Healthy-up your holiday sweets!

December 14, 2015 | by Alanna Elliott, RD, LDN
Categories: Healthy Driven Life

The holidays just wouldn’t be the same without cookies, cakes and other sweet goodies.

At the same time, you don’t have to go crazy and overload on sugar, fat and calories. It’s easy to modify your holiday recipes to be healthier and still tasty.

Mayo Clinic and The Huffington Post have posted lists of healthy substitutions, including the following:

Sugar: In most baked goods you can reduce the amount of sugar by one-half; intensify sweetness by adding vanilla (try using 4 tsp vanilla to replace ½ cup sugar), nutmeg or cinnamon. You may also use Splenda, mashed banana, or applesauce – the same amount as the called-for sugar.

Eggs: Try two egg whites or ¼ cup egg substitute for each whole egg. You can also mash up a banana to use in place of an egg if you’re baking bread.

Cream: Try fat-free half-and-half or evaporated skim milk

Whole or 2% milk: Use skim milk instead, you’ll save 80 calories and 8 grams of fat per cup!

Butter, shortening or oil: Use applesauce or bananas for half or all of the called-for butter, shortening or oil. Try butter spreads or shortenings specially formulated for baking that don't have trans-fats. Or use mashed avocado to replace half the butter in a recipe; this cuts trans and saturated fats while adding good, healthy fat.

  • Chia seeds are a great way to ditch the butter and add some healthy omega-3 fats and fiber to your food! Substitute 1 cup of butter with 2-3 tbsp chia seeds soaked in 1 cup of water (soak for at least 20 minutes to absorb liquid).
  • Greek yogurt makes a great butter substitute. Use it for half the butter called for in a cookie recipe, or all of the butter/oil called for in a cake recipe.
  • Pureed prune can also sub in for butter. Replace the entire amount called for — try baby food prune puree.

All-purpose flour: Use whole wheat flour instead, which adds fiber and vitamins/minerals.  In brownies, use 1 cup of black bean puree in place of 1 cup of flour.

Frosting: Use a homemade meringue topping instead of frosting on cupcakes, cakes and cookies to save on fat and calories.

Chocolate chips: Substitute cacao nibs in place of chocolate chips to slash the amount of added sugar in a recipe.

Pie crust: Try a crust-less pumpkin pie — all of the taste of the delicious seasoned pumpkin minus the fat, calories and carbs of the crust!

Challenge yourself to be healthier! Take the Healthy Driven Challenge — try a nutritional, physical or mental challenge.

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