Every December I get this huge urge to bake. And bake some more. One year I made 11 different varieties of holiday cookies plus 8 loaves of bread (Pumpkin, Cranberry, and Blueberry-Lemon, oh my!). I just canâ€™t help myself. Once the radio starts playing those Christmas tunes and the snow starts falling, my oven begs to be set at 350Â° and every bag of confectionerâ€™s sugar at the grocery store hops into my shopping cart.
Okay, maybe Iâ€™m not entirely blameless. However, I really do love making desert goodies and if all else fails I have to make at least one batch of holiday cookies each year. Holiday cookies are cheerful, colorful, and they donâ€™t have to be entirely bad for you.
Here are my best tips for making holiday cookies better for you (without sacrificing on taste):
1. Use real sugar, not sugar substitutes. Sugar substitutes are laden with chemicals and will alter the taste of cookies. Stick with the real deal.
2. Use less sugar. If the recipe calls for a cup of sugar, then just add Â¾ of a cup. Also, substitute brown sugar for half of the regular sugar. If you search for low-sugar cookie recipes there are dozens available.
3. Replace half of the all-purpose baking flour with whole wheat pastry flour. It makes for slightly heartier cookies, but has additional fiber, vitamins, and minerals. White flour has no nutritional value, so substituting whole wheat pastry flour will automatically make your cookies healthier. (Note: whole wheat pastry flour is not as dense as regular wheat flour; you donâ€™t have to worry about your gingerbread men breaking anyoneâ€™s teeth!)
4. Cut back on the fat by replacing half of the required butter, margarine, shortening, or oil with applesauce.
5. When decorating your cookies use less sugar, icing, and candy. Instead of frosting the whole snowman white, just give him some eyes, buttons, and scarf. Make a small batch of icing to begin with and make it last for your entire batch of cookies. Also, try using dried fruit for cookie decorations.
This year, donâ€™t forgo the goodness of holiday cookies in pursuit of better health. Embrace the baker within and get creative. Healthdesigns.com can help you get started with your holiday baking. Check out their Baking & Mixes - Food & Grocery for organic and healthy baking supplies.
How do you keep your holiday recipes healthy? We want to know!