Reducing fat and sugar in your holiday baking doesn’t have to mean reducing flavour. Here are a few suggestions from WebMd, one of my favourite sources for reliable nutritional advice.

Cut Fat & Sugar With Figs

Fig packs more fiber and more minerals than any other domesticated fruit, including calcium, iron, and potassium. Soak 8 ounces of fresh figs in water to soften. Puree with 1/4 to 1/3 cup of water until smooth. Substitute for up to half the fat in your recipe to cut down — or replace — the sugar.

Try Dates

Puree 1 cup of pitted dates with 1/2  to 1 cup of hot water to make a thick paste. You can replace up to half of the sugar asked for in your recipe with this mix. Because it’s not sugar, you might have to experiment to get the right texture. Dates also pair great with scones and muffins. Chop them into your batter for added zing. You can even add them to salads.

Slash Fat With Avocado

Creamy avocado puree is a smooth stand-in for fatty butter, and it’s far better for you. Peel, pit, and mash them to make a puree. To keep them from browning, add 2 teaspoons of lemon juice for every cup. Swap 3/4 to 1 cup per cup of fat in your recipe. Avocados have more water than butter, so you may need to cut your oven temp by 25% and bake a little longer.

Cocao Nibs

Cacao nibs are crushed bits of cocoa beans that have been fermented, dried, and roasted. They quash cravings without the sugar. Even better, they come already chipped. They pack lots of antioxidants and a rush of flavonoids to boot. Sprinkle them freely in your batter and add crunch to your cake, cookies, and other baked goods.

Black Beans For Better Brownies

Switch out part of your recipe fat for pureed black beans, and your taste buds will be none the wiser. This surprise ingredient also brings fiber, potassium, and protein to your brownies and chocolate cakes. For lighter-colored foods, try cannellini beans or chickpeas (garbanzo beans).

Go Greek (Yogurt)

Stir in thick, creamy plain Greek yogurt instead of greasy oil in muffins and quick breads. Whole-milk or full-fat tastes best and is still better for you. It packs protein and less sugar than regular yogurt. But you can use 2% to cut back on fat if you want. (Stay away from nonfat. The texture and taste won’t sit right). Swap equal amounts for your fat. Then add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda per cup of yogurt.

I have tried all of these hacks and they work!

Happy holiday baking.