Healthy Holiday Treats for Kids

There is nothing like the smell of goodies baking in the oven during the holidays. Cooking with your kids can evoke your own childhood memories while in turn passing that memory on to your children creating lasting traditions.  Some of those recipes, however, may not be as healthy as you eat now or may not be suitable for a child with food allergies. There’s no reason you can’t rework those recipes to keep all the fun and memories, so here is a guide to healthier holiday treats for kids:


As the saying goes, everything in moderation, but it’s still possible to have too much of a good thing.  Many recipes call for sugar, which undergoes a great deal of processing, and is often bleached with harmful chemicals. Refined sugars include:

  • Brown sugar
  • Corn
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Dextrose
  • Table Sugar
  • Cane Sugar
  • Confectioner’s sugar

If you don’t want to swap out sugars, you can always use much less sugar than the recipe calls for without changing the taste.  Start by reducing ¼-1/2 cup less and you will find you don’t notice a difference.  There are less processed types of cane sugar available which can be substituted equally in recipes:

  • Sugar in the raw
  • Muscovado Sugar
  • Turbinado
  • Demerara
  • Unrefined dehydrated cane juice

There is a whole class of sweeteners that are unprocessed, meaning they are close to how you would find them in nature.  These include:

  • Honey
  • Pure Maple Syrup
  • Brown Rice Syrup
  • Barley Malt Syrup (**Contains Gluten)
  • Unsulphered Molasses

The following chart can be used for substituting sugar in recipes:

Sweetener Substitution ratio Need to reduce liquid in recipe Nutrients
Maple syrup ¾ cup to 1 cup sugar Reduce by 3 tablespoons Contains calcium, zinc, iron, potassium
Molasses 1¼ cup to 1 cup sugar Reduce by 5 tablespoons for each cup used Contains iron, calcium, and other trace minerals
Barley malt and rice syrup ¾ cup to 1 cup sugar Reduce by ¼ cup Complex carbohydrate
Honey ¾ cup to 1 cup sugar Reduce by ¼ cup Contains minerals and enzymes



If your child has celiac disease or other food allergies, then it’s definitely a good idea to get down some good recipes both for your family and to bring to holiday parties. Bob’s Red Mill also provides delicious gluten-free baking mixes including cookies, cakes, and brownies, as well as an all- purpose gluten free flour.  Gluten is responsible for making baked goods rise, so substituting cup for cup in an old recipe may result in a different texture.  Try for some tested gluten-free recipes of old time favorite treats.


Keep Trying

Creating new recipes or using alternative sweeteners or flours may take some trial and error.  It is important not to get discouraged and to keep trying.  Take notes and keep track of what worked in your recipes and what didn’t.  Imagine being able to pass down a recipe to your child that is both healthy and delicious.  Besides, all that quality time with your child during the holidays is a gift in and of itself.

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