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Christmas Baking: Healthy and Vegan-Friendly When you know how to Substitute!

Make your holidays healthy by understanding how to make substitutions in baking! From cookies and breads to eggnog, you can make it all with a few smart vegan substitutes!

Christmas time should not be spent worrying about what to bake or what you’re eating. Here are some tips to make your baking – holiday or year-round – healthier, vegan, and gluten-free, minus the stress. Whether you are a strict vegan, doing so for ethical reasons, or health reasons, I guarantee you can benefit from these substitutions! Gluten substitutions and refined sugar substitutions are also little steps that can still have a positive impact on your body. This way, you can be and feel healthier without sacrificing taste!

Egg Substitution

  • Eggs are either used in recipes for leavening so that the end result is light and fluffy or for binding, to make it dense and thick.
  • Flax egg: This consists of 1 tablespoon flax + 3 tablespoons. water
  • Banana: Use 1 mashed banana per egg
  • Pumpkin or applesauce: Use ½ cup puree of either per egg

**Baking powder and baking soda are chemical leavenings that can help baked goods rise without eggs. This is best used in fluffy baked goods such as cakes. For activation, they should be mixed with an acid. My favorite acid to use is apple cider vinegar because you don’t even notice it’s in there! Mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda with 1 teaspoon or apple cider vinegar.

Milk Substitute

  • Nut and seed-based milks are easy substitutes. This includes almond milk, cashew milk, hemp milk, or flax milk. There are many new varieties and blends on the market; check your local grocery store and see what you prefer.
  • Coconut milk
  • Oat milk
  • Hemp milk
  • Rice milk

Butter Substitution

  • Coconut oil: Coconut oil will be an even substitution for butter. Make a note as to whether the recipe calls for it softened or melted, though.
  • Pureed avocado: avocado is a substitution that requires you to use half the amount of avocado as you would the butter.
  • Vegan Butter Spread: Earth Balance is a well-known brand that sells both a buttery vegan spread and a product as sticks.

** It isn’t always a straight substitution for fats, but you can experiment based on your liking and what exactly you are baking or cooking. Liquid oil can be swapped for butter when it calls for butter in its melted form. Liquid oils can vary from olive oil, grapeseed oil, peanut oil, and others.

Heavy Cream Substitute

  • Canned coconut milk: Canned coconut milk is thicker than the coconut milk in a carton, so the consistency allows it to be an even swap.
  • Coconut cream: Coconut cream can be used to replace heavy cream as well, and it will also add more sweetness.

Yogurt Substitute

  • Plant-based yogurt – There are many plant-based yogurts on the market including almond, cashew, coconut, soy, and hemp. These yogurts will be an even substitute.

Gluten Free Substitute

  • Oat flour: Ground oats or whole oats can be used depending on what type of consistency you are looking for, or what you are baking.
  • Beans: Beans can be bought as flour, garbanzo bean flour is very popular, or you can blend the beans on your own. Navy beans, black beans, garbanzo beans, and white beans can replace most flours very well. (I have personally tried black bean brownies and chocolate chip chickpea cookies – I would highly recommend both! ???? )

Grain Free Options

  • Nut flour This includes almond flour, or you can blend cashews, pecans, walnuts, and almost any nut, to create your own flour-like texture.
  • Coconut flour
  • Cassava flour
  • Sweet potato flour
  • Tigernut flour

** When going gluten or grain free in baking, you will often need to use arrowroot starch or tapioca flour. Arrowroot starch (sometimes listed as flour or powder) is used as a thickener and is a healthier alternative to cornstarch. It is vegan, gluten-free, and easy on the body’s digestive system. Tapioca starch or tapioca flour serves the same purpose as arrowroot starch. These are great alternatives for a healthier option when not using wheat flour and needing to add texture. It is very popular for those who are gluten-free or people who cannot eat corn or potatoes and need a substitute for corn starch or potato starch.

Sugar Substitute (Or Honey Substitute to Be Vegan-Friendly)

  • Maple syrup
  • Stevia
  • Molasses
  • Coconut sugar
  • Monk Fruit Sweetener

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