You don’t have to give up holiday baking for health reasons. With some simple substitutions, you can make your favorite recipes more healthful without sacrificing taste.

For example, many recipes call for more sugar than is really necessary. Begin by cutting the amount by one-quarter to one-half. Dried fruit like raisins or dates will add natural sweetness when you’re cutting back on sugar.

For cakes, fruit breads and muffins, use frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed, to provide sweetness. Compensate for the extra liquid this adds by using it in place of milk (but not eggs or oil) in a recipe.

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Sometimes it’s hard to think of baked goods without butter, cream and eggs – all of which contain saturated fat. But more healthful fats can be substituted in smaller amounts.

Use 1/4 cup of canola oil or “light” olive oil instead of 1/2 cup of margarine (a source of trans fats). “Light” olive oil has no detectable “olive” taste when baked with other ingredients.

Although a small amount of fat provides texture and flavor, you probably won’t need as much as traditional recipes require.

Adjust your recipes to be lighter and leaner by substituting unsweetened applesauce or other pureed fruit for some of the oil or butter. Because oil is in a more liquid form than butter, you can substitute less fruit puree or less canola oil for butter.

To replace cream, try low-fat evaporated milk or fat-free half-and-half. Substitute two egg whites for one whole egg, or try packaged egg substitute, if desired.

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Replace half the fiber-poor white flour with whole-wheat pastry flour, made from soft wheat berries. It has a lighter, finer texture than regular whole-wheat flour, making it perfect for cakes and cookies.

Many of these cooking techniques are used to create these Ginger Spice Biscotti.

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Ginger Spice Biscotti

Makes 40 biscotti.

  • Canola oil spray
  • 1-1/4 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened apple butter or applesauce
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries or other chopped dried fruit
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Coat a large cookie sheet with oil spray. Set aside.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl. Use a food processor or hand mix eggs with oil and apple butter until blended. Blend in the sugar. Add half of the dry mixture and blend until smooth. Add remaining dry (The dough will be soft and sticky but easy to handle.) Transfer dough to a large bowl. Fold in the dried fruit.
  3. Place one-half of the dough at each end of the cookie sheet. With damp hands, form each piece of dough into a log 3 inches wide and about 3/4-inch high. Place logs about 4 inches apart. (Logs will spread during baking.) Bake 25-30 minutes, or until firm to the touch. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes. (Leave heat on.)
  4. With a serrated knife, cut each log into 1/2-inch cookies cut on the diagonal. Bake 10 minutes. Turn each cookie over and bake 10 more minutes. Turn off heat and leave biscotti in the oven 10 minutes. Remove and cool on a wire rack.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:
63 calories,
2 g. total fat,
Less than 1 g. saturated fat,
10 g. carbohydrate,
1 g. protein,
less than 1 g. dietary fiber,
38 mg. sodium.

1 Bread/Starch. 1/2 Fat