The holidays are a wonderful time to celebrate and reflect on all we are thankful for with the 3 F’s: Family, Friends, and FOOD! Unfortunately, all that celebrating can be tough on the waistline and make for a scary showdown with the scale come January 1st. However, for me, baking during the holidays is one of my favorite ways to relax and spend quality time with the kiddos– the joy on their faces when they crack an egg, stir the batter, or decorate cookies can melt my heart. Holiday baking (and eating!!) is a fun family tradition in our house – too many calories or not!
So, can we possibly enjoy all the deliciousness that December has to offer without completely falling off the wagon (and having to buy a whole new wardrobe next year)? Yes, Yes, Yes! With some simple tricks and a little experimentation, we can have our holiday cake and eat it too without resorting to living in our black (stretchy!) yoga pants.
Here are some tips to trim down your holiday recipes:
1.Use Less Sugar: In most recipes you can significantly decrease calorie count by decreasing the sugar by half and adding a teaspoon of vanilla. You can also try substituting unsweetened applesauce for sugar cup for cup. Once cupof applesauce contains about 100 calories vs. almost 800 calories in one cup of sugar! If you do replace sugar with applesauce, decrease the amount of liquids used in the recipe by ¼.
2.Replace The Butter/Oil: In sweet breads, muffins, or cakes try replacing half of the butter or oil with unsweetened applesauce. It will keeps treats moist and sweet. Mashed banana is also a great substitute for butter. Substitute equal amounts of banana for butter but, be aware, you may need to decrease your cooking time by up to 25% – so keep an eye on the oven! Greek yogurt is a perfect healthy substitute for oil. To make the substitution, cut out half the amount of oil and then replace each cup of oil removed with ¾ cup greek yogurt.
3. Add Fiber: Use whole wheat flour in place of white flour. Replace half of the white flour called for in baked goods with whole wheat flour. You can also replace flour in brownie or dark colored baked good recipes with a can of drained and rinsed black beans. It sounds crazy but you’ll not only add tons of fiber but also increases the protein and cut out the gluten from flour! Swap one cup of flour with once cup of black bean puree.
4. Replace heavy cream with evaporated milk: Use a one to one ratio and this will significantly reduce fat and calories.
5. Replace chocolate chips with cacao nibs: What is cacao? Essentially it’s a raw form of chocolate. Unlike processed chocolate chips, cacao nibs contain no sugar, very little fat, and is a nutritional powerhouse. Replace in a one to one ratio in any recipe that calls for chocolate chips. Another option is to use mini chocolate chips in place of regular chocolate chips or chocolate chunks. Use half the amount of chocolate chips called for in the recipe. (For every cup of chocolate chips you remove you’ll save 1,050 calories!). The mini chips will distribute more evenly and so you’ll still get that wonderful chocolate taste!