Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America gathered Saturday at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Lehighton, for the spring meeting of the Hazleton/Lehighton cluster.

The group included women from area churches. Women of the ELCA gather to "engage in ministry and action, and promote healing and wholeness in the church, society, and the world."

During the event, members took part in morning devotions and held their spring business meeting.

The group also accepted a special offering to benefit orphans in Tanzania's South Central Diocese. The program included a sampling of Tanzanian recipes.

Guest speaker Mindy Graver, a Family Living and Family Resiliency educator from the Penn State Cooperative Extension Office, offered a short presentation, "Make your cake and eat it too: The basics of altering recipes for health."

During her presentation Graver shared tips for healthy eating and altering recipes, explaining the difference between white flour and other flours, including bread, pastry, and whole wheat flour. To make white flour, the bran and wheat germ are removed.

Whole-wheat flour contains bran and wheat germ, and has fewer calories than white flour and more fiber, calcium and protein.

Substituting different types of flours can change the taste and texture of a recipe.

When altering a recipe, Graver recommended substituting a different type of flour for only half of the quantity called for. To substitute whole wheat flour for white flour, use cup of whole wheat for every cup of white flour.

Fats also play an important role in baking they provide flavor and tenderness, and extend the shelf life of baked goods.

An easy way to reduce fat and calories in baked goods is to substitute half of a recipe's shortening, butter or oil with applesauce, mashed bananas, or pureed prunes.

Reduced-fat items must be refrigerated or frozen, because removing fat shortens the shelf life of baked goods.

Sugar is used to add flavor, tenderness, texture, and browning to baked goods. It also acts as a preservative.

While there is no true substitute for sugar, in most recipes you can reduce sugar by one-third without affecting the finished product, said Graver.

Artificial sweeteners such as Splenda can also be used, but will not provide the moisture and browning of real sugar.

She concluded the program by reminding the women to sit and enjoy their food.