Cookies are part of the fun of the holiday season and it’s easy to grab a few here and there during parties and gatherings. As a nation, we love cookies so much that December 4th is officially National Cookie Day.
But how do you indulge in the delicious treat without wrecking your diet? As with anything in life, it’s all about moderation. Below are a few tips that allow you to have your cookies and eat it too.
Homemade > Store Bought
Try preparing your cookies at home. By being in control of the ingredients that go into your dough, there’s a higher chance of you making smarter nutritional decisions. At the very least, you’ll know exactly what was in your cookie so you can balance out the rest of your day’s calorie and nutritional intake.
Try these cookie baking variations when watching your waistline:
No-Bake Chocolate Drop Cookies
Refrigerator or no-bake cookies are a surprising alternative to the traditional crispy, buttery version of oven-baked cookies. By substituting ground or blanched almonds in your recipes, you can add bulk, flavor, and color. Studies have shown that almonds and other nuts used as flour in baking are heart healthy, and enhance both mood and sleep.
Packed, pitted dates are another way to add volume and flavor (as a “flour” or a thickener) while saving calories and adding nutrition. Dates pack in a day’s worth of essential vitamins and minerals. Dates are also gluten-free and rich in fiber. Here is an interesting take on a no-bake chocolate drop cookie recipe.
Iced Sugar Cookies
This alternative to the beloved crunchy sugar cookie recipe includes whole-wheat flour and Greek yogurt. The whole-wheat flour adds fiber to the crunchiness of the cookie. Greek yogurt used in the icing instead of powdered sugar used in the traditional version produces an eye-catching yet tasty, beautiful frosting. It provides the creaminess and glossy finish without the added calories. Greek yogurt is a go-to source of B vitamins and minerals.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Who doesn’t love the melt-in-your-mouth goodness of the humble chocolate chip cookie? Traditionally made with heart-unhealthy butter and fats, most recipes can easily swap out that unhealthy option with healthy substitutes like applesauce or bananas. The latter options will provide the same moistness and flavor without the unnecessary calories while also providing a more nutritious bake.
Instead of milk chocolate chips, which are usually diluted with milk solids, sugar and cream, try using dark chocolate chips. Dark chocolate of at least 65% cacao gives you the benefit of flavonoids, a class of antioxidants that have been show to reduce cell damage related to heart disease, and can lower your blood pressure and prevent inflammation. Dark chocolate also contains less added sugar and fat than milk chocolate.
Whatever is your favorite cookie, celebrate with a tall, cold glass of milk (for your daily vitamin D) and enjoy!