13 Amazing Ingredient Swaps for Healthy Baking Over the Holidays

It wouldn’t be the holidays without doing some baking with your friends and family. That being said, your mother’s or grandmother’s recipes for cookies, pies and cakes may not be the friendliest to your waistline and nutrition/fitness goals. Here are some simple tricks and substitutions you can do to change up those recipes you hold so dear, allowing you to still enjoy tasty treats without derailing your progress.

Unsweetened applesauce or pumpkin puree for oil or butter: 

The applesauce and pumpkin puree gives the right consistency and a hint of sweetness without all the fat. Both work well in any sweet bread, like banana or zucchini, muffins, cake and even with boxed mixes. Pumpkin can also work in cookies, replacing half the fat content.

Avocado puree for butter: 

They’re both fats (albeit very different fats) and have nearly the same consistency at room temperature. The creaminess goes well with the texture of fudge brownies, chocolate fudge cookies or any dark chocolate flavored baked good. It can take some experimenting to get this swap perfect, but generally, using 1 cup of avocado puree per cup of butter works.

Stevia for sugar:

 Stevia is a low-calorie, natural sweetener that is 300 times sweeter than sugar. You only need a small amount to meet the same sweetness as sugar, make sure to use caution using a small amounts at a time and adding to taste preference.

Vanilla & spices for sugar: 

Cutting sugar in half and adding a teaspoon of vanilla and cinnamon or your favourite spices as a replacement can give just as much flavor with significantly fewer calories and carbohydrates. Next time you’re whipping up some cookies, try cutting ½ the sugar in the recipe and adding an extra vanilla extract & cinnamon.

Coconut flour for flour:

 Coconut flour acts as a nutrition powerhouse in recipes, high in protein and fiber, hypoallergenic, and low in carbohydrates. It is a great partial substitute for wheat flour in baking recipes. It is highly absorptive so you generally only need 1/4 to 1/3 cup of coconut flour for 1 cup of wheat flour. Substitutes can be tricky in baking, so when using coconut flour, be sure to add an equal amount of extra liquid

Nut flour for regular wheat flour: 

A gluten-free switch, giving your baked good a dose of protein, omega-3s, and a delicious nutty flavor. Nut flours are naturally denser than other flours, make sure to use an extra leavening agent or only substitute a fraction of the nut flour. Try to incorporate ¼ cup nut flour with ¾ cup whole wheat flour, or add an extra ½ tsp leavening agent to ensure a lighter finished texture when substituting one to one. Works best with cookies, cakes, and some sweet breads.

Meringue for frosting:

 Made from just egg whites, cream of tartar, and sweetener of choice, meringue can be a great fat-free substitution for traditional frosting.

Low-fat Greek yogurt mixed with vanilla protein powder for frosting:

Greek yogurt is high in calcium and protein, and when mixed with a scoop or two of protein powder, produces a velvety frosting. Scoop it into a ziplock bag for an instant piping bag to decorate your favorite baked goods.

Cacao nibs for chocolate chips: 

Cacao nibs are the unprocessed versions of chocolate chip, lending themselves easily the switch up. They deliver a healthy dose of antioxidants.

Egg whites for eggs: 

Want to boost the protein in a recipe while cutting the calories? Making the simple switch of using 2 egg whites for each egg the recipe calls for does just that without changing the consistency of your final product dramatically.

Natural almond or nut butter for traditional or reduced-fat peanut butter:

 Despite what is a popular belief of traditional Skippy or reduced-fat versions of peanut butter, they can actually have more sugar and a long list of artificial additives. Natural nut butter provides the same flavour without all the added junk.

About the Author: Ana Plenter


Ana Plenter is a Award Winning Personal Trainer, Fitness Competitor & Competition Coach and the Founder of Build My Body Beautiful & Body Beautiful Fitness

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