Home(made) for the Holidays

December 7 / 2017

Christmas or New Year baking cake background. Dough, dough ingredients - flour, chocolate, walnuts, hazelnuts, sugar eggs cinnamon and Christmas decorations on wooden rustic background

Festive music fills the stores, lights are strung all over the city and your monthly calendar seems to be filling up quickly; that’s right the holidays are here! My biggest holiday indulgence: baked goods. As December edges along, the sweet smells of gingerbread and peppermint fill my kitchen. However, the rising temptation for sweets and treats doesn’t mean having to compromise a healthy lifestyle over the holidays.

One of the best ways to ensure you are not overindulging is to make healthier homemade treats. Store-bought holiday desserts and drinks are usually packed with sugar and calories. Take a Starbucks hot chocolate for example, a tall (small) has more than 300 calories, 34g of sugar and 13g of fat. The World Health Organization recommends 25g of added sugar a day or less. That means in one drink you are already well over your recommended sugar intake (yikes)!

One way to make your Grandmother’s sugar cookie or fruitcake recipe healthier is to try some healthy baking swaps. This means substituting recipe ingredients for healthier and more nutritious alternatives, while still enjoying delicious treats over the holidays. Just remember, you may need to adjust the portion of the ingredient to get a similar outcome in terms of texture or taste.

Here are some simple baking ingredient swaps:

  • Sugar: ripe bananas, maple syrup, natural honey, agave nectar
  • Oil/butter: applesauce, ripe bananas, natural nut butters, avocado
  • White flour: wheat flour, nut flour, coconut flour
  • Eggs: flax meal or chia seeds

Check out this handy infographic to see how to substitute these ingredients and which recipes they work best with.

Inspired to try your own healthy holiday baking swap recipe? Check out my recipe for Chocolate Bean Brownies for a sweet, yet healthy alternative to traditional brownies! And if you have a recipe you’d like to share, I’d love to hear it! Drop me a line at grounded@ottawacancer.ca or connect with me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

With the New Year around the corner, are you looking to improve your eating habits? If so, check out our One-to-One Nutrition Coaching program for more individualized coaching.

Wishing you all a happy (and healthy) holiday season!

Stay grounded,



Written in collaboration with Samantha Nesrallah, RD, MPH, Nutrition Volunteer


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