The way I see it, there’s only two things that could make holiday baking even better:
- If baked goods had any semblance of health benefits
- If the ingredients and baking process were more eco-friendly
Luckily, it’s not hard to infuse a little nutrition and sustainability into your holiday baking. Follow these easy tips to make your green up your holiday cookies, bars, pies and treats!
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Sustainable Holiday Baking Substitutions
One way to green up those gumdrop cookies is to substitute some of the old standby ingredients with more sustainable alternatives.
For example, there are precisely 1,687 types of flour (no there isn’t, I completely made that up). But there more than enough alternatives to try out.
Sustainable flour substitutes
When it come to swapping out flour, Healthline recommends the following:
- Spelt flour
- Amaranth flour
- Bean flour
- Oat flour
- Quinoa flour
- Cricket flour — I’m very interested in this one…
- Rice flour
- Coconut flour
- Nut flours — almond, pecan, hazelnut, walnut
- Flour blends
Not only are most of these options more eco-friendly, they’re okay for loved ones that can’t/won’t deal with gluten.
Eco-friendly butter substitutes
Butter is another ingredient that can easily be substituted. Pretty much any substance is an eco-upgrade from butter, and replacing this one ingredient is a step toward vegan and plant-based baking.
The Spruce Eats suggests the following butter substitutes for baking:
- Coconut oil
- Mashed banana or avocado
- Greek yogurt
- Nut butters
- Margarine or vegetable shortening
- DIY combinations of oils, sweeteners and nut butters
Sustainable sugar substitutes
Sugar is bad news in a number of ways. First, it provides almost no health benefits. Second, it is environmentally destructive to grow, harvest, process and ship.
But, luckily, it’s relatively easy to replace.
Nature’s Path recommends the following substitutions for sugar:
- Maple Syrup
- Cane Sugar
- Coconut Palm Sugar (not the same as Palm Oil)
Adventurous bakers might try stevia, chickory root fiber, monk fruit, yacon, sweet potato syrup, tapioca syrup or fruit juice concentrate.
Eco-friendly(ish) chocolate chip substitutes
Let’s face it: it sucks that chocolate carries such a destructive footprint, but there are sustainable options and alternatives.
Some of the popular ones include:
- Equal Exchange Organic Chocolate Chips for $3.75 per bag (not a bad price for organic and Fair Trade!)
- Vegan Chocolate Chips such as:
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Why Try Sustainable Holiday Baking?
Like everyone else in the world, I’ve been baking more during the pandemic.
And by “baking more” I mean I actually baked my first batches of zucchini bread and scratch chocolate chip cookies this year.
And holy crap, have you seen the ingredients in these things!? Let’s just look at most prevalent ingredients in chocolate chip cookies:
- Butter — a byproduct of the world’s least efficient animal.
- All-purpose flour — from wheat that is commonly sprayed with Roundup. About 88% of wheat flour samples contain Glyphosate.
- Sugar — a resource intensive and all-around unhealthy substance.
- Chocolate Chips — which cause not only environmental problems, but child labor ones, too.
When in doubt, opt for organic
I know, I know: “change the record, Sam.” I plug organic food all the time and here is a quick refresher why.
- According to Consumer Reports, “glyphosate could be detected in more than 70 percent of people between 2014 and 2016.”
- Eating an all-organic diet reduces glyphosate (the active chemical in Roundup) in just six days.
- Glyphosate is not only linked to cancer, it drives monoculture farming, soil erosion, species loss, and environmental degradation.
Just choosing USDA certified organic products is HUGE step toward sustainability.
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