If you’ve ever been to a shopping mall, you know the irresistible pull of freshly baked cinnamon rolls. And maybe their mouthwatering scent has compelled you to sink your teeth into one in the past.
If so, that’s not necessarily a bad thing: Dessert — in moderation and occasionally — can be a part of a healthy self-care routine. But when it comes to this particular treat, registered dietitians would agree it’s not an everyday thing, and anyone who likes cinnamon buns needs to be clear-eyed about the nutritional cost involved.
Specifically, one Original Cinnamon Bun from Cinnabon will set you back a whopping:
- 880 calories
- 37 grams (g) of fat (16 g from saturated fat)
- 129 g carbohydrates
- 61 g sugar (59 g added sugar)
- 1,150 milligrams (mg) of sodium
In other words, if you eat one of these buns, you’ll exceed the daily recommended added sugar (and likely saturated fat) limits before you’ve even finished your coffee.
If you’re watching what you eat, those numbers may be enough to turn you away from ever indulging in a cinnamon roll again.
Luckily, there’s a healthier way to enjoy this treat!
The bread pudding recipe below draws inspiration from the beloved flavors of a cinnamon bun while skipping most of the added sugar and unhealthy fat found in the typical recipe. Bread pudding can be a tasty breakfast to start your day and can do double duty as a dessert.
What’s more, this recipe comes together quickly and can even be prepared the night or morning before you plan to serve it. Simply store it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to bake! Bonus: You’ll fill your home with that same sweet cinnamon aroma you get in a mall.
Sourdough bread has a depth of flavor white bread lacks, and may add a nutritional benefit, too. That’s because sourdough bread is made from a starter that is rich in probiotic bacteria. Harvard Medical School points to sourdough as one of the top sources of these microbes, which promote a healthy gut. As information from the University of Sydney’s glycemic index database notes, sourdough bread also has a lower glycemic index than white bread, which means it will have a less pronounced effect on your blood sugar. Translation: steadier energy and potentially better weight maintenance for you, per Harvard.
Also, the unsweetened applesauce in this recipe has a natural sweetness, without processed sugar. The cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla extract bring flavor with no sugar at all. On top of that, whole apples provide valuable nutrients, including fiber — almost 5 g per apple, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture notes. Add in the walnuts (and, with them, a healthy dose of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids), and you’ve got a dessert that will really shine nutritionally, especially compared with a cinnamon bun.
Here’s how to whip it up.
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1½ cups low fat (1 percent) milk, or your favorite unsweetened milk substitute
- 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1½ tbsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 loaf sourdough bread, cut into 2-inch cubes
- 2 medium McIntosh or Cortland apples, skin on, cut into small cubes
- ½ cup dried cranberries (ideally unsweetened)
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts (optional)
- 3 tsp pure maple syrup
- Cooking spray
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together the eggs, milk, applesauce, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
- Fold in the bread cubes, apples, cranberries, and walnuts, if using.
- Lightly coat a 9- by 12-inch oven-safe baking dish with cooking spray, or lightly grease with oil. Transfer all the ingredients to the prepared baking dish. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least one hour. Note: The recipe can be completed through this step the night before if desired.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the bread pudding in the preheated oven until the pudding is set and the bread begins to become golden brown, about 45 to 55 minutes.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool. Serve warm or cold. Drizzle with maple syrup just before serving.
Nutrition per serving (about 1 cup): 228 calories, 2g total fat (0.9g saturated fat), 6g protein, 45g carbohydrates, 3.4g fiber, 20g sugar (10.8g added sugar), 254mg sodium