Nothing says “the holidays” like freshly baked treats and sweets. For many people they find enjoyment in their childhood traditions of baking or it brings back fond memories when they use recipes that have been handed down for generations. Yet, there are many people who no longer want or can eat sugar in great abundance, even if it’s just during “the holidays.” Whether you are looking to keep things a little healthier this year, or not, we have a solution. It’s called Holiday Faking.

Faking is a made up word that combines the word “fake” and “baking.” “Faking” allows you to still take part in “baking” but in a healthier and more nutritious way. Most recipes call for lots of oil and butter which equals a ton of fat laden calories with little nutritional value. Many also call for lots and lots of sugar, which also has no nutritional value. Here are some of our favorite “faking” tips that you can apply to most baking recipes.

Swaps:

Instead of oil use: unsweetened apple sauce, canned pumpkin, Greek yogurt, smashed bananas, smashed avocado, smashed black beans, and even prune puree.

Instead of eggs: use double the amount of egg whites instead, make faux eggs with flaxseed meal and water. You can also use unsweetened apple sauce and yogurt in place of eggs.

Instead of added sugar: Again a great go to is unsweetened apple sauce or sugar substitutes like stevia which is made from a plant, or even monk fruit sugar which has zero calories. Some people will swap “white sugar” for honey, agave syrup or maple syrup, but all of these also have a very high sugar content.

When it comes to faking you can really revamp just about ANY recipe to a healthier and sometimes tastier end product!

Instead of making regular brownies, you can make avocado or black bean brownies that are extra moist and full of fiber.

In place of white flour try whole grain or almond flour. Look for a different base that has extra fiber, more protein and vitamins and minerals.

Instead of milk chocolate chips: Go dark – the darker the better because that means less sugar and fillers. OR take a total twist and use cocoa nibs that have very few calories but a rich cocoa taste.

Replace heavy frostings or glazes with your own mix of Greek yogurt and lemon juice, plus zest (or really any citrus fruit). Or, top cakes, breads, etc. with fresh fruit instead of sugary icing.

If you don’t have it in you to bake or fake from scratch you can still find healthier ways to use boxed mixes. If you are baking a cake or brownies, skip the eggs and oil and just add in Greek yogurt or even one can of pumpkin. You’ll have a hard time convincing people it’s actually healthier! Another secret tip is to sneak in grated veggies like grated zucchini or carrots. Many disguise really well when shredded and add fiber which makes the treat more satisfying.

Here are some dessert buffet items no one will believe are fake!

Peanut Butter Fudge:

Ingredients: 3/4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon peanut butter, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, 1/2 cup coconut butter. Optional add-ins: 3 to 4 tablespoons of protein powder and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

Directions: Place all ingredients in a blender and mix until well blended. Pour into a 6-inch cake pan. Set in refrigerator for a few hours until firm to touch. Remove and slice into 6 to 8 slices. TADA!

2 Ingredient Bark:

Take 24 ounces super dark chocolate and melt in microwave in 30 second increments while stirring in between until fully melted. Pour onto a parchment lined pan and top with a ¼ cup of your favorite chopped nuts. Cool in refrigerator and cut or break into about 25 pieces. These come in at just about 100 calories a piece!

Fudgy Brownies:

Ingredients: 3 medium, overripe bananas (approximately 1 cup or so), 1/2 cup smooth almond butter (can sub for any smooth nut butter), 2 T – 1/4 cup cocoa powder (more = richer taste)

Instructions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease a small cake pan or loaf pan and set aside. In a small microwave-safe bowl or stovetop, melt your nut butter. In a large mixing bowl, add the banana, nut butter and cocoa powder and mix very well. Pour the mixture into the greased pan and bake for around 20 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before slicing into pieces.

Faking your baking doesn’t mean you have to go without or go bland. There are so many nutritious and delicious recipes that you can find online or even make up on your own. Who knows, maybe yours will be the new holiday tradition or the ones passed down for generations to come. Cheers to Holiday Faking!