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With the crisp air of fall blowing in and the rustling of leaves at our feet, nothing beats a warm treat served straight out of the oven. From homemade pumpkin muffins and apple bread to cranberry scones and spice cake, seasonal baked goods can turn your home into a sweet smelling haven.

As yummy as baked goods taste, they also make a perfect family pastime, prompting parents and kids alike to put away the to-do lists, get creative in the kitchen, and spend some meaningful time together. Parents can make kids a core part of the process by delegating tasks. For instance, younger kids can help measure, mix, knead, pour, and set timers, while older kids can chop nuts, slice fruit, and come up with ideas for enhancing the recipe. Whatever the case, the whole family can enjoy slowing down – and savoring the wholesome goodness of what they create.

Though families have bonded over baked goods for centuries, these delicious goodies get a bad rap for high fat, sugar, and calorie content. (A single piece of pecan pie packs in 456 calories, 21 grams of fat, and 65 grams of sugar.) How can we enjoy cookies and cakes without overloading on empty calories? A simple way is to cook with apple sauce. Not only a sugar substitute, apple sauce makes an excellent replacement for cooking oil, boosting flavor (not calories and fat) and leaving your baked goods moist and scrumptious.

Swapping apple sauce for oil is easy. Just follow a 1:1 replacement ratio with any baked good recipe. For example, if your recipe calls for half a cup of oil, use half a cup of apple sauce instead. That trade alone with save you a whopping 910 calories and 112 grams of fat!

You can swap oil for apple sauce when you make a boxed mix, too. Often, boxed mixes come with instructions for replacing butter with oil. If your boxed mix gives this option, base your swap on the amount of recommended oil, not butter. And with any treats you bake with apple sauce (whether from a box or not), let your baked goods cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Then use a plastic knife to slice and serve.

To get started baking with apples sauce, try our Apple Harvest Cake recipe, served warm. It combines the flavors of fall (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice) with pecans, raisins, and apple sauce. Not a fan of nuts? Bake a batch of our Oatmeal Cookies. Kids love them, and you can’t go wrong.

Have an apple sauce recipe of your own? We’d love to hear it about it on our Facebook page.

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