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Guilt-Free Holiday Baked Goods Substitutions

Christina is a mom, registered nurse, and blogger. She fully admits to both a love of too much food and a love of the couch, two vices she struggles to overcome on a daily basis. In the past two years, she’s lost nearly 50 pounds through diet and exercise, some of it chronicled on her blog, Losing My Hind.

Confession: baked goods are my downfall. Muffins, cakes, brownies, breads, cupcakes…just thinking about them makes my mouth water and my pants feel tight. Any weight gain in my life has never been without yummy baked treats playing a featured role.

Of course, at no other time of the year are baked goods as tempting and as abundant as the holidays. Christmas lights and cold winter nights seem to go perfectly with warm, cinnamon-scented goodies. Swearing them off entirely would be impossible, and would likely only lead to a binge during a moment of weakness. So instead, I try to limit myself to small, frequent indulgences and use some tips I learned from Weight Watchers to bake up healthier versions of my favorite snacks.

The first thing I do for any muffin or quick bread recipe is to substitute at least half of the oil with unsweetened applesauce. This cuts the calories and fat down significantly and the final product is amazingly moist. You have to experiment with this – some recipes can easily handle all of the oil being replaced with applesauce, while others still need a little oil for best results.

I also cut down the amount of sugar in most recipes. Some people choose to substitute a calorie-free sweetener for the sugar they eliminate, but I find that just cutting out a quarter or a third of the sugar doesn’t affect the flavor at all, especially if you’re using plenty of delicious additions like cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla.

If you do notice the difference from eliminating some of the sugar, replace half of the remaining sugar in your recipe with light brown sugar. The richer flavor in brown sugar can help make up for the smaller amount of sugar overall, and really compliments nicely with all of the spices used in baked goods this time of year.

Finally, ditch half of the white flour in favor of whole wheat flour. Whole wheat flour has more vitamins and minerals and it’s denser, meaning you’ll fill up on those cookies, cakes and muffins more quickly. Whole wheat flour can make baked goods a little more dry than usual, so you might need to experiment with a shorter baking time or add a little extra applesauce to keep everything moist.

Easy adjustments like these to your favorite baked treats can help you enjoy the holidays without fear of additional pounds for the New Year!

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November 18th, 2011

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