A “Healthier” Cookie.

I had a hankering to bake today.

To blend and mix and whip.

With butter and sugar and that kind of thing.

I think people are often surprised to learn how much many dietitians enjoy baking (and eating said baked goods!)  Many of us are foodies by nature, and so we jump at the chance to bake whenever we can.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that we add a gazillion calories to every single baked good that we make (although there is a time and place for that too!)  I often like to put recipes to the test with some of these subtle little tweaks.

My Top 4 Ways To Make a “Healthier” Cookie:

1. Cut the sugar in half.

Unless your recipe is already “healthier” to begin with (say, from Cooking Light or Eating Well), you can easily cut the sugar in half without noticing any changes.

2. Substitute half of the all purpose flour with whole wheat flour.

Whole wheat flour has a nice nutty texture that pairs perfectly with many cookies (especially chocolate chip!)  You can try different proportions of all purpose to whole wheat, but I’ve found that simply cutting it 50/50 gives the best texture without taking away any fluffiness!  By doing this, you’re instantly adding a little fiber and good-for-you nutrients.

3. Cut the butter in 1/4 to 1/2.

Different recipes will lend different results.  Try different proportions and see what works for you.  If you find that it results in a dry cookie, try adding in an equal measurement of unsweetened applesauce (e.g., if the recipe calls for 1 cup butter, use 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup applesauce.)

4. Shrink the portions.

This needs no explanation.  Shrink the size of your cookies and suddenly having two with a glass of milk isn’t such a big deal.  I have a special tablespoon cookie scoop that automatically keeps my portions in check!

Ingredients you shouldn’t be be worrying about…

  • Eggs.  Yes, they’re high in cholesterol, which is why they get such a bad rap.  But most reliable research has shown us that the cholesterol in eggs does not effect our blood cholesterol.  I’m not saying go out and eat a dozen eggs every day.  But there’s also nothing wrong with using a couple in your favorite recipes.
  • Chocolate.  Don’t go for cheapo chocolate that leaves you feeling unsatisfied.  My personal favorites are Ghirardelli and Godiva.  Also, if you’re following #4, you won’t be eating a ton of chocolate in one sitting anyways.  May as well enjoy it!
  • Nuts.  Walnuts, pecans, almonds, etc.  They’re all full of good for you fats.  And, again, going back to #4, as long as the portions are being kept small, these are a healthy cookie addition!

After all is said and done, enjoy a couple of your favorite cookies!  There is always room in a healthy diet for a cookie or two.

Just keep an eye out.

You never know who may want to steal them. 😉

Ghirardelli Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe – with subtle “healthy” changes

The important thing to remember in “healthifying” a cookie recipe is that we’re talking dessert.  You want the final result to remain rich, satisfying, sweet, delicious.  The moment you cross the border of it being dry and tasteless is the moment you’ve gone too far.  Have fun and tweak your recipes slowly to see what works!

  • 2 cups semi-sweet ghirardelli chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened (or 1/2 cup butter with 1/4 cup applesauce)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup unsifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped (optional)
  1. Heat oven to 375ºF.
  2. Stir flour with baking soda and salt; set aside.
  3. In large mixing bowl, beat butter with sugar and brown sugar at medium speed until creamy and lightened in color. Add eggs and vanilla, one at a time. Mix on low speed until incorporated.
  4. Gradually blend dry mixture into creamed mixture. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown.
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