5 Tips for Healthier Holiday Cooking and Baking

Indulge in your favourite foods the healthy way.

Photo credit: Foodiesfeed

Holiday feasts with rich casseroles and sweets are one of the best parts of the holiday season—but they’re also laden with calories and filled with sugar and saturated fat. So should you steer clear of traditional holiday foods if you’re trying to live a healthier life? Of course not! Make a few smart swaps during prep, go for the healthier alternative on the day when you have the option, then ditch the guilt and enjoy yourself.

1. Swap sugar for sugar-free sweetener.

The holidays are often filled with sweet treats, but if you’re making baked goods at home, try using a low- or no-calorie sweetener like Stevia, xylitol or erythritol instead of sugar. Stevia even has a calculator you can use to make the conversion. If you still prefer to use traditional granulated sugar in your recipes, cut the amount of sugar anywhere from a third to a half without ruining your dessert (especially for recipes like thick cookies, loaves and fruit crumbles)

Photo credit: Foodiesfeed

2. Cut down on fat.

You can reduce the total fat (and especially saturated fat) in your holiday cooking and baking by making a few simple swaps for butter, cream, whole eggs and shortening.

  • Swap whole eggs for two egg whites
  • Replace half the butter with mashed bananas
  • In cookies, trade half the butter for apple sauce, egg whites or plain yogurt
  • Replace whole milk with 1% or 2% milk
  • Swap ½ cup of shortening for 1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • Switch cream with evaporated skim milk

3. Opt for leaner meats.

Turkey and chicken can both be lean sources of protein. Just watch out for dark meat and skin, which both have a hefty dose of saturated fat. When it comes to gravy, consider using low-fat turkey broth as a base. White fish and lean ground beef are also healthy protein sources, as are beans and lentils, low-fat dairy, tofu and nuts.

Photo credit: Foodiesfeed

4. Buy or bake whole wheat buns and bread.

White dinner rolls are delicious, but they’re made with processed flour, which has the bran and germ removed from the wheat kernel. The bran and germ contain many key vitamins, minerals and fibre, so it’s healthier to use whole-grain buns, bread and flour when planning your holiday meals.

5. Choose beverages carefully.

It’s the holidays and you want to have a good time, and it’s still possible to have fun without drinking every glass of champagne or mug of hot chocolate in sight. When you can, go for low-sugar, low-fat options. Drink cider instead of eggnog, stick with light beer or white wine spritzers (where you cut the alcohol with equal parts club soda) or sip sparkling water infused with lemon, lime or berries. Finish the night off with a cup of organic tea sweetened with Stevia or honey.

Photo credit: Foodiesfeed

For healthy ingredients for your holiday meals—from sugar-free sweeteners, baking mixes and organic oils to nuts, seeds and organic teas, visit healthyplanetcanada.com.

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Originally Published in Best Health Canada