I believe cookies can be part of a healthy balanced diet, but by their very nature, they’re never going to be “health food,” especially if you expect them to taste good!
I also believe anything baked at home, even if it begins with a box, is going to be fresher, better tasting and better for you than the packaged items lining grocery store shelves. (Just from the time, attention and love that went into baking them.)
Sometimes only the most decadent of cookies is going to satisfy your craving and if that’s the case, I say go for it
I often find that I’m more satisfied by a little cookie made from high quality traditional ingredients, than a bigger cookie that’s been altered to be healthier, but it’s a personal choice.
For me the happy, healthy balanced solution has been to keep cookies out of sight and only enjoy them at set times. (When I plan for my cookies and treats, the anticipation of them makes them all the more enjoyable and so, somehow, I’m magically satisfied with less.)
But, if and when you want, it’s possible to make healthy cookie recipes or at least more wholesome cookies using healthier ingredients. It’s important to remember that the texture and flavor of these cookies is going to be different than what you maybe used to.
7 Ways to Make Your Cookies Healthier
1. Use whole wheat flour. Replace all our part of the all purpose flour called for in your recipe with whole wheat flour. Both white wheat flour and whole wheat pastry flour are my personal choices because they result in better tasting, less dense baked goods.
2. Add some oats. I love oatmeal and would eat it even if it wasn’t good for me. Oats can add flavor, texture, and nutrition to so many easy cookie recipes, you may have a hard time deciding which recipe to try first. Try replacing some of the flour in your recipe (maybe 25%) with oats or oat flour made from whizzing your oats in a blender or food processor. (Or just make a batch of oatmeal cookies with white wheat flour for a nourishing 2 punch.)
3. Reduce the sugar. Most cookies are really sweet. You can experiment with decreasing the sugar (again by up to 25%) in most recipes without noticing a big difference but you may need to add a little more liquid, such as milk to prevent your cookies from being dry. (Sugar attracts moisture so the less sugar, the less moisture your cookies can hold on to.) You can also use a less refined sugar, such as Rapadura, Sucanat, or evaporated cane juice. Using fruit purees for part of the sugar can work well here also.
4. Cut the fat. Use a little less butter (25% or so) than the recipe calls for. You can also replace a portion of the butter with peanut butter, applesauce, mashed bananas, pumpkin puree or another fruit puree that you like. Again this will create, a softer more cake like cookie than those made with 100% butter.
5. Replace the eggs. Again, you can use applesauce or a combination of 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed and 3 tablespoons water for each egg in your easy cookie recipe.
6. Add healthy ingredients. To bump up the nutritional value of your cookies, use chopped high quality dark chocolate instead of chocolate chips. Add a handful or two of chopped nuts and/or dried fruit. Spices such as cinnamon are good for you too.
7. Minimize them. Making and eating smaller cookies is a simple healthy option that often gets overlooked in our super-sized society. It’s the simplest, most effective way I’ve found to satisfy my sweet tooth, health and waistline.
In fact, when you read cookie recipes from old cookbooks, you’ll find directions for much smaller cookies than found in more modern versions. Sometimes the easiest ways to get healthy are the simplest and can be found by looking back to the sensible wisdom of our grandmothers and great-grandmothers!