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Healthier holiday cookies


Indulge guilt-free this holiday season with these healthier twists on your favourite holiday cookies.


Gingerbread cookies are a holiday favourite. This recipe uses almond meal instead of white flour, making them a great gluten-free treat.
Makes 10 cookies

280 g (2 3/4 cups) almond meal (ground almonds)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon gluten free baking powder
4 fresh soft pitted dates (60 g)
50 ml cold pressed olive oil, macadamia or coconut oil
40 g honey, maple syrup, molasses or brown rice syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla bean extract
1 egg white

Combine almond meal, dates and spices in a food processor. Process until combined and mix is crumbly.
Add olive oil, honey (and molasses if using), vanilla and egg white. Process again until a soft dough forms.
Remove the dough and flatten down slightly between 2 pieces of grease-proof paper (baking paper) – about 3 mm thick (1/8 inch).

Refrigerate for 1 hour to allow the dough to firm up. If in a hurry, place in the freezer for 20 minutes.
Cut out into shapes with a gingerbread cutter and place cookies onto a baking tray lined with baking paper.
Bake at 150 C for 30 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and cool.

To decorate, melt a little white chocolate and spoon into a small homemade piping bag made from the baking paper. Cut the tip to let a little chocolate run out then decorate gingerbread with smiley faces and buttons.

Source: Teresa Cutter, The Healthy Chef


Unlike traditional buttery sugar cookies, this recipe is cholesterol-free, uses whole grains and less sugar.

3/4 cup spelt flour or whole wheat pastry or all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt (just under level)
1/4 tsp plus 1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup white sugar, or sucanat, coconut sugar, or evaporated cane juice
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 tablespoons milk of choice
1/4 cup butter-type spread, such as Earth Balance (not a low-fat buttery spread)

Combine dry ingredients and mix very well. In a separate bowl, melt the vegan butter, then stir in vanilla and milk. Pour dry into wet and mix again.

Form balls or roll out (not too thin), then use a cookie cutter to make shapes. If you want soft cookies, you’ll need to get the dough very cold.

Cook in a 325 F preheated oven for 9 minutes. They will look very underdone when you take them out, but that’s okay. Just let them cool for 5 minutes before touching.

Source: Chocolate-Covered Katie, The Healthy Dessert Blog.


These low fat biscotti full of healthy apricots and almonds are a great compliment to a hot cup of tea.
Makes 24 cookies.

3/4 cup whole-wheat (whole-meal) flour
3/4 cup all-purpose (plain) flour
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons 1% milk
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons dark honey
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2/3 cup chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup coarsely chopped almonds

Preheat the oven to 350 F.
In a large bowl, combine the flours, brown sugar and baking powder. Whisk to blend.
Add the eggs, milk, canola oil, honey and almond extract. Stir with a wooden spoon until the dough just begins to come together.

Add the chopped apricots and almonds. With floured hands, mix until the dough is well blended.

Place the dough on a long sheet of plastic wrap and shape by hand into a flattened log 12 inches long, 3 inches wide and about 1 inch high. Lift the plastic wrap to invert the dough onto a nonstick baking sheet.
Bake until lightly browned, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to another baking sheet to cool for 10 minutes. Leave the oven set at 350 F.

Place the cooled log on a cutting board. With a serrated knife, cut crosswise on the diagonal into 24 slices 1/2 inch wide. Arrange the slices, cut-side down, on the baking sheet.
Return to the oven and bake until crisp, 15 to 20 minutes.

Source: the Mayo Clinic:


These no bake cookies are the perfect quick recipe to fit into your busy holiday schedule, and include energy boosting peanut butter and heart healthy oats.

1 ripe banana, mashed well
1 cup sugar
¼ cup cocoa powder
½ cup non-fat milk
½ cup peanut butter
Pinch of salt
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 cups instant oats

Place all ingredients except the vanilla and oats in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat – stirring often. Let the mixture boil for 1 minute, remove from heat and let the mixture cool for 1 minute. Add the vanilla and oats and stir well to combine. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto waxed paper and cool to room temperature.



