Holiday Traditions Made Healthier

6 12 2013

Happy Holidays! I trust everyone had a happy and healthy Thanksgiving! Traditionally, the holiday season in America seems to consume our lives from Thanksgiving to New Years. It is

Cathy Shaw

Cathy Shaw

quite evident everywhere we go, that the hustle and bustle has begun, and our schedules and social calendars are filling up quickly. The holidays often bring out family gatherings and many traditions that are passed on from generation to generation. One of the most treasured traditions of this season is baking, no matter what holiday you celebrate. In my family, holiday baking is a grand tradition that we have shared over the years. I am so lucky to have many recipes and ideas that have come from my mother and grandmothers, aunts and cousins. I have also found a few treasured favorites of my own that I am sharing with my daughter as well. We love to indulge in holiday treats, but as we all know, this can really sabotage all of the hard work and effort that we put into healthy eating throughout the year. Fortunately, there are some strategies we can use to keep things in line. Of course limiting the amount you make to a couple of your very favorite recipes can keep the supply on hand to a minimum. Choosing smaller portions by making smaller cookies or baking mini loaves of quick breads can also help. Choosing more nutritious ingredients by using fruits, heart healthy nuts, non-hydrogenated fats, whole grain flours, and by modifying recipes slightly, can make our indulgence a little less devastating by the end of the season. And of course, increasing physical activity can make a big impact on your calorie bank, so get moving!

When it comes to baking, there really is some serious food science behind it. The ingredients called for in a recipe are there for a reason. Baking requires a “formula” and careful measurement to produce the perfect end product. Omitting certain ingredients can make your cookies, quick breads and cakes virtually inedible. However making some smart swaps and “tweaking” recipes here and there can keep your traditional recipes delicious and healthier too.  Follow this link for some great tips for “Light Baking Done Right” from the professionals at These are excellent ideas for substitutions that can help make your holiday baking a little healthier!

One of my favorite holiday cookies is biscotti. This is a twice-baked Italian cookie (or biscuit) that is perfect to go with coffee, tea or espresso. These cookies usually contain simple ingredients (though some recipes are far from the traditional flour, sugar, eggs and nuts) and can easily be made a little lower in fat and sugar than traditional cookies. Since they have a crunch and are usually best for dunking, you often need just one for a satisfying treat! Here are a couple of my personal favorites to enjoy with your morning cup of Joe…Sugar Plum Biscotti and Cranberry White Chocolate Biscotti!

Be sure to let us know how your healthier holiday treats turn out!!




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