By Matthew Thompson , December 5, 2011 - 9:00am
Season’s Greetings! Welcome to EatingWell’s annual Holiday Cookie Swap. All week we’ll be trading innovative tips and favorite recipes for delicious holiday cookies that would be welcome at any Christmas or Hanukkah party. We’ll show you clever ways to cut calories and boost flavor, so you can spruce up your own recipes. That’s our gift to you!
So then, on to the first tip: Swap Out Unhealthy Fats!
I love Christmas cookies—my father was a minister, so we’d get a ton each year—but I’m not a huge fan of all the artery-clogging shortening and butter many recipes call for. Still, I know that many people have trouble throwing out a much-loved family recipe just because a few of the ingredients are now on the naughty list. So what can you do?
Why don’t you give those recipes a holiday makeover? By swapping out some of those bad-for-you fats (butter, margarine and shortening) for heart-healthy oils you can slash the amount of saturated fat. By our estimates, for each tablespoon of butter you eliminate, you are removing 5 grams of saturated fat from the recipe. That’s pretty amazing!
Of course, you can’t just cut ingredients willy-nilly or else the recipe won’t work. We’ve had good luck replacing up to 50% of the butter in a recipe with canola oil or olive oil. Bear in mind that when you reduce the butter, you may lose some of its tenderizing and moisture-retaining properties. Cookies with some oil tend to be a bit crisper and might even dry out sooner if you leave them for a few days. Of course, around our house, that was never a problem!
Want to go even healthier? Try using pureed fruit or even vegetables in place of unhealthy fats! Find out how here. 
Want to lighten up your favorite Christmas cookie recipes? We’re kicking off the holiday baking season the first week in December by sharing prize-winning cookie recipes and tricks from our EatingWell Test Kitchen pros to make any cookie healthier but still taste great. Find everything you need for beautiful, healthy cookies here. 
What are your favorite holiday cookies? Tell us what you think below.