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In the Know with Rachel the Dietitian

Baking is one of my favorite things to do when the weather turns cold. The warmth from the oven heats up the entire house making it feel much cozier. It is nice to reminisce on past holidays when using traditional Christmas sweets recipes that are passed down from generation to generation. In recent years, I have adopted a new tradition in an attempt to make these sweet treats a little healthier.

There are a few ways that recipes can be altered to make them healthier. Various ingredients can be switched to alter the nutrition content. If you have certain diagnosis that requires avoiding gluten or in general want to decrease your carbohydrate intake, then swapping out the flour for gluten-free, almond, or coconut flour is an idea. Almond and coconut flours are lower in carbohydrates and higher in protein and fat. Note not all ‘flours’ are created equal, so be cautious and read recipes carefully if utilizing coconut flour or almond flours.

Another alternative that can be utilized in recipes is coconut sugar. Coconut sugar is the dehydrated sap of the coconut palm. Coconut sugar contains a fiber called inulin, which can slow glucose absorption in the body. It also contains the minerals iron, zinc, calcium and potassium, as well as some antioxidants. This can be used 1:1 in recipes to replace either white or brown sugar. Lastly, I enjoy using plain Greek yogurt in place of sour cream in some desserts. You could even try a flavored Greek yogurt in fruit cream pies as well. This is another way to increase the protein content. If using a nonfat Greek yogurt it will also provide less fat than traditional sour cream. These are just a few ideas that I have done in the past. The taste difference is minimal because it goes into the oven and is baked. I hope you have a great holiday season.

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