How to bake healthy during the holidays

brownies-545064_1280Holiday season is upon us and if you think you can stay away from all baked goods during the holidays to stay healthy then think again! We are surrounded by  baked goods wherever we go during the holidays and to resist it becomes challenging and stressful. My advice to you is to enjoy! If you have been eating relatively healthy all along, a few unhealthy treats during the holidays are not going to throw your body off but remember the key is “a few”.  Quantity is very important when you can’t really control the quality.

Having said that, there is no reason why your baked goods don’t have to be healthier.

Here are 3 modifications I always make in my baking recipes to make them a bit more nutritious, a little less sweeter and a little less fattening.

  1.  Sugar: White sugar is the most refined, unnecessary ingredient found in most recipes that should be reduced in quantity and replaced with a better quality whole sugar.  Right off the bat I reduce the amount of sugar in my recipe by a 1/4 so if a recipe calls for 1 cup sugar I would use 3/4 cup.  Secondly I replace the white refined sugar in the recipe with equal amount of coconut sugar, sucanet or date sugar.  All naturally occurring whole sugars which give you the same amount of calories as white sugar but contain more nutrients and have a lower glycemic index so they don’t raise your blood sugar as high as white sugar does.
  2. White flour: Another key ingredient in every baking recipe that I usually replace with a whole grain flour like whole grain whole wheat, oat, kamut or spelt. These flours contain more fibre and nutrients than refined white flour.  If you are a little nervous about this substituting idea then replace 1/2 of the white flour with a whole grain flour.  There are many other flours such as almond flour, cassava flour or chickpea flour that are more nutritious than white flour.  You can experiment with them once you get comfortable with using alternative flours.
  3. Fat: Now I am a fan of good quality fat like coconut oil or butter, however, there is just use too much of it in some recipes when we don’t really need it.  I try to replace at least 1/4 of the fat with either apple sauce or low fat greek yogurt.  It will provide for the moistness but reduce the calories.  You can slowly work up to replacing 1/2 of the fat with either of the above 2 ingredients.

Just those few steps listed above can improve the nutritious value of your baked goods.  Will they taste the same? Not the same but very similar. They may not be as fluffy or spongy or may taste a little less sweet but I can guarantee you, they will satisfy your sweet tooth without doing too much damage to your body.  Give it a try and be amazed!