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Healthy Holiday Baking and Cooking Swaps

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The holidays are all about those delicious, nostalgic recipes that you loved growing up, but some of the ingredients used in those traditional recipes may need an upgrade. As you get your holiday baking on, consider some simple Healthy Holiday baking swaps.

Whether you are baking up a batch of Christmas cookies for the annual holiday cookie exchange, creating a homemade pie for the dessert table, or whipping up something brand new to try, consider these more mindful holiday baking swaps in your holiday baking recipes.

By Ashley Martens

#1 Bake with a Better Butter Option or Oil

Butter is a traditional baking ingredient, so why not try something new in all of those holiday baked goods with a more mindful alternative like ghee or grass-fed butter?

You can also use ripe avocados or even avocado oil. If you opt for fresh avocados, one medium avocado will be the equivalent of about two sticks of butter.

Other butter-baking alternatives include bananas, canned pumpkin puree, coconut oil, Greek yogurt, olive oil, or unsweetened applesauce. Baker’s choice.

Grass-Fed Butter, dairy fats

#2 Choose a Smarter Sweetener

Almost all holiday dessert recipes will call for sugar, but instead of using processed white sugar, select a smart sweetener like agave syrup, coconut sugar, date syrup, honey, maple syrup, or monk fruit. Depending on the recipe, you may even be able to use fresh fruit juice as a smarter sweetener.

#3 Forgo Traditional White Flour

Instead of basic white flour in all of your holiday baking recipes, try a new alternative like arrowroot flour, cassava flour, or coconut flour. You can even create your own nut flour using your favorite type of nuts.

Think of things like hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts. All you need is your favorite type of nut and a food processor. Just be sure to check the exact flour equivalent as it will usually not be a simple 1:1 substitution.

Tip: Hazelnut flour will add a deep aromatic nuttiness to baked goods, giving holiday recipes an intense richness. If pecans are more your preference, create your own pecan flour, which will deliver a deliciously nutty and rich flavor to all of your favorite holiday baking recipes.

#4 Opt for Raw Cacao Instead of Cocoa Powder

Cocoa powder is less expensive than raw cacao powder yet sweeter in taste, which usually makes this option the most popular among holiday bakers. However, raw cacao powder is less processed than cocoa powder and contains antioxidants, iron, magnesium, and other nutrients. Instead of classic cocoa powder, upgrade that tin to raw cacao powder for an added burst of nutritional benefits in all of your holiday desserts.

#5 Upgrade Your Eggs

If you are baking or cooking for dairy-free guests this holiday season, try making a chia egg or flax egg. Simply mix together three tablespoons of water with one tablespoon of ground chia seeds or flax seeds until well combined. Then, place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to chill and use as you would an egg in any of your baking recipes. What an “eggcellent” idea!

#6 Sneak in Some Extra Fiber

Chia seeds are an excellent source of fiber, so if you want holiday baked goods to have additional nutritional benefits, add in a scoop or two of chia seeds, which will also provide a subtle crunch to holiday baked goods.

#7 Use Aquafaba

Aquafaba is the common name for the cooking liquid of beans and legumes. It can boost fiber in recipes and can be used as an egg binder or a whipped egg substitute in holiday dessert recipes like meringues.

If you are just getting started with Aquafaba, it is easiest to begin with the leftover liquid from a can of chickpeas. Use a mixer and whip for 3-6 minutes before using as an ingredient.

Tip: Here is an additional guide on how to make and use aquafaba if you are interested in trying it out this holiday season.

Happy Holidays

Enjoy all of your favorite holiday baked goods and desserts with a more mindful spin this year by making these easy ingredient swaps. Happy holiday baking, everyone!

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ashley martens

Meet The Author

Ashley Martens is a Health and Wellness Writer based in Chicago, IL. With a background in digital marketing coupled with her knowledge of general nutrition and a lifelong passion for all things health, wellness, fitness and nutrition, Ashley offers a healthy alternative to traditional writing. You can learn more about Ashley and her writing on her portfolio.