4 Baking Alternatives to Healthify Your Favorite Holiday Treats
Christmas may be just around the corner, but there’s still plenty of time for baking all the classic holiday goodies such as muffins, cookies, and breads. And yep, it is possible to indulge healthfully. While these holiday treats are often blamed for sabotaging health goals and causing unwanted weight gain, it really comes down to how they are made and what’s inside. It turns out, there are a few simple tips and ingredient swaps that will give these recipes a serious nutritional upgrade so we can still indulge while not losing sight of our health goals.
For starters, we should try to avoid as much processed, bleached flours and sugars as possible. These ingredients are easy to over-indulge in, are high glycemic (spike the blood sugar quickly, only to cause a crash later on) and will leave us feeling hungry after an hour or two. They don’t offer our bodies much aside from empty calories.
Try using these healthful, unprocessed ingredients in your recipes. Not only will you find that the end result is delicious, but your body will thank you!
Coconut sugar, which comes from the sap of coconut palm flowers, is a great alternative to overly-processed and bleached sugars on the market. Coconut sugar is a better option for diabetics, improves our gut health (it contains a prebiotic known as inulin), and offers some trace amounts of iron, zinc, calcium, potassium, short-chain fatty acids, polyphenols, and antioxidants. Alternatively, white sugar can cause cavities and lead to obesity, diabetes and heart problems. Refined sugar also tips the body into a more acidic state, which can suppress the immune system and set the stage for a host of health issues.
Coconut sugar has a unique taste with a malty, brown sugar-like flavor. It’s especially delicious in holiday baking as it perfectly compliments the ginger, pumpkin and molasses flavors of the season. Coconut sugar is a delicious and more healthful alternative to processed and refined options!
Raw Cacao is a substantially more nutritious and delicious alternative to over-processed and sweetened cocoa. As the healthiest form of chocolate we can consume, we will also find no added sweeteners or dairy, and can enjoy high levels of flavonols, which give the chocolate its bitter flavor. These are a type of polyphenol, which have incredible antioxidant properties. Polyphenols have also been shown to promote heart health by reducing inflammation, lowering blood pressure, helping balance blood sugar, and even lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol. All this is contained in one of the most decadent foods on the planet. Perfect for all of your holiday cookie and fudge recipes!
Raw Almond Flour
Raw almond flour is an incredible flour alternative with amazing health benefits, not to mention its sweet, creamy, deep amaretto flavor. By choosing a raw almond flour, it means more of the key nutrients found in the nuts themselves are left intact such as fats, protein, magnesium, vitamin E, fiber, protein, manganese, riboflavin, copper, phosphorus, calcium and iron. Compared to the empty calories in white, refined flour, using raw almond flour is an incredible way to add more nutritional value to your baked goods while also reducing the carbohydrate load. It’s the perfect option for gluten-free, grain-free, keto, or paleo baking. Raw almonds also support our cardiovascular health, weight maintenance, and strong bones, and are loaded with antioxidants and cancer-fighting properties.
Himalayan Pink Crystal Salt
Himalayan Pink Crystal Salt is a true, natural and living form of salt. This salt endured incredible pressure from the formation of the Himalayan mountains, which turned it into a diamond-like crystal with a pretty pink color. With 84 minerals locked inside, the salt crystals are easily absorbed and metabolized by the body, so we can enjoy enhancing our food while also upping our nutrient intake. Just a few of the minerals this salt offers include calcium, chloride, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and sodium. It also helps promote a stable pH balance, reduces signs of aging, helps regulate blood sugar levels, aids in cardiovascular and respiratory health, reduces cramps, promotes healthy sleep patterns and libido, and much more.
Happy, healthy holiday baking!