Who doesn’t love the vast array of cookies set out at parties or circulating the office this time of year? Whether it’s a classic frosted sugar cookie, sweet and spicy gingerbread, or peanut butter blossoms, Christmas cookies come in all shapes and sizes and everyone has a favorite! Plus, with so many kinds of cookies out there, it’s easy to pile them on that tiny little dessert plate until you’ve got one of each. But with sugar, butter, and all-purpose flour as the main ingredients, unfortunately cookies have little nutritional value. Instead of depriving yourself, try these simple ingredients swaps to build a healthier version of your favorite treat!
Replace all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour. Whole wheat flour contains many vitamins, nutrients and fiber that aren’t found in all-purpose flour. It is also adds a delicious nutty flavor to your baked goods! You can replace the entire amount or use half all-purpose and half whole wheat, depending on your preference.
Replace oil with unsweetened applesauce. Just one tablespoon of vegetable oil contains 124 calories! If you enjoy making Christmas quick breads or muffins, try using unsweetened applesauce in place of oil to ensure the same amount of moisture.
Replace white sugar with a natural sweetener. Sugar is sugar no matter which form it comes in, but unrefined sources such as honey or real maple syrup have been found to contain antioxidants and may not cause extreme spikes in blood sugar. Be sure to find a new recipe that specifically calls for a liquid sweetener; if you try a 1:1 replacement in an existing recipe, your dry to wet ingredient ratios may be off.
Replace eggs with applesauce, mashed banana, or a “flax egg.” While eggs may seem like the most nutritious ingredient in cookies, they are still relatively high in calories, so replacing them could save you those calories in the long run! A flax egg is one tablespoon of ground flaxseed (now available in all major grocery stores) mixed with three tablespoons of warm water. Flaxseed contains heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and a high amount of fiber. In addition to these changes, ingredients such as oats, unsweetened cocoa powder, nuts, and fruit are all healthy baking ingredients.
Just remember that all holiday treats, sweet or otherwise, should be enjoyed in moderation!