Celebrations involve food right? I can’t think of a culture where food isn’t at center stage at every party and celebration, especially during the holidays!

But that doesn’t mean we need to go crazy and harm our health in the process of celebrating.

I believe in balance.

How do I define a healthy balance?

Let’s be clear: my kids eat sugar. They eat cookies. They eat birthday cake. I eat sweets too! In my opinion, it’s all fine (and part of a healthy balance) as long as we don’t go overboard!

That said, I do try to make the treats at home as healthy and natural as possible. That helps me stay in balance.

Thankfully there are tons of great products on the market that we can use to minimize refined sugar and artificial ingredients. Brightly-colored candies are pretty, but those artificial dyes, refined sweeteners, and other ‘fake-food’ ingredients do a number on our bodies.

Simply baking from scratch (I know, it’s a tiny bit more work!) instead of from a box will save you from lots of crazy ingredients doing who knows what to your body.

Here are a few simple swaps that I use to make holidays healthier, but still delicious and enjoyable!

  • Natural food dyes in place of artificial colors. These are available at health food stores and online. You won’t get bright red frosting, but you’ll be better off. 🙂
  • Naturally-colored and flavored candies. You can find M&M alternatives and many other options at Trader Joe’s and health food stores. It’s still candy, but at least you avoid the artificial ingredients that make your brain crazy! Save the brightly-colored candies for the gingerbread house you don’t actually eat.
  • Coconut sugar in place of granulated white or brown sugar. Warning: Coconut sugar is still sugar! You can’t down the stuff. But it’s been shown to have a lower impact on blood sugar than refined sweeteners, so it’s a better option in my book. I use this 1:1 for white and brown sugar in recipes.
  • Alternative sweeteners: Maple syrup, honey, dates, molasses, bananas, and apple sauce are all swaps I’ve used successfully to cut the sugar in favorite recipes. Again, these alternatives are still high in natural sugar, but they come with nutrients that make it easier on your body.
  • Whole wheat pastry flour in place of regular flour if you’re good with gluten. The pastry flour has a better texture and gives a better result than regular whole wheat flour. Or look for gluten-free recipes using alternatives like coconut flour, almond flour, oat flour, and others.
  • Soda alternatives In need of a fun drink? Skip the sodas and make this: Add a splash of cranberry juice to sparkling water with a drop of doTERRA Lime essential oil. So good!
  • Organic ingredients whenever possible. I try to keep things as close to how my great grandmothers would’ve made them, and that does not involve pesticides, chemicals, or GMO’s.

Remember: Every baby step is a step in the right direction. Every swap you make counts! 

There are tons of amazing recipe websites to teach you how to use coconut flour and dates with confidence. 🙂

I have lots of recipes on my blog as well, so make sure to browse through the RECIPE section! 

What are your favorite healthy swaps?