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November 23, 2014

Day 5: Making Cookies the Healthy Way #holidayplate

Healthy Holiday Series

Undoubtedly one of the best ways to prevent the loosening of your belt this holiday season is to avoid the indulgent sweet treats that often accompany this time of year.  However, this is far easier said than done.  When the holiday season arrives it seems almost impossible to avoid the cookies, cakes, candies, and homemade goodies in general.  They’re lurking around every corner!  Instead of avoiding these sugar laden treats like the plague, why not healthify these treats instead?

One of the biggest offenders when it comes to potential pound packing abilities is the various holiday cookies that fill your office, home, and children’s school this time of year.  You know what they say though, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”.  Yes that’s right – go on and bake your little heart out.  Using a few simple tips and tricks you can easily make your holiday cookies into sensible snacks that will leave your friends and family wanting more.

Making Cookies the Healthy Way

  • Homemade = Healthier: Instead of picking up a pack of holiday cookies at your local grocery store for your next holiday party, you should consider making your own cookies at home.  Store bought cookies contain more processed sugars and saturated fat.  By making your cookies at home YOU are the one in control of what goes into the recipe.
  • Ingredient Swaps: Homemade cookies can easily get a healthy makeover.  Try replacing some of the traditional fats often found in cookies, like butter and oil, with healthier alternatives.  Non-fat plain Greek yogurt, non-fat butter milk, and even fruit juice can be added to recipes in place of traditional fats.  Some additional healthy swaps include replacing all-purpose white flour with whole-wheat flour, oats, or black beans.
  • Less is More: There are many ingredients on the recipe list that can be reduced without altering the quality of your baked goods.  Just because a recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, doesn’t mean you have to use that amount.  Baking is a science, yes, but ingredients like sugar, candies, and frosting are not necessities to the recipe.  By simply reducing the quantity of these ingredients used, you can substantially reduce the calories in your cookies.
  • Fiber is Your Friend: Adding fiber to your cookies not only adds nutritional value, but will also help to keep you full for longer.  Helping to curbing your cravings for a third second cookie.  Adding fiber to your dish is as simple as adding some oatmeal, flax seeds, or chia seeds.  Flax and chia seeds are double the fun since they add fiber and can also replace some of the fat in your baked goods.
  • Go Au Naturel: A good healthy cookies starts with high quality, natural ingredients.  Instead of using artificial dyes, flavors, or sweeteners, opt for using natural ingredients instead.  You can easily use natural ingredients such as beet juice or elderberry juice for coloring agents.  Try adding flavor to your cookies by using cinnamon, vanilla or almond extract instead of using an artificial flavoring agent.  Dates are an excellent natural sweetener that can easily take the place of sugar or artificial sweeteners.

Give yourself one less thing to stress about this holiday season by baking up a batch of guilt-free cookies.  Heck, why not make the rest of the year slightly less stressful by using these quick and easy tips all year long!  These tips can be used for all sorts of baked goods, not just cookies.  If you’re thinking to yourself, “Do healthier cookies even taste good enough to eat?”  The answer is YES!  Many of these tips can be used without your friends and family even noticing the difference!  So go on and get to bakin’ and send some of those healthy cookies our way ;)

Day 5 Homework–> Make it your goal to use at least one of the tips provided while baking your holiday cookies this year.  After you’ve whipped up a batch of healthy cookies, let us know what you think of the healthy makeover by leaving a comment below.  For a long term goal, try using these techniques in your everyday baking.  We would love for you to share these tips with your friends, and to share with us any additional tips you use to make your baked goods healthier.

Want to learn how to successfully eat healthy this holiday? Read all the Healthy Holiday Challenge posts here

An Intern Behind the Plate,
~Elizabeth

About Intern Elizabeth

Elizabeth is a Registered Dietetic Technician, who graduated from Central Michigan University with a B.S. in Dietetics and Biomedical Sciences. She has always enjoyed eating, baking, flipping through cook books, watching cooking shows.... and well, just about anything that involves FOOD!! After seeing the improvements in her own life from eating a healthy diet and participating in regular exercise, she knew she wanted to pursue a career that would allow her to help others make the same healthy changes! She looks forward to sharing with you the nutrition information she has learned throughout her schooling, while also incorporating her own tips & tricks that will allow you to use this information in your everyday life.

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