If you’re looking for ways to indulge in your favorite holiday treats and family recipes with less sugar and oil, here are four surprising ingredient swaps to lighten things up.
Sugar Replacements for Baking
Sweetener → Mashed Banana
Substitute ripe mashed banana for half the amount of sugar, honey, brown sugar, or agave a recipe calls for. For example, if the recipe lists 1 cup of sugar, omit the sugar and use approximately ½ cup of mashed banana instead.
Tip: Using bananas not only cuts down on calories and sugar content but also adds fiber and nutrients.
Sweetener → Dates
Dates are chewy but sweet fruits that are full of nutrients and packed with fiber. They’re often used to mimic a chocolate-like flavor in baking. Chop up or purée dates and use a 1:1 ratio. For example, if a recipe calls for ½ cup of sugar, use approximately ½ cup of chopped or puréed dates instead.
Tip: Dates often have pits, so be sure to remove pits before you add the fruit to your food processor. You can save a step by buying pitted dates where the pit has already been removed.
Oil Replacements for Baking
Oil → Unsweetened Applesauce
Use unsweetened applesauce instead of oil when making a recipe. Use a 1:1 ratio. For example, if a recipe calls for ½ cup of oil, use ½ cup of applesauce instead. If you don’t like how the item turns out, try substituting applesauce for half of the oil. For example, if a recipe calls for ½ cup of oil, use ¼ cup of oil and ¼ cup of applesauce.
Tip: Substituting applesauce lowers the amount of saturated fat and calories you add to baked goods. Additionally, the fruit provides bonus fiber and micronutrients.
Oil → Puréed Pumpkin/Squash
Canned pumpkin purée provides fiber, antioxidants, vitamin A, potassium, and more. Look for 100% pure pumpkin rather than a canned pumpkin pie mix with added sugars and spices. Another healthy option to look for is canned squash purée (e.g. butternut). Like applesauce, puréed pumpkin or squash can be substituted for oil in a 1:1 ratio. For every 1 cup of oil the recipe calls for, use 1 cup of puréed pumpkin or squash instead.
Tip: Pumpkin purée can also be used as a substitute for egg. Replace 1 egg with ¼ cup of pumpkin purée.