The holiday season is upon us and with that comes a lot of holiday treats and baking. Baking can bring friends and family together and create precious memories. However, eating too much holiday baking can also mean setting back your health goals come January. Fortunately, there are ways to continue traditional holiday baking and maintain your health goals by making some simple swaps in your recipes.

Flour, butter, sugar and eggs are the main ingredients in most baking. By making small substitutions to these items in your recipes, the taste will remain largely unaltered but you can be confident you are serving and eating a healthier treat.

Healthy Baking Swaps:

Flour:

White flour -> whole-wheat flour or black beans

Swapping white flour for whole-wheat flour is an easy recipe adjustment that adds fibre to recipes. When making this swap, start with using ½ whole wheat and ½ white flour for optimal results. Too much whole wheat flour may change the integrity and consistency of the product.

Swapping out white flour for pureed black beans also adds great consistency and fibre to baking. This works best in products with cocoa, such as brownies. 1 cup of flour can be replaced with 1 cup of pureed black beans.

Butter:

Butter -> applesauce, pureed prunes or Greek yogurt

Butter can be substituted in a 1:1 ratio with fruit purees such as applesauce or pureed prunes. Applesauce works great in many recipes because of its subtle taste, while pureed prunes are great for recipes with chocolate.

Butter can also be substituted in a 1:1 ratio with low-fat plain Greek yogurt. The Greek yogurt adds richness to baking as well as protein.

Sugar:

Sugar -> vanilla, applesauce or mashed banana

Many recipes can be altered by simply reducing the amount of sugar compared to what is called for in the recipe. Adding natural vanilla extract gives the same sweet flavour without the added calories of sugar.

Alternatively, fruit purees such as applesauce, mashed banana or pureed prunes work well as a substitute for sugar and can be substituted on a 1:1 ratio.

Eggs:

Eggs -> Chia seeds

Combining 1 Tbsp. of ground chia seeds with 3 Tbsp. of water and allowing it to sit for five to ten minutes to form a gel can substitute for 1 egg in quick breads, waffles, cookies and brownies.  This substitution can reduce cholesterol in baking.

When making baking substitutions it’s best to make only one or two swaps at a time to maintain the flavour and integrity of your creation. Consider what’s most important to your health goals and alter the recipe accordingly.

Experimenting with baking can be a lot of fun, so play with your recipes and see what works for you!