By Sandra Huskey, First Mile Care DPP Coach

The temptations of the busy holiday season make it the toughest time of the calendar year to maintain your wellness goals and eating plan. One way for people with pre-diabetes to get through this period is not to deny yourself all temptations, but to find healthy —or healthier— substitutes when you need a little sweet indulgence.

I recently gave a demonstration on healthy baking as part of the webinar series on “Diabetes Prevention in Action” that First Mile Care is offering in its curriculum for the National Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP).

During the holidays, we’re baking for family and friends as part of celebrations. We don’t want to sacrifice taste and flavor. Luckily, there are many options to standard white flour made from nuts and plants which add interesting flavors to cookies, breads, and pie crusts — for example, coconut, almond, chickpea, buckwheat and whole wheat are common alternatives. You can also find flours based on oat, quinoa, pistachio and even kale! However, some can be a tad grainy and dry, like almond flour, and some may produce crumblier dough than others. Or others may add a distinct taste, like whole wheat, that may not pair as well with a fruit pie as with a savory one.

For baking sweeteners, there are also healthier alternatives to white granulated sugars. A rule of thumb on reducing sugar in a recipe is to cut it by no more than one-third or you may notice the difference in taste. My favorite white sugar substitute is coconut sugar, but I also use agave syrup, honey, and maple syrup. Almond extract, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg also add sweetness to baked goods.

The most important thing to keep in mind when swapping ingredients is not to be afraid to fail. It may require some trial-and-error to determine which flour substitute you like best for which recipe, or when it’s OK to swap out butter or eggs. You may want to practice using a quarter-recipe as a test. Experiment, and have fun doing it!

Watch my video for more healthy baking tips. For example, did you know that applesauce can be combined with other ingredients to make an awesome butter substitute as well as an egg alternative?

Please also download my sample recipes for a whole wheat flour pie crust, an almond flour pie crust, and a healthy “swap” cookie using nut or plant-based flours, alternate sweetener, and even flax meal as an egg substitute.

Happy baking!

To learn more about how you can benefit from the First Mile Care Diabetes Prevention Program, take the prediabetes risk test and get started today!