The holidays are long over; they hastened us bidding farewell to morning chocolate indulgences and after-hour gingerbread delights – ahhh sweet times (literally). Not only that, but our ‘beach bod’ resolutions and vegan aspirations lead us to ‘clean’ eating, which meant even less treats. Sweets deprived, we battled between eating the foods we desired –  like the raspberry fruit tarts mom made for Christmas – and the foods we needed – like Whole Foods’ organic fruits and veggies down the street. But above all, we strove for a balanced diet, one that satisfied both our sweet cravings and nutritional needs. Lucky for us, we found a solution to our big dilemma… (drum rolls please)… ingredient swaps! With simple ingredient substitutions you can turn fat-packed desserts into nutritive health boosters, allowing you to feel healthy and happy at all times! Read ahead for our healthiest ingredient swaps, and their complimentary recipes.

Use 70% + dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate.

Molten-chocolate-lava-cake fan? I know I am. But indulging in this chocolatey delight can feel like eating 10 bars of chocolate all at once – in other words, gut-wrenchingly uncomfortable. For a lighter alternative, try swapping milk chocolate for dark chocolate. Look for bars that have a cocoa content of 70% or higher. They contain higher concentrations of anti-oxidants (which protect against cell damage), and heathy nutrients including iron and magnesium. Additionally, they’ll help stabilize your blood sugar thanks to lower sugar content (duh), and increase fat-burning thanks to their slow digestive properties, and long-lasting satiation effects.

Recipe: The seasoned cookbook author (and former F&W Test Kitchen Editor), Grace Parisi, shares her take on the classic chocolate molten cake –yep, Chef Parisi uses 70% dark chocolate bars. Check it out!

Scratch the butter, use avocados.

Almost every recipe (if not all) calls for gargantuan amounts of butter. We love it for its richness, and unctuous flavor, but hate it for the muffin top it cultivates right above our hips. But guess what? we’ve found an equally delicious and exceedingly healthy alternative for slimmer hips and happy taste buds: avocados. For every one cup of butter a recipe demands, use 1/2 a cup of avocados. By doing so, you’ll nourish your body with healthier fats, and pack-on a fraction of butter-induced calories. A few other benefits this super food offers include boosted weight loss, digestion, and vitamin absorption.

Recipe: Food blogger and fitness junkie, Gina, shares her avocado-based muffin recipe. You’re in for a real treat, but not the one muffin-tops are made of. Check it out!

Dates, bananas, and honey for all-natural sugars.

We all LOVE (white) sugar. It’s deliciously sweet and terribly addictive – ones with a sweet tooth will conquer. Its only downside is that it’s, well, sugar. It’s in almost everything we eat, and if consumed in excess, can lead to extreme weight gain and increased risk of heart disease. Healthier alternatives, honing more pros than cons, include dates, bananas, and a bumble bee’s sweet nectar, honey. Set on using dates and bananas? For 1/2 cup of sugar a recipe calls for, use 1/4 cup of pureed fruits. Keep in mind that because fruits have a higher water content, you’ll need to reduce liquids in the recipe by 1/4 of a cup. But fret not, the end product is just as delicious and ten-folds healthier! You’l benefit from date and banana fibers (which are great for digestion), potassium, and natural, unprocessed sugars. If you prefer honey to fruits, substitute 1/2 cup of sugar for 1/4 cup of honey. It will boost your energy, ward off infections, and help clarify skin – pretty neat right?

Recipe: Food blogger, Bianca, shares her version of a banana cookie. Tasty and 100% vegan, it’s the healthiest treat to satisfy any type of craving. Check it out!

Beans and chickpeas are better than flour.

This ingredient swap is the most outrageous of them all. But trust me, opting for pureed beans instead of flour will health-ify your brownies and boost their flavor! Just remember to dose your beans appropriately to avoid watery goodies. Make the switch for an increased protein intake (perfect for all you fitness junkies), and improved digestion thanks to beans’ fibrous constituency.

Recipe: Famous home-cook, Katie, shares her take on a classic brownie. What’s the twist? She bakes with beans instead of flour. Check out her yummy recipe!

Apple sauce is the new vegetable oil.

Vegetable oil is used in almost every dish. Granted, it intensifies a treat’s flavor profile, but also increases your chances of getting heart disease, and diabetes. Personally, that’s not a tradeoff I’d adhere to. If , like me, you’re thinking good flavor isn’t worth the heart burn (literally), swap vegetable oil for apple sauce. For 1 cup of oil a recipe calls for, use 1 cup of applesauce instead. You’ll reduce fat and keep your baked goodies nice and moist. Not only that, consuming applesauce (or apples in general) will ramp up weight loss, and increase your intake in fiber, antioxidants, and vitamin C. So, what are you waiting for? Make the switch!

Recipe: Make the switch with Julie’s applesauce zucchini bread recipe – yummmm … Check it out now!

Go coo-coo for coconut cream, trash the heavy one.

Cock-a-doodle-doo! Wake up to a bowl of coconut whip-cream-covered strawberries. Simply refrigerate a can of coconut one day, and use it the same way you’d use heavy cream the next. It’s that easy! While coconut cream contains the same amount of fat as heavy cream, it aids fat-burning instead of fat-storing. In other words, coconut cream is a healthy fat. A few of its added benefits include electrolyte replenishments, raised energy levels, and muscle building. Not to mention, it tastes incredibly delicious, arguably tastier than heavy cream. I guess there’s only one way to find out…

Recipe: Lisa from Downshiftology, her healhty food blog, will teach you how to make the most scrumptious coconut whipped cream. Check it out! Let us know below if you think it beats the heavy cream.