How to make healthier holiday cookies

By: Hilary Meyer  |  Tuesday, December 6, 2011
When the holiday season rolls around I eagerly break out my mixer and rolling pin and pump out tons of cookies. They’re not just for me—I send them all over the country to my friends and relatives as gifts.
Recipes to try: Our Top Prize-Winning Holiday Cookies
But this whole baking extravaganza means that before they hit the post office I have tons of cookies lingering around my house. Since I care about my family’s health (and my own), I’ve gotten savvier about making cookies that are better for you. Here are some tricks of the trade for making healthier Christmas cookies:
Tip 1: Cut Back on Butter
Butter is a popular ingredient when it comes to cookies, but we all know by now that it’s loaded with saturated fat. There’s no need to get rid of it entirely, but it is a good idea to keep it in check. Try substituting canola oil for at least some of the butter in your recipe or try recipes that call for fat replacements which can be anything from fruit purees to reduced-fat dairy products like low-fat milk or buttermilk.
Related: Butter, Margarine or “Buttery Spreads”: Which Is Healthier?
Tip 2: Use Some Whole-Wheat Flour
I used to think whole-wheat flour made baked goods taste like cardboard, but thankfully this isn’t the case. If a recipe calls for all-purpose flour, I swap out half of it for white whole-wheat flour. White whole-wheat flour for baking looks and tastes similar to all-purpose, but it’s higher in fiber (about 12 grams per cup vs. 3 grams for white flour). Look for it in well-stocked supermarkets next to the other flours or in the baking section of your local natural food store.
Related: 5 Simple Swaps for Healthier Cookies
Tip 3: Keep Size in Check
There are so many cookies to try around the holidays. If they’re big and you want to try them all, you’re suddenly consuming tons of extra calories. I try to make my cookies small—no more than 2 or 3 bites’ worth. It’s a great way to keep calories in check and satisfy your craving for something sweet. Plus if you ship them like I do, the smaller cookies are less likely to break!
Recipes to Try: Irresistible Cookies for 100 Calories or Less
Tip 4: Avoid Artificial Ingredients
Until recently, I dressed my cookies up with frosting every color of the rainbow. But now I try to avoid artificial colors in my cookies and decorate them creatively with white frosting, melted chocolate, nuts and jams instead. Get More Ideas for How to Decorate Cookies Naturally