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Healthy eating during the holiday season is hard. Many of us have traditional sweets that we love to bake and eat. But with the right strategies, we can survive the temptation! Let's first look at some tips that don't involve changing the recipe:

• Bake less: Make smaller batches of your traditional sweets, or just one batch. Avoid the temptation to make double or triple batches.

• Bake less variety: If you usually bake 8 different types of cookies and candy for Christmas, choose your family's favorite 3 or 4 (choose their favorites over yours). We usually eat more when there is a large variety. Plus you'll save time and money - which is always a good thing during the holidays!

• Make smaller cookies: Your holiday sweets will go further and you may just eat less.

• Use less frosting by freezing the item first. The frosting will spread much easier and thinner. Or, skip the frosting altogether and opt for a dusting of powdered sugar.

• Freeze sweets until the holiday event: They will be out of sight and out of mind!

• Use less crust: Omit the crust on the bottom and stick with the top layer.

• Keep cakes to one layer and freeze the extra layer for another time.

• Give away holiday sweets: Your homemade cookies and candy will make great gifts for neighbors, co-workers, family and friends.

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Now, what do we do about making traditional sweets healthier without sacrificing taste? Try the following tips that don't involve dramatically changing the recipe:

• Applesauce- can be used to replace half or more of the oil in most recipes (works well for lighter colored recipes). You may need to reduce baking time by 25%.

• Baby food prunes - can be used to replace half the oil or butter in most recipes (works well for darker colored recipes). You may need to reduce baking time by 25%.

• Give Splenda's Sugar Blend or Brown Sugar Blend for baking a try, it has half the calories of sugar.

• Reduce the amount of sugar by 25% in pie fillings, pudding, sauces and icing.

• Egg whites or egg substitute - use 2 egg whites or 1/4 cup egg substitute in place of 1 whole egg.

• Evaporated skim milk - use in place of whole milk or heavy cream.

• Fat free half and half - a great product made by Land O' Lakes and other brands that you can cook or bake with.

Look at some of savings:

• Swap 1/2 cup oil for 1/2 cup applesauce and save 903 calories!!!!
• Swap 1/2 cup heavy cream for 1/2 cup evaporated skim milk and save 315 calories.
• Swap 1 cup sugar for 1/2 cup Splenda's Sugar Blend for Baking and save 384 calories.

If you are looking for specific healthier recipes or want your own recipe reviewed, visit our Registered Dietitian in the Rate My Plate board. In the meantime, have fun experimenting and remember that modifying recipes involves some trial and error in the beginning. However, with a little patience, you will soon be a pro. Happy and healthy baking to you!

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