Every year when I was a kid, my mom, my sisters and I baked dozens of rich, buttery cookies to fill our famous holiday gift
tins. I still love giving homemade cookies as gifts to friends and family, but I don’t want to feel like I’m sabotaging
someone’s diet with my present. So this year, I’m going to fill my cookie tins with healthier
, like these delicious Boot Tracks and 9 more irresistible cookie recipes for 100-calories or less
To make the cookies in your holiday tin healthier (and still use your favorite recipes), try my5
secrets for baking healthier cookies
Tip 1: Replace fats with heart-healthy oil or fruit puree.
Swap out some of the butter, margarine or shortening for heart-healthy oils, such as canola oil or olive oil, or pureed fruit
or even vegetables. We’ve had good luck replacing up to 50% of the butter in a recipe. One of my favorite cookies is Princess Tea Cakes, a makeover of Russian
Tea Cake cookies
, which uses 100% canola oil in place of butter.
You can also try pureed fruit (applesauce, pear butter or prune puree) in place of some of the butter, margarine or
shortening. This tips works well in softer-textured cookies, such as oatmeal cookies, ginger molasses or these chewy and
tender Orange Spice
, which I’ve made almost weekly since I first tried them.
Tip 2: Eliminate some unhealthy fats by adding yogurt or buttermilk.
Try replacing some of the butter with nontraditional cookie ingredients, such as nonfat plain yogurt, nonfat buttermilk or
even fruit juice. Try 1 to 4 tablespoons of a liquid ingredient, like yogurt or buttermilk, in place of some of the butter to
keep the cookies from getting dry. No one ever guesses that these Double Peanut
have yogurt in the batter.
Tip 3: Add fiber to your cookies.
Try replacing some (or all) of the all-purpose flour with whole-wheat flour, whole-wheat pastry flour and/or oats, like in
our 2009 prize-winning Double Nut &
. Using whole-wheat flour in place of all-purpose flour gives your cookies about four times the amount
of fiber in every batch.
For delicate-textured cookies or if you are still getting used to the taste and texture of whole-wheat, try using more finely
milled whole-wheat pastry flour or mild-flavored white whole-wheat flour in place of about half of the all-purpose
flour—you’ll still get the added benefit of extra fiber without much wheaty flavor.
Tip 4: Keep sodium in check.
Some baked goods can be surprisingly high in sodium. Aim for no more than 1/2 teaspoon salt per batch of cookies. If you’re
on a salt-restricted diet, try reducing the salt in a batch of cookies to 1/4 teaspoon. Here are some of my favorite cookie
recipes with 1/4 teaspoon salt per batch or less: Double Nut & Date Tassies
and Ginger Crinkle Cookies
Tip 5: Eliminate trans fat & other artificial ingredients.
Steer clear of ingredients that contain partially hydrogenated oil (or trans fats), such as margarine and most vegetable
shortenings. Consider limiting other artificial ingredients, such as artificial food dyes.
One of the benefits of homemade baked goods is their simple list of ingredients. By making your own cookies, you can use
whole ingredients and avoid most or all processed ingredients that are found in many packaged cookies.
Learn more about trans fats, like the fat in margarine and some shortening
I’m not a Scrooge—I know holiday cookies look more festive when decorated with sprinkles or colored frosting—but I like to
keep ingredients as “natural” as possible. If you’d like to avoid artificial ingredients, look for all-natural food dyes,
such as red dye made from beets, available in natural-foods stores or online. Or try a drizzle of chocolate or a sprinkle of
finely chopped nuts to give cookies extra appeal. See more cookie-decorating tips from the EatingWell Test Kitchen