8 Tips For Healthy Holiday Baking Substitutions

Carmen Roberts, MS, RD, LDN | Dec 12, 2016

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Try some of these clever substitutions in your favorite holiday recipes. Simple recipe modifications can dramatically reduce the amount of fat and sugar in your favorite dish, as well as boost its nutritional content.

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When your recipe calls for: Butter or margarine

Try this instead:

Mashed bananas or avocadoes

These fruits provide moisture to your baked goods, providing an ideal consistency without the added saturated fat of butter. Using mashed bananas gives you additional potassium and fiber. Avocadoes provide folate, potassium, fiber, vitamin C, and healthy monounsaturated fats.

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When your recipe calls for: Vegetable oil

Try this instead:

Pureed fruits, such as unsweetened applesauce, prunes, and apricots

You can even use jars of baby food if you don’t have time to puree your own fruit. Prunes taste best when used in chocolate products such as brownies and cakes. By eliminating the added fat in your baked goods, you dramatically reduce the number of calories. You also get additional vitamin C and potassium.

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When your recipe calls for: Eggs

Try this instead:

Egg whites or chia seeds

For each whole egg, you can substitute 2 egg whites. This eliminates the fat, reduces the calories, and gives you all of the protein.  You can also substitute 1 tablespoon of chia seeds soaked in 1 cup of water for 15 minutes for each egg in your recipe. This gives you a nutritional boost of extra protein and fiber and healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. This works well in any baked goods, including muffins, cakes, and quick breads.

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When your recipe calls for: Heavy cream

Try this instead:

Fat-free half and half or evaporated skim milk

Swapping out your cream for one of these substitutes will produce the same consistency with a fraction of the saturated fat and calories in any of your recipes. This works well in whipped cream or in any baked goods such as scones or biscuits.

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When your recipe calls for: Flour

Try this instead:

Whole wheat flour or black beans

In addition to having more fiber than white flour, whole wheat flour also contains vitamins such as folate, riboflavin, thiamine, and niacin. When you are baking chocolate products such as brownies, try substituting an equal amount of pureed black beans instead of flour for more protein and fiber in your baked goods.

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When your recipe calls for: Bread crumbs

Try this instead:

Crushed bran cereal or rolled oats

Swapping out bran cereal or rolled oats for bread crumbs gives you added fiber and protein and the nutritional benefits of whole grains.

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When your recipe calls for: Sugar

Try this instead:

Half the sugar with added cinnamon, nutmeg, or vanilla

In traditional baked goods, the final product will not be affected if you reduce the total amount of sugar. Try using only half of the sugar that the recipes calls for, and add spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg to intensify the flavor. Flavor extracts such as vanilla, peppermint, or almond add additional flavor without the added calories.

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When your recipe calls for: Chocolate chips

Try this instead:

Cacao nibs

Cacao nibs are tiny bits of dried, roasted, crushed cacao beans. They do not contain added sugar, so they aren’t sweet, but they have an intense chocolate flavor. Using this substitution can give you a healthy dose of antioxidants without the calories of sugar. If you need more sweetness, try using half chocolate chips and half cacao nibs in your next recipe to give you the best of both worlds.