The holidays are upon us, a time to enjoy family and friends, a time to savor special dishes and favorite holiday recipes.  It can, however, also be a time to overindulge.  Knowing how to substitute healthier options for higher fat, higher calorie ingredients and still make your favorite dishes taste great is important.  Try our healthy holiday food swaps with the following simple tricks and you will be able to enjoy delicious dishes without the guilt. Begin with small substitutions and remember that any changes will affect a baked good’s taste, texture and ability to rise.

11 Easy, Healthy Swaps!

• Use unflavored non-fat Greek yogurt instead of whole milk to make your mashed potatoes.

• Try using 1 banana in place of 2 eggs in a cake or quick bread recipe.

• Replace ½ cup butter with ½ cup applesauce, pureed prunes or dates. Cut the sugar called for in the recipe by 25% if using applesauce in place of butter so your baked product will not be too sweet.

• Use 1 cup mashed avocado in place of 1 cup mayonnaise, oil or butter.

• To give your breaded fish or chicken a nutty flavor and more omega 3s, use 1 cup crushed nuts instead of 1 cup breadcrumbs.

• For the same chocolate flavor minus the sugar and fat, use cacao nibs in place of chocolate chips.

• For more protein and fiber, substitute black beans for some of the flour when making brownies. Using black beans instead of flour will make your brownies more dense and fudgy.

• Rely on spices and herbs instead of salt and sugar to pump up the flavor of food.

• Add a little more vanilla, peppermint, cinnamon flavoring extracts or grate more orange, lemon or lime zest into your special holiday baked goods to give them more oomph!

• Substitute 1 cup cream with 1 cup evaporated skim milk.

• Use almond or any nut flour in place of breadcrumbs when making meatballs or meatloaf.

Trying these healthy holiday substitutions will save you some calories, fat or sugar and allow you to enjoy and savor the holidays without the guilt and the extra pounds.

– Maria Tucker, MPH RD LDN CDE

Smart Lifebites