value. Closer to nature is better for your body and for the environment. Think how much pollution is caused by the chemical byproducts and waste produced by the chemicals used in our food!

      • Australia is a close second and at times exceeds the USA. I’m sure Canada is close behind.

    • I agree, Olga! I don’t know if I’m super sensitive or what, but I can taste chemicals in cake mixes — even if just an ingredient in a recipe. It doesn’t take long to mix up a cake from scratch, and they taste SO much better. We’ve given up a lot of “good” for the sake of convenience and “calories”.

      • What is your cake recipe, then, that doesn’t take much longer than a “cake mix” to whip up? Yes, I know, google search. Been there, done that, doesn’t compare to the results I get from cake mix. And, I prefer “from scratch” cooking, too, but the results do suffer. “We” are too used to the perfect results we get from mixes. :( “From Scratch” can’t hold a candle to that, and that’s what people care about.

    • Thank you Olga!! I have been feeling like this was happening for YEARS! I believe you have fully noted what is happening in our world, babies are being born with much smaller birth weights and bigger problems due to many mothers “trying to keep their weight down”…….so much harm is being caused by a misguided sense of what others determine is good health..

    • very good post… i couldn’t agree with you more… we need to eat more “natural” foods, not laden with chemicals. and it’s good that folks read all the comments, so that they can take all the information and make the “best” choice for themselves. i myself always find Jillee’s post informative and “food for thought”. thank you Jillee….

  • last Easter I used a yellow cake, 12 oz of diet orange soda and a small can of mandarin oranges, drained…mixed and baked in a 13 X 9 baking dish at the called for temp and time…topped it with light whipped cream (not in a tub)…delish…you can also use club soda instead of diet soda…we all loved the cake…

  • Thanks for the great tips, Jillee! I am especially excited about trying the avocado (we love avocados!!). I was wondering if these substitutions would work with ‘homemade box mixes’? I am trying to avoid buying box mixes, they are bad for you and expensive! Thanks!!

  • The perpetual myth of “saturated fats” as the enemy really needs to end. Many of these processed cake mixes contain trans fat, which is REALLY the enemy. Do a little nutrition research people, you’ll realize that butter, coconut oil, animal fats, etc. are actually your body’s preferred method of fuel. In the grand time frame of human life, we have only been eating “vegetable oils” and wheat for about ’10 seconds’. Until that time, our diets consisted of animal protein and seasonal fruits, vegetables and nuts/seeds. There was only ever ONE study done to show that saturated fats are bad for your heart, and it has been disproved many many times since. Just a few articles to give you some food for thought:

  • Great ideas! I’ve used the applesauce substitution, but never would have thought about using beans or avacado!!

    You do have to watch ingredients, though, in the substitute ingredients. Sometimes there will be high fructose corn syrup in the weirdest things – especially “lite” versions of foods such as cool whip.

    Also, almost all diet drinks have aspartame in them…as does most chewing gum if you look at the list. My mom recently told me (after looking at a gum package that I’d given my daughter) that my baby sister learned in a premed class several years ago that aspartame will eat holes in brain tissue. She immediately called my parents, and they quit drinking diet drinks altogether.

    Anyway, I’m not trying to put down this list of substitutes – just informing you. :-)

  • In chocolate chip cookies (and other recipes) I substitute butter with 1/2 the amount of grape seed oil. The batter is really dry when uncooked, but after they bake they are so soft that I like them better than I ever did using butter.

  • If only I’d known this 40 years ago, I could have saved my arteries from loads of eggs, lard, butter, and sugar. These are worthy of sharing with the First Lady for her anti-obesity campaign. I can’t wait to try them out. Thanks Jillee and members for these great recipes.

  • I really hate using applesauce in baking – I can smell it no matter what so it puts me off – but you know what works really great, particularly with chocolate?
    Prune – I pick up prune baby food for simplicity – perfect

  • For a super quick and easy desert, I like to take a bag of frozen berries and spread them in a greased 9×13 pan. Mix one box of white cake mix with a can of diet sprite. Bake at 350 until the cake is done.

  • I so enjoy your tips and don’t like to say anything negative, but I know that you try to be healthy and wouldn’t knowingly promote anything bad, but people should be aware of the dangers of aspartame in Diet Coke.
    Also Cool Whip.
    Not to mention cake boxes and most things called “diet” or “light”.
    The avocado and apple sauce (can be easily pureed from real apples) are great ideas, as is the pumpkin mentioned above.
    How about recommending agave and honey and even just reducing the amount of sugar – often you can’t tell the difference.
    I think avoiding toxic ingredients is more important than reducing calories.

    • Spot on! While I enjoy most of Jillee’s tips (why I follow her blog), I’m aware that in general this isn’t a healthy eating or environmental friendly type blog, it’s for sharing tips to make life easier. I pay attention to the tips that work with my lifestyle.

