Tis the season for mixing, and baking, and candy making but, for those who are trying to nourish their bodies with healthy food options, the holidays can feel like a season of constant temptation.
Here’s the good news—enjoying treats and eating nutritious foods aren’t mutually exclusive. Yes, you read that right. The trick is to swap out a few of the higher calorie, less nutritious ingredients for healthier options. Using nut butters in place of regular butter, and whole wheat or oat flour instead of refined white flour are easy ways to increase nutrition without sacrificing flavor.
It’s easier than you think and, to prove our point, we’ve gathered three cookie recipes we are currently obsessed with. And the best part? You’ll never taste the difference between these healthy cookies and their less healthy brethren.
This recipe from A Couple Cooks will have your entire house smelling like Christmas! Here, almond butter replaces most of the butter and apple sauce is the secret ingredient to keeping these spiced cookies soft and moist.
While traditional gingerbread is often iced with a sugary icing made from powder sugar, we think the light sprinkling of turbinado sugar used here adds just enough sweetness and a wonderful crunch to contrast the soft, pillowy gingerbread. We’re not kidding…these are the cookies you’ll want to leave out for Santa this Christmas, assuming you have any left by the 25th. They’re that addictive!
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup molasses
¼ cup almond butter
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons applesauce
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons allspice
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup wheat flour
Turbinado sugar (for garnish)
In a medium bowl, add 1 egg, ½ cup brown sugar, ¼ cup molasses, ¼ cup almond butter, 2 tablespoons melted butter, and 2 tablespoons applesauce; vigorously whisk to thoroughly combine.
To the wet ingredients, stir in 2 teaspoons ground ginger, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 2 teaspoons allspice, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, ½ teaspoon baking soda, 1 ¼ cup all purpose flour, and ½ cup wheat flour until well combined. Turn out onto plastic wrap and form into a rough ball; cover with plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour, or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Flour a flat surface and a rolling pin, then roll out the dough ¼-inch thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut out gingerbread men, about 25-35 total. Place gingerbread men on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
Bake about 8 minutes, until puffed and slightly firmed. Let rest on the pan for 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. Store covered at room temperature for several days or freeze for several months.
I don’t know about you, but we think biting into a warm, fluffy snickerdoodle cookie is like giving your tummy a hug from the inside. There’s just something about the texture—chewy but also pillowy soft and bursting with warm cinnamon flavor.
In this recipe from Eating Bird Food, almond and oat flour are combined, creating a cookie that is gluten-free. Maple syrup and coconut sugar offer a more natural sweetening of the dough, and a generous roll in cinnamon and coconut sugar brings the flavors of the season right to your lips. You’re going to love them!
1 cup almond flour
1 ¼ cup oat flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
⅓ cup melted coconut oil
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup coconut sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Cinnamon Sugar Topping
¼ cup coconut sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper, set aside.
In a mixing bowl, stir together the dry ingredients: almond flour, oat flour, cinnamon, cream of tartar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the coconut oil, coconut sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla extract and stir until combined.
In a separate shallow bowl, make your cinnamon sugar by stirring together the cinnamon and coconut sugar.
Using a cookie scoop or spoon, measure out about 1 heaping tablespoon of dough and roll into a ball. Roll each cookie dough ball into the cinnamon sugar mixture.
Place on prepared baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Flatten cookies slightly with your palm or the flat bottom of a glass. Bake for about 10 minutes, until golden brown.
Let cool for 10 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Store leftover cookies in an air-tight container for up to 1 week.
Here’s another winner from Eating Bird Food and, yes, you read that correctly. These decadent, chocolatey truffles contain a mind-bending secret ingredient that no one ever guesses—ripe avocado. Before you go running for the hills, hear us out…you absolutely, 100% cannot taste the avocado. What you can taste is a rich mouthfeel that will have you swearing these little beauties were made with heavy cream. Not so! And, if you opt for dairy-free chocolate chips, you have a gluten-free and vegan cookie option the whole family will love!
⅓ cup mashed avocado, about ½ an avocado
½ cup dark chocolate chips
Add avocado and a sprinkle of sea salt to a food processor and pulse a few times to combine.
Melt chocolate chips by placing them in a small microwave-safe bowl and microwaving for 30 seconds. Stir and microwave for another 20 seconds or until all the chocolate chips have melted. (You can also do this with a double boiler).
Pour melted chocolate into food processor with the avocado and pulse until mixture is completely combined and avocado is no longer visible. If you don’t have a food processor you can mash the avocado with a fork and combine with the chocolate until smooth and lump-free.
Place truffle mixture in the fridge to set for 30 minutes. Once the mixture has firmed up a bit, remove from fridge and make the truffles by rolling a tablespoon at a time into a 1-inch ball. You should get about 10 truffles. Fill a shallow bowl with cocoa powder and roll each truffle until coated. Place on parchment paper. If you’re going the sea salt route, skip the cocoa powder and simply sprinkle a few sea salt flakes on each truffle. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.
Who says holiday treats must be unhealthy? May we embrace the season even as we continue to nourish our bodies with healthy, nutrient-rich foods. Give yourself the gift of good food this holiday season…you deserve it!