Healthy cookie recipes are not just a fantasy. With a few tips and substitutions, you can welcome some tasty cookies back into your diet!
Most people, no matter their age, really love cookies. However, many cookies out there are full of calories and fat, which make cookies a less than healthy choice. While many of the cookies in stores are filled with ingredients that will definitely add to your waistline, there are other options available if you’re willing to do a little bit of work. Just because you’re trying to eat healthy doesn’t mean that you can’t have some treats from time to time. Making your own cookies – especially if you learn to use healthier ingredients – means that you can enjoy having cookies on a regular basis.
If you add the right ingredients to cookies, they can help provide important nutrients to your diet. Most cookie recipes can be altered a bit with some substitutions that will allow you to enjoy cookies without sabotaging a healthy diet. Usually it’s best to try out only one substitution at a time to make sure that your cookies turn out beautifully. Here is a closer look at some of the substitutions that you can give a try for healthier cookies.
Oil and Shortening Substitutes
The oil or shortening in cookies is supposed to shorten gluten strands so the baked goods turn out soft. While not all fats and oils are bad, going with healthier options is a great idea.
One idea for a substitution is canola oil, which is healthier than some other oils. Sunflower, safflower, and grapeseed oils are all healthy options that contain a lot of polyunsaturated fat. Applesauce can be a great substitute for oil or shortening.
Three oils you should not use when substituting in baked goods are peanut, sesame, and olive oil. They have strong flavors and will probably not taste very good in cookies.
Many cookie recipes call for much more sugar than is needed. Try reducing the sugar by half, or even more. You may be surprised at how little sweetener is actually needed to make a great tasting cookie! If you and your family are used to eating packaged cookies, which are all very sweet, you may want to cut back on sugar gradually. The first time you bake, eliminate just one quarter of the sugar called for in the recipe. Next time, eliminate one third – and so on. Once your palate has adjusted, you will probably find that packaged cookies are too sweet for your taste!
Another option is to eliminate sugar from your cookies completely, and to use another sweetener in its place. I like to use honey when I bake. Maple syrup is another healthy and delicious sweet choice. (Don’t use “table syrup” or “pancake syrup”, which is really just sugar.) You will need to use much less of these sweeteners than you would use sugar. If a recipe calls for 1 cup/250 mL of sugar, use one-half cup/125 mL of honey. Adjust the amount to suit your taste.
Add in Healthy Ingredients
While substituting ingredients can make cookies healthier, there are some great ingredients that you can add in to many cookie recipes to make them healthier. Adding whole grains to cookies can make them healthier. You can add in wheat flour, wheat germ, oatmeal, and other whole grains. This allows you to add in whole grains without your kids realizing it. Dried fruits and nuts can be added into cookies to add some nutrition as well. Get creative when you bake cookies and enjoy making some tasty treats that are healthier for you and your family.