Baking That’s Better for Your Heart

This secret ingredient transforms treats

Baking That’s Better for Your Heart

Want to make the transition to a heart-healthy diet a whole lot more fun? Don’t deprive yourself of all tasty baked goods. Instead, make this heart-helping ingredient swap: choose olive oil instead of butter. Just be sure to go for extra-virgin olive oil. It’s produced by the first cold pressing of the olives, delivering the roundest taste and most health benefits (as no heat or chemicals are involved).

You’re probably thinking, “Wait! Doesn’t taking care of my heart and cardiovascular health mean letting go of buttery, indulgent treats?” Dialing back on the treats is a good idea, for sure. But by replacing bad-for-you fats with heart-healthy olive oil, you can indulge (in moderation) without sacrificing your health goals.

The Mediterranean diet is known for its cardiovascular-health-promoting menu, including plenty of olive oil. Baking with the golden nectar transforms cakes, cookies and breads into mildly fruity, not-too-sweet creations. Producing lighter-tasting baked goods than butter, olive oil still supplies the tender, “buttery” crumb we know and love, while being high in healthy monounsaturated fat. Plus, you need about one-quarter less olive oil than you do butter when baking, slightly reducing overall fat amounts.

Store olive oil in a cool, dark place, away from direct light or any heat sources. Keep the oil in its original dark glass bottle, tightly sealed. And get baking!

Toasted Almond and Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies


Butter is replaced in the classic chocolate chip cookie with a touch of olive oil. Loaded with almonds and dark chocolate chips and accented with orange, it’s a snack worthy of your cookie jar.

1 cup (250 mL) slivered almonds or blanched almonds, chopped

1 cup (250 mL) whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp (2 mL) baking soda

1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt

1/3 cup (80 mL) packed light brown sugar

2 Tbsp (30 mL) extra-virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp (15 mL) maple syrup

1 large egg

2 tsp (10 mL) orange zest

1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract

1/3 cup (80 mL) dark chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Line large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In skillet, toast almonds over medium-low heat until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Immediately transfer to a plate. Cool.

In medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In large bowl, beat sugar with olive oil, maple syrup, egg, orange zest and vanilla. Mix in flour mixture, chocolate chips and toasted almonds until combined.

Using small cookie scoop or spoon, portion onto prepared baking sheet, rolling dough into balls. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until cookies begin to brown around edges. Cool on wire rack. Store airtight at room temperature or freeze.

Each serving contains: 192 calories; 5 g protein; 11 g total fat (2 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 21 g total carbohydrates (11 g sugars, 3 g fiber); 112 mg sodium


Whole Wheat Morning Glory Bread


Morning glory muffins and breads are filled with fruit, nuts and usually far too much sugar and canola oil; grated apple and olive oil add subtle sweetness and moisture to this bread instead. It’s packed with everything you need to start your day on a heart-healthy, energizing note, while being just as mouthwatering for your afternoon coffee break—especially when you need a little pick-me-up before your last meeting of the day.

2 1/4 cups (560 mL) whole wheat flour

2 tsp (10 mL) baking powder

1 tsp (5 mL) ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp (2 mL) baking soda

1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt

1/3 cup (80 mL) extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup (60 mL) plain yogurt

1/3 cup (80 mL) packed brown sugar

1 large egg

1 ripe banana, peeled and mashed

1 apple, grated

1 cup (250 mL) grated carrot

1/2 cup (125 mL) dried currants or raisins

1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped walnuts


Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Line standard loaf pan with parchment paper.

In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. In large bowl, combine oil, yogurt, sugar, egg and banana. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients until just combined. Fold in apple, carrot, currants or raisins and walnuts. Transfer to prepared pan, smoothing top.

Bake for 50 to 70 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let loaf cool in pan for 15 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely. Store airtight in refrigerator.

Each serving contains: 235 calories; 5 g protein; 10 g total fat (1 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 34 g total carbohydrates (14 g sugars, 4 g fiber); 179 mg sodium


Brownies with Dried Cranberries and Walnuts


Brownies don’t need the melted butter to stay fudgy and rich. With a triple hit of heart-healthy ingredients (olive oil, dark chocolate and walnuts), this is a treat you can feel good about sharing with those you love (or keeping all to yourself).

8 oz (225 g) dark chocolate, finely chopped

1/4 cup (60 mL) extra-virgin olive oil

1/3 cup (80 mL) packed brown sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 tsp (2 mL) almond extract or vanilla extract

1/4 cup (60 mL) whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt

1/4 cup (60 mL) chopped walnuts

1/2 cup (125 mL) dried cranberries, roughly chopped


Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Line 8 x 8 in (20 x 20 cm) square pan with parchment paper, allowing overhang on all sides.

In double boiler or medium saucepan over very low heat, melt chocolate with olive oil. Remove from heat and cool for a few minutes. Mix in sugar, eggs and extract, followed by flour, cinnamon and salt. Stir in walnuts and cranberries. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until moist in center and slightly dry on top. Cool completely in pan before slicing.

Each serving contains: 305 calories; 4 g protein; 20 g total fat (7 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 29 g total carbohydrates (19 g sugars, 4 g fiber); 88 mg sodium