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Holiday Baking Swaps

posted Dec 4, 2015, 9:38 AM by Rachel Griffin   [ updated Dec 7, 2015, 6:15 AM ]

The holiday season is in full swing and so is our desire for traditional holiday treats, but all of the heavy ingredients can leave you feeling…well, heavy.  You may have tried healthy baking swaps in the past but have ended up with undesirable textures or outright inedible finished products.  Before you completely write off trying to lighten up your family’s favorite recipes, try our list of tested and approved ways to lighten up your holiday:

  • White whole wheat flour
    • 1:1 substitution for white all-purpose flour. We love King Arthur and Wegman’s brands for added fiber and similar texture to all-purpose flour. 
  • Fat free evaporated milk 
    • 1:1 substitution for heavy cream (in a recipe—will not whip!) 
  • Pumpkin puree (canned or homemade; not pumpkin pie filling) or unsweetened applesauce 
    • ½ cup pumpkin puree or applesauce + ½ cup oil for 1 cup oil 
    • Check out this recipe for pumpkin brownies in our December newsletter 
  • Mashed/pureed avocado or banana 
    • 1:1 substitution for butter or oil 
  • Dark chocolate chips or cacao nibs 
    • 1:1 substitution for milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips 
    • Look for 60-80% cacao for an antioxidant boost and minimal added sugar 
  • Natural peanut butter 
    • 1:1 substitution for peanut butter 
    • Regular and even reduced fat peanut butters contain trans-fats and added sugars. Look for natural peanut butter with ingredients of just peanuts and (maybe) salt. 
  • Cut white granulated sugar in half and add… 
    • A few teaspoons of vanilla or almond extract, warm spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, or pumpkin pie spice, or citrus zest or juice for the hint of sweetness without the additional calories or sugar. This trick is also delicious in coffee or tea! 
  • Plain, non-fat yogurt (Greek style is recommended, but traditional will work too) 
    • 1:1 substitution for sour cream 
    • ¼ cup yogurt + ½ cup butter as substitute for 1 cup butter 
    • ¾ cup yogurt as substitution for 1 cup oil 
    • 2/3 cup yogurt + 1/3 cup low fat/fat free milk or buttermilk as substitute for 1 cup full-fat buttermilk 
    • ½ cup yogurt + ½ cup mayonnaise or cream cheese for 1 cup mayonnaise or cream cheese

If you are nervous about any of these swaps, try easing into them.  For example, if you’re not ready to make the 1:1 avocado or banana swap, try ½ cup mashed avocado and ½ cup butter for 1 cup butter.  It may take a few tries to get your recipe exactly how you like it, but you can use those extra batches as homemade gifts that everyone will love.

Keep in mind that we eat with our eyes first, so try using these swaps and then adding a garnish of the more indulgent ingredient to make the dish seem decadent without actually being so.  For example, use the yogurt or evaporated milk substitution in your favorite holiday cake, but serve it with a dollop of real whipped cream and dusting of cinnamon on top.
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