Integrative Nutrition Blog

3 Tricks for Making Holiday Sweets Healthier

December 20, 2017

Image via Shutterstock.

If you’re getting into the holiday spirit with hands-on baking in the kitchen this year, you’re probably trying to figure out a way to make traditional sweets a whole lot healthier.

Sure, your kids and siblings might be begging for your classic pumpkin pie or batch of peanut butter cocoa brownies, but all those fats and sugars can surely add up. And, when it gets to be January, you might have such a sweet tooth that it’ll be hard to reverse it in the New Year and get back on track with your wellness goals.

A solution? Make those same recipes, but with a few healthier, slimming swaps to cut back on calories, bad fats, and sugars. Or, if you really can’t disappoint your family, make those, but also include a few other healthier options for yourself and others looking to lighten up the plate. Here are 3 simple tricks for making your holiday season indulgent, but without overdoing it. 

Using Healthier Ingredients
You don’t need to pile on the butter, cream, and sugar to make a delicious and decadent dessert. Instead, you can easily use lower-fat items, like milks, cottage cheese, ricotta, or Greek yogurt, or swap bad fats for good ones, such as using ghee or coconut butter or oil.

Plus, you can also make healthier substitutions for flours—you can use whole wheat or grain based flours instead of white flour. Try almond, amaranth, coffee (for a little caffeine kick, too!), or a nice paleo flour that’s particularly low in carbs and sugars.

You can also halve amounts to make baked goods less calorie-dense and sugary. For instance, you can use half white flour and half whole grain flour. It’s also about portion control in slashing calories and fats.

Making Swaps With Super Foods
Beyond just halving ingredients and making healthier substitutions, you can also add in super foods, like avocado, matcha, maca, hemp or chia seeds, and raw cacao or dark chocolate, either as alternative ingredients in place of less healthy items or as a way to increase the nutritional value. And, as these are mostly delicious anyway, it will only boost the flavor, too.

For instance, avocado is great with chocolate for a healthier mousse, while beets can work well in brownies and chocolate cake. (Or as a frosting!) And, chia seeds sprinkled on muffins can add some healthy fats and fiber.

Focusing On Smaller Portions
Ditch the big, fat slice of chocolate cake and opt for a “bite” instead. This doesn’t mean take one bite of the cake and walk away—though in general, the “3 bite rule” works wonders, where you take three bites to savor and then put it down. Instead, you should be making the desserts bite-sized to begin with. 

By making mini versions of your favorite comfort foods and sweets, you’re able to enjoy the whole thing, tricking your mind into thinking you’ve had a whole piece yourself. (Which you have done, just in a smaller portion to take in fewer calories, sugars, and fats.)

Try chocolate truffles, brownie or rice krispie treat bites, mini pies that are individually portioned in muffin tins, or little mousse parfaits in martini glasses.

 

How do you like to slim down your holiday sweets? Please share your baking tips below! 

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