- Reduce the sugar amount in a recipe by 1/4. You'll cut carbs, and trust me, the taste isn't noticeably different.
- Use agave nectar instead of sugar. Because of it's new found popularity, agave nectar isn't a rare sweetener that one can only find in speciality stores. My local Wal-Mart started carrying it, and I picked up large bottles of organic agave nectar at a Cosco stores while on vacation.
- Use unsweetened applesauce in place of oil. Though oil isn't necessarily unhealthy (think canola---heart healthy!) it does increase the fat and calorie count of baked goods.
- Throw in walnuts, flax seed, and/or wheat germ to increase the healthy fats in your baked goods and to add protein.
- Try using whole wheat flour, whole wheat pastry flour, oats, and even flaky cereals in place of traditional white flour. Just keep in mind the type of food you are baking and which substitution would be appropriate.
- Do not use margarine instead of butter. Butter has an important place in baking. Cut the fat in other ways---like egg substitute instead of eggs. But don't cut the butter. (Many places sell organic butter, in case you are interested).
- You can sometimes use soymilk or vanilla soymilk in place of regular milk.
- Buy chocolate chips that are free of fillers like hydrogenated oils. I am a big fan of Ghirardelli chocolate chips.
- It's fine to use a mix for baking---just be sure to purchase items made with whole grains and are free of trans fats and hydrogenated oils. I suggest checking out products by Hodgson Mill, Naturally Nora, and Bob's Red Mill. Also search your local Trader Joe's or Whole Foods. These mixes are often more expensive than buying the ingredients in larger quantities and using them throughout the holiday season; however, if you wish to save time and energy, a mix might be your best option.