3 Swaps for Healthier Holiday Baking

3 Swaps for Healthier Holiday Baking

The Holidays are in full swing which can be a difficult time for people who are trying to maintain a healthy diet. Try these healthy baking swaps in order to eat, drink, and be merry without any added guilt this Holiday season!

  1. Cut the Fat:

Reduce the total fat in your recipe by cutting the amount of butter or oil in half and replacing it with an equal amount of:

  • Mashed Banana
  • Mashed Avocado
  • Applesauce
  • Cooked & Mashed Sweet Potato
  • Pureed Black or Cannellini Beans
  • Low Fat/Light Sour Cream or Cream Cheese
  • Low Fat Buttermilk
  • Low Fat Yogurt
  • Egg substitutes can offer as a great way to reduce fat content by replacing half of the eggs in your baked-good recipe. This will cut your recipe by 45 calories & 5gm of fat for each large egg that you replace with 1/4 cup of egg substitute!
    I often use egg whites to lower fat! Rule of thumb is to use two egg whites to replace one whole egg! Give it a try!
  1. Reduce the Sugar:

Reduce the sugar content by cutting out 1/4 of what the recipe calls for, replacing with a sugar alternative like Stevia, or if you don’t want to use sugar substitutes, cut the amount the recipe calls for in half and replace with an equal amount of:

  • Pureed Fresh or Frozen Fruit, Dates, Prunes, or Raisins
    When choosing your fruit puree, look at the flavor profile of what you are making and match it to a fruit. For example: chocolate chip cookies would taste perfect with a date puree. Your favorite holiday Gingerbread cookie would match up well with pureed raisins. And if you are whipping up some muffins, try a combo of applesauce and pureed berries in place of half the sugar.
  • Applesauce
  • Mashed Bananas
  • Honey, Agave, Molasses, and other natural sweeteners
    While these are often suggested to be healthy alternatives to white sugar, they have the same effect on your blood sugar level and should also be used sparingly. If using honey as a substitute, reduce to 1/2 cup of honey per cup of sugar. For agave, use 2/3 of a cup for every cup of sugar and reduce the amount of liquid ingredients by 1/4 cup. 
  1. Switch up the Flour:

White flour is a refined grain that lacks nutrition and fiber and can spike your blood sugar. Here are some healthy swaps for white flour in baking recipes:

  • Use whole-wheat flour for all or half of the white flour
  • Use other types of flour such as oat flour, almost or buckwheat flour are great options to increase fiber content, to give you a feeling of fullness, aid with digestion, improve gut health, and help control blood sugar swings!
  • Substitute flour of a 1:1 ratio with Pureed Black or Cannellini Beans
  • Cut the amount of flour in half and replace with Pureed Sweet Potatoes
    Full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and more, sweet potatoes are a perfect substitute for the sugar and fat in baking, and have also been found to be substitute for up to half of the flour a recipe calls for. When using sweet potatoes, reduce the amount of sugar in a recipe by 1/4.

Gingerbread Christmas Tree Cookies

(rcipe courtesy of SkinnyTaste.com)

Yield: 60 Cookies Serving Size: 2 cookies
Total Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes


For the cookies:

    • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
    • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
    • 1 large egg
    • 1/3 cup dark molasses
    • 3 cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 2 tsp ground ginger
    • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp allspice
    • 1/4 tsp ground cloves

    For the Icing:

    • 1 1/2 tbsp egg whites, room temperature
    • 1/4 tsp fresh lemon juice
    • 1 cup powdered sugar
    • 5 to 6 drops green food coloring
    • colored sprinkles


    For the cookies:

    1. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter, sugar and applesauce until smooth. Add the egg and molasses, mix well
    2. In another large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and spices. Add to sugar and molasses mixture, stirring well with the mixer. Use your hands to form a large ball, the dough will be a little sticky.
    3. Wash and dry your hands. Place flour on your hands so the dough doesn’t stick to you, then divide the dough into two flat balls; cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
    4. After the dough has chilled 2 hours, preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously dust the surface of your working area with flour before rolling out the dough. Work with one ball of dough at a time, keep the other refrigerated while you do so.
    5.  Depending on how thin you roll the dough out and the size of your trees, makes at least 60 tree cookies.
    6. Roll the dough out to 1/8-inch thickness, sprinkle a little flour on top of the dough if it’s a little sticky. Trim the uneven edges off to square the dough, then using a knife cut the dough into 3 1/2 inch strips. Then cut the strips into triangles.
    7. Place the cookies 1 or 2 inches apart on a silpat-lined baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes.

    For the icing:

    1. Mix the egg whites with lemon juice. Combine with powdered sugar, mixing well then add a few drops of green food coloring until you get the color you desire.
    2. If the icing is too thin, add a little more powdered sugar, if it’s too thick add a drop of lemon juice or water. Transfer to a piping bag to decorate cookies when cookies are cooled.
    3. To decorate, pipe the cookies with the frosting one at a time, quickly adding the sprinkles before it hardens.

    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 106 calories, Total Fat: 1g, Sodium: 50mg, Carbohydrates: 24g. Fiber: 0g. Sugar: 13.5, Protein: 1.5g