The holiday season is now upon us, and that means it’s time for family parties, colorful lights and, of course, holiday cookies. During this time of year, it can be tempting to chow down on sweets. But if you are trying to stay fit and healthy this holiday season, there are some little tricks to keep in mind when baking. Make these healthy substitutions to keep your cookies as healthy as they are delicious.
Instead of topping your treats with full-fat dairy cream, keep things light and healthy by substituting Greek yogurt or coconut cream. The former is best for recipes that call for a little tartness (anything that usually needs sour cream is the perfect candidate), while the latter is great for dishes that call for regular cream.
And when it comes to coconut cream versus dairy cream, both ingredients are rich sources of fat. Coconut cream does have about twice the amount of fat as dairy cream, but it’s a plant-based source of fat, and also has more than double the amount of protein as dairy cream.
If you’re looking for a plant-based alternative to eggs, or if you want a few more omega-3s in your cookies, you can make vegan “eggs” from either flax or chia seeds. Combine one tablespoon of the seeds with three tablespoons of water. Let the mixture sit, and you’ll notice that it begins to form an egg-like consistency that’s suitable for baking.
On the other hand, if getting lean protein is on your radar and you’re not vegan, you can use liquid egg whites in place of eggs. This will reduce the amount of fat in your eggs to almost zero, while nearly tripling the protein count. Three tablespoons of egg whites are roughly equivalent to one egg in most baking recipes – just be warned that egg whites do taste a bit different than the entire egg!
You can generally replace whole-wheat flour directly for all-purpose flour, but Chowhound suggests adding five teaspoons of water to the mixture for every cup you exchange. Whole-wheat flour is far superior to white flour, as its husk has not been removed, so it contains more fiber and other nutrients.
If you’re eating gluten-free, sub almond or coconut flour in for all-purpose flours. For almond flour, you can generally use about 1.5 cups of almond flour for every ¾ cup of all-purpose flour in the recipe. You should also wrap foil around your cookies to prevent them from burning, as almond flour is particularly prone to this problem, according to Nature’s Eats.
Coconut flour, on the other hand, has a slightly different ratio. You can use about ⅓ cup coconut flour for every 1 cup of flour, according to Nourished Kitchen.
And finally, you can also sub stevia in for cane sugar in your cookie recipes. You can use a ratio of 1:1 with these, but it’s best to taste along the way, as stevia tends to be a little sweeter than traditional sugar.
You won’t want to sub maple syrup, dates or honey in recipes that specifically call for sugar, as that will change the moisture content of your baked good. You can, however, drizzle them on top of low-sugar treats to give them a healthy source of added sweetness.