10 Cupcakes That Won't Put on the Pounds

Cupcakes don't have to be a bad thing. There are several you can enjoy guilt-free. See more pictures of enlightened desserts.
©iStockphoto/Ruth Black

Food fads come and go, but there's no denying that the cupcake has stood the test of time. These miniature cakes are more popular than ever, thanks to the designer cupcake bakeries that have cropped up in cities all over the country. The famous Magnolia bakery in New York City may have started this dessert revolution. With appearances on the television shows "Sex and the City" and "Saturday Night Live," the busy bakery got some great exposure and became the trendy spot to treat yourself in New York. Cupcakeries in Los Angeles, Calif., Atlanta, Ga., Washington, D.C. and many other American cities have since popped up, and business is booming. Georgetown Cupcake in Washington, D.C., bakes as many as 5,000 cupcakes a day [source: NPR].

While these glorious treats can pack on the pounds, they don't have to; there are plenty of simple ways to make delicious cupcakes that are less dangerous to your waistline. It can be as easy as cutting back on or leaving off frosting, using a sugar substitute in place of the real thing, swapping some or all of the eggs for egg whites or egg substitute and using low- or nonfat dairy products. You can also sneak in secret ingredients that replace oil and butter: Applesauce, pumpkin, zucchini and even jarred baby food can work wonders, and believe it or not, diet soda also has makes an appearance in a slimmed-down cupcake. But perhaps the easiest way to keep fat and calories in check is to bake cupcakes in mini muffin pans -- instant portion control.

So, let's get started. Here are 10 lightened cupcake recipes you can try at home.