As published in Conshy Courier, December 2016 by Jessica DeLuise, MHS, PA-C

Who DOESN'T love holiday baking?  The nostalgia alone probably fills your soul with happiness.  However, another certainty of holiday baking, is all those sweet treats are definitely filling your body with processed, damaging, and unhealthy ingredients.  BUT, the spirit of the holidays, there is a happy, sugar plum solution! Here are some HEALTHIER alternatives to use when baking for yourself and your family.  And the best part is, no one will know you’ve made the swap!  Just remember, even though you are making better ingredient choices, it is still important to enjoy your baking in moderation after a well balanced meal of lean meats and lots of fruits and vegetables!

 

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Sugar, in all forms, cane sugar, honey, agave, maple syrup, corn syrup, and organic varieties raise blood glucose levels. With repeated elevated blood glucose, our bodies become more and more unable to metabolize it effectively.  This can lead to weight gain and obesity, inflammation, joint pain, type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, nerve damage, increased signs of aging, and kidney disease.  Here are some healthier alternatives.

  • Equal parts of ...
  • Coconut Sugar.
    • This option is NOT as sweet as cane sugar, so better in less sweet desserts like oatmeal cookies or banana bread.
  • Organic, Raw Sugar.
  • Stevia.
  • Applesauce.
    • *FOR each CUP of applesauce, reduce the OTHER liquid like OIL or melted butter by ¼ cup or eliminate altogether !

And that's not where the risks of holiday baking end.  White flour, a refined wheat product, lacks the fiber, folate, and B vitamins, as compared to its whole grain version.  Similar to sugar, white flour reeks havoc on the body. White flour causes inflammation, possible impaired gut health, weight gain, heart disease, depression, some types of cancer, and even dementia! Here are some healthier alternatives.

For each 1 cup of white flour, sub in ⅞ cups of ...

  • Chickpea flour.
  • Almond flour.
    • As this is heavier than wheat flour, add it slowly and add 1/2 teaspoon MORE baking soda or powder (whatever your recipe calls for) per cup of almond flour you add.
  • Teff Flour.
  • Amaranth Flour.
  • Whole Wheat Flour for Each cup of white flour.
  • Processed OATS.
  • Coconut flour - THIS IS NOT the greatest option to fully replace wheat flour because of its strong flavor! Try replacing with a combination of whole wheat flour.  

And, to bind all those ingredients, fats like vegetable oil, and non-organic butter, are known to cause inflammation, weight gain, and elevated blood lipid levels. Lipids circulating in the blood collect on the sides of vessels and can cause blood clots, ‘heart attacks’, and strokes. Here are some healthier alternatives.

Vegetable Oil or Melted Butter…

  • Equal parts of ...
  • Melted organic, grass fed butter.
  • Melted organic, unrefined coconut oil.
  • Greek yogurt.
  • Unsweetened applesauce.
  • Olive oil.
  • Mashed avocado.
  • Mashed banana.
  • Pureed dates.
    • Food Process ¾ cup dates with ¼ cup water = about 1 cup of sugar
  • Pureed pumpkin.
  • Pureed black beans.

And with growing popularity of vegan lifestyles for any number of reasons, eggs are also an ingredient you may consider swapping out. The next two options both contain healthy fats and protein, and are animal friendly!

  • For one egg, substitute ...
  • Chia seeds - 1 tbsp with 8-9 tbsp water and after it sits for about 15-20 minutes, it will become like a gel.
  • Ground Flax - 1 tbsp with 3 tbsp water and let sit 10-15 mins.

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