      The only qualms I have on the tips offered here are that there are far too many people in the world who don’t see it as Jillee intended (merely cutting down on calories/fat) and think it’s truly healthy eating. I don’t think there is anything wrong with comments stating (the polite ones) that those other ingredients can actually be far less healthy overall, even though they do cut back on the calories and fat. Butter, eggs and real sugar may add calories, but are much less toxic. Just eat ’em in moderation.

      I had never thought of the bean trick, or avocado – so that was new to me! Thanks for sharing! One other thought – in place of sour cream, you can use plain greek yogurt. You get the same tang with more protein.

  • I have just discovered another type. I box mix and 1 1/2 cups chilled seltzer water. It is very similar to the diet soda cake but we don’t drink soda so it made sense to try this. They were so light and moist that I can’t see making a cake any other way!!

  • I like to make skinny chocolate Muffins. I use one box chocolate cake mix, one can pumpkin, and two tablespoons instant coffee granules. Scoop into lined muffin tins and Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Makes about 18 muffins. On occasion I will also add one cup dark chocolate chips as well.

  • For a quick single serve cake mix, mix together a box of Duncan Hines Angel food cake and a box of any other cake mix. Mix the two boxes together thoroughly and keep in a ziplock bag or whatever container. To make the cake in a mug do 3 tablespoons cake mix and 2 tablespoons water. Mix that together and microwave for 1 minute. You can mix stuff in like chocolate chips, nuts, etc and top with frosting too. You can also make bigger servings of this just stick to the 3 to 2 ratio.

    • I agree, I will not use any items that contain aspartame. It is so bad for you, I hardly know where to begin! I agree with using applesauce or avacados, those are both good healthy ideas.

    • It’s not just aspartame that’s bad for you, sucralose (Splenda) is a chemical too. Many people have the same adverse side effects from this poison as well. I’d say use sugar or go without…I have heard Stevia is supposed to be safe with no side effects, but I think only time will tell if this holds true.

      • Stevia comes from the stevia plant; it is not a man-made sweetener. Aspartame is a known neurotoxin, and Splenda is chlorinated sugar. We use good ol’ sugar or stevia. :)

      • Plain sugar is bleached. we use honey, organic sugar or natural sweeteners like fruit to sweeten things for us.

      • That is not true. Plain table sugar is made from sugar beets. The reason it is white is because all the impurities are removed. There is no bleach used. For example, sugar in the raw is the same sugar as white granulated sugar only the impurities have not been removed yet. Please check your facts before you try to inform others.

    • I avoid aspartame, but must admit to drinking an occasional diet soda. BUT I’ve always heard that cooking/baking aspartame changes it into an entirely different chemical — BAD! If I remember correctly, products containing aspartame used to come with a warning not to cook.

    • Amen! Eating something with diet soda in it is in no way, shape, or form “healthier” than it’s alternative. It’s always better to stick to natural ingredients, and use the not so great ones in moderation than to try to create an excuse to eat three times as much as something. The huge “health” food market and “skinny” food market is utterly ridiculous. It’s pretty simple, actually. Just make smart food choices. If you want a brownie, eat ONE brownie, and don’t eat another one tomorrow or even this week.

      But, yes, aspartame (among other things) is horrrrrrribbble for you!

      • Okay, listen people. I am a big opponent of diet soda because I think it tricks people into thinking they’re consuming something healthy when they’re not. However, diet soda is diet soda because it is low in calorie. Jillee is proposing some “skinny” changes here, meaning they are ways to reduce calories. She didn’t say it would make them healthy. She’s talking about cake mix for Pete’s sake. If you are not the target audience here, mind your mouth. There are tons of these soda and cake mix recipes floating around on Pinterest. If you would like to advise of the dangers of aspartame or cooking soda, by all means, write your own blog post about it. Poor Jillee is just trying to offer some calorie reduction strategies. I don’t think she’s ever claimed to be a master chef and you look at her other recipes, they aren’t the healthiest. This is not a health food blog. I totally know where you’re coming from, but this attack is really unnecessary.

      • Nobody’s attacking anybody. Presenting a modified recipe sans butter/milk/eggs PLUS other ingredients such as Cool Whip or soda under the specific guise of being “more healthy” which is EXACTLY what Jillee did is dishonest and misleading. There is absolutely nothing wrong with informed readers who are clearly more knowledgeable about what is truly healthy than Jillee is to point out the errors in her premise. Whether or not she specified that the goal was to reduce calories is not the issue; using the term “Healthy” to describe these modifications is the issue. And I for one am glad that several readers pointed it out so that perhaps the more gullible readers who tend to take anything at face value will think twice before assuming that reduced-calorie recipes full of chemicals are an acceptable substitute for just using things from nature, such as farm fresh eggs, butter, and milk. Also, if *you* had read all the comments you would have seen that some people on here intend to try the substitutes with their homemade cake mix recipes, so you can’t just assume that the only “target” audience for this article is people who would only use a box mix cake which automatically contains chemicals anyway. As a subscribed reader of Jillee’s blog, that makes me the target audience for everything she writes, and I’m as welcome to have an opinion on it as anyone else, regardless of whether or not I use boxed cake mixes (and I don’t.). :-)

      • oh shame on you for being so supercilious and hurting Jillee’s feelings. She didn’t tell you to go out and drink soda, so lighten up!

