The holiday season is officially upon us, and with it comes an array of cookies, pies, truffles, chocolates, and various other treats. While traditional holiday desserts are typically high in sugar and unhealthy fats, you and your family can enjoy healthier treats just by trading a one ingredient per recipe! Read below for some simple ingredient swaps for healthier holiday baking.
White flour: swap for whole-wheat flour or black beans
White flour may be your go-to for baking, but it lacks the nutritional power found in whole-wheat flour and black beans. Whole-wheat flour and black beans are higher in fiber than white flour, which is important for digestive function and stable blood sugar.
Ratios: 1 cup of whole-wheat flour for 1 cup of white flour or 1 (15 oz.) can of black beans for 1 cup of flour
Butter: swap for mashed avocado
Avocado is a creamy fruit that has a similar texture to butter, but has fewer calories per tablespoon (20 calories for avocado vs. 100 calories for butter) and more heart healthy monounsaturated fats. Avocados are also a good source of fiber as well as potassium, which can help keep your blood pressure steady.
Ratio: Substitute half the amount of butter for mashed avocado
Oil: swap for unsweetened applesauce
Many holiday recipes call for canola oil, which is high in total fat and calories (120 calories for 1 tablespoon). By substituting unsweetened applesauce for oil, you can save calories and enjoy the nutritional benefits applesauce offers including fiber, potassium, and vitamin C.
Ratio: 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce for 1 cup of oil
Eggs: swap for a banana or chia seeds
While there are many nutritional benefits of eggs, they can be a common food allergy in children. If your child has an allergy or you are watching your cholesterol, you can substitute a mashed banana or chia seeds for eggs. Chia seeds are just like they sound; seeds that used to be known for the Chia Pet plans! Chia seeds are a good source of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids as well as dietary fiber and magnesium.
Ratios: 1 ripe mashed banana for 1 egg. To make a chia seed “egg”, mix 3 tablespoons of water with 1 tablespoon ground chia seeds (measure out 1 tablespoon of chia seeds first, then grind and mix with water) and let sit for 5 minutes until the texture is similar to eggs. (Chia seed directions from Food Renegade.com)
Sugar: swap half for vanilla extract
Sugar is definitely plentiful during the holiday season, and too much can be harmful for your heart and blood sugar. Substituting some vanilla extract for granulated sugar can be a great way to reduce your intake and cut calories! One cup of sugar has about 775 calories, compared to 600 calories in one cup of vanilla extract.
Ratios: Use half the sugar that the recipe calls for, and add in one teaspoon of vanilla extract. Be sure to only cut down the sugar by half, or you could compromise your desserts texture and turnout!
Substituting healthier ingredients for less healthy ones is also a great way to expose your children to new foods! Engage them in baking a healthier way by letting them help measure the flour, mash the avocado, and help to make the chia seed “egg”.
Happy holidays from all of us at Nourish Interactive!