Do you have a healthy eating plan for the holidays? The holidays are a time when we tend to overindulge and often gain weight. Why do that to yourself every year? Let’s do something different this year and develop a healthy eating plan for the holidays.
Healthy Eating Plan for the Holidays
Let’s tackle desserts in this blog post as part of a healthy eating plan for the holidays. When I was growing up my mother always made four or five types of Christmas cookies and they’d sit around the house for several weeks. So, I’d eat a few every day. I was able to get away with eating empty calories when I was a kid since I was so active and had a fast metabolism. Now, as age 62, I’m not so fortunate. So, I have to be more strategic and develop a healthy eating plan for the holidays that allows me to continue the cookie baking tradition with less caloric offerings.
Gingerbread cookies are one of the most traditional holiday cookies. With a few tweaks, you can use a lot less butter and all-purpose flour and still make a cookie that is worth eating. I like to make treats healthier, but not change the ingredients so drastically that the cookies don’t even taste good anymore. Here is a recipe that I found on A Couple Cooks website. I made this recipe for a corporate group and everyone loved them.
Soft Gingerbread Cookies
Ingredients (makes about 25 cookies)
• 1 egg
• ½ cup brown sugar
• ¼ cup molasses
• ¼ cup almond butter
• 2 tablespoons butter, melted
• 2 tablespoons applesauce
• 2 teaspoons ground ginger
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 2 teaspoons allspice
• ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
• ½ teaspoon baking soda
• 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
• ½ cup wheat flour
• Turbinado sugar (for garnish)
1. In a medium bowl, add 1 egg, ½ cup brown sugar, ¼ cup molasses, ¼ cup almond butter, 2 tablespoons melted butter, and 2 tablespoons applesauce. Vigorously whisk to thoroughly combine.
2. To the wet ingredients, stir in 2 teaspoons ground ginger, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 2 teaspoons allspice, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, ½ teaspoon baking soda, 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour, and ½ cup wheat flour until well combined.
3. Turn out onto plastic wrap and form into a rough ball. Cover with plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour, or overnight.
4. Preheat oven to 350°F.
5. Flour a flat surface and a rolling pin. Roll out the dough ¼-inch thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut out gingerbread men. Place gingerbread men on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with Turbinado sugar.
6. Bake about 8 minutes, until puffed and slightly firmed. Let rest on the pan for 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack. Store covered at room temperature for several days or freeze for several months.
Some Tips for Your Healthy Eating Plan for the Holidays
There are plenty of “healthy” cookie recipes on the Internet and Pinterest. As I mentioned, you can go too far trying to make healthy cookies and find that they have no taste and no one wants to eat them.
Here are some tips from A Couple Cooks about how to make healthier cookies for your healthy eating plan for the holidays.
Tips for “Healthier” Cookies for Your Healthy Eating Plan
• Cookies Need Fat To Create a Cookie-Like Texture
Omitting or replacing all the butter creates a cake-like texture, which is not what you want for a cookie. So, replace some of the shortening with applesauce or a nut butter like almond butter
• Cookies Need Some Type of Sugar
Natural sugars like honey or maple syrup change the taste of a cookie. This recipe uses a combination of brown sugar and molasses, with Turbinado sugar (a less processed sugar) as the garnish. Dates can also be used to add natural sweetness, but work best in no-bake cookies.
• Baked Cookies Need a Flour-Like Substance
Fat, sugar, and flour are generally frowned upon in the health food world, but if you want to make cookies, you’ve generally got to incorporate these ingredients. These gingerbread cookies use all-purpose flour with a bit of wheat flour for flavor and a small amount of health benefits. Replacing white flour with up to 1/4 wheat flour in baked goods works well, but adding more than 1/4 wheat flour results in a dense, tough texture.
• Make Smaller Portion Sizes.
Another great option is to make mini-desserts; they’re not only cute, but give you less of everything while still feeling satisfied.
Click here for the full gingerbread cookie recipe to add to your healthy eating plan for the holidays.