Insights & Actions for Healthy Living
Healthier – But Still Delicious – Holiday Cookies Using An Easy Recipe Renovation®

Healthier – But Still Delicious – Holiday Cookies Using An Easy Recipe Renovation®

The holidays are getting cooking (and so are we), with ovens working overtime baking sweet treats.

It is hard to resist the trays of cookies popping up everywhere at home, when we visit friends, and even the office break room!

Staying on track with our health and wellness goals is very hard when the scrumptious cookies are calling our names each and every day.

There is a way to help control the number of calories and other things that can impact the success of your health goals, let’s learn more!

After all, a Recipe Renovation® doesn’t always mean you have to makeover the ingredients, but instead you can makeover the techniques!

Family Favorite Cookies

We all have our favorite cookies for the holidays such as rolled sugar cookies, thumbprints, molasses, gingerbread, pfeffernusse, biscotti, rum balls, brownies, spritzes . . . the list goes on.cookie-plate-nfthoi

Cookies are usually packed with more calories and fat than you may realize, which could have an impact on your health goals.

Most types of cookies contain butter or shortening, white and brown sugar, honey, fruit pieces, and nuts that all add up and are the things that keep us from achieving our health goals.

Did you know that from Thanksgiving to New Year’s most of us gain 5, 7 or even 10 pounds due to holiday eating? If you are lucky, you will only gain one!

We don’t want to have to avoid these delicious, traditional holiday cookies, so there are some tips to help us all stay in control.

Decrease The Portion Of Each Cookie

portions-cookie-in-pan-nfhoiWithout changing the recipe for your favorite cookies at all, you can lower the number of unwanted pounds that find their way to our waistlines this holiday by just making (and eating) a smaller cookie.

Most of us will be satisfied with one or maybe two cookies. However, the larger the cookie, the more calories, fat and sugar we will eat.

Certainly you can reduce the number of cookies you eat but these tips will help with each cookie you do eat!

Cookie Cutter

portions-cookie-cutters-nfhoiAs you can see in the photo, there are many size cookie cutters to use when you want an angel, a snowflake, a gingerbread man, or most any of your favorites.

Choose the smallest cutter to get the best portion for your health.

You can still enjoy the sweet flavor but avoid the guilt when you can’t avoid the temptation.

Of course, you have to avoid eating more of them and losing all the benefits of making smaller cookies!


portions-cookies-scooper-nfhoiUsing a scoop to measure the amount of cookie dough that goes onto your baking sheet will help control your cookie or other baked good sizes.

Using a smaller scoop to portion your cookie dough onto baking sheets will reduce the number of calories you eat.

There are several different sizes of scoops available so don’t be satisfied with the first one you see on the shelves.

Looking at the photo of a few different scoops that can be used for cookie dough, you will see that using different scoops results in cookies or brownies of varying sizes.

The smaller cookie weighs half of the larger scoop (0.5 oz. versus 1 oz. precooked weight) yielding a difference of 78 vs. 156 calories per cookie!

Muffin pan

portions-brownie-scoop-nfhoiYou can also use a mini-muffin pan for brownies or other bar type cookies to make a smaller bite size version.

When I used my small muffin pan, I actually doubled the number of brownie bites I made using a store-bought brownie mix compared to cutting them into squares as we normally do.

Each bite is now only 135 calories compared to the usual square, which is 180 prepared at 1/18 serving per package.

It can be simple to make a few sizes adjustments using different kitchen tools to renovate your holiday favorites.

My family prefers the smaller options so that they can select several cookie varieties without getting stuffed!

Ingredient Substitutions

If you want to eat a larger cookie or want to try new ways to cook old recipes, there are substitutions you can make for Recipe Renovations® that lower the calories and fat of your family cookie and baked good favorites too!

You can even augment nutrition when you add different ingredients not found in the original recipe!

  • Use applesauce or pureed fruits in place of the oil in your bars, quick breads, and muffins.
  • Use a nut butter in place of the shortening in cookies and quick breads.
  • Add nuts and dried fruits, such as golden raisins, figs, prunes, apricots, or dried cranberries, to baked goods.
  • Substitute wheat flour for at least half of the white flour. You can also substitute one cup of pureed black beans for one cup of flour (especially in brownies).
  • To reduce the amount of sugar, add cinnamon, or vanilla to enhance the sweetness in your recipe.
  • Substitute one cup of pureed avocado for 1 cup of butter (especially in brownies and quick breads).

There are even more substitutions and ingredient tips in these free downloadable guides — Substitutions for Common Ingredients  and Common Household Measurement Equivalents .

If you want more insight into improving the healthfulness of favorite foods while keeping the great taste, check out my book, Recipe Renovations® for the Health of It.

Here’s to happy eating and health throughout this holiday season!

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