Traditionally the holidays are spent around the table, eating and drinking and being merry with our dearest loved ones, or maybe visiting a friend to share a special meal. Home-cooked food is typically decadent and delicious, but these seasonal specialties don’t always comply with our healthy plate goals. Desserts tend to reside at the top of that naughty list, but what if we told you there was a way to stay on track without having to sacrifice the tradition of tasty treats!

For all our holiday bakers out there, and for those special occasions when the bowl of berries might not be enough, we’ve compiled a list of baking swaps to help you savor the holiday season while still taking care of your health! Click here to get the guide.

Better than Butter

  • Unsweetened Applesauce is a great substitute for sweet bread, muffins, and brownies. At first, try swapping out half the fat (e.g. use 1/2 cup applesauce and 1/2 cup canola oil for 1 cup of butter).
  • Pureed avocado is roughly the same consistency as butter at room temperature, but is full of the healthy fats you need. This substitute works well in baked goods–especially brownies.
  • Combine 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 9 tablespoons of water, and let sit for 15 minutes until it turns into a gel. This mixture works best when substituted for half of the fat in a recipe.

Safely Sweet

  • Substitute unsweetened applesauce for sugar at a 1:1 ratio, just be careful to reduce the amount of liquid you use in the recipe. For every cup of applesauce, cut down the amount of liquid by 1/4 cup
  • Vanilla extract adds just as much flavor with significantly less sugar. This is not a 1:1 substitute, but you can cut down half of the sugar and add in an extra teaspoon of extract (e.g. when making cookies, cut out 2 tablespoons of sugar and use an extra 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla).
  • Use 2/3 cup of maple syrup for every 1 cup of sugar. As with the applesauce, reduce the amount of liquid by 1/4 cup. You can also try lowering the baking temperature by 25 degrees F.

Making it Without Milk

  • As with any milk substitute, opt for the calcium and vitamin-enriched version to get the same key nutrients as dairy milk.

The Skinny on Baking Fats

  • Use 1 cup of mashed banana for every 1 cup of oil or shortening you remove.
  • Cut the suggested oil or shortening by half, and add in 3/4 cup of yogurt for every cup you remove.

Eggless Wonders

  • Combine one tablespoon of chia seeds with 1 cup of water and let it sit for 15 minutes. This yields a 1:1 substitute. Steer clear of using chia seeds for both eggs and butter in the same recipe.
  • Mix 1 tablespoon of flax meal with 3 tablespoons of warm water and whisk to combine. Let it sit in the fridge for 5-10 minutes. This will yield enough for one egg.


Whatever you do to enjoy the holidays is unique to your individual traditions. Enjoy this time, whether that means trying new healthy holiday recipes, making slight changes to your usual staples, or exercising moderation by taking a few bites of a traditional dessert you’ve always loved. You can also talk to your Health Advisor for more personalized tips. We’re here to help!

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