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TIP OF THE DAY: Healthier Cupcakes

Reduce calories and add nutrition: cupcakes
with nonfat cream cheese frosting and sliced
almonds. Photo courtesy La Tourangelle.


Cupcakes are everywhere: cute, tempting, but no pillar of nutrition and healthful eating. Yet, by making a few substitutions, they can be just as much fun.

To assuage the guilt, consider adding some healthier touches to your cupcakes:

  • Whole wheat pastry flour instead of refined all-purpose flour or cake flour.
  • Dried fruit (cherries, raisins) instead of chocolate chips or other refined sugar inclusions.
  • Nut garnish, fresh berries or dried fruit garnish instead of sprinkles, chips, maraschino cherries and other sugary choices.
  • Unsweetened applesauce for butter.
  • Carrot cake instead of conventional vanilla cake (use the fat-free cream cheese frosting recipe below).
    You can find numerous healthy cupcake recipes online. But the best place to start is to substitute the frosting—many recipes are just too cloying—with an option that has less sugar and less saturated fat.


    You can do this by substituting evaporated milk for butter and fat-free cream cheese and Greek yogurt for regular cream cheese frosting. And use less frosting: As attractive as those swirly mounds look piled high atop a cupcake, a flatter 3/8″ to 1/2″ of frosting topped by a healthful garnish is just as appealing.



  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (or substitute whole wheat flour), sifted
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup packed confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    1. Whisk evaporated milk, flour and salt in a small saucepan until smooth. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, 2 to 5 minutes, until mixture resembles a thick paste.

    2. Remove from the heat and continue to whisk for 30 seconds. Add chocolate and whisk until completely blended.

    3. Add confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder and vanilla. Beat until smooth with an electric mixer.

    4. Refrigerate, covered, for 2 hours or longer. The recipe can be made up to three days in advance.


  • 6 ounces nonfat (or reduced-fat) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt or nonfat/reduced-fat sour cream
  • 3/4 cup packed confectioners’ sugar, sifted

    1. Beat cream cheese, yogurt/sour cream and confectioners’ sugar with electric beaters until smooth.

    2. Refrigerate 2 hours or longer to harden. Can be made up to three days in advance.

    Find more of our favorite cupcake recipes.

    Related Food Videos: For more food videos, check out The Nibble's Food Video Collection.

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