Holiday Baking: Swap Meet

November 2022 - Nutrition

Nothing quite kicks off the holiday season like home-baked goodness. Trying to satisfy all dietary needs without compromising a classic recipe can seem challenging—but it doesn’t have to be. Whether you’re needing to go gluten-free, vegan, low sugar or sneak in some nutrition, there is a swap available that even grandma would give the okay to.


The first step in creating a gluten-free goodie is understanding if the person requiring the swap is gluten-sensitive or celiac. Both needs require care for contamination with gluten ingredients, but those who are celiac require even further care. If your guest (or you) is celiac, it is important to make sure that all ingredients used are certified gluten-free, you are using non-porous cooking equipment such as glass or stainless steel that has been freshly sanitized, and from production to packaging this is the only recipe being made in the kitchen.

Gluten-free can be one of the more challenging swaps to make because the flour substitutes can leave the batter drier or looser depending on the baked item. Luckily, there are so many gluten-free baking mixes and baking ingredients on the market today that most flour substitutions can be a direct 1-to-1 swap with wheat flour listed in the recipes. Some of our favourite flour blends are from Pamela’s Baking and Bob’s Red Mill; they add tapioca starch which works to produce a consistency like that found in wheat flour. If you would like to create your own flour blend you will need rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch and xanthan gum, and use this conversion chart on the right to get baking.

Gluten-free Flour Swap


Just like gluten-free, there are many more plant-based options available than ever before that allow you to adjust recipes without affecting flavours.


The easiest swap is straight vegan butter; there are no conversions needed and it can be melted or creamed for whatever the recipe may call for. However, if the recipe uses melted butter, then olive, coconut or avocado oils can be used—just be mindful that some may alter the flavour. Vegan butters tend to melt faster and not set up as firmly. So if using them in cookie doughs or icing, it is important to work quickly and allow for more cooling time during preparation.

Egg Swaps

Eggs tend to stump some bakers looking to make the swap, but if eggs are being used as a binder there are endless options to get things sticky—it just depends on what you are baking.

Cupcakes & Cakes
• half medium ripe banana, mashed
• ¼ cup plain apple sauce
• ¼ cup silken tofu, blended until smooth

• 1 flax “egg”

Bars & Brownies
• 1 flax “egg”
• half medium ripe banana, mashed
• ¼ cup apple sauce
• ¼ cup silken tofu, blended until smooth
• ¼ cup yogurt (dairy or non-dairy)

Milk Swaps

While the options are endless (there isn’t a seed, nut or legume that hasn’t been milked) there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a non-dairy substitute. Many options are flavoured or sweetened, so if you don’t want to adjust other ingredients in the recipe, unflavoured and unsweetened tends to be the best option. But in some recipes the addition of vanilla might work well as a flavour boost.

Whole Milk
Oat or coconut milk are the best options.
2% Milk
Rice, almond or soy milks are best.
Mix 1 cup non-dairy milk
and 1 tbsp of apple cider or white vinegar. Sit 10–15 min.
Heavy Cream
Use unsweetened coconut
or cashew cream.
Yogurt & Sour Cream
Prepared non-dairy
versions work well here.


Decreasing sugar intake while maintaining that decadent experience and keeping things natural isn’t as much of a challenge as you may think. These are our favourite sweet swaps.

Note: When using liquids as replacements you will have to decrease the amount of other liquids your recipe calls for. Add the sweetener to the batter and then add liquid slowly, mixing until the correct consistency.

  • Honey Available raw or pasteurized. Has a subtle flavour that can sometimes include the flavours from the flower nectar that was used to make it. Reduce baking temperature by 25°F.
  • Maple Syrup Has delicious flavour, is high in minerals and has a low glycemic index.
  • Agave Available in three different flavours (light, amber and dark) and increases in flavour and complexity the darker it gets.
  • Coconut Nectar Similar to maple syrup while offering minerals and being low on the glycemic index.
  • Coconut Palm Sugar Does not have a coconut flavour and is high in minerals and amino acids with a low glycemic index. It will change the colour of your baking so best used to replace brown sugar.
  • Monk Fruit Extract (luo han guo) 200 times sweeter than sugar with high antioxidant properties.
  • Stevia 200 times sweeter than sugar, zero calories, zero glycemic index. It’s best to use one that is blended for baking, as it will have additional ingredients to help balance the weight lost while replacing sugar.
  • Erythritol Heavily used in keto-friendly recipes, it looks and tastes much like sugar but with zero calories. A great choice as it does not dry out baking, but it cannot be used in recipes that call for yeast because they will not rise.
  • Applesauce & Overripe Bananas These make a great sugar replacement and increase nutrition and moisture. While apples will blend into flavours, bananas will be noticeable, so only use where the flavours will work.

Try these allergy friendly holiday treats:

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