Monday, November 29, 2010

Baking Healthier Holiday cookies

One of the greatest joys of the holiday season is baking cookies. It is a holiday tradition for many of us to gather with our daughters, girlfriends and others to make holiday treats.

If we are concerned with gaining weight over the holiday months we may forgo baking as a holiday activity. It doesn’t have to be this way if we are willing to make some simple alterations to our favorite cookie recipes. We can bake our cookies and eat them too!

Here are some practical ways to make your favorite holiday cookie recipe a little healthier this season.
  1. Replace the fat with heart healthy oil or fruit puree. Exchange some of the butter, margarine or shortening with heart healthy oil, such as canola or olive oil. Or you may want to replace up to 50% of the fat with fruit or vegetable puree. Replacing butter with fruit puree, (instead of heart healthier oil) works best in a softer-textured cookie like ginger molasses or oatmeal cookies. For best results, if the recipe calls for 1 cup of oil substitute ½ cup canola oil and ½ cup applesauce.
  2. Eliminate some unhealthy fats by substituting a nontraditional cookie ingredient like buttermilk or plain yogurt. Reduce your fat by 2-3 tablespoons and replace with buttermilk or plain yogurt. Using buttermilk or yogurt will also keep the cookies from drying out too quickly.
  3. Add fiber to your cookies. Try replacing some of your white flour with whole wheat flour or whole oats. Using whole wheat flour instead of white flour will make your cookies four times higher in fiber than the original recipe. If your recipe calls for 2 cups of white flour, use 1½ cup white and ½ whole wheat. Once you get used to the difference that whole wheat makes, you can substitute at greater amounts.
  4. Keep sodium in check. Many cookie recipes are surprisingly high in sodium content. Reduce your salt to ½ teaspoon salt per batch of cookies. If you are on a salt restricted diet, aim for no more than ¼ teaspoon of salt per recipe.
  5. Eliminate trans fats and other artificial ingredients all together from you recipes. Avoid or substitute all partially hydrogenated oil (such as margarine or shortening). Try to eliminate other imitation ingredients as well, such as imitation extracts or food dyes. With a few simple ingredient alterations you can have a delicious and healthy cookie recipe.
Try some of these recipes using the principles mention in this article.

Happy Holiday Baking!

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