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7 Lightened-up Holiday Cookie Recipes That Actually Taste Good

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Heading home for winter break means you get to relax, sleep in and celebrate the holidays with friends and family. There’s really nothing to worry about—until you realize how much junk food is calling your name around this time of year! Between the dessert table at your friend’s holiday party and the homemade batch of cookies your grandma made just for you, there are so many temptations that can quickly cause your healthy eating habits to unravel.

However, you don’t have to completely avoid festive treats this season in order to stay on track with eating responsibly! We’ve got the perfect alternatives that will taste just as good (if not better) than their more devious counterparts.

1. Cinnamon Chocolate Frozen Yogurt Sandwiches

Recipe from Whole Living

If you traditionally make whoopie pies, try testing out this lighter version of the classic treat. You’ll still get the same level of sweetness from the cinnamon-and-chocolate-flavored cookie, but you’ll feel a lot less like a sunken ship with the frozen yogurt in place of the heavy cream filling.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/2 pint nonfat frozen vanilla yogurt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together cocoa, flour, cinnamon and salt, and then set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine butter, sugars and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for three to five minutes until light and fluffy; add the egg white and combine well.
  4. Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined.
  5. Form into a ball; cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. Using a melon ball scooper or teaspoon, scoop the dough and drop onto baking sheet. Flatten gently with the palm of your hand.
  7. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes; let cool.
  8. Spoon a tablespoon of frozen yogurt onto the flat side of the cookie and top with the second cookie.

2. Low-Carb Snickerdoodles

Recipe from Cooking Is Pun

Cookies are your probably your enemy if you’re watching your carb intake, so consider this alternative snickerdoodle recipe, which swaps out all that white flour and refined sugar. The coconut flour is actually a great source of fiber, and by using vanilla whey protein powder, you can sneak more protein into your dessert.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup vanilla whey protein powder
  • 1 tablespoon almond flour
  • 1 tablespoon coconut flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon powdered stevia extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 355 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Combine all wet ingredients using an electric mixer or whisk.
  3. Add whey, almond flour, coconut flour and baking powder. Mix until well combined (dough should be sticky and wet).
  4. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. “Plop” dough onto cookie sheet (you will have between 6-8 cookies).
  5. Combine stevia extract and cinnamon; sprinkle the mixture on top of each cookie.
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

3. Grain-Free Slice and Bake Cookies

Think of these grain-free, gluten-free cookies as the next best thing from those overly sweet, ready-to-beak Pillsbury sugar cookie rolls that you would normally crave. The natural flavors from the maple sugar and coconut will have you feeling much less guilty if you snack on a few.

Recipe from Deliciously Organic

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups almond meal
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup organic maple sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • 1 teaspoon arrowroot
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cold, cut into tablespoons

Directions:

  1. Place almond meal, coconut flour, sugar, gelatin, arrowroot and sea salt in the bowl of a food processor; pulse two to three times to combine.
  2. Add butter and continue process until the dough forms into a ball.
  3. By hand, form dough into a 12-inch log and wrap tightly with parchment paper and then plastic wrap.
  4. Refrigerate for one hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and adjust rack to middle position.
  6. Slice dough into 1/4-inch thick slices and place each cookie on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  7. Bake for 9 to 10 minutes, until just turning golden brown on the edges.
  8. Drizzle with melted chocolate if desired.

4. Angel Delights

Recipe from EatingWell

There’s a reason why these are called angel delights! If you’re usually into sugary macaroons, try giving this similar cookie a go. Thanks to the natural sugars in the pitted dates and coconut as primary ingredients, these treats will still satisfy your sweet tooth. Plus, the cereal will add a nice texture!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pitted dates
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups toasted rice cereal, such as Rice Krispies
  • 1 cup shredded coconut

Directions:

  1. Combine butter, sugar and dates in a large saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, until the butter is melted, the sugar is no longer white and the dates are mostly melted, 8 to 15 minutes (mixture should be a shiny, brown, sticky mass).
  2. Remove from heat.
  3. Add salt, vanilla, cereal and coconut; stir well to combine.
  4. When cool enough to handle, squeeze and roll mixture into 1-inch balls.
  5. Place on wax-paper-lined baking sheet; refrigerate until chilled.

5. Gingerbread Men

Just because they’re the quintessential holiday cookie doesn’t mean they have to be loaded with tons of sugar. This recipe embraces more wholesome ingredients like Sucanat, a sweetener made from cane sugar, and whole-wheat flour while still remaining tasty!

Recipe from Live Simply

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • ¾ cup Sucanat
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup blackstrap molasses
  • 3 cups whole-wheat flour

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, cream the butter with a mixer.
  2. Add in the Sucanat and continue to beat for 30 seconds.
  3. Add in the baking powder, soda, ginger, cloves and cinnamon; beat the mixture for another 30 seconds.
  4. Add in the egg and vinegar. Continue to beat the ingredients together for one minute.
  5. Finally, beat in the flour, one cup at a time.
  6. With your hands, form the mixture into two balls. Place on parchment paper and refrigerate for two hours.
  7. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  8. Roll out each ball. Using cookie cutters, cut out the dough into desired shapes.
  9. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes.

6. Ginger Crinkle Cookies

Recipe from EatingWell

Cookies like gingersnaps usually call for shortening, which is chock-full of trans fats. This similar recipe uses canola oil instead, so you’ll get a fair dose of omega-3s, the fatty acid linked to reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer.

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups Turbinado sugar, divided
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 cups sifted whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix oil and 1 cup sugar in a large bowl until combined. Then, beat in egg until combined.
  3. Stir in molasses until evenly incorporated. Sift flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt over the wet ingredients; stir until just combined.
  4. Put remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and roll each ball in the sugar before placing 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet.
  5. Bake the cookies until set, but still soft when gently touched, around 10 to 12 minutes.

7. Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cookies

You can’t go wrong with anything pumpkin-flavored, especially when it’s a cookie.  This recipes includes Greek yogurt, which is high in protein and full of minerals like zinc!

Recipe from Amy in the Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 15-ounce can of pumpkin
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 1/2 cups gluten-free flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, sugar, canola oil, pumpkin, eggs and vanilla until fully incorporated.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice.
  4. Pour 1/3 of the dry mixture at a time into the wet ingredients, making sure to fully combine before adding more.
  5. Using a tablespoon, scoop mounds of the dough onto the baking sheet and bake for 11-12 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and let cool before glazing.
  7. To make the glaze, combine the cream cheese, powdered sugar and yogurt until smooth.
  8. Pour the glaze over each cookie.

You can still enjoy the holidays without having to forgo your favorite treats. It’s all about swapping out certain ingredients and trying alternatives to classic recipes. Happy baking!


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