Healthy Holiday Baking and Cooking Swaps

overhead of turkey meal on white surface
Healthy Holiday Baking and Cooking SwapsMaren Caruso - Getty Images

The most wonderful time of the year is almost here. The end-of-the-year holidays are filled with classic recipes both sweet and savory that we always look forward to. From mouth-watering side dishes to classic Christmas cookies, these beloved recipes may only grace your table once a year. Despite the taste of nostalgia, some of these recipes may be due for a more mindful makeover that is more up-to-date with your current lifestyle. Nothing crazy, after all, we would not want to mess up the secret ingredient, but perhaps a few traditional ingredients can be substituted for something different and more mindful. Here are fourteen healthy holiday baking and cooking swaps you can incorporate into your holiday baking and cooking. Grab your apron and let’s get started.

Bake with a Higher-Quality Butter Option

Butter is a traditional baking ingredient, but consider baking with a better butter option using ghee or grass-fed butter. If you are looking for a healthy alternative, opt for avocados. One medium avocado will be the equivalent of about two sticks of butter. As if you couldn’t love avocados any more!

freshly cut sliced avocado on a cutting board
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More Butter Alternatives

If you are all out of avocados, but are still interested in holiday baking with a better butter option, consider sneaking in something better. Other butter alternatives used in baking include bananas, canned pumpkin puree, coconut oil, Greek yogurt, olive oil, or unsweetened applesauce. Just be sure to look up the butter equivalent because more than likely, the quantities will not be the exact same when making an ingredient substitution.x

apple sauce in jars on white background
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Change Up Your Chocolate

Most holiday bakers opt for cocoa powder, which is good, but if you want to try a darker chocolate flavor, swap out cacao powder. Both options can be used interchangeably when baking, but raw cacao powder has a slightly bitter flavor that provides a more chocolatey and richer taste.

cocoa powder in bowl
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Choose Fresh Green Beans

Instead of baking up a traditional green bean casserole laden with layers of cheese, cream, and other dairy products, keep this classic side light and simple by serving fresh steamed green beans. For an added crunch of taste and texture, add a sprinkle of crushed walnuts or slivered almonds.

bowl of green beans salad on white, marble background
Claudia Totir - Getty Images

High Fiber Pasta

Whether you are serving up Christmas spaghetti or whipping up a holiday bolognese, consider filling your menu with high-fiber pasta like whole wheat. Check out 3 Farm Daughters. Made with only two simple ingredients and high in fiber and protein, a more mindful pasta option will keep holiday guests' stomachs and tastebuds satisfied.

homemade pasta casereccia with beef ragu
istetiana - Getty Images

Go Grain-Free

Skip the store-bought dinner rolls and get creative with some homemade grain-free bread. Almond flour is a popular alternative to traditional baking flour and comes with a lighter taste, which means more room for holiday guests to enjoy the main entrée and all of those savory side dishes. You can even use grain-free bread to whip up a batch of homemade stuffing that is also grain-free.

fresh bread on wooden table top view with space for your text
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Make Your Own Stuffing

Nothing says the holidays like a heaping spoonful of stuffing. You should skip store-bought stuffing, since it can be loaded with sodium and other questionable ingredients. Make your own homemade stuffing like this Classic Stuffing, or choose a heartier option like this Sausage Stuffing.

stuffing and wine glasses on table
Maren Caruso - Getty Images

Offer Egg-Free Options

If you are baking for vegan guests, try making a chia-seed egg or a flax-seed egg. Mix three tablespoons of water with one tablespoon of ground chia or flax seeds until well combined. Then, place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to chill and use as you would an egg in your favorite bakes. Talk about an easy and egg-cellent swap.

flax seeds in ramekin on marble board
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Opt for a New Oil

Instead of using vegetable oil, opt for other oils like avocado oil, which is great for high-heat cooking, coconut oil, or extra virgin olive oil. They can alter the taste of your final recipe, so be conscious of the base ingredients when changing them around. But if you're baking up a sweet holiday treat that calls for coconuts, why not give it an added layer of flavor with coconut oil?

coconut oil
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Pick a Healthier Flour

Instead of basic white flour in all of your holiday baked goods, try a new alternative like arrowroot flour, cassava flour, or coconut flour. You can even create your own nut flour using your favorite type of nuts.

high angle view of food in bowl on table,united states,usa
Brent Hofacker / 500px - Getty Images

Serve Fresh Cranberries

Although the canned cranberry sauce is a classic staple at the holiday dinner table, it's sadly laden with artificial sweeteners, corn syrup, and preservatives. Instead, serve a side of fresh cranberries or make your own Homemade Cranberry Sauce.

preserving glasses of cranberry jam and fresh cranberries
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Swap Out Sweet Side Dishes for Sweet Vegetables

Instead of serving candied yams, try serving another sweet side dish like oven-roasted acorn squash, carrots, or sweet potatoes. For an added layer of savory flavor, top with a few sprigs of fresh herbs from your windowsill garden for a classic flavor combination of sweet with a subtle hint of savory.

two trays of sliced acorn squash on white background
Claudia Totir - Getty Images

Sweeten Smartly

Almost all holiday dessert recipes will call for sugar, but instead of using white sugar, select a smart sweetener like agave syrup, coconut sugar, date syrup, or honey. Depending on the recipe, you may even be able to use fresh fruit juice as a smarter sweetener.

high angle view of honey in jars on table,bekasi,indonesia
Ricky Herawan / 500px - Getty Images

Whip Up Your Own Gravy

Leave the jarred gravy on the grocery store shelves and make your own instead. Here is an easy gravy recipe for the Perfect Gravy to adorn your holiday dinner table.

gravy being poured onto mashed potatoes
Maren Caruso - Getty Images

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