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News Room: Press Releases

Holly's Kitchen: 4 swaps for a sweet, healthy holiday

Oil and butter give texture and moisture to desserts, but they also add a lot of fat and calories. This holiday, substitute with these simple ingredients to lighten up your cakes, cookies, muffins and brownies, without losing the taste that you love.

The idea is to find the right ingredient to swap to get the taste and texture you’re looking for…

Greek yogurt: Provides a moist, velvety texture that is great for brownies, muffins and even cakes; use plain, non-fat Greek yogurt, or experiment with flavored yogurts

For recipes:

  • Swap 1 cup butter for ½ cup butter and ¼ cup Greek yogurt
  • Swap 1 cup oil for ¾ cup Greek yogurt

With a boxed cake mix:

  • Swap oil, eggs and water on box for 1 cup Greek yogurt and 1 cup water; bake according to box

With a boxed brownie mix:

  • (As shown in video) Swap oil, eggs and water on box for ¼ cup Greek yogurt, 1/3 cup water and 2 egg whites; bake according to box

Pumpkin puree: Provides a moist, cake-y texture that’s great for muffins, breads and chocolate, spice or carrot cakes

For recipes:

  • Swap 1 cup of butter for ¾ cup pumpkin puree
  • Swap 1 cup of oil for 1 cup pumpkin puree

With a boxed cake mix:

  • Best with chocolate and spice cake mixes: Swap oil, eggs and water on box for a 15 oz. can pumpkin puree and 1/3 cup water; pour into a sprayed 9 x 13 pan and bake for 30 minutes at 30 minutes

Applesauce (natural, unsweetened): Provides a spongy, cake-y texture that’s great for vanilla or fruit-flavored cakes; best to keep some of the fat in the recipe to keep it from being too dry

For recipes:

  • Swap 1 cup butter OR oil with ½ cup butter/oil and ½ cup applesauce; you can do a 100 percent replacement or reduce the amount of butter/oil and increase the applesauce but this will change the texture

With a boxed cake mix:

  • Best with vanilla cake mixes: Swap oil, eggs and water on box for 1 cup applesauce and 1 cup water; pour into sprayed 9 x 13 pan and bake according to directions, checking for doneness 5 to 10 minutes before finish time

Mashed avocado: Provides a soft, chewy texture that’s good for cookies or breads

In recipes:

  • Swap 1 cup butter with ½ cup butter and ½ cup mashed avocado; you can do a 100 percent replacement for very similar results
  • Swap 1 cup oil for 1 cup mashed avocado; may need to add liquid (water, milk) to thin batter


Related Resources

A desire to lose weight is not the only reason you should see a registered dietitian. A dietitian can help you:

  • Manage a chronic disease like diabetes or maintain your energy during cancer treatment
  • Develop a plan to improve your performance in sports, fitness and muscle-building
  • Overhaul your family's diet and cooking routines to make them healthier and kid-friendly

Virtua's registered dietitians assist individuals of all ages in making healthier choices by developing a food plan tailored to their needs. For more information or to make an appointment, call a Virtua Personal Health Navigator at 1-877-896-6267.

Video: Get Your Chocolate Fix! Add Cocoa to Your Daily Diet

Video: Have Your Cake and Eat It Too - WITHOUT Gaining Weight

As one of New Jersey’s largest health systems, Virtua helps people be well, get well and stay well through a comprehensive range of health care services. Services are delivered through three health and wellness centers, three fitness centers, three acute care hospitals, primary and specialty physician practices with more than 240 physicians, urgent care centers, nine ambulatory surgery centers, home health services, two long-term care and rehabilitation centers, 12 paramedic units and a wide range of outpatient services. A leader in maternal and child health services, Virtua delivers more than 8,000 babies a year. Virtua also provides employment and wellness services to 1,700 businesses and corporations. An innovator in clinical and information technology such as electronic medical records, Virtua is recognized for its ground-breaking partnerships with GE Healthcare, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and the Fox Chase Cancer Center. Virtua employs more than 8,700 people and has been honored as the #1 Best Place to Work in the Delaware Valley every year since 2007. It is the recipient of the Consumer Choice Award from the National Research Corporation. For more information, visit or