The holidays are filled with a lot of delicious treats that we all love this time of year. While you have absolute permission to indulge, we have some suggestions for some healthy swaps and add-ins that can make your desserts just as tasty. These tips are approved by our dietitians and can help boost healthy fats and fiber and keep your treats to a healthy sweet.
Please note that the following suggestions are great for swapping one component out in a recipe. Making more than one swap may impact the quality and texture of your dessert. Now let’s get baking!
To help boost fiber, consider some of the following flour or cereal substitutions you can use to replace 1 cup of refined grains in the following desserts
- 1 cup pureed beans: can be used in brownies to boost fiber and protein
- ¼ cup almond flour + ¾ cup white whole wheat flour: adds a nutty flavor in cookies, sweet breads and cakes
- 1 cup nut flour + ½ tsp of raising agent: perfect for sweet breads and gluten free
- 1 cup white whole wheat flour: a boost of whole grains that doesn’t taste heavy
- 1 cup brown rice cereal + 2 tbsp flax meal: perfect sub for rice crispy treats and helps boost fiber and omega 3s
There are a lot of practical ways to reduce the amount of added sugars in baked goods. You can opt for some fruit to help reduce some of the sugar in desserts. If not ready to completely swap sugar out, consider subbing parts of the sugar for some of the below recommended swaps.
- 1 cup unsweetened applesauce = 1 cup sugar: perfect for brownies and cookies come out more gooey but still have that sweet taste
- ½ cup honey = 1 cup sugar: great for cookies and cakes with sweet taste
- 1 tsp liquid stevia or 2 tbsp stevia powder = 1 cup sugar: cookies, cakes, and sweet breads final product is just as sweet
Fats help to provide moisture as well as impacts the texture and mouthfeel of a dessert. To get the maximum health benefit, you can opt for some clever substitutions below that focus on either healthier fat alternatives or higher fiber ingredients that behave similar to fat.
- 1 cup pureed avocado = 1 cup of butter: can be used in brownies and chocolate cookies
- 3 tbsp flax meal + 1 tbsp water = 1 tbsp of butter: perfect for adding fiber and omega 3s and can be used in muffins, cakes, and cookies
- 1 cup mashed bananas = 1 cup oil or butter: great to use in cookies and brownies
- 1 cup canned pumpkin = 1 cup oil: use in cookies and sweet breads for less calories and fat but still having that yummy flavor
Eggs are needed for structure and moisture in desserts. However, if you have an allergy or are vegan, there are a number of different swaps you can make to replace them.
- 1 tbsp chia seeds + 3 tbsp water: great in chocolate or dark colored desserts
- 1 tbsp ground flax seeds + 3 tbsp water: great in muffins, cakes and cookies (Note: allow flax meal and cold water to sit for 10 minutes before using)
- 3 tbsp aquafaba (the liquid in a can of chickpeas): this is great for desserts that are pale or white in color like sugar cookies or vanilla cakes
- ¼ cup pureed pumpkin/banana/applesauce: can be used in sweet breads and cakes without impacting the flavor or color too much
Some frostings may be heavy and have high amounts of sugar. These replacements can help give those desserts a lighter coating with a sweet taste.
- 1 cup marshmallow fluff: use instead of buttercream frosting on cakes, cupcakes, and cookies
- 1 cup crushed graham crackers = 1 cup crushed cookies: for pie crusts
- 1 cup evaporated skim milk = 1 cup heavy cream: for whipped creams
We combined all of this into one convenient infographic. Feel free to print and post on your fridge to help remember some of these great swaps!
For more great tips on how to modify your treats or meals, meet with one of our dietitians!