If you’re anything like us, you’re probably getting ready to load up on yummy holiday desserts this month. And though it can be hard to avoid some of the bad additives and ingredients in common sweets, it’s surprisingly simple to make healthful and tasty substitutions in your own recipes that will go undetected. In this article, we’re sharing three simple baking swaps to make your holidays a little healthier!
Commercial food colorings are often some of the most toxic additives that find their way into baked goods. Different food colorings have been linked to a range of illnesses, from allergies to neurological disorders to tumors- not okay!
If you’re looking to brighten your day with colorful food, try using herbs or juices! This will give you color and a phytonutrient boost! Butterfly blue pea flower can be used for light blue (try making an alcohol extract to give a darker blue) without a noticeable change in flavor. A bit of matcha (if the flavor matches) or a few drops of juice from a mild-tasting green leafy herb (something like spinach juice is usually mild enough to go undetected) can give a beautiful green color. A small amount of hibiscus tea can give a nice magenta hue (be careful not too add too much as hibiscus has a strong flavor). A bit of carrot juice (for a mild to neutral flavor) or turmeric (for an antioxidant boost with its own unique flavor) can give a nice yellow to orange color. Try experimenting with other colorful herbs and juices to make your own colorings!
Refined sugar and high-fructose corn syrup are the some of the major culprits behind America’s leading health issues, such as obesity, diabetes, and mood disorders. Thankfully, there are many easy and healthful substitutions.
The best substitutions are whole fruits which come packaged with fiber to slow the release of sugar into the bloodstream. Dates, for example, can work for some desserts, like fruitcakes or baklavas. But since fruits add their own flavor and can alter the texture of your sweets, be sure to test them. Coconut nectar is ideal for tempered chocolate, and coconut sugar is the best replacement for regular sugar (we often have these in-store, so call us if you’d like to check). Lastly, if you eat honey, our local Arizona honey gives lots of health benefits (like immunity and allergy relief), and can be added to gels, syrups, or toppings.
Eggs can be problematic for many people and are the leading allergen in America today. If you are looking to cut down on cholesterol or have a more heart-healthy diet, it’s a good idea to ditch eggs: a single 50-gram egg contains a whopping 210 mg of cholesterol, or 70% of the RDA for the average person. And since they are ubiquitous in baked treats (and let’s be honest, they do wonders for baking!), it’s important to find a really effective substitution.
Aquafaba, or chickpea liquid, is an extremely effective egg substitute in most baked treats. Just two tablespoons can replace one egg white, and three tablespoons can replace an egg- and this can be used in batters, doughs, or creams (like meringue). Just soak and drain chickpeas, and cook them as you usually would. The liquid from the cooked chickpeas is all you need. You can also use the liquid from organic canned garbanzo beans. What you do with the chickpeas is up to you!
Do you have more tips on healthy baking, or other baking swaps you recommend? Comment below and share!