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Sharp Health News

3 health(ier) holiday cookies (recipe)

Dec. 2, 2021

3 health(ier) holiday cookies (recipe)

We admit: These cookies won't win awards for being low-fat or low-sugar. But cookies are cookies — and with some small adjustments, the following three recipes offer health benefits that traditional treats can't. Silken tofu for protein. Flaxseed for omega-3s. Applesauce for antioxidants. So go ahead, indulge a little. Just make sure you share.

Orange Spice Molasses Cookies

Applesauce, oats and whole-wheat flour add a healthy kick to these tasty treats.
Yields 40 cookies


Ingredients (Cookie Dough)
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons freshly grated orange zest
1/2 cup light or dark molasses
7 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups whole-wheat flour

Ingredients (Rolling Sugar)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest

Heat oven to 375° F. Coat baking sheet with cooking spray.

Prepare the rolling sugar: In a food processor, pulse 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon orange zest until well-combined; set aside for use later.

Prepare the dough: In a blender, grind oats until they look like a fine powder. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high, beat butter and 1/3 cup granulated sugar for 5 minutes. Add brown sugar and 2 tablespoons orange zest, and beat for another 2 minutes. Add molasses, applesauce, egg yolk, vanilla, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, pepper and salt; beat on medium-high for 30 seconds. Change the mixer speed to medium and then slowly add the ground oats and whole-wheat flour.

Form tablespoon-sized balls with the dough, then roll them in the rolling sugar to coat. Mixture may clump, so lightly brush off excess to form a light coat. Place cookies 1-inch apart on cookie sheet.

Bake until the edges are set and the tops are cracked, but the centers are still soft and puffy, about 10 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack before serving.

Fig 'n' Flax Thumbprint Cookies

Ground flaxseed adds a nutty flavor, while sneaking in some healthy omega-3s. Substitute your favorite fruit preserves if fig isn't your thing.
Yields 30 cookies


1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar, divided
1 large egg, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup ground flaxseed, divided
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup fig preserves

Heat oven to 350° F. Coat baking sheet with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high, beat butter and 1/4 cup brown sugar until creamy. Add egg yolk (save the egg white for later) and vanilla, and beat until combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed, cream of tartar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Slowly add flour mixture to the batter and beat on low until combined.

In a small bowl, place the egg white. In a separate shallow dish, combine the remaining 1/4 cup each of brown sugar and ground flaxseed. Form dough into tablespoon-sized balls. Dip one ball at a time into the egg white, then roll in the sugar mixture. Place balls 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet. Press your thumb into the middle of each cookie and then add 1/4 teaspoon preserves into the well.

Bake until cookies set, about 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack before serving.

Holiday Cookie Cutouts

Want to skip the sugar topping for a healthier alternative? Try chia seeds, dried cranberries, shredded coconut, finely chopped pretzels, crystallized ginger or nuts.
Yields 32 cookies


1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup low-fat firm, silken tofu
1 large egg
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, whisk all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking powder and salt. In a food processor, puree tofu. Add egg, sugar, oil, butter and vanilla; process until smooth. Add the dry ingredients and pulse just until dough clumps together.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead several times. Divide dough in half and press each piece into a disk. Dust each disk with flour and wrap each separately in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Heat oven to 350° F. Coat baking sheets with cooking spray. Working with 1 disk at a time, on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough 1/4-inch thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes. Gather scraps and re-roll. Place cookies about 1/2-inch apart on baking sheets. If using sugar topping, sprinkle on top.

Bake cookies until light-golden around the edges, about 12 to 16 minutes. If using dried toppings (shown above) , add them immediately after removing cookies from the oven. Let cool on a wire rack before serving.

All recipes courtesy of Eating Well.

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