Baking is one of my favorite part of the holiday season. Whether I am making candy, pies or cookies, the holidays mean you will find me in the kitchen more often than usual.  And tasting more frequently too!  With all those goodies around, I decided to see if I could make those holiday baking recipes healthier without sacrificing taste.

Here are several tips for healthier holiday baking that really do work – without tasting any less delicious than the less-healthy variety.

Healthier Holiday Baking

  • Cut the fat. You can exchange some of the butter, margarine or other fats in your cookie recipe for a heart healthy oil instead.  A few examples of heart healthy oils are canola oil or olive oil. If you want to lower the fat even more, swap out half of the oil with applesauce or canned pumpkin.
  • In recipes that call for sour cream, try a replacement of non-fat or low-fat yogurt. Choose unflavored yogurt to keep the sugar content as low as possible.  For a different twist, try unflavored Greek yogurt. Just make certain that you watch the fat content on the yogurt that you choose.
  • Switch flours. If your cookie recipe calls for all-purpose (white) flour, try replacing half of the amount with 100% whole wheat flour instead. My family wasn’t impressed when I replaced all of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour but they could not tell the difference when I replaced only half. This will give your cookie recipe much more fiber than if you went with white flour alone.
  • Try healthier substitutions.  Instead of Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, make Oatmeal Raisin Cookies instead.  Raisins are a better choice than chocolate chips.  If you normally add nuts to your cookies, try adding sunflower seeds instead.  Nuts are much higher in fat content than seeds are.
  • Look for healthier alternatives.  If you want cake, choose an angel food cake.  Angel food cake is fat-free. Instead of frosting or powdered sugar, top with sliced fresh fruit.  Sliced peaches are one of my favorite choices.
  • Choose lower fat options. If your recipe calls for milk, choose a skim milk or reduced fat milk instead of adding whole milk. You generally cannot taste any difference at all. Note that this may not work in cream pies or puddings.
  • Replace one whole egg with two egg whites.  There is no fat in the egg white, so double up and ditch the yolk.

Don’t let concerns over calories stop you from enjoying holiday baking.  By using these healthier holiday baking tips, you can have all the taste with less of the calories.

photo credit: 1smrtcookie via photopin cc