The holiday season is just around the corner, and if you’re anything like us, you’ve been looking forward to baking those holiday cookies all year long. A warm batch of snowflake-shaped cookies fresh out of the oven is enough to make us race to the grocery store and gather our go-to baking supplies! But this year, we’re doing things a little differently. We’re on a campaign to make our favorite holiday cookies a little bit healthier, so we can indulge freely sans the typical pre-New Year’s guilt.
“We know that the foods we eat have a direct impact on our health and the way we feel”, said Tate Blanchard, director of marketing and community outreach with IC Care. “That is why we want to share this information with the public. We want everyone to enjoy all of the great foods this time of year brings, while also staying as healthy as possible,” Blanchard said.
Ready to join us? Here are eleven ways we’re planning to make our holiday cookies healthier this year.
Cut Out Trans Fats
Just say no to that tub of margarine! You don’t want to use any ingredients loaded with trans fats, which are largely responsible for leading to heart disease. That means saying goodbye to vegetable shortenings, too.
Add Healthy Fats
You can ditch partially hydrogenated oil, but the reality is, fats are a major component of nearly every cookie recipe. And that’s okay! It’s all about making the proper adjustments. We opt for healthy fats in our cookies, like extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil.
Use Greek Yogurt Instead of Butter
Greek yogurt is a fantastic source of calcium, protein, and probiotics. So we already included it as a staple in every grocery run. But when we found out we could use it as a butter replacement, it truly became heaven sent! The thick and creamy consistency of greek yogurt makes it a great substitute in cookie recipes.
Keep Fall Going with Pumpkin Purée
Another wonderful butter substitute? Pumpkin purée! Pumpkin purée is a low-calorie, nutrient-dense cooking ingredient, especially for people who need to fit in their daily dose of Vitamin A.
Add A Layer of Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is the dessert that keeps on giving. It’s loaded with antioxidants that work to keep free radicals at bay and may even help to improve cognitive function. So, replacing those artificial sprinkles with dark chocolate chips sounds like a no-brainer if you ask us!
Add Flax Seeds and Chia Seeds
Flax seeds and chia seeds add a fantastic texture to Christmas cookies, but they go the extra mile when it comes to health benefits. Not only are they chock-full of fiber, but they also feature an ample dose of Omega-3 fatty acids.
Minimize Artificial Dyes
This one can be a challenge, especially for the visually creative cookie chefs among us! But as best as you can, try to steer clear of artificial dyes. If the idea of a naked Santa is too much to handle, see if your local natural food store has a red-dye alternative!
Reel in the Sugar Content
Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the main cookie culprit. Sugar spikes are par for the course during the holidays, but there is a way to keep it under control. You can opt for a complete sugar replacement, like swerve, or stick to natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup. We’re totally on board for melt-in-your-mouth maple cookies packed with healthy minerals!
Use a Fibrous Flour
All-purpose flour might be functional – but it certainly doesn’t do much to improve our health. Instead of reaching for your regular cooking base, opt for whole-wheat flour instead. They’ll still taste delicious, and you’ll get four times the amount of fiber than you would otherwise!
Make Oatmeal Cookies
Want another way to get more fiber into your cookies? You can simply swap all-purpose flour for rolled oats that have been finely ground into a powder. Oats pack a one-two punch of nutrients and antioxidants. Plus, their heavy fiber content will keep you feeling fuller longer, so you won’t be as tempted to clear out the cookie jar in one sitting. And even if you do, at least you won’t feel as guilty!
Make Them Keto-Friendly
Committed to stick with your keto diet throughout the months of November and December? We commend you! And thanks to the invention of almond flour, it doesn’t have to be half as hard as you think. Swap all-purpose flour for almond flour in your Christmas cookie batch, and you’ll enjoy a healthy serving of sweet low-carb treats.
However you choose to indulge this holiday season, implement one or more of these healthier baking options, and let the baking begin!
Active Aging is presented by IC Care