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12 Healthy Substitutes to Use in Your Holiday Baking

It’s here! That time of year that’s packed with parties, cheer and So. Many. Calories. But you don’t have to let the holidays ruin your diet. And you certainly shouldn’t let your diet ruin the holidays! Just look for ways to lighten up your favorite holiday treats.

12 Tasty Swaps to Keep Holiday Goodies from Derailing Your Diet

1. Replace Flour with Black Bean Puree

I know, I know. It doesn’t sound good. But as a brownie fanatic, I’m telling you that you have to taste it to believe it! If the recipe calls for a cup of flour, swap in a cup of black or cannellini bean puree instead. It will slash calories, ramp up the fiber and still taste amazing. The cannellini beans work best in non-chocolate cookie recipes.

(Works best with brownies and cookies)

2. Replace Sugar with Unsweetened Applesauce

This swap is great for keeping the sweetness while cutting the sugar. To keep treats tasting great, make sure you follow the substitution rules. You can’t eliminate the sugar all together. Instead, you can replace half the amount of sugar in the recipe. For example, if the recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, use 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 of cup applesauce. You should also reduce the recipe’s main liquid by about 1/4 for every cup of applesauce added. A little tricky, but worth it!

(Works best with cakes and breads)

3. Replace Butter with Mashed Avocados

Avocados are a great source of healthy fat and fiber. Simply replace half of the butter with mashed avocado. For example, if the recipe calls for 1 cup of butter, use 1/2 cup of butter and 1/2 cup of mashed avocado instead. Keep in mind, avocados will cause a green tint — easy enough to work into a holiday theme!

(Works best with cakes, cookies and breads)

*Hint: For cakes, reduce oven temperature by 25 percent and increase baking time for best results.

4. Replace Cream with Evaporated Milk

You can completely replace cream with evaporated milk to slash calories. Consider adding some vanilla extract to the evaporated milk for even better flavor.

(Works best with whipped cream and dessert beverages)

5. Replace Butter with Banana

Banana not only cuts out fat and calories, it also adds a yummy, dense texture to baked goods. If a recipe calls for 1 cup of butter, use 1 cup of mashed banana instead.

(Works best with cakes, muffins, cookies and breads)

*Hint: You may need to reduce cooking time with this swap.

6. Replace Sugar with Vanilla Extract

Cutting sugar means cutting lots of calories! With many baking recipes, you can cut out half the sugar and replace it with a teaspoon of vanilla extract. It doesn’t get simpler than that!

(Works best with cakes, muffins, cookies and breads)

7. Replace Chocolate Chips with Cacao Nibs

Cacao is unprocessed chocolate — it contains no sugar, very little fat and lots of antioxidants.  Cacao nibs can completely replace chocolate chips in any recipe!

8. Replace Chocolate Chips with Mini Chocolate Chips

Switching to cacao nibs sound like too big of a step for you? Well, here’s another way to slash mega calories and fat in your beloved chocolate chip cookies. Use 1 cup of mini morsels instead of 2 cups of regular-sized chips. You’ll still get lots of chocolaty goodness in every bite, but you’ll be cutting out hundreds of calories. What’s not to love?

(Works best in chocolate chip cookies and muffins)

9. Replace Sugar with Stevia

Stevia is an all-natural sweetener made from the stevia plant, and — get this — it has no calories, no carbs and a zero glycemic index! It’s sold in several different forms. Stevia is over 200 times sweeter than sugar, so a little goes a long way. Because of this, the substitution is a little more complex. Instead of 1 cup of sugar, you can use 1 teaspoon liquid stevia, 1/3 to 1/2 teaspoon stevia extract powder, or 1 tablespoon concentrated stevia liquid. Use an online conversion calculator to make sure you’re using the right amount for your recipe.

(Works best with all kinds of baked goods)

*Hint: Since you use so much less stevia than sugar, you’ll need to add the bulk back to your recipe. Ingredients that can add bulk include fruit juice, fruit puree, applesauce, yogurt, canned pumpkin, egg whites and water — choose the ingredient that goes best with what you’re baking. Add 1/3 cup of “bulk” for every cup of sugar you removed.

10. Replace Canola Oil with Greek Yogurt

For super moist treats with way less fat, swap in plain, non-fat or low-fat Greek yogurt. Cut the amount of oil in half, and add 3/4 cup of yogurt for every cup of oil that you remove. For example, if a recipe calls for 2 cups of oil, use 1 cup of oil and 3/4 cup of Greek yogurt instead.

(Works best with cake, bread and cookies)

11. Replace Wheat Flour with Gluten-Free Flour

Trying to reduce or eliminate gluten in your diet? You can still enjoy baked goods with this simple switch. Completely substitute gluten-free flour for the other, and add 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum for every cup of flour used to help the food bind.

(Works best with muffins and cakes)

12. Replace Reduced-Fat Peanut Butter with Natural Peanut Butter

Reduced-fat peanut butter sounds virtuous, but it often contains more sugar than the original versions. Frustrating, right? Swap in natural, peanut butter, with or without the added salt, instead. It doesn’t have the sugar or artificial additives that you’ll find in the other brands.

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