When you are invited to a holiday gift exchange party or you just want to bake cookies at home, it can be hard when you are trying to be healthier. A lot of holiday cookies, whether for Christmas or other holidays, are filled with chocolate, sugar, caramel, peanut butter, and a lot of other ingredients that definitely add to the calories, fat, and carb content. Here are some tips that can help you bake healthier holiday cookies, whether they become gluten-free, low-carb, or lower in fat and calories.
Tips and Tricks for Baking Healthier Christmas Cookies
Switch to Dark Chocolate
Quite a few Christmas cookies contain chocolate, but that doesn’t mean you need to do without these yummy cookies when you are trying to be healthier. A better way to make healthy Christmas cookies with chocolate is to make the switch to dark chocolate. It is slightly less in fat and calories, but more important, dark chocolate is good for you. It is filled with antioxidants, and sometimes even doctor-recommended. Add dark chocolate chips to your favorite Christmas cookies to make them a little healthier.
Roll Flatter Sugar Cookie Dough
A super easy way to cut the overall fat and calories per cookie with traditional sugar cut-out cookies is to roll the dough flatter. You are going to reduce the portion sizes, but still have some amazing sugar cookies. It is a simple way to get some cookies that will cut the nutritional facts in half, but by using the exact same sugar recipe your family is used to. It also lets you have more dough to make even more cookies than you are used to making.
Use Healthy Oils
Another thing that Christmas cookies often have in common is using a lot of fats, such as butter. However, you can easily make them heart healthy by cutting out those fats and instead switching to healthier oils. Get rid of all the butter, shortening, and vegetable oil in the recipe, and opt for coconut oil, olive oil, or canola oil instead. There are even some substitutions that allow you to use pureed fruit to replace the fats and make them even healthier.
Try Adding Some Dates
If you feel that your holiday cookies need to be sweeter, but you want to reduce the amount of sugar being used, you can replace the sweetness with dates. Dates are a type of fruit that tastes a bit nutty, but in general has a mild flavor. They contain a lot of sweetness, so when you puree them and add them to your cookie recipes, it makes a big difference without adding to the fat or calories of the cookies recipes.
Healthy Holiday and Christmas Cookie Recipes
Healthy Chocolate Cookie Recipes
What better cookie during the holidays than one with chocolate? If you and your family are trying to be healthier, you can still make chocolate cookies. It is just matter of re-thinking what makes a good holiday cookie. Here are some ideas for Christmas or holiday cookies with chocolate that are more nutritious.
Chocolate and Fruit Cookies
These cookies can use any type of fruit you want, though for the holidays, cranberries or raspberries are highly recommended. To make them healthier, you want to use dark chocolate pieces instead of milk chocolate chips. You will then need chopped fresh fruit, baking powder, coconut oil, vanilla extract, egg, oats, whole wheat flour, cinnamon, and salt. Pure maple syrup is also needed, but make sure you get the pure, organic maple syrup, not the kind that is filled with sugar.
Simple Almond Cookies
This recipe calls for just 4 ingredients, so not only is it a healthier chocolate cookie recipe for the holiday season, but it is also simple and inexpensive to make. All you need for the almond cookies are some coconut flakes, chocolate chips (you can use semi-sweet or dark), chopped almonds, and condensed milk. To make them healthier, go ahead and use fat-free or reduced fat condensed milk. To add a bit more flavor, try using some lightly salted chopped almonds for the cookies.
Chewy Chocolate Cookies
These are chocolate cookies that are soft, chewy, and don’t contain any flour. They are perfect for if anyone in your family is gluten-free or on another diet where they can’t have any regular flour at all. The cookies use cocoa powder, powdered sugar, egg whites, vanilla extract, salt, dark chocolate chips, sea salt, and espresso powder. They are flavorful, very soft, and simple to make. They also happen to be healthier by not having flour and using egg whites instead of full eggs with the yolk.
Chocolate crinkle cookies are really popular during the holiday season, especially when you are putting together a variety of cookies to give out to neighbors or bring to a cookie exchange. These crinkle cookies are made with chocolate and have some variations that make them healthier for you. The ingredients include coconut palm sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, egg whites, vanilla, oat or wheat flour, coconut oil, Stevia, salt, and some icing sugar.
Healthy Peanut Butter Cookie Recipes
Everyone loves having peanut butter for holiday treats, and while peanut butter on its own is good for you, cookies that use peanut butter often have a lot of butter, sugar, and other ingredients that don’t make them the healthiest option. The following peanut butter cookie recipes still use some of these traditional ingredients, but they have a few variations to make the cookies lighter.
No-Bake Peanut Butter Balls
These cookies are going to seem like they have some fattening ingredients, but you can control the nutrition in a couple different ways. First of all, they are balls, which means you are controlling how big each one is. Make them a little smaller, so that family members grab just one or two, and don’t end up eating as much as if the balls were a bigger size. You can also use natural, unsalted peanut butter instead of jarred peanut butter, and use a bran cereal instead if crisped rice cereal. Finally, consider using dark chocolate chips instead of semisweet. You will combine the peanut butter, butter, powdered sugar, cereal, and chocolate chips together.
