With the big day arriving tomorrow we here at Healthier Talk would like to take a moment to wish you and yours a very merry Christmas. By now the shopping is done, the gifts are all wrapped and you can finally take a breath and relax.
One of our favorite Christmas Eve traditions in my house growing up was baking some cookies to leave for Santa and cake to serve for the Christmas buffet the next day. But if you or other family members are trying to eat healthier this holiday season it can be tough to navigate the dessert table.
Why not make it a bit easier by adding a healthy twist to your traditional recipes that will allow you to indulge a bit without feeling guilty? Following are five of our favorite simple substitutions to make your baking just a bit healthier this year.
1. Drop the milk chocolate:
Many popular Christmas dessert recipes call for milk chocolate, which is loaded with inflammation promoting added sugars. Swap out the milk chocolate for some antioxidant rich unsweetened cocoa powder instead. Mix together three tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder and one tablespoon of warmed coconut oil. A half a tablespoon of maple syrup will sweeten up your milk chocolate substitute perfectly.
2. Ditch the margarine:
If you haven’t purged margarine from your life there’s no better time than now to do it. Margarine is made from unhealthy highly refined vegetable oils that are unstable and trigger inflammation. Switch to butter instead. For a healthier twist on cakes, sweet breads and muffins substitute at least half of the butter (or oil) in your recipe with organic unsweetened apple sauce. It makes your baked goods super moist and adds extra healthy fiber.
3. Slash the sugar:
It turns out unsweetened applesauce isn’t just a good substitute for butter or oil in your recipes, it also can help you cut back on added sugars. Simply swap in the same amount of applesauce as sugar that you cut from your recipe. So for example if your recipe calls for a cup of sugar you can substitute a half cup of unsweetened applesauce and use only one half cup of the sugar. But keep in mind since applesauce adds liquid you should reduce one of the other liquids in your recipe by one quarter cup to compensate. This swap is perfect for your favorite oatmeal raisin cookies and I promise no one will know the difference.
4. Cut the oil:
You can slash the oil in your cakes, muffins, brownies, sweet breads and pancakes in half by swapping in unsweetened pumpkin puree. For example, if your recipe calls for half a cup oil swap in two ounces of the puree for half the oil. The pumpkin will add a delicious flavor and make your baked goods appealingly spongy and moist.
5. Replace the refined four:
Believe it or not beans make a terrific substitute for the flour in your dessert recipes. Swap out one cup of flour for one cup of black beans or garbanzo beans. Drain and rinse the beans and allow them to dry fully. Briefly blend the beans in your food processor or blender with a bit of the liquid from your recipe to make a simple puree and fold into your mix.