Sweet Holiday Baking

Nutrition Advice from your Pawling Hannaford Dietitian

A long afternoon of baking creates a pretty perfect setting this time of year. Nothing is better than filling your home with the scrumptious smell of cookies and breads that are hopefully coming out just the way you intended. Of course, as baking is a combination of art and science, this isn’t always the case. It’s especially difficult if you are working with new or different sweeteners. I’m happy to provide this substitution guide, which will hopefully make it just a bit easier for you!


Some varieties of honey are sweeter than others, so the amount you use will depend on your taste. That said, for every 1 cup of sugar, substituting 1/2 to 2/3 cups honey is generally recommended. Honey also contains a lot of water so adjust the other liquids in the recipe by about a quarter or a third (for every cup of honey remove about ¼ cup of other liquids). Since honey is naturally acidic you will also need to add a bit of baking soda even if the recipe doesn’t call for it (add ¼ tsp for every cup of honey). Last, reduce the temperature of the oven by 25 degrees, and frequently check your baked goods to ensure they don’t overbrown, because honey caramelizes faster than sugar.


Molasses, which is the light or dark sticky syrup that remains when all the sugar has been boiled out of cane juice, can add a nice flavor to a variety of baked holiday goods. Molasses is not as sweet as sugar, so for most recipes, 1 1/3 cups molasses in place of 1 cup sugar is recommended. As with honey, molasses contains liquid, and therefore the amount of liquid in the recipe should be reduced by 5 tablespoons when it’s used. Also like honey, molasses is acidic. Add ½ teaspoon baking soda for each cup of molasses used.

Maple Syrup

Who better to turn to for advice on substituting maple syrup in recipes than the New York Maple Producers Association? According to their site, it’s okay to substitute 1 cup maple syrup for 1 cup white granulated sugar. However, due to the liquid content of maple syrup, it’s important to reduce other liquids by about 1/2 cup. Please keep in mind that the darker the maple syrup the more robust the maple flavor will be in your baked good.


I recognize that some are looking for a calorie-free, alternative sweetener. Of course, the final product that these sweeteners are used in may contain calories or sugar depending on other ingredients. That said, Stevia is a popular sugar substitute that many people turn to when limiting the sugar in their baked goods. The variety of Stevia will determine how sweet the final product will be, but generally it takes just 1 teaspoon of Stevia to replace one cup of sugar.

For more advice on holiday baking, cooking, and other nutrition topics, come by to say hello at Pawling Hannaford.

As your local Hannaford Dietitian, I’m pleased to be sharing my advice and simple tips. Please visit www.hannaford.com/dietitians for my in-store schedule of classes, demonstrations, and store tours or call (845) 855-0553 for more information.


Chocolate Chip Cookies (1 Guiding Star)

Why not pass on the added sugar altogether? Bananas are used to sweeten these whole-grain cookies, which can be made gluten free if you use gluten free oats. Expect the dough to be a bit looser than normal cookie dough. Please visit GuidingStars.com for more on the Guiding Stars nutrition guidance program.


3 large, ripe bananas, well mashed

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup canola oil

2 cups rolled oats

2/3 cup almond meal

1/3 cup unsweetened coconut

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the bananas, vanilla extract and oil. Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together the oats, almond meal, shredded coconut, cinnamon, salt and baking powder.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined. Fold in the chocolate.

Drop spoonfuls of the dough an inch apart onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 12 – 14 minutes.