Healthy Baking Tips for Holiday Cookies

‘Tis the season for making lots of holiday cookies! Whether you’re enjoying them personally or passing them out as gifts, one thing is for certain: you want them sweet and delicious without the extra sugar and fat. Here are a few tips to make that annual cookie arrangement more healthful; Holiday Apple Oatmeal Cookies and Honey & Orange Zest Cookies from Healthy Careers are here to sweeten the deal!

  • Tip #1: Swap Butter for Apple Sauce:  The problem with butter is mainly the cholesterol; replacing it with applesauce gives your baked desserts the same nice, moist texture that butter does without the saturated fat. Guideline: if the recipe calls for 1 cup butter, use 1 cup of applesauce.  Mashed avocado (similar in texture to butter) can do the same thing. Prune purée, which can easily be purchased in the baby food aisle, also makes a low-calorie/ low-fat alternative to butter.  To be reminded how sweet prunes are, try this Healthy Careers Recipe Contest entry for Raspberry & Date Squares.
  • Tip #2: Keep It Sweet with Zest, Honey, and Cinnamon: Natural alternatives to refined cane sugar works like a charm and has a lot less calories. Get a zester to render orange and lemon peels into a sweet, refreshing zest in your cookie recipes, use vanilla extract or a cup full of honey (or agave syrup) in place of sugar.  Guideline: One cup of honey or agave is equivalent to 1 cup sugar.  Experience how well honey works in this No Bake Chocolate & Peanut Butter Protein Balls recipe from Healthy Careers.  
  • Tips #3: Opt for Olive Oil.  Olive oil has no cholesterol; instead it features healthy omega fats, and is the perfect stand-in for vegetable oil in any dessert recipe. Olive oil can also be used in place of butter. Click the cooking with olive oil link for a helpful conversion chart.
  • Tip #4: Use Whole Wheat Flour When You Bake: Since swapping white for wheat flour boosts fiber, vitamin B-6, folic acid, magnesium, potassium and zinc, it’s a no brainer!    
  • Tip #5: Hold the Yolks! Since a whole egg contains more than half the recommended amount of daily (good) cholesterol, it makes sense to replace whole eggs with egg whites when you’re baking. Two egg whites to every 1 whole egg that the recipe calls for is a perfect guideline.   See how well a single egg white works in Healthy Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies!
  • Tip: #6: Learn how to Fake the Heavy Cream with These Substitutes:  Did you know that a perfect substitute for sour cream is Greek yogurt? It has the same texture and tang, but much more in the way of protein and nutrients. You can also use coconut and/or almond milk in desserts that call for heavy cream, and swap out light cream for soy creamer.

Happy Holidays from Healthy Careers!

Plenty of registered nurses and therapists will enjoy spreading the holiday cheer this year in the form for healthfully baked cookies and treats—the perfect gift because it shows you invested time in TLC!  Here’s to hoping your cookie trays runneth over with health, good cheer and the request for seconds!

Footnote: The ingredient substitute ideas presented in this blog were inspired by a Discovery Fit & Health article.

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