Do you love to indulge in your favorite sweets and treats throughout the holiday season, but hate what they do to your waistline? Avoid the annual panic to shed those winter pounds before swimsuit season and slim down your favorite homemade holiday baked goods instead.
The cold temperatures and packed schedules of the holiday season make it the perfect time to cut calories instead of increasing the amount of exercise you do each week.
Simply substituting artificial sweeteners is not the solution. Aside from their strange aftertaste, they can actually make you eat more of whatever you add them to.
Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that when we eat something sweet, our brain tells our body to eat more so that it can store energy. Then it sends the message to slow down and stop eating. Because artificial sweeteners do not supply energy like real sugar, the brain never sends out slow down signal.
Lower the calories in your favorite goodies by following these tips:
- Use the lowest fat version of ingredients that you can find. Replace milk, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, cream cheese, etc. with their fat free cousins.
- Replace fats like butter and oil with healthier options like fat free sour cream and yogurt, pumpkin and squash purees or fruit sauces (like apple or pear). When baking cookies, use mashed banana because it doesn't change their texture.
- Add a smaller amount of sugar to your recipes or add sweetness with light maple syrup, honey, fruit juices, agave or brown rice syrups or stevia.
- Use marshmallow crème or fat free crème cheese instead of butter in frosting recipes or give cakes and cookies a light dusting of powdered sugar.
- All-purpose flour: whole-wheat flour. Use half as much as the original recipe calls for. According to livestrong.com, "Baking with whole grains, rather than all-purpose white flour, can add fiber to your diet, and high-fiber diets have been proven to reduce the risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular diseases.
Experiment with these tips, or look for recipes that make similar substitutions, to indulge in your favorite holiday goodies without the guilt!