Cookies are a popular treat among both children and adults. They’re ideal for serving your family and guests. Most cookies available in markets, on the other hand, are loaded with high-calorie and sugar-laden ingredients like butter, granulated sugar, or chocolate. Can you find cookies that are a little bit healthier? You most certainly can!
Here are ten hacks used by registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) across the country that can make your cookie, a power house of nutrition and taste:
Hack 1) Substitute white whole wheat flour for the all-purpose flour.
In her cookies, food and nutrition blogger Kaleigh McMordie, MCN, RDN, LD always substitutes white whole wheat flour for all-purpose flour. “It contains more fibre than refined all-purpose flour, and most of the time no one notices!” she says.
Hack 2) Mix in flax seed, chia seed, or hemp seed.
Vicki Shanta Retelny, registered dietitian nutritionist and author of Total Body Diet for Dummies, incorporates ground seeds such as flax, chia, and hemp into her cookie batter. “These seeds give cookies a nourishing boost of healthy omega-3 fats, which are good for your overall health.” Omega-3 fats reduce inflammation and contribute to the long-term health of your brain, heart, cells, muscles, and joints “Retelny explains.
Hack 3) Reduce the size of the cookies.
“I make my cookies smaller,” says Sara Haas, RDN, author of Taco! Taco! Taco! and consultant culinary dietitian based in Chicago, IL. Haas makes a one- or two-bite version of the original that contains all of the decadent flavours, but in a smaller size. “When it comes to sweet treats, a smaller cookie is better portion size. Fewer calories, but the same flavour delight. They’re also very cute!”
Hack 4) Eggs can be replaced with mashed ripe bananas.
Jessica Spiro, RD has the hack for you if you want to make a recipe more plant-based or vegan. “In most cookie recipes, you can substitute one whole egg for one medium mashed ripe banana,” says Spiro. “This not only makes the texture light and chewy, but it also increases the sweetness of the cookie. It also contains vitamins, minerals (potassium) and fibre.”
Hack 5) In a 1:1 ratio, replace added sugars with pureed prunes.
“You can increase the fibre and nutritional content of the recipe while decreasing added sugars, overall calories, and carbohydrates by swapping out the added sugars and using pureed prunes,” says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, author of 2 Day Diabetes Diet. “Because of their sweet flavour and moist texture, this substitution allows you to make your cookie more nutritious without affecting the overall taste or texture.”
Hack 6) Reduce the amount of sugar by one-third.
According to Maggie Moon, MS, RD, author of The MIND Diet, “In any standard recipe, I reduce the sugar by one-third. It’s a little less sweet, but it’s still tasty. I started by reducing the sugar by a quarter and noticed no difference in taste, so I recommend starting there.” Moon explains that less sugar means less inflammation and fewer calories, and because the taste difference is negligible, it’s a no-brainer.
Hack 7) Half of the butter should be replaced with Greek yogurt.
Julie Lichtman, RD, LDN of Philadelphia, PA says, “I replace about half of the butter in a cookie recipe with full-fat Greek yogurt.” Lichtman explains that her substitution significantly reduces the cookie’s saturated fat content while maintaining its soft, gooey texture!
Hack 8) Mix in the nuts to the batter.
Chopped nuts are a simple addition to any cookie recipe. Toby Amidor, MS, RD Healthy Eats contributor and best-selling cookbook author, says, “Pecans, almonds, peanuts, cashews, or pistachios — whatever I have in my pantry.” She incorporates 1/2 to 1 cup of chopped nuts into the cookie batter. “Adding nuts increases the amount of healthy fat, fibre, protein, and the antioxidant vitamin E.”
Hack 9) Make several swaps.
MS, RD Katie Morford Mom’s Kitchen Handbook frequently modifies her cookies to make them healthier. “I start by substituting whole-wheat pastry flour for at least half of the all-purpose flour, I use dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate, and I replace some of the butter with canola or olive oil,” Morford says. “All of these substitutions add up to a cookie with more fibre, nutrients, antioxidants, and healthy fats.”
Hack 10) Dough made without raw eggs or flour
Angie Asche, MS, RD Sports Dietitian and owner of Eleat Sports Nutrition, makes her cookies with food safety in mind. “The two main causes of foodborne illness in raw cookie dough are eggs and raw flour.” So, in a food processor, I combine soaked cashews, almond butter, oats, and a little 100 percent maple syrup for sweetness to make a healthier version that still has the same flavours and consistency as cookie dough “Asche calls himself a cessor. This blends into a delicious, dough-like consistency that can be eaten raw or baked safely. “By using these whole ingredients, you’re also getting healthy fats, protein, and iron — definitely more nutritious than traditional cookie dough,” Asche explains.
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