Festive and Healthy: Holiday Cookies Go From Naughty to Nice

The holiday season wouldn’t be complete without traditional Christmas treats, and cookies always seem to be at the top of people’s lists. Unfortunately, going overboard on sweets can lead to a few extra pounds by the time the new year rolls around. If you’re trying to eat healthier but don’t want to skip on your favorite flavors, replace your traditional recipes with these updated versions—they’re perfect for both you and Santa to enjoy.

Chocolate Chunk Gingerbread Cookies
Recipe adapted from Running to the Kitchen
Makes 12 cookies
¾ cup almond flour
½ cup spelt flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ginger
⅛ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons molasses
¼ cup honey
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
⅓ cup chopped dark chocolate
Sugar coating:
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Mix together the almond flour, spelt flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt in a large bowl. In a separate smaller bowl, whisk together molasses, honey, vanilla, egg and coconut oil until smooth. Pour the wet ingredients into the large bowl and mix together. Fold in the chocolate chips, cover and refrigerate for two hours or overnight. Take chilled batter out of the refrigerator and roll into 12 balls (each ball will be about one tablespoon of batter). In a small bowl combine the sugar and cinnamon and roll the balls in it until they’re covered. Place balls on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes at 350 degrees. Take cookies out of oven and flatten them slightly with the back of a spoon. Let cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet, then cool completely on a wire rack.
Nutritional information per cookie: 151 calories, 8g fat, 2.9g saturated fat, 86mg sodium, 20g carbohydrates, 2.5g protein, 13g sugar 

Coconut Chocolate Cranberry Cookies
Recipe adapted from Jeanette’s Healthy Living
Makes 36 cookies
¾ cup oat flour
¾ cup rolled oats
1 tablespoon ground golden flax seed mixed with 3 tablespoons water
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup honey or maple syrup
¼ cup almond butter
⅓ cup mashed ripe banana
2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
⅓ cup dried cranberries
⅓ cup dried coconut flakes
½ cup mini chocolate chips
In a large bowl, stir together oat flour, oats, flax seed/water mixture, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add honey, almond butter, banana, coconut oil and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Add the cranberries, coconut and chocolate chips and combine. Place in the refrigerator overnight so that the dough becomes firm. Remove dough from refrigerator and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place rounded tablespoons of the dough onto the baking sheet. Flatten slightly and bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until lightly brown.
Nutritional information per cookie: 120 calories, 5.9g fat, 3.7g saturated fat, 75mg sodium, 15.7g carbohydrates, 1.4g protein, 9.7g sugar

Chocolate Macaroons With Pecans
Recipe adapted from Eating Well
Makes 60 cookies
3 egg whites at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
¾ cup finely chopped pecans
1 tablespoon powdered sugar, for dusting
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place parchment paper on two baking sheets. In a large bowl, use a handheld mixer to combine egg whites and salt and beat until frothy. With mixer going, slowly pour in sugar and continue mixing until soft peaks form (should take around 5 minutes). Fold melted chocolate, coconut and pecans into the mixture with a spatula. Use two teaspoons of dough per cookie and drop onto the parchment paper-lined sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes and then turn off the oven while leaving the door slightly open. Let the cookies cool in the oven for 30 minutes, then take out and let them cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.
Nutritional information per cookie: 44 calories, 3g fat, 1g saturated fat, 13mg sodium, 5g carbohydrates, 1g protein, 4g sugar

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Photo credit: Alpha

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