Make choosing a more nutritious treat a fun and interesting alternative to the usual high-calorie fare, and your enthusiasm will win over even skeptical parents and kids.


Many school communities are taking a close look at childhood obesity and teaching students healthier eating habits. Holding a bake sale might seem counterproductive, but it doesn’t have to be. Your bake sale can be healthy, too.

By giving your bake sale a more healthy mission, you may get a better response from parents. And if you find healthy recipes that taste good, you’ll get a good response from the kids, too. Here are some tips for a healthier bake sale.

Decide whether you’re going to sell only healthy foods or offer traditional options, as well. If you offer both, be prepared for customers to choose the traditional baked goods. Old habits die hard!

Look at traditional recipes and figure out ways to make them more health-conscious. In most recipes, the fat or sugar can be reduced by one-fourth to one-third without changing the texture. If you reduce both the fat and the sugar too dramatically, however, you will alter the texture.

To further reduce the fat content, substitute applesauce or yogurt for up to half the oil or fat in the recipe.

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Look for recipes that use fruit juice, honey, or brown rice syrup as sweeteners.

Make recipes healthier by boosting the fiber content. Adding oatmeal or nuts will help. In many recipes, you can substitute whole wheat flour for up to half the all-purpose flour and end up with the same yummy baked treats.

To reduce cholesterol, use an egg substitute. You can also substitute two egg whites for one whole egg.

Steer clear of store-bought treats and baked goods made from a mix.

Let customers know exactly what makes the item healthy. Is it lower in fat? Lower in calories? Lower in sugar? Higher in fiber?

Have children calculate the calorie content for each treat. On the label, disclose the calories and suggest ways to burn off that number of calories. How many miles do you need to walk to burn off 200 calories?

Offer some treats for adults and children who are allergic. A gluten-free brownie, for example, can be made with black beans instead of flour. The Celiac Sprue Association has a list of gluten-free dessert recipes; you can also find recipes for many other specialized diets online, including ideas for diabetes-friendly or lactose-free sweets.

Have jump ropes and an exercise area available for customers to use before or after they choose a treat. Encourage them to jump rope, do jumping jacks, or perform other calorie-blasting exercises to burn off their treat. Have a trained professional supervise the exercises and motivate customers to balance their calorie input with calorie output.

Include the greatest health beverage among your drink options: water.

Always road-test your recipes, especially if you’re making substitutions.

Originally posted in 2008 and updated regularly.

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