cookies

Who says you can’t have cookies as part of a healthy diet? Here are some of my favorite cookie recipes made into healthier versions.

A few key steps to a healthier cookie includes:

» Reduce the sugar and opt for natural sugars such as honey, maple syrup or coconut sugar.

» Choose fruit for sweeteners such as bananas, dates or applesauce. Although honey and maple syrup are natural forms of sugar, you’re still eating sugar. However, you can rely on fruits for sugar to get that touch of sweetness without an overload of sugar.

» Choose healthier flours such as almond flour, oat flour, coconut flour, buckwheat flour and seed flours. These alternative flours are gluten free and are lower on the glycemic index so they will not spike your blood sugar like all-purpose flour. If you prefer an all-purpose flour try ancient grain flours such as Einkorn flour which is not hybridized and many gluten-sensitive individuals are able to consume einkorn wheat.

» You can easily sneak in some health-boosting ingredients without sacrificing on taste. Try healthy additions such as oats, flax seed, chia seed and nuts.

» Use stevia sweetened chocolate chips or 60% cacoa chocolate chips opposed to milk chocolate chips for your chocolate chip fix.

» The fewer ingredients the better. It is always best to make versions of your favorite food from scratch. Homemade cookies usually contain less than 10 ingredients compared to store bought cookies that contain 10-plus ingredients often including high fructose corn syrup, and artificial preservatives.

3 ingredient banana oat chocolate chip cookies

2 ripe bananas

1 ½ cup oats

2/3 cup dark chocolate chips (at least 60% cocoa) or stevia sweetened chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mash bananas until smooth with a fork. In a bowl, add oats and mashed bananas, mix well. Add chocolate chips and mix. Spoon approximately a tablespoon of the mixture onto a baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes.

Peanut butter oat cookies

¾ cup all-natural peanut butter

½ cup honey

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons coconut oil or grass fed butter

1 ¼ cups oat flour (place oats in a blender or food processer & pulse until flour-consistency)

¼ teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon ground flaxseed, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt until combined.

Using an electric mixer, beat peanut butter, coconut oil and honey until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla and whip until combined. Slowly add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stir until combined. Spoon approximately 1 tablespoon of mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 8-10 minutes.

Chocolate chip cookies

¾ cup coconut sugar

½ cup coconut oil or grass-fed butter (at room temperature)

1 egg (room temperature)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 ¾ cup almond flour or whole wheat flour

1 cup dark chocolate chips (at least 60 percent)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together oil (or butter), egg, coconut sugar, and vanilla. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt and mix just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. Spoon approximately 1 tablespoon of mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 10-15 minutes.

Maple nut butter cookies

½ cup natural almond butter or peanut butter

½ cup 100 percent pure maple syrup

3 tablespoons coconut oil

1 cup whole wheat flour or other flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup chopped nuts or dark chocolate chips, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, mix the almond butter and maple syrup until well combined. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Stir in nuts or chocolate chips (if adding). Roll dough into balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Slightly flatten cookies. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Mandy Nix is a registered dietitian in Morganton who writes a weekly nutrition column for The News Herald. For questions, contact her at mandynix85@gmail.com.

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