Bake with fruit and vegetables
Vegetables, such as carrots, beetroot and even courgette, can all be used in baking. The sweetness from these veggies means you won’t need to add as much sugar. The same applies to fruits. Apples, berries and ripe bananas, for example, will create a bake bursting with flavour, without the need for heaps of sugar.
Use sweeteners instead of sugar
Sweeteners give foods and drinks a sweet taste, but with far fewer calories than sugars. Because sweeteners are many times sweeter than sugars, you only need to use very small quantities to achieve the same taste. Sweeteners such as stevia or xylitol are heat stable, which means they can be used in baking. There are lots of recipes available online that use sweeteners instead of sugar.
Easy on the icing
Generously iced cakes can easily double the calories of a slice. Avoid butter icing – use a drizzle of glacé (water) icing instead. You can also buy sugar-free icing mix, which uses sweeteners to achieve a sweet taste without the calories. If you’re adding icing to the middle of the cake, you may not even need to ice the top. Opt for a light sprinkle of icing sugar on top instead – use a stencil of a holly leaf or bell for a truly festive touch!
Bake with unsaturated fat and oil
Use an unsaturated spread instead of butter. Not only is it lower in fat, you’ll achieve a lighter texture with your bakes. You can swap spreads for butter in most recipes, but be sure to choose spreads that are suitable for baking.
Oil is also a good alternative, as long as it’s unsaturated oil, such as vegetable, rapeseed, olive or sunflower. Don’t directly swap butter for oil though – find recipes that specifically use it – the liquid nature of oil means the cake mix quantities will probably be different. It has the added bonus of creating lovely moist cakes too!
Portion control and sides
We all deserve a treat now and then, but at Christmas many of us tend to overindulge. The simplest way to reduce your calorie intake, but still enjoy a treat, is to be mindful of your portion size. Cut your bake into ‘bite sizes’ to help both yourself and others eat less. When it comes to dessert ‘sides’, opt for low-fat Greek yogurt or crème fraîche instead of ice cream, double cream or custard.
Here are three of my festive favourites you can have a go at baking yourself. These recipes use sweeteners and/or oil to replace sugars and butter, meaning they’re lower in calories, but trust me – equally as delicious!
Enjoy... and merry Christmas!