written by: Danielle Maina

The rain has made its way to SO CAL and we Californians could not be more thrilled about it. This is the type of weather that invokes the desire to snuggle up on the couch with a cup of cocoa and eat delicious food!

 For me when winter weather rolls around it time to throw on the apron and bake. But with every delicious cookie, cake or bread the anxiety of adding your own permanent winter coat rears its’ head. If you worry about adding on the pounds this holiday season fear no more, I am here to help you.

 Listed below are healthy baking alternatives to make your body a happy one this season:

Instead of FLOUR choose BLACK BEANS (unsalted).  Heard of black bean brownie before? Oh my, YUM. Plus, you get an extra protein boost (thank you, satiety). Too strange for your liking? Switch from white flour to whole-wheat flour. *GF for black beans. *VN 

Instead of SUGAR choose APPLE SAUCE or VANILLA (preferably unsweetened applesauce). This is a must in my kitchen when making banana nut bread, zucchini bread & even cookies. The vanilla is an awesome way to reduce the sugar and calories, yet still giving the recipe great flavor. *VN

Instead of OIL choose NON-FAT PLAIN GREEK YOGURT or APPLE SAUCE. Again, preferably unsweetened if using applesauce. Greek yogurt adds more protein and reduces the fat tremendously. Also helpful to makes the recipe much more moist.

Instead of BUTTER choose AVOCADO PUREE or COCONUT OIL. Both avocado and butter hold the same creamy consistency at room temperature, and one is a better fat than the other. An awesome idea when making black bean brownies! Coconut oil is also a great alternative since it tolerates high temperatures very well. *VN

Instead of CREAM choose EVAPORATED SKIM MILK. Yet it still contains a little sugar,  the best part of the skim milk is it decreases the amount of fat immensely.

Instead of EGGS choose CHIA SEEDS or FLAX EGG. Just add water and voila! You got yourself the consistency of an egg. 1 tbsp chia seeds + 1 cup water + sit for 15 minutes = 1-to-1 egg substitute. 1 tbsp flaxseed meal + 3 tbsp warm water + whisk to combine+ 5-10 minutes in fridge= 1-to-1 egg substitute. Great sources of omega 3 fatty acids *VN

 Instead of REDUCED-FAT PEANUT BUTTER choose NATURAL PEANUT BUTTER. This can really apply to any nut butter. Opt for freshly grounded natural nut butters (grind in your food processor or at your local market) without added sugar or other artificial additives that are packed in commercially bought butters such as Jiff or Skippy. *VN

Instead of WHOLE-WHEAT FLOUR or WHITE FLOUR choose ALMOND FLOUR / COCONUT FLOUR/ BUCKWHEAT FLOUR/ *GF OAT FLOUR. Have Celiac Disease, gluten intolerance or feel better eating a gluten-free diet? These flour alternatives will be your best friend, making each recipe just as delicious if using regular flour. Don’t you worry; your cookies will not taste like coconut. Nutrition plus? Awesome dose of omega 3 fatty acids and protein with the almond flour J *GF

 Instead of BUTTERMILK choose NONFAT/SKIM/SOY MILK + LEMON JUICE or VINEGAR. This swap is easy and works beautifully. Mix 1 cup of the milk you choose + 1 tbsp of lemon juice or vinegar and mix!


*VN: vegan       *GF: gluten-free