Here are a few secrets to pair-down your traditional holiday recipes to easily create a healthy alternative.  Enjoy these tips in your kitchen when baking during this holiday season.

  • Replace a portion of the butter, shortening or margarine with heart-healthy oils such as canola or olive oil.
  • Combine your favorite fruits and vegetables such as apples, carrots and parsnips in a food processor or blender and blend until pureed; this creates a naturally sweet alternative to fat-laden butter.  Using fruit as a replacement in recipes ensures your cookies have a chewy and cake-like texture.
  • When faced with a time crunch, opt for canned pumpkin or canned sweet potato to sweeten your dish in place of some of the butter, margarine or shortening.  You can also add store-bought apple sauce, apple butter, pear butter and prune puree, which are all located in the baking aisle of your food store.
  • Swapping Greek yogurt or low fat ricotta cheese for full-fat cream cheese in dessert recipes is a sure taste-bud pleaser without packing on the guilt in every bite.
  • Moreover, nontraditional ingredients such as nonfat buttermilk and pure fruit juices such as apple, orange and cranberry work wonders when replacing a portion of the butter in recipes.
  • Opt for whole wheat flour, rolled oats or rice flour instead of all-purpose white flour.  This will add a heart-healthy dose of fiber to your cookies and will create a chewy texture.
  • Feel free to toss in wheat germ, ground flax seeds, pureed nuts and seeds to cookie recipes for a rich taste and incredible health benefits.
  • Eliminate trans fats by steering clear of margarine and most vegetable shortenings.  Moreover, artificial sweeteners and food dyes are to be used with caution as it is always a safer bet to use natural products and natural sweeteners such as honey, agave nectar, sugar, brown sugar, molasses, raw cacao, fresh fruits and vegetables and dried fruits.
  • Keep your recipe as natural as possible; create red food dye with beets or drizzle dark chocolate over your cookies.  It’s a tasty treat to dip dried fruits such as pears and apricots into dark chocolate for a fiber-rich, antioxidant dessert.
  • Chopped and pureed nuts and seeds are always a hit when sprinkled on top of cookies or tossed into the batter.  Try toasting nuts and seeds to bring out a flavorful punch in each bite.
  • Simplify your holiday prep, by taking a looksy in my Open Sky store to find great tools and gadgets to help create the perfect dishes for your guests.

Happy Holiday Baking!

What is your favorite paired-down healthy holiday recipe?

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    1. Great question as I was actually baking chocolate chip cookies today and I substituted with 2 Tbsp. prune puree, 3 Tbsp. pumpkin puree and 3 Tbsp. chunky applesauce and they came out wonderful! I used semi-sweet chocolate chips and oatmeal as well and simply created the recipe as I went along….to my surprise…they were fabulous! I’d suggest starting my substituting a bit at a time and opt for a few purees to create a tasty flavor or perhaps a flavored all – natural applesauce.

      Good luck and enjoy!!! Happy Holidays!

      1. Glad to hear that you tried it and it was a success. That gives me more hope! LOL. I may try to make half a batch of some of my favorites and play around with the substitutions. I adore cookies, just not how unhealthy they can be. Such a shame.