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6 Recipe Substitutions that’ll Make Holiday Baking Healthier


The holidays are always filled with yummy and oh-so-tempting treats. The trick to maintaining a healthy lifestyle is to actually allow yourself to give into temptation once in a while! When you limit yourself too much, you’re more likely to binge.

One of the major reasons holiday cookies, pies, and other desserts can be unhealthy is that they’re packed with sugar and empty calories and very few nutrients. The trick when making substitutions is to identify ways to reduce the sugar and add nutritious fiber and protein back in. Also, with any substitution, it may take some experimentation to ensure proper consistency and flavor. What may work well and taste good for some, may be different for others.

Here are 6 substitutions you can make to your holiday recipes and still have them taste great!

  1. Replace some of the white flour with whole wheat flour, almond flour, or ground oats. This adds some fiber back into your cookies without jeopardizing flavor.
  2. Reduce the sugar. The traditional Christmas sugar cookie is a classic example of being loaded with, of course, sugar. If you cut back the amount of sugar even just a little bit then the cookies will still taste great without a huge spike of sugar.
  3. Replace processed ingredients like refined sugar with more natural substitutes like real maple syrup or honey.
  4. Replace cookie frosting altogether and instead drizzle with some melted dark chocolate, toasted nuts with honey, or even orange zest.
  5. Replace chocolate chips with cocoa nibs which are unprocessed, pure chocolate that don’t contain sugar. Cocoa nips also are packed with antioxidants which can help reduce inflammation and your risk of heart disease and diabetes. If you can’t quite make the switch to cocoa nibs or you have kids or grandkids who are still craving the sugary chocolate, start out with mini chocolate chips or dark chocolate chips (that’s at least 60% cacao). This can help you slowly transition away from the milk chocolate.
  6. Add 2-4 tablespoons of ground flaxseed or flaxmeal to your baked goods. Flaxseed has grown in popularity over the years but actually dates back to the times of Charlemagne, as early as 3000 B.C. It’s high in omega-3 fatty acids, lignans, and fiber which can help reduce the risk of certain cancers and heart and lung disease.

Looking for healthier recipes this holiday season? Check out these recipes or grab these high protein snack and dessert options. The fudge cake, and savory chips and pretzels are just some of the favorites.

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