Ah, the holidays. Often, between all the work events, holiday parties, and gift giving, this time of the year can be a bit of a white flour and sugar free-for all. Don’t get me wrong – there’s a time and place for indulgence and some recipes just shouldn’t be meddled with (I’m looking at you and your chocolate cherry cookies, mom… seriously, can you make those when I’m home?) but for some standard favorites, there are a few small swaps you can make to improve the nutrition profile of a recipe without impacting the flavor. One of my favorite healthy swaps is replacing the refined carbohydrates with more complex, less processed, and fiber-packed whole grains. Whole wheat pastry flour, in particular, is a big favorite of mine. It’s not as dense as regular whole wheat flour so you can use it in place of white flour with hardly any texture difference! You can also often get away with decreasing the sugar in baked good recipes quite a bit without sacrificing flavor.
So without further ado, here are some of my favorite “healthified” cookie and dessert recipes to give a try this holiday season. I hope you enjoy them!
I love biscotti at this time of year, and they make a great festive gift, too. Just add a bow! I used whole wheat pastry flour instead of white flour in these recipes, which increases the fiber content, and reduced the amount of sugar normally in biscotti as well.
First up is a healthier remake of an old classic: Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies. These are healthy but not TOO healthy, if you know what I mean. They’re a good place to start if you want something that tastes like a typical cookie but is lightened up just a little! Matt actually came up with this recipe, so you know it’s man approved.
Next up a nice twist on traditional chocolate chip cookie recipes — it uses whole wheat flour instead of white flour, plus some oats for extra fiber (they are ground instead of whole to maintain the cookie’s soft, smooth texture – you’ll never even know they have oats in them). They also have dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate and olive oil in place of some of the butter for healthy fat. These cookies rock, and they also win for “most creative cookie name”: These Ain’t Yo Grandma’s Chocolate Chip Cookies (but they still taste like them)!
If you’re looking for something less traditional that still tastes awesome, here is one of my absolute favorites: my Oatmeal Banana Coconut Cookies! These are made with whole wheat pastry flour, high protein Greek yogurt, and bananas and a little maple syrup for sweetness without any refined white sugar. They’re easy to make, flavorful, and soft!
Want something similar, but vegan? Try my Oatmeal Banana Pumpkin Cookies instead – the pumpkin adds extra nutrients and moisture and omits the need for Greek yogurt, keeping the cookies vegan.
One of my favorite whole grain desserts that sounds fancy but is actually super easy is my Sweet Potato Bread Pudding. It’s made with whole wheat bread!
Another favorite is my Citrus Zest Cake. This is completely whole grain, much lower in sugar than normal cakes, and full of flavor from the orange zest. It makes a great dessert with some ice cream or you could even serve it as an afternoon snack break with some coffee/tea in your office! Your coworkers will never know it’s “healthy.”
What’s your favorite whole grain but still delish cookie or dessert recipe? I’d love some new ideas!
Thank you to the Grain Foods Foundation for sponsoring this post! This is the second in a series of two posts I did with them to share some whole grain love this holiday season (the first post was my yummy recipe for Lentil & Brown Rice Herbed Salad). Check out their Grains for Your Brain site for some more great recipes and nutrition information about a variety of whole grains. They also have an “ask an expert” section where doctors and dietitians answer common questions about whole grains, which I love, especially since there is so much misinformation out there nowadays about nutrition. Great resource.