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Let’s face it – the holidays can tempt even the most health-conscious foodie to throw caution, and diet, to the wind. To make things a little healthier this November, Valley has uncovered several baking substitutions that improve nutrition without sacrificing taste. So give these healthy swaps a try this year and feel free to gobble, gobble, gobble guiltlessly!
Applesauce, or any kind of fruit puree, really, is an excellent swap for fat-laden vegetable oil. Half a cup has just 90 calories and zero grams of fat compared to its counterpart, which has a whopping 120 calories and 14 grams of fat in just one tablespoon (one tablespoon!). Factor in applesauce’s added fiber and vitamin C and you’ve got yourself a no-brainer.
This one seems obvious, but it’s one of the easiest and most inconspicuous ways to boost the nutritional value of baked goods. Pancakes, cookies, muffins – whole-wheat flour works for them all. Plus, it has more protein, fiber and vitamin B (and thiamin and niacin) than its refined cousin so you’ll feel more satisfied and energetic. After all, Olympians are always gracing the cover of Wheaties; if whole-wheat is good enough for Phelps, it’s sure as heck good enough for you.
Got a recipe that calls for mayonnaise or sour cream? Try Greek yogurt instead. Packed with protein (Chobani’s vanilla has 22 grams per serving!) and calcium (25 percent of your daily recommended amount) Greek yogurt has a similar texture as other baking essentials but scores much higher on the nutritional grid. Oh, and it has absolutely no fat. Zero, zilch, nada. It might seem like a stretch but trust us: Your taste-buds won’t mind the switch.
Soy / Almond Milk
If your recipe includes whole milk, consider using soy or almond instead. While dairy milk is by no means “bad” for you, it does have more fat and sugar than nut alternatives. A serving of 1% dairy has 100 calories, 13 grams of sugar and 1.5 grams of saturated fat. By comparison, almond milk has just 60 calories, 7 grams of sugar and no saturated fat whatsoever.
Ignore you’re instinct to swap with skim; fat-free milk is thin and watered down whereas almond and soy have the same smooth, creamy texture as whole milk.
And if all that isn’t enough to convince you, just give them a try – the taste will.
A Word of Caution
Most people think a general way to “healthify” a recipe, or their diet in general, is by using “light” or “low-fat” versions of ingredients. Surely the whipping cream with less fat is better than the full-fledged kind, right? Wrong.
Those low- or reduced-fat labels are actually red flags. The truth is, when fat is removed something else (usually sugar or other processed additives) is put in to take its place! So be careful – you might think you’re making a healthier choice when in reality you’re merely replacing one demon for another.
Keep in mind that sometimes it’s better to go all out – butter, sugar, whatever your heart (or stomach) desires. Indulging in moderation is actually better for your health in the long run; deprivation only leads to stronger cravings and overeating later on.
So consider using these substitutions in your holiday treats this year, but remember to enjoy a true indulgence every now and then. Besides, you wouldn’t have been able to resist mom’s pie anyways.
Photo by Tyler Hankins