Baking Recipes: Tips to Lighten up the Holidays (cont.)

5. Use Light Products

Try substituting lower-fat and lower-sugar ingredients in your baking recipes when possible. For example, if you're making a cake that calls for sour cream, use the fat-free version. Also try reduced-fat cheese, light cream cheese, less-sugar jams, light pancake syrup, light Cool Whip, light yogurt, light margarine or whipped butter, and fat-free half-and-half. Most of these products will help you cut calories and saturated fat along with the total grams of fat.

6. Cut Down on High-Calorie Extras

Recipe add-ins and embellishments can sometimes be left out or cut in half. If a recipe calls for chocolate chips, for example, you can reduce the amount. If a recipe calls for dotting your pie with butter, you can safely skip this step. In a cake recipe, you can often get by with half the original amount of frosting (In a double-layer cake, just frost the top and middle and forget the sides). And in some cakes, bars, and cookies, you can eliminate frosting and substitute a light sprinkling of powdered sugar. Using 2 tablespoons of frosting instead of 4 will shave about 130 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, and 2 grams of saturated fat. Each tablespoon of chocolate chips omitted cuts about 50 calories, 3 grams of fat, and 2 grams of saturated fat.

7. Keep a Carton of Fat-Free Sour Cream in Your Fridge

Fat-free sour cream is the bomb in light recipes for three reasons. It's an easy replacement for real sour cream in recipes like pound cake or coffee cake. You can use it as a substitute for part of the fat in recipes for things like cookies (it works especially well for brownies), cake, or muffins. Further, manufacturers often add soluble fiber-like ingredients (such as gelatin, agar gum, xanthan gum, and locust bean gum) to keep fat-free sour cream stable. These ingredients also help keep it from separating when you whip it into your batter or heat it while baking. If your eight-serving recipe calls for 1 cup of butter or oil, and you use 1/2 cup of fat-free sour cream in place of half the butter or oil, you'll save about 110 calories and 13 grams of fat per serving.

8. Go Cuckoo for Cocoa

Cocoa is a great way to add the chocolate flavor to bakery recipes without getting the saturated fat (and calories) found in chocolate chips or chocolate squares. Cocoa has the healthy flavonol antioxidants found in the cocoa bean, too. Look for recipes that call for cocoa instead of chocolate chips or bars, or use 6 tablespoons of cocoa plus 1 tablespoon of canola oil plus 1 tablespoon of fat-free sour-cream instead of 2 squares of unsweetened baking chocolate. For every 2 squares of baking chocolate you replace, you'll shave almost 90 calories and 14 grams of fat (most of which is saturated fat).

9. Add Zest to Your Batter With Citrus

The zest, or outermost layer, of a citrus fruit is full of aromatic oils and flavor. Adding citrus zest is an easy, zero-calorie way to boost the flavor of low-fat dough and batters. I use zest in all sorts of recipes, from muffins, cookies, cakes, and bars to frosting, pies, and pancakes.

10. Use Cooking Spray and Nonstick Pans

Using nonstick pans and dishes and a spritz of canola cooking spray means you'll need less fat in the batter or crust to keep food from sticking. All sorts of nonstick bakeware are available, from springform pans, to cake and muffin pans, to cookie sheets and deep-dish pie plates. When you use one of these pans, your lighter cakes, muffins and tarts will come out nicely brown and won't stick.

Lighter Holiday Recipes

Here are two holiday recipes that illustrate some of these lightening techniques.

Chocolate Mint Snowball Cookies

WebMD Weight Loss Clinic members: Journal as 1 portion light dessert + 1 tsp. margarine, light

3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
3/4 cup unbleached white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup mint-flavored, semisweet chocolate morsels (like Nestle Toll House)*
3 tablespoons fat-free sour cream
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup Splenda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg (use a brand higher in omega-3s, if available)
2 tablespoons egg substitute or 1 egg white, beaten slightly
Powdered sugar

*If you can't find mint-flavored chocolate morsels, use semisweet ones and add 1 teaspoon of mint extract when you add the eggs to the batter.

  • Combine flours, baking powder, salt; set aside. Melt chocolate chips over low heat in microwave or in a small nonstick saucepan.
  • In large mixing bowl, beat sour cream and canola oil with sugar and Splenda. Add chocolate mixture and vanilla and beat to blend. Add egg and egg substitute and beat until smooth. Add flour mixture and beat only until blended.
  • Split dough into fourths and wrap each fourth in plastic wrap. Freeze until firm (about 20 minutes.)
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Shape each portion of dough into about 10 (1-inch) balls, and place on cookie sheets that have been coated with canola cooking spray. Bake for 10 minutes, watching carefully. Once the cookies are cool, dust the tops with powdered sugar, if desired.

Yield: 40 cookies (20 servings)

Per serving (2 cookies each): 100 calories, 2 g protein, 15 g carbohydrate, 4 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 1.2 g fiber, 60 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 36%.

Light Rum Cake

WebMD Weight Loss Clinic members: Journal as 1 portion medium dessert + 2 tsp sugar

Cake:
2/3 cup pecans or walnut pieces
1 box yellow cake mix (with or without pudding in the mix)
1 large egg, higher omega-3 egg if available
1/2 cup egg substitute
1/3 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark rum

Glaze:
2 tablespoons whipped butter or margarine with 8 grams of fat per tablespoon
1/2 cup dark rum
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup Splenda (if you don't want to use Splenda, just increase the sugar to 1/2 cup)

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Coat a 10-inch tube pan or 12-cup Bundt pan with canola cooking spray. Sprinkle the nuts over the bottom of the pan.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining cake ingredients (cake mix, egg, egg substitute, pineapple juice, sour cream, dark rum) and beat on medium speed until well blended. Pour the batter over the nuts in prepared pan.
  • Bake in the center of oven for about 50-60 minutes or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely, and then invert it onto a serving plate.
  • To make the glaze, melt the butter in a small, nonstick saucepan. Away from the heat, stir in 1/2 cup rum, 1/3 cup sugar, and 1/3 cup Splenda. After you've stirred the mixture, put back on the stove over medium heat and bring to a gentle boil. Continue to gently boil, stirring constantly, for about 4 minutes. Let cool for about 5 minutes.
  • Prick the top of the cake all over with a skewer or large barbecue fork. Slowly spoon or pour the glaze evenly over the top. You can spoon or brush some of the glaze that drips off onto the sides of the cake.