A big part of sticking to any healthy diet is not depriving yourself of treats that you crave. The key is to not only treat yourself in moderation, but to also slightly alter your baking habits whenever possible to help cut down on simple sugars and fat, while still getting that sweat taste you’re craving.
Here are five easy ways you can sneak healthier ingredients into your regular holiday recipes this season.
1. Swap Greek Yogurt for Cream
Greek yogurt has a similar consistency as buttercream, sour cream, and cream cheese, but is much healthier for you. Not only does it contain a healthy dose of probiotics, but it’s also a good source of vitamin B12.
To swap out yogurt for sour cream or cream cheese, you can typically use the same amount that the recipe calls for. You may want to steer clear of non-fat yogurt, though, which can have too thin of a consistency and too little fat to be substituted one-for-one.
2. Swap Extra Vanilla Extract for Sugar
Contrary to popular belief, substituting regular white sugar for honey, agave, or coconut sugar doesn’t help much in terms of nutritional value. All of these ingredients still have the same glycemic index, so your body will treat them all in virtually the same way.
High glycemic index diets can put you at an increased risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Instead, try using a little extra vanilla extract or even dried fruit in place of straight sugar, or simply cut the amount of sugar a recipe calls for in half.
3. Swap Oat Flour for White Flour
White flour, like white bread and white sugar, are virtually void of usable nutrients, making these foods essentially empty calories. Other types of flour, on the other hand, such as oat, buckwheat, and spelt, are high in dietary fiber and other important nutrients. In fact, these ingredients can even help to lower bad cholesterol levels.
4. Swap Applesauce for Butter & Oil
Interestingly enough, applesauce is similar enough in wetness and consistency to make an excellent substitution for fats like butter and oil. You can even usually use applesauce in place of eggs to transform your favorite holiday sweets into a vegan-friendly treat.
As a general rule of thumb, use about a quarter of a cup of applesauce per egg that the recipe calls for. In some cases, you may have to slightly adjust other parts of your recipe to account for the missing eggs.
5. Swap Dark Chocolate for Milk Chocolate
Dark chocolate contains significantly less sugar than do milk and white chocolates, so this can be a really simple way to cut down on sugar and calories in your holiday baking. Remember that the higher the percentage of cocoa in the chocolate, the healthier it is!