Healthy Holiday Baking
Finding balance with the abundance of food during the holidays
Fall is finally in the air, which means it’s holiday baking time, whether for treats to bring to a Halloween party, Thanksgiving desserts, cookie swaps or just for fun. However, with a growing number of family and friends being mindful of building a healthy lifestyle, it can be the spookiest time of the year. While there is undoubtedly room within a healthy diet to indulge in holiday treats, it’s important to find a balance so we can continue to fuel our bodies well. Here are four tips on how we can enjoy healthier holiday treats:
Substitute the processed sugars
There are a plethora of options for sweeteners these days besides refined, white sugar or brown sugar. For natural sweetness in recipes like bread or muffins, opt for very ripe, mashed bananas, applesauce or pureed dates. Choose a plant-based alternative such as Swerve, made from ingredients found in select fruits and starchy root vegetables, containing no artificial ingredients, preservatives or flavors. Swerve measures cup-for-cup like sugar and is zero calorie and low glycemic, meaning it has little to no effect on blood glucose or insulin levels.
Like sugar, there are several other options for flour, rather than just allpurpose flour. More protein, fiber and vitamins and minerals are added to our baked goods by substituting whole wheat flour for white flour. For a grain-free or glutenfree option, try coconut flour or almond flour.
Coconut flour has a mildly sweet flavor, which lends itself well to baked goods like cookies, cakes or bread. Almond flour is easy to use because it can replace wheat flour at an equal ratio and provide a subtle, nutty flavor.
Choose different add-ins
I’m a sucker for anything chocolate, as I’m sure most are. Unfortunately, the sugar and calories add up rather quickly from traditional chocolate chips in baked goods. Lucky for us, there are some better options when choosing chocolate chips: Lily’s Baking Chips are stevia-sweetened chocolate chips with zero added sugar and all the varieties of flavors we could ask for (dark chocolate, milk chocolate, semi-sweet, white, butterscotch and salted caramel). Choc Zero Chocolate Chips are another great option with zero grams of added sugar. Other add-ins like nuts, fruit, unsweetened cocoa powder, pumpkin, warm spices, peppermint extract, etc., will still give us that holiday feel and flavor.
Trim the fat
Almost all recipes call for butter or oil.
These recipes can usually be adapted to cut the butter or oil in half and replace it with an equal amount of cooked, mashed sweet potatoes, ripe mashed bananas or applesauce. Coconut oil is also a suitable replacement for butter, though it may slightly change the flavor. It works great for recipes with rich chocolate flavors or more tropical flavors.
Here is a healthy twist on the peanut butter and chocolate candy you know and love.
Anna Walter, RDE, is the operations and marketing specialist for Eat Fit Shreveport, a nonprofit initiative of Ochsner Health. Visit www.EatFitShreveport.com for more information, follow @EatFitShreveport on Facebook and Instagram for the latest Eat Fit updates, and sign up for the Eat Fit Wellness Bites weekly newsletter.
Chocolate Salted Peanut Butter Cups
Makes six servings
6 tablespoons coconut oil (melted) or salted butter
6 tablespoons of cocoa powder (unsweetened)
Swerve, Confectioners Peanut Butter
6 teaspoons peanut butter (no sugar added)
2 tablespoons cocoa butter (melted)
1 tablespoon Swerve, Confectioners ½ teaspoon kosher salt or Celtic sea salt
In a muffin pan, place muffin liners in six cups. Set aside. Whisk together melted coconut oil, cocoa powder and Swerve in a medium bowl.
Place a tablespoon of chocolate mixture in each muffin liner. Freeze for 5 minutes.
In a separate, microwave-safe bowl, whisk together melted cocoa butter, peanut butter, Swerve and salt. Once combined, zap in the microwave for 10 seconds. Remove chocolate from freezer and add one teaspoon and a half of peanut butter mixture to the frozen chocolate coating. Freeze for another three minutes.
Remove from freezer and add a tablespoon of remaining chocolate in each cup, covering the peanut butter mixture. Freeze for five minutes and eat.
Store in fridge or freezer in an airtight storage container. Note: If desired, let soften for 15-20 minutes before eating.
Serving: 200 calories, 21 grams fat, 15 grams saturated fat (all
plant-based sat fat if using coconut oil), 180 mg sodium, 10 grams
carbohydrate (1 gram net carb), 2 grams fiber, 0 sugar, 2 grams protein.