By: Amanda Belo
The holidays are here! Everywhere you turn there’s a dessert being shoved at you. It can be hard to resist for sure, but we’re here to help you out. In honor of National Cookie Day, here are some healthy baking tips and a couple of recipe ideas to get the wheels turning. Plus, you may get some new inspirations for what to leave out for Santa to go along with that milk.
Most things are good in moderation, and that seems especially true for food. Being mindful of how you measure out your cookies and other desserts will help control your portions. Try using a one-tablespoon scoop of cookie dough for each cookie in the batch.
Add or Substitute Nutrient-Rich Ingredients
Integrating healthier options into your baking routine can make a world of difference. Try using whole-wheat, almond, coconut, or even chickpea flours instead of white flour. Another idea is to throw in a fruit or a vegetable. Not only does fresh produce increase the number of nutrients you’re getting, they also enhance the flavor. Additionally, using low-fat dairies such as low-fat milk or yogurt is a great way to cut the calories.
Reduce Saturated Fat and Added Sugars
Saturated fat means bad news for your cholesterol! Give butter a rest and use canola oil. It’s a healthier, affordable option for baking as it is high in monounsaturated fats – a “good” fat. Other healthy baking oils include coconut oil and olive oil. Reducing sugar can also be a step in the right direction, especially during the holidays when you’re probably taking in more than usual. Decreasing the amount of sugar by a quarter is a viable option, and usually has no effect on the taste.
Recipes to Get You Started:
Spiced Oatmeal Cookies
Yield: Makes about 24 cookies
Prep Time: 15 minutes
- ½ cup (1 stick/8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
- ½ cup packed coconut sugar
- 2 tablespoons stevia
- 1 large egg
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon Ceylon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 ¾ cup old-fashioned oats
- ⅓ cup almond flour
- ⅓ cup regular whole wheat flour
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper, or lightly grease them.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine the butter, coconut sugar and cane sugar. With a hand-held electric mixer or by hand, beat them together until they are fully incorporated and lighter in color.
- Add the egg and vanilla and beat well, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt, and blend until combined.
- Lastly, add the oats, oat flour, and whole wheat flour. Blend on low speed until combined. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula, and mix briefly to be sure it’s evenly blended.
- With a cookie dough scoop or two spoons, scoop about 1 tablespoon of dough at a time onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving at least 2 inches of space around each cookie.
- Bake the cookies for 12 to 13 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown with slightly darker edges.
- Remove the cookies from the oven, place the pan on a cooling rack, and let the cookies cool completely on the pan before handling
- Repeat again for each batch baked.
Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yield: Makes about 16 cookies
Prep Time: 10 minutes
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, solid (be sure it is not melted at all)
- 1 and 1/4 cups light brown sugar, packed
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup coconut milk (I like to use the thicker Thai variety, but any coconut milk will work)
- 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (be sure not to pack your flour)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups chocolate chips (use vegan chocolate chips if vegan), divided
- Flaky sea salt, optional
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees (F). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
- In a large bowl whisk together the coconut oil, brown sugar, and vanilla, beating until well combined. Add the coconut milk and applesauce and whisk until well combined; set aside. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; whisk well to combine.
- Add the dry ingredients into the wet mixture and, using a wooden spoon or very sturdy spatula, stir until ingredients are combined. The batter will be very thick! Fold in 1 and 3/4 cups of the chocolate chips.
- Scoop three tablespoon-sized mounds of dough onto the prepared cookie sheet, leaving a few inches between each cookie for spreading. Bake for 9 to 10 minutes, or until the edges are golden and the centers have set. Press remaining chocolate chips on top of warm cookies, and sprinkle with sea salt, if using. Cool cookies on the baking sheet for 15 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (www.eatright.org)
Cookie and Kate
– Recipe 1
Baker by Nature
– Recipe 2