Gold’s Gym Douglasville Tips for Healthier Holiday Cookies!

Make Healthier Holiday Cookies!

We thought it would be great to keep this fun tradition of making holiday cookies without sabotaging the  health and fitness of those around us.  So here are a few tips to help us all make healthier holiday cookies!

 

Tip 1: Make them more heart healthy.

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. For every tablespoon of butter you replace with heart-healthy oil, you eliminate at least 5 grams of saturated fat from your batch of cookies. (A batch of 2 dozen cookies made with 1 cup butter has almost 5 grams saturated fat per cookie.). Cookies that use some oil in place of butter may be a bit crisper and may dry out sooner. To preserve the best cookie texture, be sure to store extra cookies in an airtight container.

Tip 2: Replace unhealthy fats.

Consider replacing some of the butter with nontraditional cookie ingredients, such as nonfat plain yogurt, nonfat buttermilk or even fruit juice.

When you reduce overall fat in a cookie recipe, the resulting cookies can be dry; adding a “moist” ingredient helps keep the cookies satisfying. Try 1 to 4 tablespoons of a liquid ingredient in place of up to 4 tablespoons butter. You can even experiment with replacing some of the solid fat (i.e., butter, margarine or shortening) with some heart-healthy oil and replacing a little more of the solid fat with a nonfat liquid, such as yogurt, buttermilk or juice.

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. If you are used to the taste and texture of whole-wheat, some cookies are just as satisfying when made with 100% whole-wheat flour. Using whole-wheat flour in place of all-purpose flour gives your cookies about four times the amount of fiber in every batch.

Ground flaxseeds or flaxmeal can help add fiber to baked goods.  Ground flaxseeds also contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid linked to cardiovascular health. Try adding 2 to 4 tablespoons of ground flaxseeds (or flaxmeal) to a batch of cookies. The flavor of flax complements oat-based cookies or cookies that are highly spiced, such as ginger molasses cookies or snickerdoodles.

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.

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

We know holiday cookies look more festive when decorated with sprinkles or colored frosting—but we like to keep ingredients as “natural” as possible. A little food dye now and then probably isn’t so bad, but 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.  Be sure to tell your holiday recipients of the changes you made to make their treat a little but healthier…bet they will love it even more!

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