This page was updated on December 9, 2020.
The holiday season is here! Transform your holiday baking with tips from AICR’s registered dietitian to make your recipes lighter and healthier. Increase the nutritional benefits and trim calories by cutting back on added fats and sugars, while still enjoying your favorite holiday dishes and desserts. Try these AICR healthy recipe modifications:
Swap refined flours for whole-grain flours.
In many recipes, you can substitute 100% whole-grain flour for refined flour or simply use a mix of half 100% whole-grain flour and half refined flour, like all-purpose flour. This trick can add fiber and nutrients to a variety of recipes, and added fiber is beneficial for your digestive tract.
Cut back on added sugars.
Cutting back on 25% of sugars in a recipe will not make a noticeable difference to the taste, so try to reduce the amount of sugar you use. When you do reduce the sugar in a recipe, it is recommended to increase liquid. You can also add mashed bananas or applesauce as a natural way to sweeten desserts or toss in dried fruits that don’t contain added sugars; dates, apricots, and raisins are naturally sweet. There is an indirect link between sugar and cancer, as consuming foods with added sugars can lead to consuming more calories and cause weight gain. Having overweight or obesity increases the risk of 12 types of cancer.
You can add high fiber ingredients such as rolled oats, dried fruit, pureed beans, nuts and seeds into your waffles, pancakes, muffins, or other holiday dishes. Top with fresh fruit such as mashed or whole berries for more added flavor and fiber! Using this easy trick is a great way to increase fiber intake. As part of a healthy eating pattern to lower cancer risk, AICR recommends getting at least 30g of fiber each day. Try making this Nectarine and Raspberry Cobbler for your next holiday gathering. One cup of raspberries contains 8 grams of fiber!
Spice things up.
Warm, aromatic spices are always a hit for the holidays. Adding a few dashes of cinnamon, nutmeg, or clove to any holiday recipe is not only a great way to add holiday cheer, but spices also provide cancer-fighting phytochemicals. These spices are another great way to add additional flavor to your foods to help you cut back on salt and sugar in your baking. Our Pear Crisp recipe uses spices to create a comforting and healthy dessert!
Boost nutrients and flavor.
Make dessert recipes that feature fruit, whole grains, nuts and seeds as the star of the show, like AICR’s Easy Baked Apples with Walnuts and Raisins or No-Knead Bread with Fruit and Nuts. You can add shredded or pureed apples, pears, carrots, coconut, mashed banana, pumpkin or sweet potatoes to boost nutrients, flavor and moisture. You can use these ingredients to add extra flavor and act as a replacement for some of the butter or oil in the recipe.