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Reducing Sugar in Holiday Baking

It is peak cookie season. Seeing and wanting to eat all the delicious treats and desserts is not only a daily struggle, but also a battle for your health. So how do you ensure that your New Year’s resolution to be healthier isn’t prompted by a sugar crash under a pile of frosting and figgy pudding?

Overconsumption of sugar is a regular problem among most Americans, but during the holidays our sugar intake skyrockets. It seems that all we want for Christmas is to satisfy our sweet tooth. What many people don’t know is that cutting down on sugar during the season is actually a piece of cake. So now you can have your cake and eat it too with these four ways to reduce sugar in your holiday baking:

  1. Simply use less sugar. A lot of recipes call for an obscene amount of sugar and end up being sickeningly sweet. For the most part, you can reduce the sugar by ¼ to ½ without comprising the integrity of the dessert.

  2. Spice it up. Yes, sugar adds sweetness, but it also contributes to flavor. This is why over-reducing a recipe’s sugar content can make your cookies taste like cardboard. To rid the world of flavorless “health” cookies, add flavors and spices such as vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cardamom.

  3. Get fruity. Bananas and dried fruits are a great way to add back natural sweetness when you reduce sugar. Dried fruits such as dates, figs, apricots, and raisins make great options. If you want to take it to the next level, make Martha proud and puree them with the butter.

  4. Put in the alternates. There are a number of sugar alternatives. Agave, pure maple syrup, blackstrap molasses, and raw honey give desserts an incredible flavor. Each of these has a unique taste, so think about whether the particular taste fits in with your recipe before you commit. Remember, these will still add calories!

When you don’t focus on sugar and sweetness, you will end up with desserts that are full of amazing, compelling flavor. So get creative in the kitchen this holiday season and don’t be afraid to think outside the recipe box!

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