The holiday kickoff is officially around the corner, which means an unavoidable amount of baked goods every which way we turn.
Whether it is at the office or at a holiday party, it is the time of year that we are constantly surrounded by chocolate and sweets.
Store bought, baked goods are generally loaded with white, refined sugars and flours that tend to spike our blood sugars and promote insulin production and fat storage. From a weight loss and health perspective, these are ingredients that we recommend avoiding and essentially eliminating from your diet as much as possible.
We suggest bringing healthy holiday treats with you to parties so you know you have good, healthy options to enjoy along with everyone else. Fortunately, there are so many great alternatives on the market today that allow us to reduce the use of unhealthy ingredients. Here are some swaps to consider when baking for the holiday’s:
White refined sugars can cause a lot of negative impact to our health and well being. Not only do they spike our blood sugars, but they also increase our risk of certain diseases and leave us feeling tired and sluggish.
Healthier swap for white, refined sugar:
- Coconut sugar
- Pure maple syrup
- Raw honey
- Yacon syrup
- Brown rice syrup
- Agave nectar
When a recipe calls for added natural sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup or vanilla extract, it is generally used as a sweetening agent. Cut the recommended quantity in half to reduce the amount of added sugar.
Other ways to naturally sweeten your baked goods:
- Dark chocolate chips
- Fresh fruit and berries (i.e., raspberries, blueberries, etc.)
- Ripe bananas
- Unsweetened dried cranberries
- Unsweetened coconut flakes
In addition to white, refined sugars, white flours are another common ingredient found in many holiday baked goods.
Similar to white sugar, white flour is a highly refined substance that is stripped of its nutritional value. It offers no beneficial nutrients and is void of all vitamins and minerals.
Some healthier alternatives to consider instead of white flour:
- Paleo flour
- Coconut flour (tip – make sure to sift coconut flour very well to remove clumps)
- Almond flour
- Spelt flour
- Quinoa flour
- Whole wheat flour
- Oat flour (this is just ground up oats so you can make it yourself at home with a coffee grinder)
- Brown rice flour
Note: Not all flours can be swapped in a 1:1 ratio so make sure you are using the correct amounts in your recipes.
Click here for a suggested list of flour substitution ratios.
Healthy holiday recipes
Mini chocolate chip cookies
- 2 cups almond flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ½ cup dark chocolate chips
- ½ cup crushed walnuts
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- In a large bowl, combine almond flour, baking soda, sea salt, coconut oil and maple syrup until dough begins to form. Fold in chocolate chips and crushed walnuts.
- Form cookies and place into baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, remove from oven and allow to cool.
Makes 24 mini cookies
Nutritional analysis (per cookie): calories 70, fat 6g, carbohydrates 5g, fiber 1g, protein 1g
Cranberry oat muffins
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- 1 cup coconut sugar
- ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1 ½ cups unsweetened almond milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ cup unsweetened dried cranberries
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Line a muffin tin or coat with coconut oil spray.
- In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, oil, and sugar. Add the applesauce, almond milk, vanilla, sea salt, and cinnamon. Whisk until well combined.
- Add the oats, baking powder and cranberries and stir until combined
- Using a spoon, fill each muffin cup 3/4 of the way.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before eating or serving.
Nutritional analysis (per muffin): calories 120, fat 5g, carbohydrates 19g, fiber 1g, protein 2g
Flourless dark chocolate cake
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup dark chocolate chips
- 6 eggs, divided into yolk and whites
- ½ cup coconut sugar
- 1 cup raspberries
- ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut flakes
- Preheat over to 275 degrees.
- Place butter and chocolate chips in small pan over low heat, allowing it to melt, stirring constantly. Set aside to cool slightly.
- Take egg yolks and beat slightly. Add to the cooled chocolate mixture. Mix well and set aside.
- Beat egg whites in a separate bowl, gradually adding the coconut sugar and whisk until stiff peaks form.
- Add ¼ of the egg whites to the chocolate mixture and stir well then fold in remaining egg white mixture.
- Pour batter into spring form pan that has been coated with coconut oil and bake for 40-45 min.
- Remove from oven and allow to fully cool before removing sides of the pan.
- Once cake is cooled, top with fresh raspberries and sprinkle with coconut flakes.
Nutritional analysis: calories 180, fat 12g, carbohydrates 16g, fiber 2g, protein 4g
Click here for some more healthy holiday recipes to try this season.
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