What's not to love about cupcakes? They pack all the satisfaction of a well-made cake into a tiny, dangerously tempting package. There's plenty to choose from, too. Homemade and artisanal cupcakes have been springing up all over Singapore, tempting you with their artfully frosted tops at every turn. However, we can't deny the fact that calories, fat, and cholesterol hide behind these sumptuous goodies. They certainly aren't diet friendly. Here's the good news: Healthier alternatives do exist. Can't live without cupcakes? Here's how you can continue to indulge in them, but with ingredients that wouldn't hamper your progress in the gym. 

1. Swap butter for mashed avocado 


If you're accustomed to using butter when baking, you should know that four tablespoons of butter is already equivalent to 407 calories. If you substitute butter with avocado, you can cut the calories by almost 25 per cent. The surprising benefits of avocado are not new to us. Given the high level of unsaturated fat found within, avocado is the perfect substitute for ingredients (such as butter) that are high in saturated fat. What's more, avocado increases the nutritional value of your baked goods as it contains 20 vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that are good for you. 

To make mashed avocado, simply scoop out all the meat from an avocado and mash it thoroughly with a fork or a potato masher. You can use a one-to-one substitution or just substitute avocados for half of the butter instead. While healthier and less sinful than your usual cupcake fare, avocados are still high in calorie content, so it would serve you well to practise moderation in your cupcake rampage.

2. Go for all-natural sugar substitutes

maple syrup

The white sugar that we use for baking is processed and purified before being sold to us in the market. All the vitamins and minerals are stripped off, and what remains are the refined starch and carbohydrates that cannot be utilised by our body. As a healthier alternative, people are turning to maple syrup which is 100% natural and free of any colouring or additives. Maple syrup contains manganese, iron, zinc, and other important minerals that boost the immune system. Interestingly enough, it also features over 54 antioxidants that may reduce the risk of ailments such as cancer.

When baking, use pure maple syrup and not the flavoured ones. It is also advisable to buy a Grade B maple syrup over a Grade A one. Its thicker and darker flavour makes it a better candidate for use in baked goods. 

3. Ditch the fondant and go with the real deal

Edible flowers

When it comes to decorating cupcakes, gum paste or fondant is the typical go-to component. Instead of sculpting tediously tiny flowers, consider dropping the fondant and dress your cupcakes instead with fresh and edible blooms. With these au naturel toppers on your sugar-free confections, you won't have to wallow in guilt while you indulge in your favourite treat. Take care to pick out the right edibles, however, as not all flowers are safe for consumption. So the next time you call on your online florist, you may want to squeeze in some edible florals into your gift basket.

About Doreen Irinco
An unabashed foodie, Doreen has a certification in Sports and Exercise Science, a discipline that puts her in good stead to question the whys and hows of food nutrition, body conditioning, and sports wellness. When she's not writing, she enjoys snapping photos of symmetries or rainbows.