Nutritionist Keri Glassman, who regularly shares her expertise on Access Hollywood and Access Hollywood Live, is answering your nutrition, diet and health questions.
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This week’s question…
“I want to make healthy chocolate chip cookies this holiday. Are there ingredients I can swap out to make a cookie good enough for the holiday get-together?” — Diane D., Scranton, Penn.
Baked goods around the holidays may be Santa-approved (with a glass of milk, of course), but they may also be the reason he sometimes has trouble fitting down the chimney. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to keep Rudolph and the gang happy AND everybody’s waistlines in check? Lucky for us there are ways to have our cookies and eat them too. When made with the right kind of ingredients, cookies can become “healthy” conscious indulgences. Here are some easy swaps to keep us from becoming the cookie grinch this year:
Instead of all-purpose flour or pastry flour, try these:
- Whole Wheat Flour: Replace 1 cup all-purpose flour with 1 cup whole wheat flour. Whole wheat flour has fiber to help keep you full (Is it a glass of prune juice? No, but hey, a little bit is better than none. We’re talking cookies folks!) Note: This works really well with cookie and bread recipes, but be careful with other baked goods - they may become too dense.
- Quinoa and Almond Flour: Replace 1 cup all-purpose flour with 1 cup mixture of half quinoa and half almond flour. A superseed and a supernut taking the place of flour? Oh, yeah it makes for a super cookie. These flours do not have gluten (the buzzword of 2013) the binding protein in wheat flours that makes dough workable. So, a dough using these flours require special treatment of resting for at least an hour before baking. Good time to wrap some presents.
Instead of butter, trade-up with these:
- Coconut Oil: Use in place of butter in a 1:1 ratio. Coconut contains medium chain triglycerides (MCT’s) which have been linked to increasing “good” cholesterol and burning fat. No, you don’t burn in a 1:1 ratio of calories ingested and burned. So, you gotta still keep those cookies in check! Coconut oil also provides anti-bacterial protection which helps reduce the risk of getting a bad bug or an infection.
- Ripe Avocado: 1 avocado can take the place of 1 stick of butter. And no, it won’t turn your cookies green! Avocado is loaded with those healthy monounsaturated fats that help burn belly fat and has folate to help protect your heart and fiber to keep you full. Avocado is also high in water volume which helps make cookies soft and chewy. This works well with brownies, too. MMMM….
Instead of sugar, check these out:
- Pureed/Mashed Banana: Replace 1 1/2 cups of sugar with one mashed overripe banana. Banana will add fiber for fullness and vitamin C for boosting the immune system. They will also help increase moisture, sweetness, and retain structure in the cookie dough.
- Applesauce: Use 1 cup applesauce for every 1 cup sugar OR use ½ cup applesauce for every ½ stick of butter. If your dough gets a bit more gooey than usual when using applesauce, add some flour to balance it out. Applesauce has loads of antioxidants including vitamin C to prevent cell damage, help to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease, and boost the immune system.
Instead of milk chocolate chips, swap with this:
- Dark chocolate unsweetened chips: A cup for a cup works well, duh. Dark chocolate has phytochemicals known to boost mood and lower blood pressure.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Makes 12 to 16 cookies)
- 1/2 cup avocado
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1/2 cup ripe banana, pureed
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup whole wheat flour, sifted
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice, ground
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. With an electric mixer, cream together the avocado, coconut oil and banana until fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla, until combined. In a bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and stir just until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips. Spoon onto lightly greased baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove and let cool on the pan for about 2 minutes. Place them on a cooling rack and allow to rest until cooled completely.
-- Terri MacLeod & Keri Glassman