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Reducing Fat and Sugar in Your Holiday Baking

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When you are cooking while dieting, or for someone (or yourself) with diabetes, it is important that you rethink your favorite baking recipes in terms of reducing fat and simple sugars. This is particularly difficult at holiday time when the recipes that we use and love are steeped in family tradition.

Christmas Cupcake

But that doesn't mean that we can't have delicious baked treats during this special season as long as we carefully calculate our carbohydrate exchanges and count the fat grams, fitting them into our daily meal plan.

Fortunately we live in an age when reducing fat and sugar is a growing trend in American kitchens and manufacturer's have developed new products to aide us in our quest for lower fat, lower sugar baked goods that taste delicious. Be sure to read the label of these products before using. And don't forget to check out all of our holiday recipes for an abundance of ideas!

Reducing Fat

The special qualities of fat in baked goods make it tricky to successfully make substitutions. In baked good, fats tenderize, moisturize, smooth out the texture, add flakiness, and carry the flavors and aromas. When you cut back or cut out fat, you must readjust the rest of the recipe which is in reality a carefully balanced formula.

You can increase flavor in a lower-fat product by adding various extracts and grated citrus zest. To maintain the desired texture in baked goods, you must add a moisture-holding fat substitute such as applesauce, prune puree, mashed banana, or other fruit puree.

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To restore the tenderness of a recipe, you can use cake flour instead of higher protein all-purpose flour. Instead of greasing a cake pan or muffin tins with solid shortening or butter, lightly spray the pan with vegetable cooking spray for no sticking and no added fat. We all love chocolate, and while it has nutrients, it does contain saturated fat. If a recipe calls for chocolate, substitute 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder and 1 tablespoon canola oil for each ounce of chocolate. The total fat will not be much different, but the fat is unsaturated.

Replacing Sugar

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For anyone watching their weight, it is a good idea to reduce sugar intake. Recent studies show that if your diabetic and your blood sugars are in good control and your triglycerides are within normal range, a small amount of caloric sugar (simple carbohydrate such as table sugar, honey, etc.) may not cause as significant rise in blood sugars as once thought. However, whether or not you should use caloric sweeteners is something that you should discuss with your physician. Since caloric sweeteners contain 4 calories per gram or about 120 calories per ounce, you may wish to use noncaloric sweeteners, particularly if you are trying to lose weight.

Sugar provides sweetness, tenderness, and color in cakes and cookies. But with most recipes you can reduce the sugar by at least one-third without changing the taste and texture. Fruit juices and frozen fruit juice concentrates may be used to sweeten baked goods. You can also use sugar-free jams and spreads as a sweetener. These all contain fructose, a form of caloric sugar and a simple carbohydrate.

You can also reduce your sugar intake by substituting noncaloric artificial sweeteners. These provide almost no calories and will not affect your blood sugar levels. However, not all artificial sweeteners can be used for baking. Read the labels and only use those which say that the product can be used for baking.

DIABETICS REMEMBER: Even when sugar and fats are reduced in a baked good -- the pie, cake, cookie, etc. is meant for a treat in your meal plan and should be reserved for special occasions only. You may include one (1) teaspoon of sucrose (table sugar, brown sugar, honey, molasses, corn syrup, maple syrup, or other caloric sweetener) per reasonable serving size. This should be used within a balanced meal, once a day, and then ONLY if your blood sugars are in good control.

Enjoy in moderation, and if you are diabetic, be sure to count your carbohydrates. You want to be healthy and in good blood sugar control after the holidays! And if you have any questions as to how to incorporate these goodies in your meal plan, check with your physician or dietitian before indulging.

See also:
Baking with Sugar Substitutes
Sugar and Sugar Substitutes
Healthy Holiday Recipes!

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