Carrots aren’t just for Santa’s reindeer! This gluten-free recipe uses almond flour and is packed of healthier ingredients like raisins, walnuts and of course carrots.
Makes 18 cookies

1.25 cups almond flour
1 egg
1/3 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well until batter is blended evenly. Use a tablespoon to portion batter onto a greased baking sheet. Bake cookies for approximately 15-17 minutes. Remove cookies from baking sheet and allow to cool on wire rack before serving.



Need an energy boost to get you through the holiday season? Treat yourself guilt-free to these delicious, no bake energy bites full of fibre and antioxidant rich cranberries.
Makes approximately 30 one-inch balls.

8 ounces (about 1 packed cup) chopped dates
1/2 cup honey or agave
1 Tablespoon chia seeds (optional)
1 Tablespoon ground flax seeds
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats (dry, not cooked)
1 cup shelled pistachio nuts
1 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup white chocolate chips (optional)

Combine the dates, honey, chia seeds, flax seeds and salt in a food processor, and pulse until smooth and combined. You should be able to stir the mixture -- if it is too thick, add in another tablespoon or two of honey.

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, and stir in the oats, pistachios, dried cranberries, and white chocolate chips until evenly combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Once the mixture is cool (and easier to work with), use a spoon or cookie scoop to shape it into your desired size of energy balls. Alternately, you can line a small baking pan with parchment paper, and press the mixture evenly into the pan, let it cool, and then cut into bars.

Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. (Storing them in the refrigerator especially helps the energy bites hold their shape.)



This vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe is full of heart-healthy oats and uses bananas to provide some natural sweetness while also eliminating the need for eggs. Using soy milk and canola oil helps cut down on fat normally from whole milk and butter.
Makes 16 cookies

1 cup oat flour
3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raw sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup plain soy milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 ripe banana, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup chopped walnuts or other favorite nut
1/3 cup semisweet vegan chocolate chips (such as Tropical Source)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine first 6 ingredients (through sugar) in a bowl. Whisk together oil, soy milk, and vanilla in a separate bowl. Add wet mixture to dry ingredients; stir to combine. Fold in banana, walnuts, and chocolate chips.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop dough onto pan with a small ice-cream scoop.
Bake 25 minutes or until golden brown, turning baking sheet halfway through. Let cool on a wire rack.



This recipe replaces white bleached flour with healthier almond and whole-wheat flour, and uses applesauce instead of oil to help reduce the amount of fat traditionally found in cookie recipes. These Supercharged Cherry-Almond Cookies are also full of heart-healthy and energy-boosting almonds, and the antioxidant power of cherries.
Makes 36 cookies

1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup almond flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
3/4 cup dried tart cherries
3/4 cup sliced natural almonds

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine whole-wheat flour, almond flour, salt, and baking soda. In a large bowl, beat butter with sugar until creamy; beat in egg, applesauce, and almond extract. Stir in dry ingredients until combined, then stir in cherries and almonds.

Spoon dough by heaping teaspoons onto prepared baking sheets, 2 inches apart.
Bake 15 minutes, until golden. Cool on pans 2 minutes; transfer to wire racks.



If Santa leaves an orange in your stocking this year, try making this delicious Orange Drop Cookie recipe for a low-calorie holiday treat.

Makes 30 cookies

1 1/3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons cream cheese
1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
1 teaspoon orange extract

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, cream cheese, egg, sugar, orange peel, and orange extract for 3 minutes, or until light. The mixture will appear curdled. Beat in the flour mixture, a little at a time, until well-blended.

Drop by teaspoonfuls about 2" apart onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the edges are golden. Remove, with the paper, to a rack. Let cool 10 for minutes and peel off the paper.



Not only are these cookies easy to make, but they’re full of healthy ingredients like antioxidant packed blueberries and anti-inflammatory ginger.
Makes 24 cookies

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 large egg
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup oats, quick-cooking or old-fashioned (not instant)
2 ounces white chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup dried blueberries
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, chopped

Position racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 375 F.

Whisk flour, wheat germ, baking soda, salt and ground ginger in a small bowl. Whisk egg, brown sugar, oil and vanilla in a large bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients; stir to combine. Add oats, chocolate, blueberries and crystallized ginger; stir just to combine. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto 2 ungreased baking sheets, 1 1/2 inches apart.

Bake the cookies until puffed and barely golden around the edges, switching the pans back to front and top to bottom halfway through, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on the pans for 2 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.