Holiday baking is a fun and festive way to enjoy the magic of the holidays, especially if you have your loved ones helping you in the kitchen.
If you’re trying to eat healthier, don’t worry – you don’t have to say “no” altogether to holiday treats. Instead, try these simple tips for lightening up your homemade holiday goodies and giving them an added nutritional boost.
1 – Swap Your Flours
Instead of using white all-purpose flour, swap it out with 100% whole wheat flour or do a 50/50 split. Whole-wheat flour adds more fiber to your recipe and in some cases, it’s easier to stretch when rolling it out for cookie dough or pie crusts.
One thing to note is that with whole-wheat flour, your finished treat may be denser and dryer, so you might want to experiment with adding more liquid to your baking mixture.
2 – Cut the Fat Content
You can replace some of the butter or margarine in your recipes with healthier fats like olive oil or canola oil. Other popular alternatives include unsweetened applesauce, plain Greek yogurt, pumpkin puree, or avocado.
For a boost of healthy fats, consider adding ground flaxseeds or flax meal to your baked goods. They add protein as well as omega-3 fatty acids that are good for your cardiovascular health.
3 – Use a Little Less Added Sugar
Most recipes still taste great with less sugar than what the recipe calls for. Try eliminating 1/4 of what’s suggested to see how it affects the taste.
You can also substitute white sugar in some recipes with pureed fruit or mashed bananas and dates. A touch of honey, agave nectar, or molasses can also sweeten up a recipe. And rather than icing your sweet treats, try a small dash of sanding sugar, nuts, or orange zest. A moderate drizzle of honey or dark chocolate is another idea.
4 – Use Real Food
Rather than giving added sugars all the credit in your holiday baked goods, share the spotlight with real food: fruit, whole grains, nuts, seeds, etc.
For example, you can make a warm and comforting holiday dessert just by baking sliced apples in a skillet with a few spices and some honey mixed with chopped walnuts. You can also add shredded or pureed apples, pears, carrots, coconut, mashed banana, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and more to your baked goods for extra flavor and moisture.
5 – Spice it Up
There are tons of bold spices and flavors that are extra perfect for the holidays: cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, allspice, pumpkin pie spice, and more. Extracts like lemon, vanilla, and peppermint are another way to add flavor to your baked goods.
What are some of your healthy holiday recipes? Feel free to drop them in the comments below!