When baking cookies for the holidays at home, there are ways to help the calorie count that won’t sacrifice flavor. Try these tips to stay on Santa's nice list...and you looking good this holiday!
Fat is the number one issue for many people. One half of the butter in a recipe can be replaced with applesauce, Greek yogurt or prune puree. If baking a sweet bread like banana, you can replace all the butter with applesauce for a moister, denser bread. Mashed avacado can also stand in for half your butter and results in a softer, chewier cookie.
Watching your cholesterol? Eggs can be replaced with applesauce, pumpkin or other fruit puree (1/4 cup fruit to one egg) in most baked goods. Or try swapping 2 egg whites for every whole egg.
Sugar plays a big part in the taste, texture and browning of your cookies. However, for many baked goods, the sugar can be reduced by about half, though the texture may suffer a little. If unsure, start with a 25% reduction in the quantity of sugar called for, then experiment to see how far you can take it. If you want to use substitutes, try Stevia (24 packs per 1 cup sugar) or Splenda (1:1 ratio) - note your cookies may not flatten as much on their own or bake evenly - just flatten a bit with your fingers before baking.
You can use agave (2/3 c for 1 cup sugar), maple or brown rice syrup (1.25 c for 1 cup sugar), fruit juice (OJ, Apple and white grape work best, 3/4 c juice for 1 cup sugar), or honey to sweeten your cookies without a sharp spike in blood sugar. You may need a little extra flour if you are removing a lot of sugar and or using liquid sweeteners, depending on the recipe. Adding cinnamon, vanilla, dried fruits and citrus zests can add a sweet flavor to a lower sugar cookie. Use low sugar jams for those thumbprint cookies and avoid icings if possible.
If making yeast based cookies or sweets - do not cut the sugar - it is crucial to the activation of the yeast. Of course making smaller cookies, or sharing your baked goods with others is a great way to not overindulge.
With that, I wish you all very happy holidays, and the enjoyment of a cookie or two this season. Just don’t over do it!