Baking for the Holidays

Baking for the Holidays

The holiday season is a happy and exciting time of year; however it can also bring stress and anxiety for some. As runners, this time of year could mean a decrease in volume and intensity following the road racing season, time away from work leading to being out of the usual routine and the increased opportunity to indulge in great tasting treats.

As a Dietitian, I often get the question: how do I survive the holidays!?!!? One thing that I tell clients and athletes to remember is that the holidays only come once a year, enjoy this time with family and friends and the opportunity to eat foods that you only see once a year!

If you are bringing treats for the office, baking for a cookie exchange, making dainties for your family and friends or preparing sweet treats for Santa, and are looking for alternate ways of baking this holiday season, here are a few tips that you can follow:

  1. Replace the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour to increase fiber and mineral content. Start small by substituting ¼ of white flour with whole wheat flour, and slowly increase the amount. The change in flour could change the taste or texture of the recipe, and therefore gradually substituting is important.

  2. Replace butter or margarine with an alternative. Oil can be used to replace butter/margarine, simply use ¾ cups oil for each 1 cup butter/margarine. Another option would be to use unsweetened applesauce which shouldn’t alter the taste or texture of the final product, simply use half the amount of applesauce compared to butter/margarine.

  3. Reduce the sugar content by ⅓ to ½ the amount of what is called for. White sugar can also be replaced with either honey or maple syrup for a more ‘natural’ alternative, simply use ¾ cups for each 1 cup of white sugar.

  4. Cocoa could also be used as an alternative to chocolate chips or chocolate squares. Substitute 3 Tbsp. cocoa + 1 Tbsp. oil to each 1 square or 1 ounce of semi-sweet chocolate chips (½ cup is approximately 3 oz.). Mix the cocoa with the liquid ingredients already used in the recipe.

  5. Add nuts, seeds and dried fruit to the recipe to boost vitamins, minerals and fiber content.


Remember to enjoy this time off from training, away from the rigorous routine and to enjoy those sweet treats!


Janelle Vincent is a Registered Dietitian at Pan Am Rehabilitation Services. She has an IOC Diploma in Sports Nutrition and is a Board Certified Specialist in Sport Dietetics. She can be reached at or by calling 204-927-2660.