Happy holiday baking season! This is the time of year when many of us dig out our family recipes, pull out our baking sheets and fire up our mixers.  As you likely know, many traditional cookie recipes are brimming with sugar, butter and other less than nutritious ingredients. Happily, you can enjoy your holiday traditions while making healthy cookies—well, okay, healthier cookies—made with more whole, unprocessed ingredients. And the healthier your cookies are, the more you can eat right? Just don’t forget to leave some out for Santa.

Hack #1

Swap out all-purpose, white flour for whole wheat or almond flour. For the most, using whole grain flour will not impact the cookies flavor and adds a fiber boost, which helps control blood sugar spikes and cholesterol levels. Almond floor is lower in carbs than traditional flour and higher in protein. Make sure you find a recipe that calls for this ingredient because it behaves differently in baking recipes than all-purpose flour.

Hack #2

They say good things come in small packages and that includes your holiday cookies as well. Smaller cookies  pack just as much flavor with fewer overall calories. We tend to enjoy the first couple bites of any desert the most anyway, so this smart hack maximizes your cookie based pleasure. It will also allow you to sample more different types of healthy cookies without going overboard.

Hack #3

Replacing white sugar with prunes or applesauce is a great way to reduce processed ingredients and add fiber to your cookie recipes. This switcheroo will also reduce the overall calorie content of your cookies. Adding pureed prunes—which bring fat like silkiness to a recipe—may also allow you to reduce butter in your recipes, which will further lower calorie and saturated fat levels. Try experimenting with smaller batches so you can get the prune to butter ratio just right.

Hack #4

A quick way to healthify your cookies and reduce overall calories is to cut the called for sugar by ⅓ to ½. If you are a generally healthier eater, some cookie recipes are going to taste too darn sweet for your palette. Less processed sugar in your diet will help to reduce inflammation and keep your blood sugar stable. 

Hack #5

If you like soft, chewy cookies then replacing butter with Greek yogurt is an option that reduces saturated fat while boosting protein levels. Try health tweaking your favorite recipes by replacing 1 part butter with ¼ part Greek yogurt and ½ part butter or try a cookie receipt that specifically calls for Greek yogurt. If you like crispier cookies this isn’t the best hack for you as it creates a puffier effect.

Hack #6

Nuts are a superfood that can give the right cookie recipe a nutritional and flavor boost. Popular healthy cookie nuts include pecans, almonds, peanuts, cashews  or pistachios. Nuts will add healthy fats, fiber, protein and vitamin E to your cookie plate while increasing feelings of fullness. Try tossing ½ – 1 cup of chopped nuts to your favorite recipe.

Hack #7

Using natural sweeteners is another way to reduce the amount of processed white sugar you are using in your cookies. Maple syrup and honey can also give your cookies unique flavors and compliment the other ingredients. Try replacing white sugar with maple syrup in your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes for a delicious, healthy cookie alternative.

What is your favorite healthier holiday cookie recipe?