Healthier Holiday Baking

I am a sucker for a good Christmas cookie. I love baking around the Holiday Season and having an excuse to eat a delicious little Christmas cookie is just what I want to do while sipping hot tea on the sofa. Have you thought about what you are putting in those yummy little treats that you make each year. There is normally quite a bit of sugar and fat that is goes into making a yummy, Christmas cookie. There are some ways that you could make some healthy substitutes and work on making your holiday treats a little bit healthier. I found some of these recommendations from Eating Well Magazine.

  1. Add Some Fiber
    • Lots of times people don't think about adding a little bit of additional fiber to increase the "bulk" of the cookie. This an easy way to work up on your fiber intake and this can benefit your heart health. You can replace some or all of your flour with whole wheat flour. This is a simple substitute that would make your breads or cookies even healthier. If you make that switch you add get 4 times the amount of fiber compared with the all-purpose flour.
    • If you don't like whole-wheat flour or are gluten free, you could try rolled oat flour as well. This would increase your fiber intake and also could be gluten free.
    • They other thing you could add could be flaxseed or chia seeds. Obviously, both of these options could change the texture of the cookies or bread, but if you add a little you could give a little boost to your fiber intake per cookie. 
  2. Cut Down on Added Sugar
    • Any type cookie or quick breast, typically calls for lots of added sugar. Cut down on the total amount of sugar you add into the recipe and try to replace with some extra flavor enhancers (almond, vanilla, orange or lemon extract).
    • Play with the recipe to try cut down the sugar a little bit at a time. You could also use "natural" sweeteners like agave, honey or molasses. That is still treated as sugar, but is a natural source that you could use. 
  3. Add a Vitamin Boost
    • Flaxseeds are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and fiber. This is a great additional to a cookie that has texture, like oatmeal or a highly flavored cookies (gingersnaps or something with molasses). That will help to hide the texture and the flavor from the flaxseeds. You could also use flaxmeal for a smoother texture. These omega-3 fatty acids are great for heart health and can help with cholesterol levels. 
    • You could also work to decrease your use of processed trans fats by using canola or olive oil. These also have more heart healthy fats.

There are lots of way to tweak and change your favorite holiday recipes around to make them a little healthier. Obviously, if you want to keep your recipe the same and enjoy it this one time a year, that is fine too. I don't want to be a Scrooge about it, but I also want you to know that there are ways to make small changes that can have big impacts on your overall health.