Healthy Holiday Baking Alternatives
For the health conscious person, decking the halls can be more stressful than joyous- and that’s because of the baking. Alright, so the baking isn’t the only culprit to blame. There are eggnog lattes, hot chocolate, potatoes and stuffing circulating with the shortbread cookies and chocolate advent calendars. And although you may fall victim to the holiday indulgences (being human is about balance, after all), you can also modify the ingredients in your own baking creations to stay in line with your health goals over the holidays without feeling deprived. Here are our top seven healthy holiday baking alternatives that not only taste amazing in recipes, but won’t spike or crash your blood sugar levels or add inches to your waistline the way refined sugar does. 7 Healthy Holiday Baking Alternatives
- Green Leaf Stevia Green leaf stevia is an effective plant based sugar replacement. It is available in liquid or powdered form, with only a very small amount needed to enhance the sweetness of your recipes. Being a natural plant extract, it contains zero calories and doesn’t have the same negative impact on your digestive tract that zero calorie artificial sweeteners such as splenda or sucralose do.
- Manuka Honey Manuka honey is another excellent natural sweetener that can replace sugar in your holiday baking recipes. It’s superior to other varieties of honey due to a specific compound that gives it increased antibacterial and antimicrobial activity.Manuka honey is best used in recipes that don’t require high heat baking, such as raw energy balls. This is because the health benefits are destroyed once they are exposed to temperatures 300 degrees F and above.
- Quinoa Flour Quinoa flour is an excellent alternative to white flour because it is less processed and still contains fibre. Quinoa is considered a seed and contains all 8 essential amino acids. For this reason, quinoa flour will be higher in protein than whole grain flours such as spelt or kamut. Quinoa flour is also gluten free and contains minerals such as magnesium, potassium, zinc and iron, making it an ideal holiday baking alternative with health benefits.
- Unrefined Coconut Oil Using melted coconut oil in your baking is a great idea for multiple reasons. First, it offers healthy fats that help improve the texture of skin and lower LDL cholesterol. Although coconut oil got a bad reputation for being saturated, it doesn’t have the same negative impact on the body that saturated fats from animal sources do. This is because it is a medium chain triglyceride and is sent straight to the liver to be used for energy right away, rather than being stored as fat. It’s also said that the process in which coconut oil is metabolised can help your body burn fat more efficiently. Coconut oil also has antibacterial and antiviral properties, which has made it a renowned superfood in the last few years. You can use unrefined, melted coconut oil in baking in place of vegetable oils or shortening.
- Pure Sea Salt We all know what salt does for a recipe — it can even enhance the taste of an already flavourful fruit salad. But table salt is something to leave out of your diet whenever possible, as it is completely void of the minerals found in natural or pure sea salt. Table salt is also known to contribute to high blood pressure, water retention, dehydration and bloating.When any holiday recipe calls for salt, be sure to use pure himalayan rock salt or celtic sea salt. Sodium (salt) is an essential electrolyte needed by our bodies and supports health when it’s coming from a natural source. But table salt (sodium chloride) is generally man-made and does more harm than good when present in our diets.
- Raw Cacao Powder Raw cacao powder is a supercharged version of cocoa powder. In its raw form, cacao powder contains antioxidants, healthy fats and minerals. Although raw cacao has a bitter taste, it can easily be neutralized with pure vanilla extract or green leaf stevia.Raw cacao powder can be used in making festive brownies, cookies, peppermint mocha smoothies or even homemade chocolate.
- Dark Organic Chocolate If your recipe calls for chocolate, be sure to use dark organic chocolate. Like raw cacao powder, dark organic chocolate contains higher amounts of antioxidants than milk chocolate and will be much lower in carbohydrates. Dark chocolate also contains minerals such as magnesium. You can use dark organic chocolate to make individual homemade holiday chocolates or chocolate bark by using melted dark organic chocolate, coconut oil, peppermint extract and slivered almond pieces.