Healthy Swaps For the Holidays





All-purpose flour

Choose whole grain flours: whole wheat, brown rice, oat flour, etc.

  1. Whole Wheat Pastry Flour: Whole wheat pastry flour has all the nutrition of whole wheat, but it is finely milled so that it has a smooth texture like all-purpose flour. It’s a great substitute in cookies like these Thumbprint Cookies.
  2. Almond flour: Replace up to ¼ c flour in a recipe to boost protein content.
  3. Coconut flour: Replace 20% of the flour in a recipe to reduce carbohydrate content and provide a boost in fiber! (Be sure to add equal parts water to coconut flour)
  4. Ground Flaxseeds: Rich in soluble fiber and cancer-fighting lignans, replace about 15% of the flour in a recipe.
  5. Beans! Use 1 cup of cooked pureed beans to replace 1 cup of flour + 2 Tbs of fat.
    1. Use black beans in brownies like in this recipe for Flourless Brownies.
    2. Red Kidney beans in red velvet cake
    3. White Beans in cookies

Butter or fat in baking

Be wary of Low-Fat, Reduced fat, Fat-free products because they often use sugar to replace fat.
  1. Avocado: Replace ½ the amount of fat in a recipe with heart healthy avocado. Example: recipe calls for 1 cup of butter:  use ½ c avocado + ½ c butter. You’ll save 78 calories and six grams of saturated fat for every tablespoon! This Healthy Chocolate Pudding recipe is a great example of how good avocado can be in dessert. 
  2. Beans: Use a 1:1 ration to swap beans for fats
  3. Greek yogurt: Use plain, low-fat Greek yogurt in place of half the amount of butter
  4. Simply use less: Fat content can often be reduced by 25% without adversely affecting sweetness or texture.

Eggs in baking

The swaps here function as binders.  If a recipe calls for eggs to serve as a leavening agent as well, add an extra ¼ tsp of baking powder.
  1. Ground Flaxseed: 1 Tbs = 1 egg
  2. Ground or whole chia seed: 1 tbs = 1 egg  (Both Flax and Chia are rich in soluble fiber) These Coconut Breakfast Cookies use chia in place of eggs.
  3. Pumpkin puree/Canned pumpkin: ¼ cup pumpkin = 1 egg                                            (Cuts calories by ½ and offers 1 gram of natural sugar and twice the RDA of Vitamin A.


Choose whole grain bread crumbs
  1. High-fiber cereal (Arrowhead Mills Whole Grain Flakes, Shredded Wheat, Rip’s Big Bowl): Crush or blend cereal to a fine crumb. (Increases fiber content and cuts calories by ½)
  2. Oats, flaxseeds, and nuts: Blend 50% nuts, 25% flaxseeds, and 25% nuts of choice into a crumbly consistency. (Use as a gluten-free bread crumb replacement and a boost of fiber and heart-healthy fats.)


Adding flavors like cinnamon, vanilla, and almond extracts to recipes will boost the perception of sweetness without actually adding sugar because we naturally associate these flavors with sweetness.
  1. Date Paste: Puree 1 cup pitted dates + ½ – 1 cup hot water until a thick paste is made to replace 1 cup sugar.
  2. A touch of salt: A tiny dash of salt can increase the perception of sweetness
  3. Honey: Nature’s natural sweetener
  4. Simply use less: Reduce sugar by ¼ to ½ in baked goods and desserts, without adversely affecting sweetness or texture.

Traditional Potato Dishes

Potatoes themselves aren’t bad… it’s all in how you prepare them! Cut back on butter and salt to make potatoes healthier.
  1. Mashed cauliflower: Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower are proven cancer-fighters and can be prepared just like classic mashed potatoes.
  2. Oven-roasted sweet potatoes: Instead of serving candied yams, which have 215 calories per half-cup, try sweet potatoes roasted in the oven with olive oil. (Cuts calories in ½ and adds healthy fat.)

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