      • Thumbs up Jennifer.
        Although I don’t use sweetner substitutes I don’t go around attacking people who do. It is not what you are all saying, it’s how you are saying it. You do come off as attacking Jillee and that goes to show just how far this country has come from understanding communication and what being polite means. Reread what you post and imagine it from the other side of the conversation, if someone spoke to you in the tone you are using you’d be upset. Remember that the next time you feel the need to press your views on someone else.
        That said, there have been many studies that show sweetner substitutes causing cancer, MS type symptoms, Chronic Fatigue, Lupus type symptoms and migraines. Anything with aspertame, xylitol, sorbitol and phenylalanine are dangerous.

      • Goodness, people! Have you stopped taking in oxygen? There is NOTHING on God’s Green Acres that will not make someone sick or die! It’s been that way for a lot longer than we’ve been on this earth and it will remain that way for as long as their is mankind on this planet. Allergies, disease and intolerance make postings like this vital and useful. THANK YOU, Jillee and the rest of you, for posting ideas for reducing fat and/or calories.

      • So because some things cause a direct negative effect on the health of people, and other things cause little to no negative effect….. we should all just shove whatever we want into our mouths without a care in the world and then when we end up on 50 meds to fix the damage we have done we can just use the reasoning “well….EVERYthing is dangerous, so I just ate whatever I wanted”?????

      • Sorry!!!! I meant to post that comment to Jennifer not Tabitha! I guess I should have had another diet coke to wake me up before I wrote that. Tabitha, you are certainly allowed your opinion but I think you are blowing this whole thing out of proportion. We all have our faults and mine is diet coke. I know it isn’t good for me but I choose to have one ever so often. Lecturing me isn’t going to make me stop. We all don’t live in your make everything we eat and drink healthy. I live in the real world.

      • Thank you so much for saying what I was thinking. hy don’t these health purists go onto organic food ites and leave the rest of us alone? Some of us CHOOSE to have an occasional processed treat, if you don’t, that’s fine, but please spare us from the sanctimonious attitude towards the blogger.

    • Oh for crying out loud, leave this woman alone!!! Some of us like what she posts!! If you don’t like it, stay away!!!! At least keep your mouth shut for the rest of us.

      • Nobody said that we don’t like what she posts. We are all avid readers of her posts, and when she posts something good, people compliment her on it. When she posts something misleading and downright false….we feel we have the right to express an opinion about it. We are sorry….I don’t think we were aware that this was an “only if you agree with me” comments section.

      • Wow! You all are very hardcore in your opinions! Personally, I think diet soda is awful for you and would certainly not feed it knowingly to my family. That is a great way to undo all the hard work I put in to getting them to eat/drink healthy items. I agree with you Crystin that this is misleading if you do not know anything about what is healthy and what is not. So many people worry about cutting calories as opposed to eating healthy food (higher calorie or not). I also agree with you about the “only if you agree with me” part. Blog writers, and by default, the readers, should be aware that not everyone will agree with, believe in, or try the suggestions/ideas/recipes, etc in a blog. Obviously, I like Jillee’s blog most days (I am subscribed). That doesn’t mean I would ever drink diet soda just because she suggested it is “skinny” or “healthy.”

      • Good points! You stated my point perfectly about eating lower calorie foods versus eating food that are good for you regardless of the calorie content. Yes, it’s good to keep an eye on how many calories you consume. But, if you rig everything up to where you can consume 3x as many bad for you items for the same amount of calories as one good for you item, you’ve done yourself absolutely no good. It’s better to have 1500 natural, good, wholesome calories than it is to have 1000 empty, junky, horrible for you calories.

      • “We” ??? Since when is one person’s opinion a “we” comment? Opinions are like feelings… everybody’s got them.

    • So Calliope, do you have some solid, go to cake recipes you could pass on to Jillee? My kids are tired of the heavy homemade cakes I’ve tried. But they have so much more flavor and I know the ingredients are real. I’m with you!

  • I was just reading up n some skinny baked goods on My Fitness Pal. I made Hot chocolate cupcakes tonight but used 15 oz of plain canned pumpkin instead of oil, eggs and water. They were dense, almost like brownies, but I could still taste the pumpkin a bit. This will be GREAT with spice cake, or vanilla w/ some cinnamon, and I want to try the diet soda trick soon too.

    • I make those all the time, my husband is diabetic and they do not raise his blood sugar like a regular cupcake. I have also used a box of carrot cake mix, it is absolutely delicious!

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