Healthier Peanut Butter Fudge
Did you know you can still enjoy some fudge during the holidays? You definitely can with this alternative recipe, as long as you also watch your portion sizes. This fudge uses peanut butter and cream cheese, making it creamy, but not as fattening as pure chocolate fudge. Use unsweetened and unsalted peanut butter, vanilla extract, fat-free cream cheese, butter or olive oil, Stevia powder, and whey protein to make your low-fat peanut butter fudge.
Peanut Butter Cookies
These peanut butter cookies give you the traditional cookies, but the ingredients will cut the fat and calories a bit. Start with reduced-fat peanut butter, or make your own, then include all-purpose flour, baking soda, salt, butter, and granulated sugar. You also want to use light brown sugar to cut the calories even more, and use an egg white instead of the full egg. Add a little vanilla extract and non-fat milk. After combining these ingredients, you can make small cookie balls, flatten them on the pan with a fork, then bake them just as you would any other peanut butter cookies.
As you can see from this recipe, you are still using real peanut butter to make some delicious Christmas cookies, but changing up some of the ingredients to make them a little healthier.
Healthy Spiced Cookie Recipes
Many Christmas cookies don’t rely on chocolate, peanut butter, and caramel for flavor, but instead rely on the unique spices. This often includes cookies with ginger and molasses, providing some tasty and decadent traditional holiday cookies. You can still make these spiced cookies, but also make a healthier version for your family and friends. Try out some of these wonderful spiced cookie recipes that are a little more nutritious and less fattening.
Healthier Molasses Cookies
One type of traditional holiday cookie is the molasses cookie. These are strong and decadent, and often added to the mix during cookie exchange parties. This recipe just changes a few things to make them a little better for you. To start with, you are going to cut the amount of flour in half, so that half is all-purpose white flour, while the other half is whole wheat flour. Another change is to break up how much butter is used, and add in some olive or coconut oil instead. The rest of the ingredients are the same, such as your sugar, molasses, ginger, and spices like ground cinnamon, salt, cloves, and ginger.
Skinny Gingerbread Cookies
Gingerbread cookies are usually a family favorite, so the last thing you want to do is skip them entirely just so you can have some healthier cookies. Luckily, it is easy to turn gingerbread cookies into a healthy treat during the holiday season. For a healthier gingerbread cookie, go ahead and use your unsalted butter, but switch to brown sugar and unsweetened applesauce. You can use an egg white instead of the full egg with yolk, and mix some whole wheat flour as well. Reduce the overall amount of sugar, and instead add some dark molasses, along with any spices you usually add, such as cinnamon and ginger.
Low-Carb Snickerdoodle Cookies
If anyone in your family is on a low-carb diet or has diabetes, they will enjoy these alternative snickerdoodle cookies. Theya re made with almond flour, applesauce, Stevia, brown sugar, egg whites, brown sugar, and ground cinnamon. Then you have some classic ingredients for the cookies, including vanilla, baking soda, and cream of tartar.
Chai Spiced Snickerdoodles
Another way to have healthier snickerdoodle cookies is to make them with some chai spice, which is the perfect addition to your cup of chai tea. They use whole wheat pastry flour, spices like cloves, ginger, and cinnamon, baking powder, cornstarch, coconut oil, vanilla extract, and coconut sugar.
Healthy Cookie Exchange Cookie Recipes
These cookie recipes are going to give you some great ideas for healthy cookies that are perfect for your cookie exchange. They still taste delicious, but have some really easy recipe alterations to make them lower in carbs and calories. Take a look at some of these decadent creations.
Maple Cinnamon Delights
Cinanmon and maple are the perfect combination when you want to bring something a little different to your Christmas cookie exchange party. For these cookies, you only need a few ingredients, so they are also super easy to make. You will need flour, but you can opt for whole wheat flour to increase the nutrition of the cookies. Use ½ cup butter, then some olive oil to take the place of the other ½ cup of butter. You then need sugar, cinnamon, maple syrup, and maple flavoring.
Low-Fat Pecan Balls
These have many names, from pecan balls or pecan cookies, to Italian wedding cookies. The pecan balls are not very fattening even with the standard ingredients, though you can also use sugar substitutes or switch to almond flour or whole wheat flour instead of regular white flour. All you need for these simple and delicious cookies are confectioners’ sugar, flour, vanilla, salt, butter, and pecan chips. As you can see, they are already going to be a lighter cookie just with the minimal ingredients.
These are great shortbread cookies that are made to be gluten-free and naturally healthier thanks to the recipe alternatives. You can dip them in some dark chocolate to add to the overall appeal for the Christmas cookie exchange party. Ingredients needed for gluten-free shortbread cookies are dairy-free butter, gluten-free flour, gluten-free baking powder, powdered sugar, xantham gum, and soy chocolate chips or dairy-free chocolate chips. These are fragile cookies, so place them in the cookie tins very carefully.
Light Lemon Cookies
When you want to add something tart and fruity to your cookie exchange creations, these light lemon cookies are perfect. They are a type of snickerdoodle cookie that uses lots of lemon for soft and chewy cookies. You will need egg whites, butter, lemon zest, salt, baking powder, cornstarch, whole wheat flour, vanilla extract, and butter extract. The cookies are simple to make, with a consistency similar to snickerdoodles, but a lemon makeover. The ingredients are naturally lighter than many other types of cookies filled with chocolate, peanut butter, and sugar.