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10 Healthy(ier) Holiday Recipe Substitutes

Healthy Substitutes

Who says that cooking holiday favorites can’t be healthy AND delicious?

Here are some simply substitutions to incorporate into your cooking this holiday season. Give them a try and let us know how they turned out!


Unsweetened Coconut Cream vs Heavy Cream – Unsweetened coconut cream is a tasty, creamy alternative to heavy cream. When comparing two major brands, 1/3c of heavy cream contains 266 calories, 26g of fat and 0 carbs. Alternatively, 1/3c of coconut cream contains 60 calories, 6g of fat and 0.2 carbs. Not to mention it tastes SO GOOD!


Dark Cacao Nibs vs Chocolate Chips – Dark cacao nibs are an antioxidant-rich alternative that cut out the additives (sugar and dairy) that are found in traditional chocolate chips. They are also an excellent source of fiber, iron and magnesium!!


Vanilla Extract vs White Sugar – A flavorful alternative to white sugar is vanilla extract. In general, substitute 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract for every cup of sugar. Side note – Vanilla Extract is made of vanilla beans, alcohol and water. Vanilla Flavor is still pure vanilla, but made with glycerin or propylene glycol instead of alcohol. Imitation Vanilla contains synthetic vanillin, which is made with chemicals.


Unsweetened Applesauce vs Oil (or butter) – This fat free puree not only reduces calories, it adds moisture, nutrients and fiber. It makes a delicious and healthy alternative in banana bread and muffins. The ratio for substitution is 1:1. If your recipe calls for 1 cup of oil, try 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce instead ????


Nutritional Yeast vs Cheese - Nutritional yeast is well known in the vegan community for its versatility and can be substituted in almost ANY recipe that calls for cheese. With a taste similar to parmesan, it can be used to make cheese sauce, and substituted in potato and pasta dishes – SO MANY OPTIONS!!


Nut Flours vs White Flour – Besides the fact that white flour has been processed to strip 20 essential nutrients, the flour is in return “enriched” by adding a mere 5 of those nutrients back. Scary??? I’d say so. Many alternatives exist, depending on your preference, like coconut flour, almond flour, oat flour and rye flour…just to name a few. When cooking with one of these options, the conversion ratio is not always 1:1, amounts may vary. Additionally, other agents may be required as binders like xanthum gum or guar gum. Plenty of recipes exist online to use as guide.


Plain Greek Yogurt vs. Sour Cream – While both provide a tangy creamy taste, Greek yogurt provides higher protein and less calories and fat. Despite their similar flavors, plain Greek yogurt is milk and live cultures. Sour cream is made by adding bacterial cultures to pasteurized cream. After being re-pasteurized to destroy bacteria, manufacturers often add other ingredients and additives to improve flavor and shelf life.


Cauliflower vs Pretty Much Everything – Cauliflower can be used as a replacement for just about any starch. Mash it, roast it, rice it…what can’t it do??


Bread Crumbs vs PORK RINDS??? – You read that right. Crushed pork rinds are a flavorful, crispy alternative for breading or topping in any recipe. Pop your “breaded” meat on an air fryer for an even healthier option!


​Wine Spritzer vs. Holiday Cocktails – One thing that is hard to substitute and always a challenge is to pick a low-calorie party cocktail. While moderation is always key, cutting unnecessary calories can also be achieved by substituting club soda for any mixer. A refreshing choice is to replace 2 ounces of wine with club soda for a festive spin on a glass of wine. Since club soda has zero calories, it can easily save you 60 calories per glass! More room for pie!

Amber Ahrens

Amber Ahrens

Office Manager aka Office Mom Amber is a 2nd generation Naples native. She lives here with her husband and two sons, Reice and Jaxon. She also has a daughter, Hana, who attends USF in Tampa. When she isn't helping run Berman Physical Therapy, Amber can be found spending time with her family, dogs or working out.
Amber Ahrens

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